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The Basics: Social Media Basics For Your Veterinary Clinic

Posted in The Basics - Managing Your Veter @ Aug 20th 2020 - By Donna Robson, Director Waggy Dog Veterinary Sales & Marketing & Judy Gillespie , Vetanswers
Social Media Basics For Your Veterinary Practice

Your clients are on social media...and they're looking for you!

“I’m running a busy and successful veterinary practice. Why do I need social media?”

It’s a common question in the veterinary industry and a valid concern among practice owners.

Administering social media accounts is time-consuming. If you are running at capacity why would you want to take nurses or vets away from patient care and divert their time towards managing Facebook posts?

Maintaining a social media presence is not just about advertising. Facebook and Instagram are excellent platforms for promoting brand awareness along with your expertise, however pet owners are increasingly turning to social media as a customer service platform and to get the latest information in the most convenient format.

Basically, if you're not on social media, potential clients are likely to go elsewhere. And it's not only lost clients either. Potential recruits are also likely to check your social media presence before applying for a job and if you're not there or your presence is irregular at best, they may question how up-to-date the rest of your clinic is and choose to look elsewhere.

But it's never too late! If you're setting up social media for your practice, this is what you should start with...

1. A designated social media advocate for your practice

You need to allocate one team member as the social media champion for your practice, and they need at least a couple of hours a week allocated to dedicate to managing your social media accounts.

Hopefully you already have a creative, confident and well-organised team member with a natural flair for social media, who will make the perfect online champion for your practice but if not, sit down with your team and ask who might be interested in taking on the role.

Your champion is responsible for content planning and posting, aligning all of your content with your practice values and branding, and ensuring that client comments and messages are responded to within the agreed time frame.

If you are concerned about the impact on nursing hours, you could also consider outsourcing this task to an agency or external service provider.

2. Social media community guidelines 

Before launching into the world of social media, you need to set up appropriate Social Media Community Guidelines. These Guidelines set the rules for public engagement for all of your online accounts and importantly, clarify with followers what is and what is not acceptable on your practice’s social media profiles.

Comments should be moderated to filter out hate speech, profanity and trolling, and to be respectful of the rights and opinions of others.

Even if your veterinary practice is already active on social media, it's a good idea to check and potentially update your existing Social Media Community Guidelines

Click here to download... Member Resource: Social Media, Blog & Website Community Guidelines (word doc)

3. Social media policy for team members

Every business should have a Social Media Policy, even if your veterinary practice is not using social media, as your employees are.

A Social Media Policy will protect your business and your brand from legal risk and uphold your reputation on social media. The Policy should describe in detail how your practice and your employees should use social media and you should regualrly revisit and discuss the content at staff meetings to ensure all of your team are reminded of the contents.

Thanks to the Australian Employee Manual: Instant HR Policies & Procedures for making their Internet & Social Media Policy available to the Vetanswers Community.

Click here to download....Australian Employee Manual:  Instant HR Policies & Procedures - Internet & Social Media (pdf)

4. Approval form for use of pet and client images

Sharing photos of your patients and clients is a big part of your social media content but you need to make sure you have signed permission for the use of client and patient photos before they can be posted online.

Set up a system to ensure all clients have been given the opportunity to sign a Client Photo Release Form by adding a checkbox in your practice management system or a note on the client’s record.

Click here to download.... Member Resource: Client Photo Release Form (word doc)

5. Complete your online profile - first impressions count

When setting up your social media profiles, make sure they include a professional profile picture and cover image (see image sizes below). Add in your contact information, a simple summary of your services, and include your mission statement or unique specialty to help your practice stand out.

6. Social media content calendar

In conjunction with your Practice Social Media Advocate, agree on the frequency, type of posts and content sources. Then you can align your social media content calendar as much as possible with your marketing plan for consistent and clear objectives.

Of course, you'll also want to include plenty of cute puppy and kitten photos and interesting cases to help to populate your social media calendar. Although you can’t always plan for these, setting up a group within your practice on an app such as WhatsApp will allow the team to easily share stories and photos with your Social Media Advocate.

7. Use schedulers

The most efficient way to post across your social media accounts is by using a scheduler to post in advance as this frees up time during practice operating hours and prevents the intrusion of having to manage this task after hours.

Facebook’s Business Manager provides access to Creator Studio where you can create and schedule future posts on both Facebook and Instagram. Or you can use an app such as Buffer to schedule your social media posts.

So which platforms should you be posting to?

At a minimum you should have a regular presence on:

  • Facebook
  • Instagram

You should also keep these free online profiles up to date to assist with SEO and Google ranking:

Once you have Facebook and Instagram under control, you could also consider:

What type of content should you post?

It might help to follow the 80/20 rule when deciding what content to post. This means that 20% of your posts should be product or service related (promotional) and 80% engaging or uplifting.

Regardless of the topic, your content needs to be interesting, helpful, inspirational and/or valuable to those you are hoping to engage with. Use a mix of media including photos and videos - the more personal the better. Stock images definitely have their place but the more photos of your practice, your patients and your team you can post the better.

The number of times you post each week is up to you, however between 1 and 3 times per week is recommended although this also depends on the platform on which you're posting.

As much as possible and whenever it's appropriate, include a call to action such as ‘Book Online’ or ‘For more information call our friendly receptionists on …..”.

What resources are available to help you?

Free resources for images, graphic design and creative templates:

Graphic design tools:

  • Canva - a graphic design platform that allows users to create social media graphics, presentations, posters, posters, documents and other visual content. It is available on web and mobile, and integrates millions of images, fonts, templates and illustrations. You can use the Free version or pay for the Pro subscription. It's a brilliant tool that includes a resizing tool to change the dimensions of one design to suit a range of social media posts.
  • GIMP - a free and open-source graphics editor used for image manipulation and image editing, free-form drawing
  • Windows Paint 3D Photo Editor
  • Pixlr online photo editor - you can choose from Pixlr X - the easy to use photo editor or Pixlr E - a pwerful photo editor for pros
  • Promo video editor

Free Photo Websites:

Social media post schedulers:

Not all social media images are the same!

Although PNG file types are recommended across all social media platforms, most require different sized images which can be confusing and difficult to keep track of. Print up our Social Media Cheat Sheet to help make your life easier.

Click here to download... Members Resource: Social media Cheat Sheet

 

If you have any questions about setting up the basics of social media for your veterinary clinic, ask Donna in the Comments section below.

About Donna

Donna has over 15 years sales and marketing experience in the veterinary and pet care sectors. As a previous wholesale rep in the veterinary industry, she understands the challenges faced by veterinarians wanting to not only attract new customers in a highly competitive market, but to keep them coming back. 

She has also recruited, trained and coached teams in the corporate, retail, fundraising and veterinary sectors for over 30 years. Her knowledge of veterinary practice marketing and the local landscape enables her to deliver successful marketing strategies and content that keep pet owners engaged and loyal to your practice. 

Donna’s mission is to help veterinarians grow their practices and to facilitate easy access to quality, affordable health care for pet owners.

Visit the Waggy Dog Veterinary Sales & Marketing Page in our Business Directory here

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