At CVC Kansas City, Dr. Andy Roark shared with a packed room his top tips to host a fantastic cocktail party ... and of course, the same rules apply for your veterinary hospital’s Facebook page.
There are a lot of cocktail parties happening on Facebook. Think of Facebook as the chaperone, Dr. Roark says. It’s going to show people around and help them have the best time possible. Facebook doesn’t show people all the posts they could possibly see, just like you wouldn’t introduce yourself to everyone at a cocktail party. If Facebook thinks what you’re putting out is cool, then it will show the post to more people. So read on for tips to convince your chaperone that people will have a good time at your party.
- Be your amazing self. What you do in veterinary medicine is amazing, Dr. Roark says. Jokes draw crowds, but unique stories build relationships and retain clients.
- Leverage your team. Get all veterinarians and technicians on board with your social media goals and share your interesting cases.
- Set the scene on your brand page. Your cover image should be interesting. Dr. Roark’s hospital uses a photo of its exterior as its cover image, but you could highlight your surgery suite or reception area as well—whatever you’re most proud of. Put some thought into it and make it look inviting.
- Make sure your posts are good decoration. Posting a status update that contains a link isn’t the best party decor. Facebook’s goal is to keep people on the site for as long as possible, so they give preference to pretty posts. So don’t run a status link party all the time. Mix in photos. Mix in videos.
Don’t hard sell.
- Just be yourself. Share accomplishments and photos of your team—it humanizes your veterinarians and team members. We’re a group of people with big hearts and we want pet owners to know us that way, Dr. Roark says.
- Show your core values. Why do you do what you do? A good way to accomplish this is to post photos of clients and pets on Facebook. Clients love that praise and positive reinforcement. Dr. Roark says he’s never been turned down when asking a client if he could post a pet photo on Facebook. And what do those clients do when they get home? (Hint: They check Facebook, find the post, and share it with their friends. And, we hope, they like your page.)
Don’t fixate on the size of the party.
- If you wouldn’t say it at a cocktail party, don’t say it on Facebook.
- Educate and advocate. Don’t say “This week only: 10% off on dentals!” Instead start with a joke or tidbit of education, then add the soft sell at the end. The more education we do on Facebook, the stronger our relationship is with clients, Dr. Roark says.
Remember your manners.
- Facebook wants your cocktail party to be as big as possible, but that’s opposite of your goal. You need a local and engaged audience on your Facebook page. So ignore Facebook’s recommendations about growing the size of your page—the size doesn’t matter.
- Get the right people. But how? Recruit them from your practice. Gush over their pets and ask to post photos on Facebook. And meet local pet owners at other parties on Facebook, such as local rescue group or shelter pages. And always, always have a Facebook “Like” button on your website. Pet owners won’t come to your website daily, but they do check Facebook every day.
Seek a long-term relationship.
- If you wouldn’t say it to someone’s face at a cocktail party, it’s not appropriate for Facebook.
- Clients are never the joke. I have no problem making me the joke or the pet the joke, Dr. Roark say, just never the client.
- Protect your culture. It’s OK to delete inappropriate posts on your page. This is not a democracy or an open forum. And don’t engage crazy—take the conversation offline and don’t hesitate to delete comments, posts, or as a last resort removing fans or blocking them from your page.
- Know what’s working, and keep doing whatever that is. If something you post doesn’t work, then you know what not to do next time.
- Know your ultimate goal. You want veterinary clients to come in your doors time and time again, and the relationships and engagement that you have on Facebook should always be a two-way street.
For more tips from Dr. Roark, check out the Related Links below. You can also catch him in person at CVC San Diego Oct. 31-Nov. 3, where he’ll present more of his winning Facebook and Twitter advice.