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Social Media for Veterinary Practices - Not IF but WHEN

Posted in Social Media @ Jun 13th 2013 - By Judy Gillespie summarising sessions by Dr Jim Stowe
Jim Stowe

This is a brief summary of the information presented by Dr Jim Stowe in his: 'Marketing 2013' session on Monday 27/5/2013 at the 2013 AVA Conference, Cairns

Due to available flights, I unfortunately missed Jim Stowe’s first two sessions at the 2013 AVA Conference but attended a number of his other session.

In ‘Marketing 2013’ Jim really got into the world of social media and how it relates to veterinary practice.  There was no question as to whether veterinary practices should become involved in social media but rather when.  There was also no question of diving in to everything that was available, but a more cautious approach was suggested.  Rather than diving into social media it was suggested a gentle slide would work better!

As social media allows for a ‘global media for local groups’ it is also advisable to set up two accounts for all social media – one for personal networks and one for business.  The very nature of social media means that some care needs to be taken with what information is shared when & with whom.  The brand of your veterinary practice should never be undermined by posts that would have been better suited to family and friends.

Once your social media accounts are set up you can then start to share with your current tribes of family, friends and active clients.  If you get this right, your active clients will soon share your fabulous information with their friends and your social media efforts can turn into great word of mouth marketing.  

Some Social Media Do’s & Don’ts

Social media posts should be a mix of the fun, the informative and the useful.  Good jokes, cute pictures and interesting experiences make up the ‘fun’ component. (NOTE: If you want to post photos of your patients don’t forget to ensure you have a signed ‘Client Photo Release Form’ Click here to download an example from Vetanswers).  The useful function of social media includes using it to remind clients about upcoming appointments and provide them with topical and timely information.  In general the aim is to make your clients feel good and encourage them to talk about your practice.

Don’t fall into the trap of giving free consults, posting too frequently and don’t waste time on social media.  Every post should have a goal and should support or enhance your practice brand.

Don’t run before you can walk – Get Your Website Sorted First!

Ok – these weren’t exactly Jim’s words but he did make it very clear that unless you have a website you are happy with and one that you feel presents the best image of your veterinary practice online, then don’t get involved with social media...yet!

Traditional Marketing 2013

Traditional marketing today now includes your website, email and even blogs.  All of which need to be professionally managed to ensure they continue to support your veterinary practice brand.

Social Media & Future Marketing

There are a number of key social media sites that you could consider becoming involved in including Facebook and Twitter.  The best sites are those where your clients are already active and if you don’t know which ones they are, then your first step is to find out.  Start slowly with one or two and manage each of them well before adding more into the mix.

Social media is not all about numbers - although it can be tempting to chase the biggest number of ‘Likers’ or ‘Followers’ possible.  What is all about is the quality of ‘Likers’ and their engagement.  The important question to focus on is how much your online community is interacting with your veterinary practice.  If this interaction is not only developing a better relationship with your existing clients but also bringing in new clients then that’s the sign of success in social media. 

Comments

Dallas @ Jul 5th 2013 1:47pm
I was present at both of Jim's talks and really enjoyed them. It was interesting chatting to other attendees... to some of the younger vets this was old news "surely practices are doing this already" whereas the older practice owners were largely still getting their heads around it. I spoke to quite a few vets who had recently started using social media more proactively and had got great results and feedback from their clients, as well as enjoying the process themselves.
Judy @ Jul 5th 2013 3:26pm
Thanks Dallas. I agree there seems to be a real range in the industry of those who use social media regularly & successfully & those who don't. Mind you, I'm also amazed by how many veterinary practices don't have a website & I agree with Jim on this point - don't get involved with social media until you've got a website you're proud of! Judy

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