Love or hate it, social media is undeniably a force to be reckoned with. With many practices inundated with clients, being able to attract the best customers (and filter through the less desirable ones) has never been more crucial.
This is where social media can help.
Social media can assist in the attraction and retention of your best clients. It can also be a fantastic means of connecting and collaborating with others in the veterinary community.
If you’re considering upping your veterinary social media game, you’re in the right place.
In this article, we discuss the pros and cons of social media and the fundamentals you’ll need to know to succeed online.
The Pros Of Using Social Media
First, let’s examine the pros of social media.
Social media can help attract new clients- social media is often the first point of contact between you and your client. Having a well-maintained social media presence, therefore, can help clients choose you over your competitors.
It can help you retain clients- not only can a well-organized social media page keep clients updated with new services, but also keep them engaged for longer. Educational and entertaining content can keep clients coming back for more in the long run.
It can help you inform your clients- currently, the most frequently cited source of pet health information is the internet- not vets. Client’s want to see more online resources from their vets (according to this Royal College of Veterinary Surgeon survey), so sharing supplementary educational content online can fight misinformation and increase client satisfaction at the same time .
The Cons .…
It’s another source of distraction- most professionals struggle not peeking at their emails after work- so you can imagine how distracting social media can be! Social media pages can be yet another source of distraction for busy business owners- trying to be the masters of all things.
It can take a lot of time- building a social media presence takes time. A social media strategy can take up to six months to cultivate, causing a lot of frustration .
It can open the practice up to more public criticism, and with veterinary cyberbullying more prolific than ever, having an online presence can make you very vulnerable. This is something to consider before investing time into your social media.
Veterinary Social Media Top Tips
Create A Social Media Marketing Strategy
If you want to create a great social media presence, you need a plan.
A social media marketing strategy is a plan outlining the social media goals, tactics, and metrics you want to use.
It should list all of your existing and planned social media accounts with tailored goals for each. It should also outline roles and responsibilities within your team.
You create this strategy by:
Setting SMART goals- outline your objectives and goals. Your goals should be specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound (aka, SMART). It is a good idea to write these all up for reference later on.
For example, say you want to increase interaction on your Facebook group. What specifically would you like to accomplish? You could say you want more comments, perhaps 2-3 more on average- that’s a specific goal. Is it attainable? With enough work, of course! How about relevant? More interaction means greater customer rapport, so we can tick that off. Is it time-bound? Yes- if you set a time which you like to achieve this goal by.
Create audience personas- audience personas are profiles of different groups of customers you want to target. This can focus your marketing efforts. Look at the age, location, income, job, and interests of clients you want to service.
Complete a competitor analysis- before you go snooping in your neighbors’ clinic, let’s discuss what a competitor analysis is. A competitor’s analysis allows you to observe what your competition is doing online. Have a look at social media accounts of vet businesses in your area, and outline what practices of theirs you can adopt- or improve on.
Doing a social media audit (if you already have a social media account)- if you already have a social media account, you want to do a social media audit. To do a simple audit, ask yourself: what’s working and what’s not? Who is engaging with us? Which networks do our target audience use? This can help guide your future goals.
Set up accounts or improve existing ones- now you have outlined a strategy, outlined your audience, checked out your competition, and audited your socials, you’re ready to get working on your social media. Delegate roles, and get going!
Use A Content Planner
You may have realized that social media takes a lot of work- which is why you need a content planner!
Though you can organically build your social media presence by posting directly (which may work best if you’re stuck for time), having a content planner allows you to schedule posts in advance.
Marketing tools such as Hootsuite offer free profiles which you can use to create and schedule posts automatically. This can save you time in the long run, as it allows you to plan a bulk of posts months before they go online.
Familiarise Yourself With SEO
This is not fundamental for beginners but a good investment for those wanting to take their socials to the next level.
SEO (search engine optimization) is the practice of increasing the quality and quantity of online traffic by optimizing your pages to be more visible online. SEO can be used in social media to help create sustainable and steady growth.
Good SEO can make the difference between a sub-par social media page and a great one, so it is 100% worth looking into- if you have the energy to spare.
To learn about the fundamentals of SEO, check out this guide here.
Track The Right Metrics
How can you measure success if you aren’t using metrics!
Social media metrics can be confusing but shouldn’t be too tricky to master (especially with a veterinary background!).
Key metrics you want to be tracking include:
– Impression and reach
– Volume and sentiment
Many social media sites allow you to track metrics on business accounts but using tools such as user-friendly CYFE, and Google Analytics, can give you greater insight- especially as your business grows.
Veterinary Social Media Post Ideas
Stuck for content? Here are some ideas you can use in your practice.
Cute pictures of your patients- did you know pet content has a higher level of engagement than the average social post? Getting photos of happy patients can be great for retaining and entertaining your clients. But don’t forget to GET PERMISSION FIRST! Seriously, it can get you into hot water if you don’t.
Post about promotional offers/competitions- promotions and competitions can help increase followers and boost engagement. There doesn’t necessarily need to be expense involved if you’re creative- so get brainstorming!
Tell stories- storytelling is an engaging way to market your practice. We can bet your practice has some great stories to tell that you can use to create rapport with your clients online.
Post reviews- given that 84% of people trust online reviews as much as their friends, having them front and center on your socials can be great for business . Posting happy testimonials from satisfied clients can potentially sway uncertain clients your way.
Educational content- more and more clients are seeking pet health information online. Keep your clients engaged (and entertained) by sharing pet health tips.
The Secret To Veterinary Social Media Success
The secret is persistence.
Growing an online presence takes time and sometimes a bit of luck. But regularly posting, engaging, and working on your socials will pay off in the long run.
If you are serious about your social media presence, remember to stay up to date with social media platform updates. These updates can seriously affect your metrics, so always look ahead and check.
Not sure if social media is for you? Check this post on why you should be cautious about adopting social media.
1- ‘Pet owners’ online information searches and the perceived effects ….’ 8 Jan. 2021, https://www.veterinaryevidence.org/index.php/ve/article/view/345/587. Accessed 6 Aug. 2021.
2- ‘How Long Does It Take for Social Media Marketing to Start Paying Off?.’ 21 Sept. 2015, https://www.socialmediatoday.com/marketing/sarah-snow/2015-09-21/how-long-does-it-take-social-media-marketing-start-paying. Accessed 6 Aug. 2021.
3- ‘Social media and you: Yes, your customers are watching ….’ 30 Jun. 2020, https://www.petfoodindustry.com/blogs/9-trending-pet-food/post/9361-social-media-and-you-yes-your-customers-are-watching. Accessed 6 Aug. 2021.
4- ’84 Percent of People Trust Online Reviews As Much As Friends ….’ 31 Jul. 2017, https://www.inc.com/craig-bloem/84-percent-of-people-trust-online-reviews-as-much-.html. Accessed 6 Aug. 2021.