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Scheduling - the secret to successfully managing social media in your veterinary practice

Posted in Social Media @ Mar 16th 2017 - By Judy Gillespie, Vetanswers
Scheduling The Secret To Successfully Managing Social Media In Your Veterinary Practice

Social media can be a huge time waster for your veterinary team if it's not managed effectively.

I use social media a lot, which is no surprise considering I manage an online Community with multiple social media accounts. The frequency I post depends on the platform. For example, on Facebook I’ll post up to six times a day whereas on LinkedIn it may only be once or twice a day. But I also post on Twitter, Google+ (on 2 different pages) and now Instagram. So that’s a LOT of posting!

The only way I can keep track of what I have and haven’t posted and when, is to plan and schedule most of my posts.

Facebook Scheduling

This one’s easy – I just use the scheduling function on my Facebook Page following these steps:

1.       Write post, add image and/or link

2.       Click down arrow in blue box next to ‘Publish’

3.       Select ‘Schedule’

4.       Select date and time

5.       Click ‘Schedule’

Facebook and your veterinary practice?

This one’s a no-brainer, you should be on it and posting regularly.

Twitter Scheduling

I’ve used ‘Tweet Deck’ for years to manage my Twitter account and not just for its scheduling capabilities. TweetDeck is a dashboard application that lets me manage my Twitter account much more easily and with more flexibility than just working with Twitter and it’s free.

Benefits of TweetDeck

As you can see in the image below, TweetDeck allows me to view multiple timelines at once as well as schedule tweets for the future. This is what my TweetDeck dashboard looks like:

The various columns allow me to send/schedule tweets (Arrow 1.), view all tweets as they arrive (Arrow 2.)  and most importantly, follow the lists of people from whom I most want to see tweets. I've set it up so so that each column shows the tweets from each of my lists which allows me to focus on certain topics. For example Arrow 3. is pointing at my list that contains Tweets from those I've added to my 'Veterinary Business' List.

Twitter and your veterinary practice?

Although Twitter is one of my favourite social media platforms I value it for the information and links I find. I’m not sure how many of your clients may be on it although it wouldn’t hurt to ask. Another popular application to help manage Twitter (and other social media platforms) is Hootsuite, although I don't have any experience with it.

Scheduling on both LinkedIn & Google+

Neither of these individual platforms have a scheduling option which is where Buffer comes in to the picture. Buffer is another app that allows you to schedule posts for all your social media accounts. However, I only use it for the Vetanswers Company Pages on both LinkedIn and Google+ (and Instagram – but more of that below). You can start with a free Buffer account which allows you to schedule 10 posts per social media account or for $10/month you can schedule up to 200 posts per social media account. It also offers quite a few other useful options which are probably worth discussing in more detail in another blog post.

I only use Buffer to schedule posts for LinkedIn and Google+ because both these platforms suit a similar style of post and so I can put together one post that suits both accounts. As you can see in the image below I have highlighted both my Google+ and LinkedIn accounts and scheduling a post is very simple.

 

Why not make it easy & copy posts across all platforms?

Again, this is a topic that probably requires its own post but briefly….

On your Facebook Business Page, the tone of your posts can be more chatty, casual and fun and on Twitter your posts (Tweets) must be under 140 characters so you need to be extremely succinct. On LinkedIn, posts need to be more professional and business like, and let’s be honest – I only post on Google+ because it’s good for SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) reasons – after all Google pretty much rules the internet! (5 Surprising Reasons To Reconsider Google+ (Buffer Social Blog)

I know many people schedule one post over all their social media platforms as it saves time but I just don't believe the same post translates as successfully across all platforms. 

LinkedIn, Google+ and your veterinary Practice.

If you write a blog for your veterinary practice you should have a Google+ Page to help spread the word. As for LinkedIn – you can read my thoughts here: What's the value of LinkedIn & Google+ for your veterinary practice?

And then there’s Instagram…

I’ve always had a private, personal Instagram account but not a Vetanswers account as a social media platform that celebrates images didn’t seem like a great fit for an online community that celebrates the sharing of information!

A few months ago I started building an Instagram community for Vetme (www.instagram.com/vetme_veterinary_jobs) so I can share images with job vacancy information as well as mixing it up with images from Vetanswers blog posts.

However, I was finding it to be a total pain as you can’t upload photos to Instagram from a PC, only from your phone. This also means you need to type the words for the post using the annoyingly small keypad on your phone, neither of which I guess mattered as I kept forgetting to post things anyway – even when I set an alarm on my phone to remind me!  As Instagram doesn’t allow outside apps to post directly to Instagram, it was just all too hard until Buffer came up with an awesome work around.

You can now add the image and wording you want to post to Instagram to your Buffer queue and schedule the time you want to post it. When it’s time to post, Buffer sends a notification to your phone that loads the image you want posted straight to your Instagram account and your pre-written caption is saved to your phone’s clipboard, ready to be pasted. It works brilliantly and now means I have the flexibility to schedule posts to Instagram just like all my other social media accounts!

Instagram and your veterinary practice

If you haven’t checked out Instagram for your veterinary practice you definitely should. I’m following quite a few veterinary practices who are doing an awesome job – but again this is probably a discussion for another blog post!

One last thing - it's not about 'setting and forgetting'....

Yes these tools can help you save time and manage your veterinary practice social media accounts much more effectively BUT.... they absolutely should not be a 'set and forget' option. You should never lose sight of the fact that it's called SOCIAL Media for a reason. Scheduling helps you plan and post information effectively but you will still need to put aside time every day to check your social media accounts to respond to questions and comments and interact with your online community.

Interacting with people online is just as important as the content you schedule.

Social media – an essential part of your veterinary marketing plan

Yes, there’s no doubt that a social media presence is an essential part of the marketing for your veterinary practice. There’s also no doubt that it can take quite a bit of time to do well, but planning ahead and the range of scheduling options available can make the whole process MUCH more time effective.

I know there are probably areas I've missed so if you'd like to know more about anything I've mentioned or you have a totally different question regarding social media just ask it in the Comments section below or send me an email. Please also feel free to share how you manage the social media for your veterinary practice - I'm sure there are lots of great ideas out there.

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