Bringing Social Media to Your Veterinary Practice

October 11, 2017
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small social mediaDuring Global Pet Expo 2015, research firm GfK announced that 35.2% of the US’ 75 million Millennials (people age 18-34) own a pet, compared to 32.8% of Baby Boomers (age 51-70). Millennials like to try the latest technology, will spend more on their pets (including veterinary care and pet services), and are likely to use social media to connect with brands, services, and read online reviews before making their purchase decision (source).

Social media is a powerful tool your clinic can utilize to create, maintain, and grow relationships with clients in your community. It allows you an easy opportunity to organically connect one-on-one with clients to earn their trust, business, and loyalty. However, if you don’t think your clients are on social media, consider this: During the fourth quarter of 2015, Facebook was accessed by close to 1.59 billion users on a monthly basis.

Millennials are your client, and they’re on social media. If you aren’t, you’re missing a huge opportunity.

If you’re ready to get your clinic on social media, here are five key strategies you need to follow to make it a successful launch:

  1. As the owner, choose which social media accounts you want your clinic on. If you’re not sure what the differences are between the networks, think of them like this:
    • Facebook – where you connect with friends, family, and local fans and post regular updates, including photos, videos, and more.
    • Twitter – where you connect with people from around the world to share thoughts at 140 characters, images, and video.
    • LinkedIn – where you connect with other professionals worldwide to share articles, blog posts, updates, images, and videos.
    • Google+ – where you connect with technologically-savvy, younger individuals from around the world in the form of long-form blogs, videos, and images. Google+ posts are indexed by search engines and will help your clinic’s website rank higher in the search engine.
    • YouTube – where you share videos showcasing behind-the-scenes of what’s going on in your clinic.
    • Pinterest – where you share do-it-yourself crafts, tips, recipes, and how-to articles that your friends, family, and clients are.
    • Instagram – where you share photos showcasing your clinic, team members, and patients.

  2. Choose someone in your clinic you trust to manage the ongoing posting, response, and maintenance of your social media profiles. This person should have 1-2 hours every week they can dedicate to social media management. Together, choose one or two social media platforms to start your clinic on. Meet with them weekly to review what they have scheduled to share and the ‘voice’ they’re giving your clinic online.
    • Have your team member create a calendar of what topics they will be posting on what times. It could be as simple as a Microsoft Excel file with set times they post something to. For example, at 12:10pm on Mondays, they post an “Interesting Animal Fact”. At 3:25pm on Tuesdays, they post a “Seasonal Safety Tip”.
    • How often should you post?
      • Facebook – 1 to 2 times per day
      • Twitter – 3 to 5 times per day
      • LinkedIn – 1 to 2 times per week
      • Google+ – 2 to 3 times per week
      • YouTube – 1 to 2 times per week/bi-weekly
      • Pinterest – 3 to 4 times per week
      • Instagram – 2 to 3 times per week
    • This posting schedule may not work for all clinics. However, it's important to have a consistant posting schedule to avoid mass postings 3+ times in one day) and then no posting for a week. Determine what works best for your clinic and what your audience best responds to through testing various amounts and review the results through each platform's analytical reporting.
  3. Utilize a free scheduling tool like HootSuite or Buffer to manage your clinic’s social media profiles in one location, rather than bouncing between each network. Consistency is important when it comes to social media, so posting on a regular, on-going basis is critical.
    • Additionally, do not post the same message across all platforms. Yes, you can share the same article, but spice up your message about the article. The audience that is on Facebook is not the same on Twitter and is not the same on LinkedIn or Google+.

  4. If your clinic is on social media, ensure that your voice and clinic descriptions are complete and consistent across all platforms. Ensure your Facebook has your website, address, business hours, contact information, and a brief description about your clinic – then make sure that same information is the same on Twitter, LinkedIn, and more.

  5. If your clinic is not on social media, it’s the perfect time to join. Select one to two social media platforms to get started on and work your way up. I suggest Facebook and Google+ to start with. When you launch your social media profiles, ensure you have your website, address, business hours, contact information, and a brief ‘about’ that’s consistent and available on each platform. Additionally, use high-quality, royalty-free images for your social media cover photos, and your logo as your profile photo.

  6. BONUS! Include social media icons on your website that are hyperlinked to your profiles so visitors to your website can easily find you on their favorite social media platform!
2017 Expo Logo web2Learn more about how to utilize social media to grow your practice, including how to navigate Facebook and ways to market your practice through Facebook Advertising. Attend the 2017 VHA Expo on November 2, 2017 and join hundreds of others learning the skills and strategies necessary to grow your practice. Click here to register.

stephanie duncanStephanie Duncan is the Communication Coordinator for Veterinary Hospitals Association (VHA). She writes for Veterinary Practice News and Salesforce on social media, digital marketing, and content strategies needed to grow small businesses.

Established in 1984, VHA is a member-driven association organized to represent the interests of members and the veterinary community. VHA currently serves nearly 400 member veterinary practices. The goal of VHA is to enhance the profitability of each member practice by positively impacting its bottom line. Follow VHA on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

This article originally published in February 2016.

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