How Building a Vibrant, Online Community on Facebook Can Help You Combat
World Small Animal Veterinary Association Congress Proceedings, 2018
S. Samuels
Portsmouth, UK

1. SS - How building a vibrant, online community on Facebook can help you to combat Dr Google

As vets we’ve all experienced that frustrating moment when a client comes into the practice armed with a pile of print-outs courtesy of Dr Google. Often the client has misunderstood the situation or found ‘false news’ and it can be time consuming and difficult to talk them around and regain their trust in your diagnosis and treatment plan. How can we ensure that the veterinarian’s voice is heard loud and clear in this age of Dr Google?

People love talking about their animals and this gives vets a unique opportunity to use Facebook as a marketing and communication tool. Many vets’ Facebook pages are not run to maximum effect and a few simple changes can make a huge difference to the number of local owners reached. We look at case studies and 5 easy steps to take your Facebook page to the next level and start making it work for you.

When owners are concerned about their pet’s health, their first instinct is probably not to call the vet, they are more likely to consult friends on social media, Google or watch videos before deciding what they should do next and without forward planning by the vet practice owners are unlikely to think of looking to see what their vet has to offer online. Social media offers a valuable opportunity to become part of the daily lives of our clients so that turning to their vet online becomes their first action.

Becoming part of the daily lives of clients via social media takes planning, time and budget, but will be richly rewarded with brand exposure and an engaged group of local pet owners not only ready to engage with educational messages but also to provide feedback and word of mouth recommendations to their own online communities. Vet practices should be aiming for an engaged community of local pet owners with their vet practice at the centre of the community.

Building an engaged community will require:

  • Regular posting
    The more frequently you post, the more likely it is that your content will be seen. We recommend posting daily as a minimum, the practices that achieve the best results post several times during the day. Posts should not be made closer together than every 4 hours as the most recent post will stop the previous post from being seen prematurely.
  • Conversations
    Social media is designed for two-way conversations and if you want your content to be seen it is important to get your community to talk back to you. Avoid posting closed statements or comments that are difficult to engage with. Try using questions to give the community an easy way to engage with you.
  • A genuine interest in your community
    It is crucial to reply when a member of the community posts a comment or photo back. Sometimes simply clicking like can be enough but the practices that achieve the best result will reply back in a conversational way with the commenter.
    Every community of pet owners is different, make a note of posts that your community has responded to well in the past and topics they seem interested in. Ask them about their pets and their lives.
  • Ads
    Facebook has deliberately tweaked its algorithm so that if businesses want to reach their full potential they will need to pay for Facebook Ads. Ads can be used to build likes or to ensure that everyone that has already liked the page will see the content. Ads can also be targeted to people who have visited the practice website or responded to an email.

Content planning is important to make sure that your educational messages on Facebook back up your communications offline. Start with your business aims, ask staff which topics they wish more owners understood better and think of questions that you and your staff are commonly asked by owners.

Social media really lends itself to informing and educating pet owners. Messages can be delivered in a drip feed and the same message can be delivered several times in very different ways covering all learning styles.


Speaker Information
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S. Samuels
Portsmouth, UK

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