Before you invest in a social media campaign, you need to know the true cost to track your investment.

By Andrea Smith

Implementing a social media strategy is one of the best investments you can make in your orthodontic practice, but before you invest in a social media campaign on platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok, you need to know what it will cost so you can track your return on investment (ROI).


Correctly managing social media means posting consistently (at least three times a week). And it takes a skill set that includes strategy development, copywriting, graphic design, video editing, posting, and finally, community management of comments and messages. It takes a significant amount of time, strategy, and research to do social media right, and it should not be something someone’s doing off the side of their desk. You’ll need a specialized social media agency or a dedicated employee to handle it for you. 


To determine the cost of your social media campaign, you need to know the annual fee for hiring a social media agency. If you keep your social media in-house, you’ll need to know what you are spending on the salary and benefits of the person who is running it. That person must dedicate between one quarter to one half of a full-time position solely to social media. So, take their salary and benefits cost and divide it by either by four or two to determine the annual dollar amount it will cost you to run a social media campaign. It could easily add up to tens of thousands of dollars. It’s an investment. But it will pay dividends if done correctly. 


Practices often wonder how much they should budget for social media marketing. This is where it is important to consider the return on investment (ROI). In general, it is helpful to calculate your average annual revenue from one patient. Then determine how many patients your social media campaign needs to bring in annually to more than pay for itself. A professional social media campaign should turn a profit for your practice.


Add to the new patient intake process a question that asks them where they heard about you. That way you can determine and track how many patients are coming to you through your social media campaign.


A high-return strategy this year is to go heavy on TikTok-style video and editing. TikTok made short, entertaining videos wildly popular, and to compete, both Instagram and Facebook responded by adding a similar video feature to their platforms. Take advantage of them. Video offers your practice exposure by helping it reach new accounts. It’s a winning strategy at the moment and can draw (especially on Instagram) more new viewers than creating hashtag-filled posts. 


You need a solid 6 months to determine if your social media campaign strategy is working or not. One month is not enough time, and neither is three. Be patient. It takes time to find a strategy that works.


Many practices have questions about running Facebook and Instagram ads and the answer is—don’t! At least not in the beginning. Don’t run any ads until you know that your organic strategy is working. Once you see it start to succeed, then put ad dollars behind it. 


Engagement is the second of a two-pronged approach to reaching new social media accounts. The first is to rely heavily on video and video editing. Follow this up with a high engagement rate and you’ll have a winning strategy. It’s not enough to get lots of “likes.” And just because you have numerous followers doesn’t mean people are seeing your content. What social media platforms reward is engagement. To drive it up, viewers need to comment on your content. And you, in turn, will need to respond to their comments. 

Orthodontic practices are wise to invest in a social media strategy that eventually brings new patients through their doors. First, though, they need to know what this will cost, and they need to track their (ROI) to determine the campaign’s profitability. Doing social media right requires the dedicated efforts of a part-time employee or the hiring of an outside social media agency. Remember to track where your new patients come from, focus on video, give it 6 months, hold off on ads, and focus on replying to comments to drive your engagement rate which will help you reach new social media accounts and eventually turn a profit for your practice. OP

Andrea Smith owns Smith Social Company, a social media agency dedicated to supporting specialty physician practices. She has a decade of experience in healthcare operations, physician relations, and referral management.

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