Social distancing is continuing for longer than most of us expected. Between the masks covering our faces and the fact that many veterinary practices are continuing curbside service, veterinarians may feel it’s more difficult than ever to connect with clients the way they did before the pandemic. The solution to this trust and relationship-building challenge may require some creativity and adopting of new technologies.
In this 5-part series, we’ll cover a few ways to bond and communicate with clients even if you can’t see them in person. For today’s topic, we’ll explore telemedicine and how it may fit into (and benefit) a busy veterinary practice.
Part 3: Social Media
How much does social media really matter to a business?
It’s a common question from practice owners, managers, and other veterinary team members who are invested in the success of their practice. Here are some facts that may illuminate why social media can be a great investment for veterinary businesses…
- Millennials are the largest pet-owning population, and the vast majority of Millennials research veterinarians online. This includes social media.
- Social media can contribute to a practice’s SEO, or search engine optimization. So a practice may show up higher in online search results thanks to social media.
- Free marketing! While some social media advertising is paid, posts on a practice’s page don’t cost a thing.
- A savvy social media strategy can help clients get to know a practice even when they must wait in their car due to social distancing. This can go a long way toward establishing trust.
Sounds good, right? Below, we have some simple tips for getting started and developing a system that works for your practice.
To Stay On Track and Avoid Frustration, Set Realistic Social Media Goals
“How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.”
This quote is true for many things in life—and social media is no exception. When learning about the different social media platforms, along with best practices and how often experts recommend posting, it may feel overwhelming. The key is to begin learning and posting a little at a time. After all, remember how it felt the first time you held a scalpel? It probably feels second nature now—but the first time you performed surgery in school, maybe that wasn’t the case. But, you stuck with it and got better and better over time. So don’t worry if it feels like you don’t know what you’re doing when you first start using social media for your business (which can feel very different than social media for personal use). Everyone feels that way in the beginning—but it gets easier over time!
Here are a few simple “bites” to help a veterinary practice take on that social media elephant…
- Don’t try to master every platform (Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, etc.) all at once. Instead, start with just one or two. Facebook is a tried-and-true platform for many businesses.
- Decide who will be posting, responding to comments, and generally managing the page. Provide guidance on strategy and on what is/isn’t an appropriate post.
- Create a posting . Many experts recommend posting once per day or more—but this strategy may not be realistic for a busy practice owner. Consider starting with once per week, or whatever schedule is realistic for your practice. It’s better to meet that goal, rather than overscheduling and then not posting at all.
- If using photos of client-owned pets, obtain their written permission to post the photo. Often, having a permission (or opt-out) box to check on intake forms is the simplest way. And many clients LOVE having their adorable pet shown off for the world to see!
A Few Simple Tips on What to Post
Create a list of ideas/topics. That way, you’ll never run out of ideas when it’s time to post. Here are some tips to get you started…
- Include visual posts (pictures, videos, or even infographics made with programs like Canva). They tend to get more attention than just text. After all, who can resist a cute animal photo?
- Encourage engagement (a response/interaction to your posts) by asking questions, requesting people post photos of their own pets, and holding small contests (for example, “Caption this photo for the chance to win a bag of treats!”).
- Timely information, such as holiday and summer pet safety tips, local pet events, etc.
- Educational content, such as fun facts about dogs or cats, information on local zoonotic parasites, etc.
- Special announcements, such as new team members, closures during holidays and inclement weather, new curbside policies, etc.
- Videos, such as an instructional video on how to clean a pet’s ears.
- Discounts and special offers, such as dental month or a discounted vaccine day.
Consistency Pays Off
Social media is often a long-term strategy. With that in mind, consistency is crucial to success. To stay consistent, start with realistic goals, as mentioned above. You can also put social media on the calendar to help remember it. Or, use a program to schedule posts ahead of time (just remember to check for and respond to comments, too). If appropriate for your practice, it may also be worth it to outsource social media to a professional who’s familiar with the veterinary industry and can help achieve faster results.
Social media carries a lot of potential benefits for businesses, especially in current times when so many interactions happen in the digital world. By setting realistic goals, starting with a few simple tips, and staying consistent over time, veterinarians can start to take advantage of what social media has to offer.
Editor’s Note: Any time a veterinary practice adds a new service—such as digital x-rays, dental x-rays, ultrasound, or teleradiology consults with specialists—sharing on social media can be a great way to start telling clients about the benefits this new service offers to their pets.
Teleradiology is a great way to obtain an expert second opinion on all radiographs at an affordable price, which is great for patient diagnosis and care. Learn more, here.