According to Pew Research Center, nearly two thirds of American adults (65%) are using social media in some form or another. While it’s easy to picture these users as young people keeping in touch, sharing pictures, and complaining about the latest movie/TV show/restaurant/neighbor that’s absolutely driving them “totally crazy,” the simple fact is that the major social media platforms have become ingrained in our daily lives. And it’s now the first place many people turn when they are looking for important information or reliable referrals.
So what does that mean for your veterinary marketing efforts?
Simply put, it opens up a number of avenues through which you can reach more pet owners in the community and let them know about your clinic.
There are several ways that veterinary social media can help you build a bigger following and manage your reputation online. This is a great way to promote other content and stimulate important conversations. It’s also possible to quickly reach a highly targeted audience with your marketing message, and interact with customers who may be leaving positive or negative comments about your clinic.
Let’s consider these strategies one at a time.
Promotion and Curation
Social media is a simple and effective way to promote your clinic and your online content. As you build your online presence, you will be writing blogs and developing new web pages (well, you should be), and your social media channels should be the first step in delivering this new content to the world. You can announce that you have created and posted this new content that may be relevant to their own pet problems.
This is also an important way to inform your followers of any special promotions going on. If you’re offering a discount on routine checkups, announce it all on your social channels. There are a lot of potential ways to promote your clinic this way.
But, at the same time, you won’t always have new content or promotions to share through social channels. What do you do then? Do you just let your network go quite?
This is where “curation” comes into play. As a veterinarian, you can be a resource for people who are concerned about the health and wellbeing of their pets. That doesn’t mean that every answer has to come directly from you. Perhaps you found a great article somewhere that explains a common dog ailment, and you think some of your followers could benefit from reading it, too. Perhaps you found a graphic that helps pet owners know when they should bring their pets in for checkups.
These are all things you can share on your social networks and establish yourself as someone who is keeping up with the industry and is quick to provide helpful resources.
Target Your Audience with Social Ads
Over the years, the use of social ads has grown extremely fast. According to a study by eMarketer, companies and organizations will be spending $35.98 billion on social media ads by 2017.
Why is there such a growing interest in this kind of advertising?
Because, despite our natural tendency toward banner blindness when we visit various websites, these ads have proven to be a real, tangible driver of website traffic and potential clients.
The benefits come from the ability to target very specific audiences based on demographics, geographic areas, and behavioral data. You can control your spend precisely, and if one ad isn’t working quite right, you can immediately modify it and test for better results.
Using these ads effectively is something of an art and a science. You need to make sure they are seen by your target audience, but you don’t want to interrupt their social experience either. You need to be sure that you are the veterinary clinic they see when they realize they need to get some help for their pets, but you don’t want to pester them when they’re not ready.
Interacting and Engaging
Your reputation is a critical part of veterinary marketing strategies. If someone finds you online, but then finds a range of negative posts about your business on social media platforms or product/service review sites, it can limit the amount of new clients you see coming through your doors.
Social media for veterinary professionals is a great way to engage and interact with people who are already talking about your clinic. There is a lot of potential here to build a great reputation. You can be the fun veterinarian who is always telling good stories. You can be the one that always responds coolly to negative feedback and works to correct any issues. You can even be the one who reliably responds to even the smallest questions.
Streamlining the Process
Keeping up with a number of social media channels can be a real challenge. Posting regularly to three or more networks can seem like more trouble than it is worth, but there are a number of tools available that will help you get more out of the time spent marketing your veterinary clinic online.
The best tools allow you to create, manage, and schedule your social media content. There are several out there, but a few good ones to start with include:
Buffer – This simple tool allows you to schedule most all of your social posts from a single dashboard. This way you can create a wide range of posts, input them in the tool, and tell Buffer when you want them to go live. This way you can plan to publish at the times when your audience is online and looking for new information.
Canva – This is a free image creation tool that simplifies a lot of the design process. You can create professional-looking images for social media platforms or your blog.
Follower Wonk – This tool helps you find people to follow and contact on Twitter. It’s a great way to start relationships with people who are in the same industry and have some influence to share.
Any of these tools would be a good place to start streamlining your social content production, but it’s important to remember one thing: even though these tools can make the work easier, they can’t make it go away completely.
The quality and consistency of the social media campaign is still up to you. You can’t set up an automated social media account, hit the start button, and assume everything will go well.
You have to actually be social. You have to respond to questions when they’re asked. You have to show your followers that you’re actually listening. And you have to mix up your ads and your social posts to keep things feeling fresh and unique.
It can be a challenge, but the end results will be worth it.