Why social media is the worst way to get new patients

Dentists keep hearing how social media will bring new patients to their practices, but this isn’t really the case. A more guaranteed avenue to take is Google reviews, a business-oriented and reliable platform.

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Social media. When I say these words, I assume that alarms immediately go off in your head. “Woop, woop! Social media will save my practice and bring me lots of new patients!”

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Truthfully, probably not. It’s time to realize that social media—Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and others—for all their glitz, glamour, and media-fueled promises, are not the magic bullet for new patients that many consulting gurus make them out to be. There’s a very good reason for that.

By its very nature, social media is just that, a social medium. It’s designed to help people talk and interact, almost like they’re at a party or coffee shop. Picture this: you walk into a party. Most people are talking about the weather, showing off pictures of their kids’ T-ball games, or, if we’re drawing a true parallel to social media, watching goofy cat videos on their phones.

When you start yapping about what a great dentist you are or how clean and modern your office is, anyone listening is immediately turned off. People are there to have fun and interact with one another, not listen to a hard sales pitch.

It’s a swing and a miss. So, you decide to lighten your approach. Perhaps you talk about your hygienist’s new baby boy, or how you can’t stay away from the new frozen yogurt shop that opened next door to your office. These are fun and relatable topics, but not exactly a convincing or motivating hard sell.

That is precisely why social media is not your ideal platform for lead generation. It’s a place that helps round out the picture of you, your team, and your practice, not establish a strong first impression. That should be done elsewhere. There’s no better place to do this than with Google reviews.

Why Google reviews?

I’ve worked with Google reviews for more than a decade, and I can unequivocally say that no single source is nearly as powerful as Google’s review platform. I’m not talking about Yelp, Foursquare, or Healthgrades, but Google. There’s just simply nothing like Google reviews.

Why is this? When you know how to correctly manage your Google presence (not your website), you have an unlimited source of potential new patients with an honest and transparent method of reaching them, even if you’re located in a small town.

I’ve worked with thousands of dentists all over the world, and I’ve seen way too many of them take the wrong approach. They put their emphasis on social media first and put Google, including reviews, on the back burner. They have things backwards, and their practices are suffering big-time as a result.

Wait, there’s more

There’s another reason dentists should look at social media as simply a secondary marketing effort—Facebook, the supposed king of social media, is bleeding. Due to data leaks, privacy concerns, the harvesting and abuse of users’ personal information, and Mark Zuckerberg’s televised crucifixion during his congressional testimony, this platform is losing users left and right, and they’re not being replaced.1 People no longer trust Facebook, despite its too-little-too-late declaration that it’s putting users’ privacy above profits.2

If we look back to the mid-2000s, we see a cautionary tale called MySpace. Everyone thought this revolutionary platform was going to be around forever. Even without Facebook’s data breaches and negative publicity, MySpace quickly faded from everyone’s memory. Facebook is not so subtly going in the same direction.

So, are you going to waste your and your staff’s time, money, and effort on a possible sinking ship? Or are you going to spend that time on Google, the most solid and trusted media outlet there is?3

Investing your time in social media, without putting time and effort into a platform such as Google and its reviews, is like building a house without a foundation. It’s an approach that, quite bluntly, will not work.

Yes, social media has its place, and you should be spending some time and very little money on it. It should be a fraction of the time that you spend marketing your practice elsewhere. Get your Google house (not your website) in order. You’ll be surprised just how well this channel works in your ongoing quest for new patients.

Author’s note: Don’t play games with your practice. Learn how to build a consistent, predictable income in the new video series, Beyond the Chair. We put three of the top dental marketing thought leaders together, discussed some of the most pressing issues facing the industry, and recorded it. It’s full of content designed to help independent dental practice owners in today’s competitive market. Visit localsearchfordentists.com/btcsocial.


1. Wager K, Molla R. Facebook lost around 2.8 million US users under 25 last year. 2018 won’t be much better. Recode website. https://www.recode.net/2018/2/12/16998750/facebooks-teen-users-decline-instagram-snap-emarketer. Published February 12, 2018. Accessed August 29, 2018.

2. Oremus W. Americans are losing trust in Facebook—and here’s why they’ll keep using it anyway. Business Insider website. https://www.businessinsider.com/americans-losing-trust-facebook-still-using-social-media-2018-3. Published March 31, 2018. Accessed August 29, 2018.

3. Sterling G. Google overtakes traditional media to become most trusted news source. Search Engine Land website. https://searchengineland.com/google-overtakes-traditonal-media-become-trusted-source-news-online-213176. Published January 20, 2015. Accessed August 29, 2018.

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