Social media provides great opportunities to get your vet office’s content in front of potential customers, and build trust with pet owners online. For example, you can easily share information about animal care, promote your clinic’s website, and interact with prospects to increase your chances of landing new business.
How to Use Social Media for Veterinary Professionals
Users of social media follow a similar path before becoming a loyal customers. First, your audience spends time on social media to research and gather information about veterinary topics. They can interact with different brands (including yours) and take in information that’s most important to them and their pets.
By understanding this path and using social media to steer them in the right direction, you can boost:
- Awareness to your brand
- Customer loyalty
- Continued engagement
- Traffic to your website
Customer's Path through Social Media
Keeping this path in mind, we suggest an 80/20 rule when publishing social media content:
- 80% Unbranded (do not mention your vet clinic or products specifically)
- 20% Branded (mention your clinic or doctors specifically)
Using social media to attract new customers is all about finding a balance between branded and unbranded posts. Your audience is smart, and they understand when they’re being sold a product or service when they aren’t ready. If you “sell” too much of the time, they will lose interest or trust with your brand; sell too little, and you could be missing out on opportunities to convert interested viewers.
What Social Media Networks Will You Use?
So, you understand that social media is important to attract new customers to your clinic, but how do you know which social media platforms to use? To identify which platform will generate the best results in promoting your website and veterinary clinic, start by observing what your competition is doing. Watch how they’re using social media and engaging with their audience.
- What are they doing right?
- What can you do better?
- How does their audience engage with them?
There are many social media outlets to choose from, but a few best practices apply to every platform:
- Be consistent with delivering and promoting quality information or content
- Emphasis should always be on the customer’s needs
- Use trigger words to evoke emotion and engagement
- Ask readers to share, comment, like, or click on your posts
- Provide customer service and answer questions quickly
- Don’t spread yourself thin by trying to utilize channels your audience isn’t using. Pick 1-2 social channels to do well.
Social Media Networks
Facebook® is the Great Dane of social media. It grew up fast, it’s huge, everyone can spot it a mile away, and it’s not getting any smaller.
Facebook currently has more than 1.18 billion daily users worldwide; odds are, if you don’t have a company page created, your competition already does. Use a Branded Facebook page to promote your content and maintain brand awareness. It’s important to remember that status updates need to be social and interesting in nature for people to “like” and engage with it.
Your company’s Facebook page should be used to update followers on new animal care or vet clinic information, provide pet-parenting tips, or promote special offers at the clinic. Consistently posting to Facebook will help ensure that your brand is always in front of your audience and potential customers. The hope is: when they need services or help with their pets in the future, your office will be the one they already trust and go to.
If Facebook is the Great Dane of social media, Twitter is the Dalmatian. It’s lean; it’s popular; every vet clinic seems to know about it, but how many actually own one?
Twitter boasts an enormous network with over 500 million users (think of all those pet owners!). The network improves communication and allows its users to closely interact with their favorite brands by posting brief information and/or links within limited character space.
Pet owners can directly contact your company’s Twitter page, which can be beneficial for a few reasons:
- Quickly answer questions, saving time on customer service
- Collect and review feedback on your business
- Share industry-related information
- Promote services or discounts
While delivering valuable information in smaller doses, you can effectively build your client base and connect with a broader audience. With that said, if you’ve noticed that your audience isn’t actively using Twitter, move on to a different platform that gains more traction!
If Facebook is a Great Dane – and Twitter is the Dalmatian — LinkedIn is the Border Collie. It’s useful, efficient, smart, and means business.
LinkedIn is a great way for individuals or fellow businesses to connect with your clinic. With 277 million professional users, the network was specifically designed for building professional relationships. LinkedIn remains the best social networking site to market your business-to-business (B2B) products and services because of this special demographic. Because your audience is typically business-to-customer (B2C), you might be asking, “Why would I use LinkedIn?”
Just like the other networks, LinkedIn is still a place for users to follow, recommend, and endorse businesses. For this reason, your vet clinic should work to get on this valuable real estate. LinkedIn posts are seen by friends and employers (just like Facebook and Twitter). You can even provide an overview of your services and/or discounts and share industry insight with your peers. This offers a large amount of exposure for your company.
Other Social Media Platforms
The list doesn’t end with just Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn (although they are among the most popular). YouTube, Pinterest, and Instagram are also extremely useful tools for generating a following and building trust with potential customers. Find out where your audience spends most of their time, and focus your promotional efforts on those networks.
What about Hashtags?
In case you haven’t noticed, #hashtags are a popular way for search engines and social media networks to categorize trending posts. But did you know they’re an important tool for brand promotion? Over 80% of Instagram posts by top brands include at least one hashtag. Uncover trending hashtags and use them to your advantage. Generally, we recommend not creating your own hashtags, unless you have a huge audience or event to help kickstart it.
You may have seen the popular #dontbullymybreed hashtag. The popular organization, www.dontbullymybreed.org has used Instagram hashtags such as #instapit, #dontbullymybreed, and #rescuedogsofinstagram to give many shelters a chance to show off their loyal companions and help find a new loving home.
Creating a Social Media Policy for Your Company
If you’re new to social media, it’s helpful to establish best practices and policies prior to publishing content on the networks. Create a one-sheet or simple document that notes you company’s policy and share with your team. You will need to consider the following:
- Who has the authority to post on your social media profiles?
- Who will moderate comments and respond to your audience?
- How will you handle customer criticisms or negative feedback?
- Do you have standard language and approved answers for comments?
We recommend you establish an owner for each social media platform, and dedicate 20 minutes each day to engage with your community or manage customer relationships. If you’re running low on ideas for social media posts, you can:
- Ask followers what they want to see
- Listen to what the community is talking about
- Observe what topics your competitors are succeeding with
By following social media best practices and your company’s policy, you can avoid making damaging mistakes that impact the reputation of your brand.
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