I don’t know about you, but recent events have made me question how much control I have over my social media accounts – and even how much I really want to be there.
Social media can be an awesome way to connect with and attract new veterinary clients to your business – as long as it’s not the only way.
2021 has been an interesting year for Facebook. Back in February 2021, they shut down news Pages (& many non-news FB Pages) in response to Australia’s proposed new Media Bargaining law which would have forced them to pay Australian news outlets for their content. This shutdown ended when the Australian government agreed to soften some parts of the new regulations.
Earlier this week there was a six-hour outage that took down Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp (mostly while those of us in Australia were sleeping!) – which may or may not have been caused by human error – but did cause Facebook boss, Mark Zuckerberg, to lose $9.6 billion as the company’s share price plunged.
Perhaps more disturbingly though were the statements made this week to the US Congress by the former Facebook employee and whistle-blower, Frances Haugen that “Facebook’s products harm children, stoke division and weaken our democracy,” Ms Haugen said. “The company’s leadership knows how to make Facebook and Instagram safer but won’t make the necessary changes because they have put their astronomical profits before people..”
The first two events were tough reminders that not only do you NOT own your Business Facebook Page, but you have very little control over it. And the third – well it does make you wonder if you really want your business and brand associated with such a company if the claims made by Ms Haugen are even partly true.
But what it does strongly remind us is that….
We’re all renters!
I always think of a Facebook Business Page (and all social media!) as being like a rental property – you can add your own furniture and invite people over to visit, but you can’t remove walls or repaint. Your landlord can tell you to leave, change the locks – and even keep all of your ‘possessions’ if they feel you’ve broken their laws. And even worse – there’s often no way to get in contact with them to explain your side of the story.
Actually the further I go with this analogy the more I realise that you have far fewer rights as a Facebook Business Page ‘owner’ than you do if you were renting a house!
Home Owner = Investment + Control
However, your website and database are a completely different story as your website is like the home that you own.
It’s an investment that you have complete control over. You can choose to re-decorate, rip down walls, build an extension and invite over as many people to stay as you like. You own it and you’re responsible for its upkeep and maintenance.
Although I still firmly believe that having a regular presence on social media is very important for almost every business – and definitely every veterinary practise – you shouldn’t be spending too much time on a rental property that could disappear on a whim (or by human error!), and neglecting your real investment which is your website.
What does this mean?
This means all of the resources and content you create should live on your website and be shared with your database of contacts via regular newsletters and emails. And then, of course, you can share it all on your social media accounts as well.
Now is the time to reassess. How much control do you really have?
Now is a great time to reassess how you share information, connect with, and educate clients, potential clients and your community.
Ask yourself these questions:
- What role does social media play in your connection with and the education of your clients?
- Are you relying too much on something you have no control over?
- What would happen if you were locked out of your social media accounts or they disappeared tomorrow?
Key points to consider…
1. You need to own the channels where your key content lives
Your key content needs to live on assets you own. It’s that simple.
This means, your:
- Database – emails, eNews
On all of these assets, you own the content and the place where the content lives. You’re not at the whim of the traditional media or social media owners.
2. Consider how effective your SEO is
Now is the time to review how well you’re producing content that improves the search engine optimisation (SEO) of your website. If your social media accounts disappeared, your clients might turn to Google to find you which is where and why your SEO matters.
If you’re not sure what SEO is all about or the steps you need to take to improve it, you can read more here: The Ultimate Guide to SEO in 2021 (HubSpot)
3. Know who your audience is and where they are
Your audience is probably made up of clients, potential clients and those who are generally interested in animals. They are likely to be on different platforms and enjoy a range of content from cute photos of your patients to educational information along with more localised warnings e.g. ticks.
Each social media platform works best with different types of content but one blog post on the importance of managing a pet’s weight can be easily modified to suit other platforms with the key content nice and safe, under your control on your website.
4. Content is what really matters
Even if you do get kicked off Facebook – for a short time or a long time – creating engaging, useful, understandable content is really what matters.
Engaging content can easily be deployed on different platforms which then reduces your reliance on one individual channel.
So even if one channel does disappear, your great content will still see you through!