Posted on February 8, 2010

Elective Medical Marketing Using the Facebook Platform

Everyone and their third cousins are using Facebook these days to connect with old friends and engage with other people. According to Inc. Magazine, about 100 million users go to this social media platform every month. Many practices have built Facebook pages and are delegating time and effort at the practice level to maintain these pages. There is still mass confusion over the value of having a Facebook page and how it will be useful, but the hype is certainly present. The thing that remains puzzling to me is why more practices are not using the actual advertising platform within Facebook. Through work with various medical practices, I have determined this ad platform to be very useful for the following reasons:

1. The cost to advertise is LOW when compared with other media including paid search with Google.

2. The ad platform can not only geographically serve ads but also demographically server ads.

After testing this platform, I can prove that this is a good advertising model if done correctly because I have had numeric lead generation success in all cases. Like all aspects of marketing, it is important to set proper expectations and accept the model for what it can do. This does not mean that you should go out and abandon all your other types of web marketing because they will probably generate more interest. What Facebook has done in the cases we have worked on at Glacial Multimedia Inc. is supplement lead totals from the other types of Internet marketing. In early testing, we identified that clicks coming from Facebook have a high bounce rate, which made us initially skeptical of the un-intentional type of traffic the ads generated. Despite the high bounce rate, however, we were left with a few good leads every month for a very low cost. I will take this as a supplement any day of the week.

I think the real value for generating leads on Facebook lies within the idea of creating offers and developing incentives to engage customers. Various marketing gurus have commented this year on the death of the advertising Interrupt model in exchange for the birth of a new system of customer engagement. If you want to succeed with Internet marketing, you will need to put more focus on how to create better offers. As someone who has worked with varying levels of medical practices for years, I will certainly say this will be no easy task. For practices that feel that offers degrade the medical legitimacy of a practice, getting into the offer mind space in 2010 will be critical. Creating compelling offers that keep your reputation solid is crucial– if you are in the business of elective surgery, you will need to figure this one out. The entire philosophy of your marketing will need to change from old traditional media with high costs and NO ROI to a web based marketing system with strong incentives through offers. The practices that embrace this model will do more business and spend less money on marketing to do so.

If you choose to embrace the Facebook ad platform, you might want to consider the following 5 elements before jumping into a campaign:

1. Landing Page vs. Facebook Page – Research whether using your Facebook page or a landing page would be the best conversion point. If you have a strong landing page with nice designs and good call to action with offers, this might be the best option. If your Facebook page is horrible (i.e., not well maintained), opt for a landing page. It will be easier and less expensive to get up and running. If your Facebook page is well maintained and has offer based items, then that may be a good choice.

2. Two Forms of Advertising – Advertising on Facebook can take on 2 general forms. The first form would be straight offer based procedure discounts and lead generation. The second would be advertising with offers to build fans. Once you build a fan base, you can then easily remarket to this group directly through Facebook with practice side events and procedures. In my experience, both concepts will work to provide lead interest.

3. Choosing Demographic Targets – You will be able to target your ads to reach different user profiles that contain information such as age, gender, location, interests and college relationships. This is a major step in targeting over the geographic nature of the google adwords.

4. Set Tracking – If you want to know how many leads Facebook is generating, you can set up a tracking database on the backend of your website to get exact lead interests stored in a centralized system. Facebook will keep track of the total number of impressions and the total number of clicks but, like Google, it cannot compute real conversions. For medical practice websites, we call a conversion a lead, not a click. Unless you set up a database for the specific purposes of tracking real conversions, ROI calculations are simply not possible. I suggest the Glacial Multimedia Inc. web based tracking product called MDprospects. This is robust software that can handle this task and many others very easily.

5. Create Compelling Advertising Content – The Facebook advertising platform will enable you to write 135 character taglines and also use an image. Take advantage of this to get your ads to stand out. Take a page out of the advertising interrupt model on this one. Keep in mind that you will be competing against other business, so this will play a role in how many clicks you can generate.

Comments By Michael Dobkowski (Michael Dobkowski is an Internet marketing consultant specializing in the medical marketing field and holds the position of Internet marketing consultant for Glacial Multimedia Inc. with Offices in Portland, Maine and Istanbul Turkey)