The best advice when starting to build networks online is to wade in slowly.
Kelly Deewall, DVM, Ashland, Kan., and Marybeth Miskovic Feutz, DVM, MS, Ph.D., Diplomate American College Veterinary Internal Medicine, Princeton, Ind., say social media has taken their client relationships and education to a new level. These simple tips can help you find success for your clinic, too.
Feutz says when a veterinary practice decides to move into the social media world, the best advice is to take baby steps.
“There’s a lot to do, and it’s easy to turn it into a big thing,” she says. “Facebook is a great place to start. It’s free, and it’s relatively simple to set up a page for your clinic. Get in, get your feet wet, and play around a bit.”
And, she says, the Ohio Farm Bureau offers a useful social media guide here.
Deewall says there’s no reason why a clinic shouldn’t enter the world of social media.
“It takes a small amount of time, and it can be very beneficial,” she says. “I don’t see why anyone wouldn’t do it.”
By following a few simple guidelines, your clinic can build relationships with existing clients and see new faces walk through the door. Yes, social media is more than a good time. Done right, it can be profitable as well.
- Be consistent. Feutz says consistency in the frequency of posts and updates is critical for social media success. ?“It’s so important that you’re serious about this, and that you make it a priority,” she says.
- Keep it interesting. “You must have something to say,” Feutz says. “If you’re not interesting, they won’t come back.”
- Worth a thousand words. “When possible, use photographs with your posts, and it’s even better when you’ve taken those photos yourself,” Feutz says. “It lends a more personal touch to show photos in your environment and with your animals. It goes a long way in gaining personal interest and trust.”?Deewall agrees.?“Pictures are worth a thousand words,” she says. “Use a photo, and you’ll get more exposure.”
- Make it appropriate. When posting photos, ensure they’re “public appropriate,” Feutz cautions. “We, as a profession, need to be conscious of photos being too graphic,” she says. “Not everyone has the same stomach as a vet.”
- Chat it up. Feutz says you must be in conversation with your followers. “You’re not just spouting off your ideas to the world,” she says. “You want to engage them in the conversation while sharing your ideas.”
- Keep it legal. Deewall says their clinic’s lawyer advised gaining written permission before posting a client’s animal on Facebook, whether it be a cow or a cat. Feutz agrees. Always remember patient confidentiality when posting photos. “When showing an x-ray of a broken bone, be sure to block out the label on the film,” Feutz says. “If you show an actual animal, get permission. Most people are going to be flattered, but it’s worth keeping their trust to ask.”
- Keep it current. Deewall says it’s critical to keep fresh information posted to your clinic’s page. “Don’t go weeks on end without posting or you’re going to lose some people’s interest,” she says. “You need to keep people knowing you’re there.”
- Educate, educate, educate. Educational topics are well received, Deewall says. “I don’t like to be seen as a salesperson,” she says. “And, you shouldn’t only use Facebook as a selling point. Get them interested, and they’ll be more apt to come to you and recommend you to someone else.”
- Keep it brief. “Don’t get extremely wordy, or your post won’t be read,” Deewall says.