I frequently come across the same challenges over and over that veterinarians are having with social media. It’s viewed as an unnecessary evil, but it’s not going anywhere so we might as well use it to our advantage right?
If you avoid these 5 common mistakes, having a social media strategy for your practice will be well worth the time and effort.
1. My Practice Is Busy. I Don’t Need Marketing Right Now
This sounds reasonable. You barely have enough vets to keep up with current demand. Why would you want to spend time and money on marketing?
Answer: Because social media is no longer just a marketing tool. It’s also a Customer Service platform and clients will often turn to us on Facebook before they pick up the phone and call us. They expect a fast response to comments and private messages and if we don’t answer promptly, they may become impatient or go elsewhere.
Even if your practice is busy now, there may come a time when the rush tapers off. That’s when you want pet owners to think of your practice as the first stop when they need a vet.
2. Infrequency Of Posts
I’m guilty of this one myself. I don’t post enough! I’m often so busy creating content for my clients that I forget to publish on my own business page.
Vet clinics don’t need to post every day but I would recommend 3-4 times per week at a minimum.
Once you’re in the habit of taking regular pics it becomes much easier. Casual snaps of pets, smiling nurses and vets treating patients are social media gold and they will drive up activity and engagement on your page.
It’s not necessary to be taking photos every day. Fill the gaps with shareable content such as infographics and educational posts, seasonal information and advice, service announcements such as promos and discounts, charitable contributions and volunteering, inspirational quotes, funny pet memes….the possibilities are endless.
If you’re looking for some inspiration, read my previous blog on Social Media Content Planning here.
3. Poor Presentation – Images, Graphics and Artwork
Your objective is to build your following and keep them engaged. Facebook will initially show your post to only a fraction of your followers. The more shares, likes, reactions and comments your post receives, the more it will show up people’s newsfeeds and the further it will go.
This why visual impact is so important. I wouldn’t even mention this one, except that I see it happen ALL the time. Aside from candid shots (which have a natural appeal), Facebook and Instagram messages with poor fonts, colours and design can make you look bad. It’s better to not post at all than to share illegible content.
4. Slow Reponse To Comments, Messages and Reviews
Setting up an automated response is the very first thing you should do if you have a Facebook page for your practice. It sets an expectation of when the client can expect a response along with emergency phone numbers and is particularly useful after hours.
From experience, I know that pet owners will private message you on Facebook about everything from the price of a vaccination to a question about their dog’s bad breath. And they will do it at 1 o’clock in the morning.
Have a designated team member who is responsible for replying to clients within an agreed time-frame (e.g. 12 hours). If you’d prefer to outsource your social media management I can help!
5. No Call To Action
Not all social media posts should include a ‘sales’ message, but if your message resonates with a client they still need to know what to do next. For example, you may post a photo of a dog’s nail curling into the pad of the paw, along with a mention of free nail clips. Or perhaps you found a dental anomaly during a puppy’s oral exam and you want pet owners to know that you offer free dental checks for puppies and kittens.
If this is the case, add your phone number and an online booking link to your post with a clear directive such as “Call Us” or “Book Now”. Make it easy for customers to take action.
Getting started with social media and keeping it going may seem like a drain on your time and resources, but it’s where our customers spend their time and where they expect to see you. Implement some basic strategies now to keep your social media accounts humming, and they will keep working for you. You will have a responsive customer service reputation as well as a low-cost alternative to print media and paid advertising.