The (Basic) Art of Twitter for Veterinary Marketing
By Judy Brown, Client Success Coach and Shannon Pecora, MA, Marketing Manager
Twitter is one of the easiest social platforms to use; plus it’s fast-paced and exciting. When you have major marketing platforms like Facebook and Instagram established, Twitter can be a fun and useful addition to your social playbook. But, as you’ve no doubt heard, careless tweets can create a lot of negative fallout. So, before you start using Twitter, let us help you with best practice tips, along with a list of common mistakes to avoid.
It’s important to know the basic rules of engagement before you start Tweeting, and we can help you with that:
- Create a complete presence, just like you would on other social media. Is your profile completely filled out with a photo, description, and link?
- Explore current pet care conversations by regularly searching for hashtags and keywords.
- What you Tweet counts! Share content that is engaging and original, maintaining the same content quality standards as on your website and Facebook page.
- Feel free to share content, but be sure to give credit where credit is due with a retweet or quote (retweet with comment). More info about this below!
- Remember that Twitter is about engagement, not spam. That means you should not tweet the same message and link to your website over and over. You can’t show up in Twitter feeds 24 hours a day, but you can stand out by providing the opportunity for your followers to thoughtfully interact with you.
Hashtag, hashtag, hashtag!
Don’t be afraid use a hashtag for your brand, which is often a shortened name of your practice. For example, if we were Genius Pets Veterinary Hospital, our branded hashtag would be #GeniusPetsVet. The more you use it and the more your followers use it, the greater the chance of it (and your practice) being found through organic search.
You can also treat important keywords in your tweet as hashtags. Remember, you don’t have a ton of character space, so make those keywords work for Twitter searching! Think about #pets, #dogs, #cats, #PetSafety, or #fleas. But don’t get hashtag happy! A select handful, or even just one, will suffice to get your message across. You’re working with a character limit, so you want the bulk of your tweets to be true messages, not just tags.
Be sure to use others’ hashtags as well! Think about whose content you want to share and build from there. If reputable sources, such as AVMA or AAHA, begin a campaign that you’d like to participate in, take the lead and use their hashtags (and tag them as well when appropriate!).
Quote Tweet (Retweet with Comment) vs. Retweet
Sharing content from other Twitter users is a great way to increase your visibility, but knowing the best way to share is a different story.
- Quote Tweet: Allows you to add your own voice along with what others have already shared. Quoting gives your followers a chance to see the original tweet and your perspective in one look.
- Retweet: Retweeting is great when sharing on the fly, especially when the shared content truly does speak for itself. When you simply retweet, particularly with images, the original tweet retains its size, so it can be more visually appealing.
Like on other social sites, tagging is a great way to increase the visibility of your brand. When you tag (or @) another user, you not only have your followers who are seeing the content, but their followers as well.
Be strategic with these tags. Some examples:
- Tag the host and venue for a community event in which you participate.
- Tag a trusted source for information in one of your tweets, such as the American Association of Feline Practitioners (@CatVets) or Pet Poison Helpline (@PetPoisonHelp).
- Tag the shelter or rescue group if you post a photo of a newly-adopted pet patient.
Get Answers with Twitter Polls
Polls can help you achieve several goals:
- Find out who’s following you. Are they local pet owners, businesses, or rescue groups? Or do you need to retarget your messaging to attract the right followers?
- Generate ideas for blog content. How informed are your followers about certain pet care topics? Look for opportunities to educate.
- Create meaningful FAQ content for your website. How well do your followers understand your services and recommendations? Polls can help you enhance your website content based on what local pet owners are searching for and need to know.
10 Twitter Precautions
- Do not place a link in every tweet. Tweets should be as diverse and balanced as other social posts.
Bonus tip: when you do tweet a link, use a link shortener like bit.ly to keep links from eating up your character count.
- Watch your spelling, grammar, and punctuation: shortening words to fit is OK, but too many abbreviations and too much slang can look unpolished.
- Keep it positive! Handle “trolls” as you would negative commentary or reviews, and refrain from participating in negative commentary as your business.
- Avoid back-to-back tweets only at one time of day. Spread them out throughout the day to capture more of your audience, and experiment with different posting times to find the best reach and engagement.
- While your branded hashtag belongs in a lot of your tweets, be mindful of how often you use certain hashtags. They should be relevant to the content of the tweet, rather than “stuffed in” where they don’t fit.
- There is such a thing as overpromotion. Content should add value for your followers. Sometimes that’s educational, sometimes that’s fun, and sometimes that’s promotional. It’s all about balance.
- Establish your business’s own presence. It can be tempting to only retweet others because it’s fast, but followers like to hear your voice and get to know your personality and culture. Plus, Twitter users are more likely to unfollow your page, and then follow who you are retweeting instead.
- Politics. Nope. Just stay out of those controversies!
- CAPITALIZING EVERYTHING IS EQUIVALENT TO SHOUTING. It looks unprofessional, and your practice should be a calm, positive presence in the land of social media.
- And with all that said about your practice’s personality and voice, be sure you know it and stick to it! Changing your voice from tweet to tweet is confusing. It is important to stay consistent so your followers will always know who you are.
Twitter is all about speed and finding out what’s happening right now. Your veterinary practice may not be operating within a lightning-fast breaking news cycle, but you can help Twitter-using pet owners keep their pet’s best care top of mind.
And, of course, don’t forget to follow GeniusVets on Twitter!