Making a Love Connection: Social Media Marketing for Veterinarians
By Shannon Pecora, MA, Marketing Manager
You’re nervous, but excited at the same time. You want to make the best impression, and you’re cautiously hopeful that this is a match made in heaven.
Nope, you’re not meeting a stranger for a first date. You’re using Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram to educate and market to local pet owners!
Social Marketing for your veterinary practice can help local pet owners fall in love -- or it can turn them way off. Consider it a venue for a first date with potential clients, and let some tried and true dating advice guide your social strategies.
Start a Beautiful Relationship
There are some universal truths to making a good first impression. Some social media do’s:
- Highlight your best features - Why should eligible pet owners come back for those “second date” boosters, let alone for lifelong semi-annual exams? Showcase your beautiful facility, your shining bedside manner, and your consistent work toward continuing education. Help them see why they should commit to you in their pet’s sickness and in health.
- Be polished and personable - Sure, you’re a veterinary genius, and it’s important for your clients to know that. You’re a medical pro, but avoid coming off as condescending or aloof. You can’t engage a pet owner with too much jargon, gory details, or over-explaining.
- Start quality conversations - Whether you’re sitting across a table for two or in front of your office keyboard, the operative word is “social.” So invite the 2-way conversation by asking questions, using polls, and responding to comments and reviews. AdWeek offers the perspective of your social followers:
“With every one-on-one conversation we have with a brand, there is an opportunity for that brand to further develop a relationship with us. Personal dialog is a brand’s best bet to establish rapport, trust and loyalty.”
In other words, be open and approachable so that social media users will feel open to approaching you!
- Be positive - You’re passionate about your clinic, and you have a definite practice philosophy. But if you despise a certain brand of pet food or fall on one side of the great declaw debate, resist the urge to bash “the other.” Instead, explain the benefits of your point of view and woo pet owners as the resource to help them make informed decisions. Curb any arguments in the comments with level-headed replies. You may even need to remove comments or break up with (ban or block) certain users from time to time.
It’s Not Them; It’s You!
There are absolutely clients who don’t fit with your practice culture, and that’s true both in the real and virtual environments. But for the most part, if you aren’t hitting it off with pet owners on social media, you might be sending out the wrong signals. Some social media don’t’s:
- Take political sides - Your personal social media might reveal your end of the political spectrum (though you may want to keep your public branding in mind). However, you can quickly polarize your audience and disenchant potential customers if you flirt with controversial topics. Dogs and cats can’t vote anyway, and whether they’re Re-pup-licans or Demo-cats, they all need regular veterinary care!
- Post defensive or argumentative replies - Let’s face it: many people head straight to Facebook and Twitter to complain. If you receive criticism or a negative review, you may be anxious to prove it wrong. Resist that urge, and instead steer the exchange offline. Start off by thanking the person for the feedback, and even validate the concerns. Then, provide a specific method of contact, such as a phone number or email, because direct dialogue can help clear up misunderstandings or resolve any true problems. Better yet, if you recognize the name or situation, you can take the first step to reach out by phone. With resolution, the reviewer may be willing to update the review. But even if that person keeps up negative online chatter, don’t feed the trolling. You’re in a public forum, and you ultimately want to take the high road and look like a reasonable person, veterinary care provider, and business.
Review juggernaut Yelp offers this advice:
“Please don't use public comments to launch personal attacks, advertise, or offer an incentive to change a review.” Though your clinic is your passion, a level head will help you “keep it simple and polite. Yelpers appreciate honesty and like to know when businesses are making changes based on their feedback.”
- Make it ALL about you - As mentioned above, social media is social. The art of conversation is give and take. You absolutely want to share your greatest qualities and interesting traits, but don’t make it all about you. Don’t leave reviews, comments, or inquiries to languish; people who reach out to you are looking for a real connection.
There is an art to social listening, both when people reach out directly and when people are talking about veterinary care in general on social media. Social marketing is not just sales. Pay attention to what pet owners are actually looking for and talking about online. This will give you the edge because you can post the info or market the services that will fulfill those needs.
They’ll Look Forward to Seeing You Again
Your personal social media might be a cocktail party, where you shake hands with lots of folks, enjoy several light conversations, and move on quickly to the next group of chit-chatters. Your professional social marketing, however, is where you foster deeper connections and hopefully long-term bonds. You’re quite the catch, and local pet owners will surely fall in love with your practice if you court them with just the right social marketing!
Which Facebook post types will help you build these relationships? Get our FREE GeniusGuide: 5 Facebook Post Types that Work for Veterinarians!
Want to learn more about this type of Evidence Based Marketing? Get in touch with us!