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Top Tips for encouraging veterinary client interaction on social media

Posted in Social Media @ Jan 16th 2014 - By Dr Liz Chmurycz, Russell Vale Animal Clinic
Dr Liz Chmurycz

A recent tweet on twitter asked for some ideas for Social Media posts from Veterinary Practices that encourage interactions from veterinary clients. I forwarded the tweet to Dr Liz Chmurycz who I know is active on a number of social media platforms for her opinion.  True to form Dr Liz was incredibly generous with her emailed reply which I thought would also make a great blog post – so here it is!

Thank you for thinking of me and what posts works on Social Media to educate clients.

Firstly, I’ve found you can only educate clients who are receptive to who you really are.  So it helps if you allow clients to think of you as just another pet owner but one who has a wee bit more knowledge than them (and that isn't just because you have a uni degree... it is because you actually are knowledgeable and willing to share that knowledge).  It helps if you are thought of as one of the group, but with a lot of knowledge, experience and care. Once they think of you as that, they will then look to you for information - for me, this aspect is a work in progress.

It really does start with you!

You can let pet owners get to know you by talking about what’s important to you as a pet owner - and the best way to do this is by talking about your own pet.  We use Pandora (our clinic cat - that's her on the left) as the face of many things.  For example we’ve posted photos of her ironing the washing (she is fast asleep on it), we held a birthday party in her honour, we will talk about her annual vet check etc.  I have even had clients post videos on YouTube they have taken of their pets interacting with Pandora.  This is priceless.

So posts on Pandora always get a ‘thumbs up’ - well she is the boss after all!  Many people come in asking where she is, and wondering why she isn't playing receptionist all the time so we explain that although she’s the boss, she’s also a cat and so sleeping rates highly on her daily "to do list".

Updated Cover Images

Clients also like to see changes in our Facebook cover photo.  Whenever we change it (which we do regularly) we often receive ‘likes’ and even some comments via email to me about the changes.  I suspect this is because clients appreciate that we care enough to keep it up to date, as most people usually only change their cover photo depending on their mood and vets are often no different.

Everyone loves to help stray animals

Posts on stray animals also always rate well and we run a separate lost and found page specifically for this purpose (Lost and Found Pets of Wollongong and Illawarra).  I also use this page to educate owners about fears, phobias, escaping, microchip database, etc.  Many of my clients are part of this Page too, but we also regularly (almost daily) get posts from pet owners who have lost or found pets all over Wollongong as everyone seems to want to help a lost pet find their home just as much as we do. This seems to be the reason that this Page has worked so well to educate pet owners about storm phobias, fireworks and getting pet owners to ask their vets to scan and check their pets microchip, etc.

We have also found that posts about injured strays that we have looked after have rated well.  We always take a photo of the stray in the arms of one of my kids, usually at home with us – although this isn’t deliberate, but just because that is when I have the time to do the posting!  It seems to work on many levels - it shows we care (because we do) and that the extra care we give (this dog was home with us and our family) becomes our standard of care. The subsequent posts on the stray’s follow up care is also a great way to educate other pet owners about the ongoing care needed, our equipment, skills, etc.

These posts have often led to people continuing to ask about the stray – how it is and how the treatment went, etc.   Clients often don't know what to say to us and so these posts give them something to talk to us about which isn't about us, them or the weather.  We have also used these types of posts to gently educate about responsible pet ownership, and taking responsibility for what is happening around you. For example last year we helped out a stray called Leo which we wouldn’t have been able to do if someone hadn’t found him on the beach and brought him in to us as there were many others who had just ignored him on the beach.

Being a part of the community...

Posts about community fundraising and how we are involved are also popular, for example The Million Paws Walk.  We don't have a dog and so had to ask our clients if we could borrow some for the day.  That was popular!  We were then able to use this experience to educate on good puppy park behaviour, walking tips, etc.

We're all human

Personal posts about the loss of a pet, and sometimes getting personal, allows clients to see that you are human.  Most pet owners have gone through a similar grief so they understand but I suspect that many think that vets are better able to cope with death simply because we deal with it a lot.  It is good to remind them that we feel each and every death acutely. It also reminds them that we are able to support them in their time of grief too.

Humour always works

Posts on quirky, funny stories work too.  For example we recently had an interesting case about a dog that had macadamia nut toxicity.

We’ve also had success when asking clients to post their own photos.  For example Halloween dress ups, Santa’s, birthday parties, etc

Everyone is different

With Social Media in general though, I guess though that what I think works for us might not work for someone else.  It really all depends on what your primary goal of being on Social Media is in the first place. Once you have determined what you want to achieve you can experiment with a variety of posts to find out what works best for your veterinary practice.

If you have any questions about Dr Liz’s experiences on Social Media, why not ask her in the comments section below?

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Blog – Dr Liz... the vet from Russell Vale Animal Clinic




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