Social Media - DIY for DVMs
By Shannon Pecora, MA, Social Media Manager
Social media is the new word of mouth, and it’s vital for letting local pet owners know about the high-quality veterinary care that you offer. You need to be there as part of an overall business strategy, including:
- Client education
- Services promotion
- Rebate and offer advertisement
- Event, recall, and other special announcements
What They Didn’t Teach You in Vet School
But as AVMA puts it, social media is “not something most veterinarians were taught about in college or veterinary school, and it can be challenging to figure out how to use social media tools to help build and nurture your business or your career.”
Attention: AVMA members! Did you know that you can access their exclusive tips and tools for becoming more social savvy?
Need more convincing? BarkBox found that dog owners post about their pups six times a week! Meet those pet owners where they are so that you can attract new clients and foster lasting bonds with existing clients.
This may persuade you that you need to market your veterinary clinic on social media, but maybe you still can’t imagine where will you find the time to post, tweet, comment, and share all day long. You’ve got patients to care for, after all!
Your Reasons are Valid...
Lack of time and expertise are valid reasons for a veterinarian to shy away from doing all the social marketing for a practice. It’s tempting to look at outsourcing as the best solution. Just hire an agency to post on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest for you!
...But Social Marketing is a DIY Project
That marketing agency can only take you so far, and if you give up all your social media power to someone outside of your practice, you’ll be missing out on:
- Specifics - If marketing doesn’t stem from right inside your clinic, your posts, photos, and tweets won’t speak to your practice philosophy or medical recommendations. Replies to comments you receive will be generic and won’t reflect your best practices. Plus, only your staff in your clinic can provide photos of...your staff in your clinic!
- Personality - An outside marketer, no matter how talented and professional, won’t be able to mimic the “voice” of your practice. You can ask that person to be folksy, polished, or hip, but your most loyal clients in particular will sense the distance of your social stand-in.
- Community, Real Life - Local pet owners have local questions, and they want local answers. If your clinic doesn’t include a grooming salon, do you recommend a groomer from your town? What dog parks does your staff frequent? Which nearby store has the widest variety of cat toys? It takes an insider to provide this info.
- Community, Online - You need to know what’s going on out there! An outside marketer is perfectly capable of liking comments and photos from your social followers, but what happens when those clients ask you about those photos during their next in-office visit? Even for just appearance’s sake, your clients need to know that they’re interacting with a real representative of your practice. And think of those good and bad reviews (yep, nearly every practice gets a bad review from time to time). You can’t oversee your online reputation if you don’t actually see it.
Make it Happen
So you know you need to handle your social marketing in-house, but how is that possible when your patients, clients, and employees need you on the floor?
- Hire an In-House Marketer - This doesn’t have to be a high-paid full-time position, at least not to start. But this shouldn’t be a technician, receptionist, or even Practice Manager who already has 40+ hours of weekly duties. Bring in a part-time staffer with the drive and enthusiasm needed to promote your business, interact with your followers, and creatively educate pet owners. This will pay off in your time, client relationships, peace of mind, and, maybe most importantly, bottom line.
- Team Up with Professional Marketers - It can be tough to find a part-time employee with the skills, time, and background specific to veterinary medicine, marketing, and social media. A partnership between your internal marketer and digital marketing pros like GeniusVets can give you access to our expert tips, strategies, and content or inspiration library. Then you have complete control of your social marketing coupled with professional advice and tools. That’s how you harness the power of social media to market your veterinary practice!
- Focus - When you’ve established your business presence on one or more social platforms, the possibilities can seem both endless and overwhelming. Just consider the massive list of pet and animal themed “holidays,” and it’s easy to feel obligated to post about all pet-related topics, whether they’re relevant to your current business goals or not. Instead, pick a manageable chunk of time and give yourself a theme (more details about that here).
Do you participate in Dental Month special offers? Then the months of January and February could be reserved to advertise your special and educate dog and cat owners about dental health.
Have you introduced acupuncture as a service offering? You may want to take four weeks to promote the benefits of pet acupuncture.
- Have Fun! - No matter what your goals or focus, remember why pet owners - and people in general - are on social media in the first place. From cat videos to puppy pictures, these platforms are meant to be fun. So be sure to balance your educational posts with light-hearted content. A week’s worth of Facebook posts, for example, could include a how-to brush dog teeth video, an article about pet-appropriate toothpaste, and a branded graphic promoting your dental product discount to help you meet your business goals. Between those items, share memes, gifs, and videos to “reward” your social followers for sticking with you. Bonus: you’re sure to enjoy checking out and creating that cute content, too!
Truthfully, you probably can’t market your veterinary practice, either traditionally or digitally, all on your own. It makes sense to recruit some help, both in your office and from outside pros. But the best person to communicate your message is you, so make sure that you and your staff take the social marketing lead.