Facebook, Twitter, Google+, RSS feeds. If you’re gasping for breath as you try to navigate the exciting but treacherous social media waters, you’re not alone. Social media is exploding in the veterinary world. The number of veterinary practices using social media has more than doubled from 2010, according to the 2012 Veterinary Economics Business Issues Survey. It’s even growing in popularity among individuals in the veterinary industry, although it may be peaking. The number of veterinarians using Facebook for personal reasons jumped from 47 percent in 2010 to 68 percent in 2011, but only increased to 72 percent this year.
Now if you’ve posted a few Facebook updates, tweeted a few weekly specials, or made sure interested clients can see your once-every-few-months blog posts, you still have a long way to go to getting social media working for you. Try our experts’ top tips for maximizing social media and make sure your practice is riding the wave and not getting pulled under.
Become socially aware
When Bash Halow, CVPM, LVT, of Halow Consulting in New York City, faced too many social media marketing client questions that he couldn’t answer, he initiated a meeting of the minds, put together a media workshop and took it on the road. Here are his experts’ top 10 tricks and picks for social media novices and intermediate users:
For those new to social media
Set Labor Day, Sept. 3, as your deadline. You’ll have at least three hours of downtime in the sun. Why not spend some of it fiddling around with social websites that hold three out of four Americans in thrall?
Remember you’re not alone. Aren’t your kids already on this stuff? I know your employees are. Asking them to lend you a tutorial hand will put you on the fast track…and for better or worse, give you more insight into their lives.
Start with the easy stuff. Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest are popular for a reason. They’re incredibly user friendly and will quickly grab your interest.
Don’t open a page for your business until you become comfortable with the site. A few months using it personally, rather than professionally, will serve you well.
Note the kinds of things that grab your attention. What you like as a personal user are the very same ingredients you want to bring to your business’s online presence.
For those already in social media
Don’t monologue, dialogue. Steer clear of the tutorial and engage the reader in a conversation.
Every photo matters. Posted pictures should not only say a thousand words, they should solicit a thousand words. You want pictures and tag lines that beg for a response.
Focus your posts on improving your ranking in online searches. When clients search for veterinary clinics in their city, you want your practice to be on the top of the list.
It’s not about how many people like you, it’s about what those people are saying about you. You want your client (who’s not supposed to be using the computer for personal reasons at work) to say, “Look at this cute picture my vet just posted.”
If someone peeped in the keyhole to your practice, you’d like them to see _______. This image isn’t the text of your Mission Statement; it’s what it looks like living and breathing inside your veterinary practice!