Managing and excelling at social media can feel like a daunting task, especially for short-staffed practices. By adopting a progress-over-perfection mindset, you can make the most of your veterinary practice’s social media with the following five tips.
1. Know your why
One of the best strategies to employ when narrowing your marketing focus is to simply ask: “Why?” Why are you marketing for your veterinary practice at all? What are you hoping to accomplish? If your answer is “I don’t know,” or “because we’re supposed to be on social media,” it’s time to invest some serious thought and energy into defining your objective.
For some practices, their “why” might be to increase new clients or booked appointments. For others, it’s to improve existing client loyalty or to earn more five-star reviews. When you clearly define your why, it suddenly becomes much easier to determine the social media content that will help you achieve that goal.
Here are some common whys, but remember that you may have multiple and they may change over time:
- Increase appointments
- Increase revenue
- Increase service utilization (e.g., online booking, app downloads, etc.)
- Educate clients
- Foster loyalty
- Increase/improve ratings and reviews
- Save staff time
- Offer convenience
2. Know your who
When it comes to the pay-to-play environment of social media, it’s important to have a clear idea of who your clients are so you’re not wasting advertising dollars marketing to people who are unlikely to become clients. Market to the right clients whenever possible. Knowing their names, emails, or even general demographics can help your social media content get seen by more of the pet owners you’re hoping to reach. Plus, knowing your who can help you refine the types of content your practice uses, and what platforms to invest more time and energy into.
Consider building a VIP list of favorite clients, like those who:
- Keep their pets up to date on all of your recommendations
- Leave unprompted five-star reviews
- Treat your staff with respect
- Are fun to work with
Reach out to your VIPs and ask them what content and platforms are important to them, and you’ll be on your way to creating content that is more likely to resonate.
3. You don’t have to be on every social media platform
As the number of social media platforms increases, it’s tempting to try to post content on every new platform and have a robust presence on them all. Admittedly, most successfully marketed practices are using a multimodal platform strategy, but not an all-platform strategy. Quality is more important than quantity.
Choose the platforms that your clients and team have indicated are important to them (try a survey if you don’t already know), and focus on a solid content strategy there. If you’re nervous about missing the next big social media platform, claim your account but indicate in your bio where followers can find more up-to-date content.
4. Get hyperlocal
Even the most viral #puppiesofinstagram post is unlikely to net you any more clients or get you closer to reaching your marketing goals. Focus on what matters to your clients and your community. Use community-specific hashtags, share photos of involvement in your area, share content from other businesses in the area, and be proud of the community you serve. This content will resonate with your followers and clients and will improve your loyalty.
5. Listen and engage — don’t forget the social part of social media
Last but not least, listen to what your followers are saying on social media and other sites — in comments, messages, and reviews. Many practices overlook this crucial step, but it’s an opportunity to carry on a conversation with a client you might normally get to see just once or twice a year.
While there can be some frustratingly negative reviews, the majority of reviews are positive. Thanking the client by commenting on the positive review can build on the relationship your practice has with them. (And don’t forget to share positive reviews with your team — it’s a great way to give them some much-needed love.)
Make a regular effort to check out mentions, tags, messages, and reviews. Recognize those who are acting as online ambassadors for your practice by responding to their reviews and messages and by thanking those who are recognized as “Top Fans” in your Facebook Page’s community section. In addition to building relationships, listening to and engaging with social media content can provide practices with valuable feedback and client insight.
Engaging clients through social media or any other platform doesn’t have to be difficult. Check out some tools from Vetsource that can help.