Tell Your Story
People are often under the impression that Facebook is solely about peer-to-peer interactions. This, however, couldn’t be further from the truth. Facebook is a platform that’s become as universal as the water cooler itself. Successful veterinary practices around the world leverage Facebook as a place to tell their unique story. Your veterinary practice has a narrative; a year it was founded, a founder (or two, or more) and a style and perspective that makes it entirely unique.
Use Facebook to tell your story and not only capture, but captivate your audience!
Tell us about your success stories: the pets that you care for and the difference that you’ve made today. All of these things foster community, trust, interactions, and keep your trusted pet owners coming back for more.
These success stories are technically known as:
Case studies – a story particular to a specific pet, place and time.
These case studies are of crucial importance for a multitude of reasons, but primarily because they help your audience to see firsthand the type of stellar care that your veterinary practice provides!
In a particular case study, be sure to provide your audience with:
- Why the pet came in to receive veterinary care
- What you did to provide care for the pet
- How the pet is doing today
- A photo, or quick video of the pet!
By providing this level of in-depth information on a pet, you tell the story of your patient and ensure that you can deliver the same quality of care to any prospective pet owner who needs it. You’ll be able to forge an immediate bond with pet owners who appreciate your attention to detail, and the accountability needed to provide optimal care for a pet.
People want to hear of your successes, which will brighten their day and instill them with confidence about your veterinary practice. In exceptional circumstances, news coverage has even come about after particularly sincere and uplifting pet stories. This results in absolutely tremendous publicity, and simultaneously helps you to market your services to a wider audience. This wider audience can soon grow and enhance your veterinary practice online, and in the local community.
Case studies are also a great opportunity to educate your clients. By highlighting a particular toxicity (like xylitol, grapes, or lily toxicity in a cat) you can spread the important information in a success story that will resonate with pet owners. These posts can be timed for specific times of year (the “chocolate holidays”, the start of the flea season, holiday dangers) to help your clients stay aware of how to best care for their pet, and to keep your practice at top of mind.
Yes, you should receive permission from a pet owner to share their story, pictures or a video of their pet on social media or elsewhere. This is an important thing to note and emphasize, as some members of your staff may be appointed to collect signed photo/video release forms, to ensure that you’re permitted explicitly to share various types of media.
Most pet owners don’t hesitate at the opportunity to share the joy of their pet with the world and online, but receiving permission firsthand is definitely a must.
Sample topics for case studies can include:
- Dermatology: Before and after skin cases
- Dental: Before and after dental care (photo)
- Surgical case examples
- Laser therapy cases (pets can often improve a limp in a matter of weeks after laser therapy)
By using Facebook, photos, and videos to create and communicate compelling stories, you can enhance your marketing efforts, stay on the cutting edge, and attract more pet owners to your veterinary practice.
Make Marketing a Group Effort
Who says that you should only appoint a single point person as your lead marketer? After all, your veterinary practice is a team of unique individuals; creating a unified experience by combining the many talents of a diverse team. If you utilize this same diversity for your marketing, you may be able to generate far more content, that’s actually far more compelling.
Read on to see how the team-oriented approach to marketing can actually help you generate content more consistently, and enforce more accountability in the process.
Enhance Content and Camaraderie in One Fell Swoop
Yes, there is some peace of mind that comes with appointing a head of marketing, or other point position, but let’s look at what can happen when instead, the effort is spread across a team.
- Rather than making a new hire solely for marketing, spread responsibility among a diverse staff that is interested in participating!
- A team can create a rotation of marketing and social media related tasks, easing the responsibility on everyone.
- Sharing responsibility can create accountability and a sense of true shared-identity related to your veterinary practice! When members of your staff get to share a piece of their experience on social media or otherwise, they are supporting the practice and giving their unique point of view in the process. This can be very empowering for your staff!
- Appropriate rotations can involve each member of staff taking photos to share via social media, and creating a schedule of posts for your website, Facebook, Twitter, etc.
- Content can be diverse and customized to fit the tone and feeling of your veterinary practice! You may decide to include staff photos, quotes, pictures of happy pets, stories, health tips, or more. All of these things help to convey a true sense of identity for your veterinary practice, and exhibit your practice as a place of both work and community.
- Consider designating tasks based on skillset; maybe a staff member that studied photography touches up shots before they are posted to Facebook. Perhaps an English minor helps to proofread content before it goes live. Get creative!
- By working as a team, you can share responsibility, save money on a new hire, and teach your entire veterinary staff the various skillsets that it takes to remain competitive in an evolving veterinary industry!
- Many veterinary practices learn to enjoy the shared approach, creating a sense of camaraderie amongst staff, while enhancing their veterinary practice’s marketing efforts in the process.
The Round Table Approach
There are many ways to facilitate this group effort. The “Round Table” approach means that at least once a week, your staff gets together to discuss the strengths of your approach to marketing, what can be improved, and any other topics that may be deemed appropriate. You can facilitate this approach through a group email where everybody responds, or a lunch where everybody gathers around, yes, a round table! The details are up to you, but your staff will love a chance to be heard and enhance your veterinary practice.
Some ideas for sharing ideas amongst your staff include:
- A weekly lunch where some of the top social media posts are shared to the staff or read aloud.
- A schedule or white-board that helps to delegate social media or marketing tasks amongst a team
- An email thread that encourages everybody to participate and chime in with tips for improvement, or accomplishments experienced over the course of the week.
- Anything else that may excite or motivate your staff to share the stories and perspective that are a unique piece of your veterinary practice. When marketing becomes a group effort, everybody wins!
How to Implement a Social Media Calendar
“Engage, Enlighten, Encourage and especially…just be yourself! Social media is a community effort; everyone is an asset.” - Susan Cooper
The trend alone says it all. When you look at social media use amongst adults, you’ll see an upward, zigzagging line that’s rising far steadier than the stock market. In fact, as of January 2014, it’s estimated that 74% of all adults using the Internet are also using social networking sites as they navigate the web. What’s more?
These numbers are still on the rise.
Whether you’ve already read my recommended article on “The Rise of Social Media Marketing,” or you’re just now diving into the world of online media for the very first time, there’s plenty that you need to know to be well-equipped, and I’m here to help you get started.
I’m going to show you how to use a social media calendar; a truly integral piece of the digital puzzle. It’s not enough to simply log on to a popular social media platform and start shooting off posts left and right via Facebook and Twitter. You’ve got to be methodical, organized and thoughtful to truly make the impact you’re looking for. I can’t stress this part enough; it’s highly important to remain organized and deliberate when it comes to your overall marketing efforts. The Internet is flush with tweets, fun-facts, blog posts and millions of tidbits. Your posts must be well-crafted and inviting. For veterinary practices, this is a must.
There’s another reality to consider. Veterinary practices are so busy focusing on patients and clients (rightfully so), that they often don’t know what to post on social media, and what sort of content they wish to deliver in the first place! My recommendation? Don’t make rapid-fire posts across a wide-range of topics in a short span of time. Instead, use a social media calendar to organize specific campaigns and focus on particular topics for longer periods of time. This has the added benefits of letting you explore your topic in-depth, allowing you to get your whole veterinary team on the same page and sparking more client engagement, which is a major goal behind utilizing social media in the first place.
Using a social media calendar is also a great chance for your management team, doctors, and staff to discuss, engage and truly understand what will be shared on a particular social media platform before it’s actually posted publicly. It’s important to remain unified as a veterinary practice, so members of your team should have a comprehensive understanding of which social media campaign is currently active and what topics are being shared with your target-audience. There’s a pretty good chance you’ll get follow up calls and engaged clients inquiring about major posts and presenting their own scenarios in kind. It’s much better to have a receptionist respond with, “I’m so glad you loved the post! Yes, we’re focusing on dental care and preventative medicine this month”, as opposed to a scrambling, “I’m going to have to get back to you on that...”
Ready to get started with your own social media calendar? Good. Here are my top three tips to help you implement an effective Social Media calendar today:
Top 3 Tips for Implementing Your Social Media Calendar
1. Share your social media calendar with your entire team. Before you begin presenting content to your community of followers, review content with your team to ensure everyone is well-versed on the topic at hand, and answer any questions that may pop up. Take this as an opportunity to poll team members about potential topics to focus on both now and into the future and refresh knowledge on existing protocols to get everyone on the same page. Your veterinary practice will benefit from this step and so will your audience.
2. Gather statistics related to the topic at hand, and begin to craft well-articulated, 2–3 sentence postings. Share direct case examples from within your practice, but don’t forget to have client consent forms signed before posting specific case examples. I recommend case examples from your practice in order to help paint a vivid picture and tell your audience a story that they can related to. You’ll be amazed at how many comments can come as a result of an effective, polished post.
3. As mentioned previously, don’t just fire off posts at a whim. When inspiration strikes, that’s fantastic, but use it as an opportunity to bring your veterinary practice together and discuss. Use the native scheduling feature within Facebook to methodically schedule postings to go out automatically. If you are posting content to Twitter or other social media channels, tools like Hootsuite are free and immensely helpful for scheduling automatic postings. During slow months, use your social media calendar to write out content in advance and plan for future months. Even if the content is scheduled to go out well in advance, be sure to monitor activity and engage with posts when necessary. Scheduling posts helps you to bring consistency to each campaign.
It’s simple. Social media is the way of the future, and the more you put into it, the more you’ll get out of it. By using a calendar, you give your team an opportunity to get on the same page, and get ahead of the game when it comes to engaging your audience. A veterinary practice is only as strong as the staff and veterinarians behind the scenes. Use all of the tools at your disposal and you’ll start to notice the difference.
Your audience is just waiting to engage with your veterinary practice. The only question left is, what will you share first?