The Only Constant is Change...Especially in Digital Marketing
By Harley Orion, CEO & Shannon Pecora, MA, Social Media Manager
“The only constant is change...” –Attributed to Heraclitus of Ephesus (535 BC – 475 BC)
“...especially in digital marketing.” –GeniusVets
If you’ve been paying any attention to the news, you’ve probably been hearing words like “fake news” and “Facebook algorithm” a lot lately. Maybe you’ve read a bit about Cambridge Analytica, and the alleged misappropriation of tons of Facebook data for propaganda purposes.
In response to these developments, virtually all social media platforms are making significant changes to their functionality. These changes affect every business that has a social media presence. As a GeniusVets client, you have the support of a top-notch team of marketing pros who are constantly watching these changing platforms and recommending the most effective way our clients can respond to remain connected, relevant, and successful.
What’s Really Happening
Over the last few months, social media platforms (Facebook most of all) have been making major changes to their algorithms in an attempt to fight the spread of “fake news” and low quality content. (By the way, “algorithm” in this sense refers to the complicated set of instructions that programmers give their software to help it decide automatically what content is relevant, what is spam, what should be given priority in users’ news feeds, and so on).
One aspect of the “fake news” story is that numerous fake accounts were created on these platforms, which were then used to send millions of essentially identical messages, creating an impression of popularity around ideas that were neither popular nor generally believed. The new algorithm changes are primarily aimed at defeating this type of behavior.
In general, this is a good thing. No one wants to see fake news, propaganda, and swarms of “bots” clogging up their social media feeds.
However, like all sweeping changes – and especially because these changes are being made frantically in response to a PR crisis at these social networks – there is a high likelihood that good content and valid strategies will also be swept up and affected by these changes.
How These Changes Could Affect Your Practice
First and foremost, if all your social media content is being created individually by your practice team, these changes should have very little effect. Because veterinary clinics are generally small, local businesses, content produced by your team is more likely to be both unique and relevant to your community. Using local culture and style, local images, unique hashtags, and so on will help ensure that your posts aren’t flagged as “spammy” or irrelevant.
But Mark Zuckerberg himself has said that “relevant” isn’t quite enough for content to earn a prominent place in many News Feeds. It will still be great for both your social presence and your business reputation to have likes, reactions, and shares on Facebook. However, you’ll also need to make space for and encourage discussion on your posts. We have tips for doing just that here -- and as a bonus, this type of social media behavior is fun and rewarding!
Shift the Focus
Forbes has an eye out for small business social success, too. Specifically regarding video posting: “Ultimately, the news feed will favor posts that foster genuine engagement and meaningful social interaction -- posts that receive more shares, likes and comments. For small businesses, this means your video content should encourage dialogue between users.”
It can be tempting to create Facebook (and other social media) posts that only drive appointments and sales. If there is a chance that your post reach will decline even more, after all, why not make each post part of your “bottom line” strategy? But Forbes recommends, “Instead of content that is focused on a product or service, create a video ad that cultivates a human connection while featuring your product or service.” What can human connection do for veterinary business goals? Don’t forget about the value of your practice’s culture and personality! There are many ways to attract new clients and bond existing clients, including via positive associations related to your online presence.
Social Media Today puts it even more simply: “we can use Facebook to foster customer trust by adhering to that (now largely forgotten) lesson of marketing: ‘Give the public what they want.’”
Because it has become easier and easier to look at the numbers and data related to social media, marketers run the risk of forgetting to treat “customers as humans and instead [regard] them as statistics,” so SMT reminds us, “At the end of the day, marketing should be about listening to your customers.” Your GeniusVets team, specifically, can still help you sort through all the data with our monthly marketing video reports, and we can help you find your messaging in your mission to help local pets and pet owners as well. And more importantly, we can help you find the measurable data that signals whether you’re meeting those goals. Bottom line: it’s not just how many thumbs up your posts get; it’s also how many bonded client relationships those posts help you establish.
It’s worth noting that Twitter, too, is taking a closer look at “spam”-type and repetitive posting, so you’ll need to pay close attention to how distinctive each of your tweets is. This refreshed approach to content creation will ultimately go beyond satisfying the social platforms, and will actually help your practice’s content to be more unique, engaging, and - most importantly - effective.
Staying Responsive and Agile
GeniusVets clients will have the opportunity to review these changes and updates with their Client Success Manager on upcoming strategy calls, but if you’re marketing for any veterinary practice and you have any questions on the above please, don’t hesitate to reach out.
Change is truly the one constant in the field of digital marketing. The various social networks will continue to update their strategies in response to new challenges. When that happens, you can be confident that we keep our ears perked up for the latest developments. Your GeniusVets team works tirelessly to stay ahead of these trends, both in the functionality of our products and in the strategic advice we give our clients. That’s what it takes to succeed ... in 2018 and beyond.