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Facebook: The Great Bait and Switch

Posted in Social Media @ May 28th 2014 - By Brenda Tassava, Partner, Halow Tassava Consulting,
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Frustrated with your veterinary practice Facebook Page?

Following one of my posts on Facebook from a few weeks ago I've asked some experts for their opinions on Facebook Business Pages and your veterinary business.  Thanks to Brenda Tassava from Halow Tassava Consulting in the US for the first one.....

I’ve been teaching veterinarians, practice managers, and other small business owners to use social media since 2009. My first steps into this world were by way of Twitter and Facebook, followed quickly by learning to blog. I was fascinated by the ability of any person or business to self-publish their own words, photos and even videos.

Over the past 5 years, I’ve witnessed and even been a part of small business success stories where Facebook was a user-friendly platform that allowed the smallest of businesses to benefit from exposure that would have previously cost hundreds of dollars in advertising. Today, small businesses are getting squeezed by what used to be the friendliest of platforms: Facebook. 

Let’s face it…we knew this was going to happen when Facebook became a publicly traded company. They have a financial obligation to their shareholders to focus on profitability, just like any other company. As idealistic as the founder sounded when he proclaimed that Facebook would always be free, everyone has bills to pay; this includes the second most visited site in the world on the Internet, according to Alexa, a company that ranks website traffic on a global scale. 

After several years of a free ride, we’re now decrying the changes we’re seeing on Facebook that indicate a pay-to-play system.

The question is: Do you see value in paying a nominal fee to reach your audience on Facebook?

I think the answer should be yes. Veterinarians might not have liked to pay for their yellow pages advertising, but $2,000 or more each month was once a very real part of our advertising budgets. We celebrated the shift from traditional advertising to the new paradigm of social media sharing and marketing. What we’ve forgotten is that marketing is the action or business of promoting and selling products and services, including advertising, which comes at a cost. 

Veterinarians and small businesses really have two options, which aren’t exclusive of one another: 

  • Budget for and pay for reach on social media channels like Facebook
  • Diversify your approach to social media, employing a strategy that uses multiple social media platforms to ultimately drive traffic to your website 

Budgeting for Facebook

 How do we know what we should be paying for Facebook promotions and ads, and whether or not that amount is going to get us the reach we’re seeking? Chris Penn of Shift Communications created a Facebook Page Cost Calculator , built with an algorithm that uses a page’s current number of likes to help small businesses answer this question. In the case of Vetanswers, with 1189 likes, to have one post seen by 100% of your audience is budgeted at $5.95 per day. 

Social media strategy is all about engagement, but engagement doesn’t happen without reach. You’ve got to reach your audience before you can interact and engage with people. The future is going to require that you budget for being social. 

Quality Content Shared on Many Platforms 

The biggest shift we may see in the coming months is a trend towards better content. After all, if you have to pay for content to be seen by your entire audience, it had better be good, right? In my opinion, there’s nothing wrong with this evolution. I’ve been teaching and preaching quality over quantity for years, and we still see businesses struggle with what they should post. No one person has time to do this right for an extended period of time without facing burnout. 

It’s time to take a team approach that gets your staff involved in collaborating to produce higher quality content that is a reflection of your practice. Collaboration takes the creative process and supercharges your ideas, which leads to compelling content for your audience. 

Now that we know the rug can be pulled from under us when we place all our efforts on one social media site, it’s time to diversify our strategy. Employ multiple social media platforms to act as outposts, drawing your audience into your true hub, which should be your website, not your Facebook page. 

If you have a question or you'd like to comment on Brenda's take on the current situation with Facebook Business Pages tell us in the Comments Section below. 

If you'd like to read more about what Brenda thinks of Facebook have a look at her blog post: HTC Discovers New Illness in the Veterinary Community (especially if you're between the ages of 52 - 68 years or you think you mught be suffering from 'Age Related Facebook Phobia' (ARFPh)!

Brenda Tassava (CVPM, CVJ) is a veterinary practice consultant and partner at Halow Tassava Consulting, based in the United States. Ms. Tassava is the author of the book, “Social Media for Veterinary Professionals”, published in 2011. HTC is currently in the middle of their 2014 Social Media for Veterinary Professionals Workshop Tour, where they are teaching hands-on social media strategy to veterinary teams in 20 U.S. cities. For more information about HTC and the tour, visit their website at www.halowtassava.com/events.

 

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