by Caitlin DeWilde, DVM
It’s no secret that Facebook has become a pay-to-play platform. Without spending money on Facebook advertising (via boosted posts or native ads), it’s likely that your practice’s page doesn’t enjoy the same level of client engagement or bring the same value to your social media return on investment it once did.
However, frequent changes to Facebook’s advertising options, ad placement, and bidding strategies sometimes make it difficult to know the best way to use your advertising dollars. This leads us to the question, “Are Facebook ads worth the cost?” The answer? Yes . . . and no. Confused? Read on!
The Argument for “Yes”
What a time to be alive. At no other point in the history of advertising and marketing could you target your ideal potential clients and your existing clients for as little as one dollar a day with no minimum, and have the ability to split-test your messaging and fine-tune your results (or simply pull the plug) on a moment’s notice with no penalty. No need for expensive designers—advertisements can be created for little to no cost with a smartphone-captured photo or custom graphics created with free design websites and apps. Facebook will even provide copious amounts of data so you can learn even more about who is engaging with your content—their age, their gender, their device, their zip code, and more, all for free!
But Not If . . .
Many practices (and businesses in general) may not find success with their Facebook advertising. Facebook ads are not worth the cost if your practice is doing any of the following.
Many practices run ads or boost posts (another form of advertising) by simply clicking the button and leaving the targeting options to Facebook’s defaults. Facebook defaults to a geographic area of “United States” and an age bracket of 18–65. Further, they will not target any interests, demographics, or behaviors. That means the ad that you hope will appeal to local cat owners instead could be seen by an 18-year-old with no pets in another state. It’s safe to say they’re unlikely to click “Book now!”
Not Using Content That Sets You Apart
It’s tempting to quickly create an ad using Facebook’s stock image library and type a headline and caption offering “compassionate pet care.” Sure, that’s a cute pupper in the photo. So was the one my friend just shared in the post before this one. Sure, you do offer compassionate pet care. So does the one down the street from you. So do basically all veterinarians.
Clients—existing and potential—are much more likely to slow their scroll for a familiar face or something unique and eye-catching. What makes your practice different from your competitors? Generally, it’s your people. Put their candid photos in practice out there. If not them, focus on the offerings your practice has—like its AAHA accreditation, cat-only exam room, or laser therapy offerings—to highlight a feature that sets you apart from the competition.
Not Driving Traffic Toward an Objective
It’s sometimes almost too easy to boost a post.
For instance, boosting adorable new puppy pictures may get more likes, but unless you encouraged your viewers to book their puppy’s appointment or visit your practice’s puppy page on the website, it probably didn’t convert into any more business. Boosting an article you shared from another page only serves to increase the viewership of their content, not yours.
Know why your practice is using social media and tailor your content and ad spend toward achieving that objective. A good strategy is to stick to spending money on content that is created by your practice, that provides value to your clients, or that sends them to your website by using call-to-action statements or buttons like “Book now” or “Learn more.”
Not Looking at Your Results
Just because ads can be created quickly, easily, and affordably doesn’t mean you shouldn’t analyze how they’re performing. Not every boost or ad will perform well every time, but a quick glance to confirm the number of clicks and engagement can give you a feel for both what’s normal for your practice and what kind of content resonates well with your audience and gets the results you’re looking for.
With a little attention to detail, Facebook ads can be both affordable and effective. Using engaging content, targeting your local pet owners, and focusing on content that drives toward your practice’s objectives will be well worth the time and effort!
Caitlin DeWilde, DVM, is CEO of social media consulting firm The Social DVM. Find her online at thesocialdvm.com.
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Photo credits: ©iStock.com/shugarWarrior, ©iStock.com/elenabs