Knowing what to post and when, then finding the time to upload content to multiple platforms can be stressful and time consuming for any busy veterinary practice.
In this month’s blog I am going to share my Top 5 Tips to help make your social media scheduling a breeze. You’ll need to set aside some initial planning time and get buy-in from your team, however you’ll find that with a little advance preparation and a few new habits, you can prevent social media from eating up all of your precious time—both at work and at home.
1. Use a Social Media Calendar
By the time I sit down to do my weekly scheduling I already have 90% of it planned.
- Start every year with a fresh calendar and fill it with as much as you can, including:
- Notable animal dates
- Public holidays
- Seasonal health and safety messages
- Services (Puppy School, wellness plans, free dental checks etc.)
- Clinic promotions
- Team birthdays
- Meet the team
- Be clear on your objectives. Your social media calendar should be aligned with your practice’s marketing plan. For example, if you are running a dental promo in August you can plan your social media posts months ahead of time.
- Encourage input from the rest of the team by combining a brain-storming session with a working lunch or creating an online space for sharing ideas.
2. Collect Content As You Go
- Always be on the lookout for new content and save it for later. Take photos and videos of patients that capture your interest and you’ll always have fresh content ready to schedule each week. (Facebook allows you to save content in customised folders with the default being ‘For Later’.)
- You can also set up Google Alerts to deliver relevant, customised content to your inbox either daily or weekly.
- Follow other business pages and set up notifications from content creators to keep track of what’s popular and what topics are trending.
- Save your seasonal content for next year! It takes time to create designs in Canva and write your health and safety messages. Having your content stored in an online spreadsheet and an organised folder system in Canva means that you won’t have to reinvent the wheel each time.
- Keep ‘frequently used’ posts handy for events such as unexpected phone outages, changes in COVID restrictions and thunderstorm warnings so that they can be accessed quickly when needed.
- Encourage team members to share their stories about volunteering, travel and other causes that are important to your practice.
3. Set Content Deadlines
- Set a monthly due date for content submission of newsletter articles, photos, case studies etc.
- Give team members plenty of lead time and send reminders closer to the due date.
- If you’re happy to share more than one post on the same day, ad hoc patient photos and fresh content can easily be added and uploaded on the go.
4. Get the Right Tools
Many vet nurses manage their clinic’s social media accounts predominantly from their phones. This is great for convenience and mobility, however it has its limitations.
- If possible, allocate an hour in the office each week to schedule 3 or 4 posts in advance. Use Meta Business Suite to plan posts for both Facebook and Instagram at the same time. There is a phone app for this, but weekly scheduling is much easier when using a desktop computer.
- You can then install and use the Meta Business Suite app on your phone to manage and monitor your posts throughout the week.
- Create a group in WhatsApp or on Slack where team members can share photos, videos and ideas. This also helps to avoid double-handling when you are receiving private messages and online requests from clients.
- Canva is a free tool that anyone can access, but I highly recommend signing up for Canva Pro if you are serious about building a social media presence for your practice. At around $167 per year you’ll get access to millions of stock photos, design templates and graphics. For me, it’s a no-brainer.
5. Create Healthy Habits
In the current climate it’s more important than ever to look after ourselves and our colleagues to prevent burn out. Unfortunately with social media running 24/7 and Facebook messages coming through from worried pet owners at all hours, the lines between work and home life can become blurred.
Some client messages do require urgent action, however you can mitigate the drain on team members by doing the following:
- Consider having a dedicated mobile phone or tablet that can be shared amongst different team members.
- Set clear boundaries with your clients by setting up an auto-responder for private messages. This gives them the option of waiting until morning or going to an after hours emergency hospital.
Take this message for example. It was received at 10pm on a Saturday night. To the client the matter is urgent, however you may decide that this one can wait until morning.
- Add tasks to your online calendar so that you don’t have to try and remember what needs actioning the next day.
- Resist the urge to keep scrolling your social media feeds, otherwise you’ll never be able to completely switch off from work. If you have the Meta Business Suite app installed on your phone you will receive notifications whenever someone sends a message, writes a review or comments on a post—so there’s no need to keep checking. 🙂
To help you with your planning I’ve created 2 free downloads—a veterinary marketing planner template, and a list of all the notable calendar dates for 2022. (The 2023 dates will be available soon!)
Social media gives clients access to us in a way like never before, however the downside is that it can also become intrusive. Take back some of your time by planning ahead, setting boundaries and sharing the fun with your team. I hope these tips help you and your team to find a small oasis of calm amidst the chaos.