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Veterinary Hospitals vs. Facebook Reach: How You Can Win The Battle

Posted in Social Media @ Jun 1st 2014 - By Danielle Lambert, Director, Snout School
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Facebook, Facebook, Facebook. I use you for both my veterinary hospital and my social media coaching business, but I think you mostly exist to drive me crazy.

Have you had this sort of conversation “with Facebook” lately? You’re not alone! Here on Vetanswers, Judy recently wrote a blog asking Facebook what its problem was. With Facebook reach on the decline for the majority of businesses, many are in a panic.  After all, the term 'reach' describes the number of people who actually see your Facebook posts. Many veterinary professionals are becoming disgruntled, wondering what the point of using Facebook is if no one is going to see their posts.

To address the decline in reach your veterinary business is experiencing on Facebook, we need to do some reflecting and strategizing. So let’s start there!

What is the goal of your veterinary businesses’ Facebook page?

Stop and think for a second – why have you spent time on creating Facebook posts in the past? Did you perhaps want to educate pet owners, bring in more new clients or retain current customers? Think of your answer. If it’s anything like: “Because having a Facebook is important!” – YOU ARE IN TROUBLE. Facebook is no longer a place where you can go and post any bit of information that you want to get out there to your audience. It is now a strategic tool that must be skillfully implemented in order to reap the benefits of its massive power.

And – yes – Facebook is still powerful. It has 757 MILLION daily users, and I know about 80% of my veterinary practice’s clients who use social media are on it. (I’m a little obsessed with surveying my clients.) Knowing that, I am still strongly dedicated to leveraging Facebook for my animal hospital.

So let’s dive deeper into specific goals on Facebook, and think of how you could achieve them in the current state of Facebook.

Potential Goal #1: Retain your veterinary clients.

Maintaining communication and a connection with your clients can be critical to retaining them, and Facebook can be utilized to achieve that goal. My main suggestion is to celebrate the heck out of your veterinary practice’s patients. Have a vet tech get a quick photo of any new patient that comes in for a visit. Utilize that photo as a “welcome post” on Facebook, celebrating the new patient. Current clients will continue to feel “in-the-know” about the goings-on at your business, and that new client will feel forever bonded after seeing their beloved pet get 15 minutes of Facebook fame.

TIP: Just posting the photo to Facebook isn’t enough. Remember, Facebook is now a strategic tool. Be sure to evaluate your Facebook Insights to choose a good time to post the photo, and ASK for engagement on the photo. The more comments your post gets, the more reach it will achieve. Simply stating, “Guess this new puppy’s name!” can spark of a string of reach-boosting comments. Using this strategy, I’ve reached over 100% of my clinic’s audience.

Related Post: Why Patients Are The Key to Your Veterinary Hospital’s Social Media Success

Potential Goal #2: Notify clients about a new product or service.

You put posters up in your waiting room, and you put an ad in the local newspaper about your veterinary clinic’s new evening appointments. Yet on the night of the launch, your appointment schedule is only half-booked. Sound familiar?

Well, if you have something you absolutely need your clients to know about, Facebook can help. My practice recently added in some evening appointment hours, and we used a highly-targeted Facebook ad to announce them. Facebook ads allow your veterinary practice to strategically reach more of your clients.

TIP: I’m not just talking about “boosting” a post. While boosting a post can be useful from time-to-time, I recommend creating “unpublished page posts” and running them as ads. While your results are going to vary, I was able to book 10 appointments over a long holiday weekend using this strategy by only spending a few dollars per appointment. Be sure to use an engaging image and ad copy!

Related: Check out my FREE online, on-demand course about Facebook Ads.

So what’s the moral of the story?

Facebook is still a fantastic marketing, communication & educational tool for your veterinary practice. As mentioned before, it’s the social media platform that my hospital’s clients use the most. However, veterinarians are going to need to become more educated about using Facebook and more involved in strategically planning their posts. In the face of declining reach, properly-created Facebook ads can assist veterinary businesses in reaching their target market.

At the end of the day, I believe it is also important to survey your clients to see which other social media platforms they’re using, such as Pinterest or Instagram, and start presences on those sites. Not only that, but branching out into more modern and convenient forms of communication, such as texting, is crucial to a veterinary practice’s success. Your veterinary practice doesn’t own Facebook, but you do own your client list. If you’re goal-oriented and never forget that fact, you’ll continue to succeed no matter what Facebook does.

If you would like to ask Danielle a question about what she does with social media in her veterinary hospital or about Snout School, I know she'd love to hear from you in the comments section below! 

 

Danielle K. Lambert is a social media coach and veterinary practice manager. She’s the founder of SnoutSchool.com, the only social media tutorial site created by a veterinary professional, for veterinary professionals. Danielle bases her coaching on experience gathered as a veterinary practice manager at Quinebaug Valley Veterinary Hospital in Danielson, Connecticut, US. In her spare time, she enjoys taking too many iPhone photos of her Brussels Griffon, Archer, and screaming at Tom Brady every Sunday.

You can find Danielle on Twitter, @DanielleSNOUT or take her free online social media course here

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Comments

Tom Sullivan @ Jun 9th 2014 9:10pm
Facebook was of very marginal value even before they changed the "reach" settings. Now it is an absolute waste of resources. So we should pay Mark Zuckerberg to "reach" our own clients? Screw that.
Danielle @ Jun 9th 2014 10:16pm
Tom - Facebook can seem invaluable, depending on how you utilize it. If you think of it as a client directory/communication tool, it can be incredibly worth it. I'm running ads & getting a very reasonable ROI, as they're helping me book appointments. I don't think it's crazy to spend some money to contact people. The post office makes me pay them postage, after all! :)
Liz Chmurycz @ Aug 8th 2014 10:55am
One of the reasons why Facebook has many business' knickers in a knot is because never before have we received immediate results on the quality of the content of the material that we post. And we (me included) didn't like to be told that our content wasn't good enough. To get the reach we want we need to connect with the people we are trying to reach, and publish information that they are going to share with their friends etc. It is through good quality shareable content that business' can win the battle with FB (until FB changes the rule again).

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