Bonded Clients Help Your Veterinary Practice Attract New Clients via Social Media
By Judy Brown, Client Success Coach
Part of the strength of digital marketing -- and social marketing -- is that it opens up avenues for two-way communication. You don’t just broadcast a flat message to everyone in your community; instead, you can hold full, helpful, engaging conversations with local pet owners. In terms of building advocacy for your practice, you need to communicate well with existing clients in ways that help you “show off” to prospective clients. The more inviting your social content is, the more likely you are to attract communication with your clients, which helps develop them into social media cheerleaders for your veterinary practice.
So it’s not enough for a clinic to just create social media content. You have to do something with it! Simply put, you engage and continue the conversation you started, because the truth is that whether you use social media personally or not, your clients do. Through your engagement, you provide social proof of your practice, expand your reach, and bring brand awareness through a cost-effective resource. But how do you do this, and do it correctly? It is not as scary or hard as one might think, so let’s dive in and talk through what you should know.
Know Your Voice!
Your voice is how you infuse personality and language into your communication through the words and language you use. Ask yourself, how do you talk in the practice to your clients? That is the voice you want to use on your social media accounts. Repetition and consistency are important for local pet owners to know who you are and what you are about and will ensure your efforts do not fall flat. Then, when potential clients have the chance to “witness” your social media conversations with your existing clients, they’ll stand a good chance of understanding your brand, personality, and culture.
The House Rules
These are everyone’s least favorite thing but are an absolute necessity in ensuring your social space is similar to how you run your practice. Do you have an expectation of how your clients should act or behave when they are in your practice? If so, this should be reflected in your community guidelines, or house rules, on social media.
Now, not all social platforms will have an area to display this, and that is OK! But for spaces like Facebook, where people tend to be more vocal, this is where you start:
- State your purpose
- Remind people that abusive or offensive content will not be allowed and will be removed
- Share your contact information so that there is an alternative way to reach out
Remember, this is your space to inform, educate, and communicate with your current and future clients outside of the practice and appointments.
Being Personal Without Sharing Personal Information
When replying, it is never OK to share personal or private information about a client or their pet. Not only does this go against most social media policies, but it can also cause a lost sense of security for your clients and be a major turn-off for future clients.
So how can you make your replies personal?
- Use their first name as it appears in their profile. We know what we said above, but names are a part of everyone’s profile on social media, so this is OK.
- If communicated, use their pet’s name. Repeating anything already said to you back can go a long way in showing that you are listening.
- Don’t overuse “Thank You.” Over time this will start to lose authenticity.
- Ask a question. This might not always fit the situation, but when it does it can be an effective way of personalizing and continuing a conversation.
Your existing clients will demonstrate their bonded relationship with your practice to your prospective clients. Your bonded clients truly know you and trust you, making them perfect advocates on your behalf.
No, You Don’t Have to Reply to Everything
Really! Give yourself a break on this - you have answered questions and educated clients all day face to face, after all.
So, what is the magic number here? Replying to 50% of the content that comes through on your social spaces is a great cadence, and it’s something that can be easily managed. You can increase that pace when you have the time to do so, but there is no reason to strain yourself trying to reply to every single comment that a cute puppy photo might attract.
Still want everyone else to feel as special as those you reply to? Simply like or react! A like is something you can use across all social channels, even in more professional type settings such as LinkedIn, while reactions work well on Facebook. And while these are not a written reply, they can make someone feel listened to.
One important thing to remember though, is that there will be times when an interaction should not take place on a public forum and you will want to take that conversation offline. More often than not, these will be those particularly emotional posts, both negative and positive, that are better left to a one on one interaction.
When you can showcase that sort of agility and wisdom in online communication, potential clients will be drawn to the ways that you reply to and respect your existing clients.
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Understanding How to Respond by Platform
You want your interactions with your clients to shine for people who aren’t yet your clients, which means knowing how to do this by platform. Let’s break it down for you:
- Probably the best thing about replying to conversations with multiple people on Facebook is that you can reply in-line, which makes for an easier and more personalized conversation.
- Because you can share links in replies, you have better educational and awareness opportunities.
- Through notifications, your posts and the conversation happening under them are more likely to be seen by friends of your followers, even if those friends aren’t already following your business page.
- To keep it fun, you have the ability to reply with gifs, memes, and photos.
- Don’t forget check-ins! These are very much a part of your page and are more likely seen by that person’s friends and family, so a conversation here can instill a strong sense of community for potential new clients.
- Liking and reactions work very well here and are a great form of engagement without always having to reply.
- Instagram is a fast-paced platform, so you may not get those extended conversations like you might on Facebook and Twitter. Instead, you will want to reply as often as you can on several conversations.
- The great news about this platform is that it is more human and has a fun side! Instagram gives you the ability to show a different view of the practice; your interactions with your clients show your fun side to potential clients.
- Don’t forget to hashtag, even if you do this on the original post! Continued use of hashtags even in replies can get you seen by people who aren’t already your followers.
- And remember, your engagement does not have to only be on your photos. Interact when your location is tagged and with “local influencers,” etc. Positive interactions here with your current clients or influencers help you “show off” for potential clients.
- Your business can get viewed by people who aren’t yet your followers as their feed shows when your friends interact with your tweets.
- Like Facebook, you can reply in-line here, which is great for an ongoing conversation.
- And like Instagram, you can use hashtags in your replies for greater visibility.
- With LinkedIn you want to think about who your primary target audience is: employees, potential employees, and peers – all could be potential advocates for your practice.
- While you do have the ability to use reactions, use them sparingly as this is more of a professional space.
- Replying on LinkedIn gives you a greater opportunity to educate through your expertise and links shared from your website.
What Content Are You Creating?
Remember, there is no engagement without posting engageable content, so think about what you are putting out there.
- Post strong and high-quality images and graphics
- Ask questions or post a poll
- Share blogs or articles from your website
- Encourage employee advocacy – if your employees are sharing on the content you create, you can grab the attention of not only current clients, but future clients as well
- Post videos
- Get your timing right (this is something a GeniusVets Client Success Coach can help gauge from your analytics!)
- But most importantly, be consistent!
Now that you have the basics, go engage!
The GeniusVets Inspiration Library can help you develop just the right branded, engaging social content. Want to learn more about how we can help you grow your customer base? Contact us to schedule your Marketing Health Exam!