Social media is a powerful tool that your veterinary practice can utilize to strengthen and grow relationships with clients in the equine world. It allows you a simple and inexpensive opportunity to connect with horse owners and earn their business and loyalty, as well as a providing a platform for education. Clients love to feel connected to their veterinarians, and social media gives you an opportunity to start or join the conversation.
Are your clients on social media? Millennials (those born between 1981 and 1996) are increasingly your clients, and they closely follow Baby Boomers as the largest segment in the U.S. population. Millennials readily adopt the latest technology, spend more on their pets (including veterinary care and pet services), and regularly use social media to connect with brands and services, as well as read online reviews before making purchase decisions.
Facebook is the most-used social network among U.S. millennials, with about 60 million of them using the platform. Instagram ranks second with about 45 million. In fact, research findings in 2019 indicated that Facebook is the most widely used social network among all age groups except teenagers. Although the growth of users slowed, there were 169.5 million Facebook users in the United States last year. And don’t think your older clients don’t participate—68% of Baby Boomers use Facebook.
If you’re ready to get your clinic on social media or recognize that you need to do a better job promoting your practice, there are several important strategies that will make it more successful. Choose a team member you trust to manage your social media profiles if you don’t wish to perform this task yourself. Millennial staff members and associates are natural choices. You should expect this employee to dedicate about two hours every week to posting, responding and managing the social media accounts. With the team member’s input, choose which platform(s) you are most comfortable with to start—one or two is a good number initially. Platforms include Facebook, Google+, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Pinterest and Instagram. The key is using a platform that your clients and potential clients already use.
Next, determine a schedule for the postings. Because it is important to have consistent postings to maintain interest, scheduling your posts in advance can minimize the hassle. With platforms that are used mostly with shorter posts or pictures (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram), posting once a day to several times a day is fine. On other platforms that lend themselves to more lengthy content (Google+, LinkedIn, YouTube), you don’t have to post more than twice a week. Creating days of the week for certain types of content (e.g. “Mini Monday” or “Case of the Week Wednesday”) can build followers and stimulate engagement with your posts. The more people respond to what you offer, the more likely they are to remember your brand. Showcasing your staff, patient success stories (with client permission, of course) and explaining disease outbreaks that have horse owners’ attention are all winning ways to please your audience.
Visual content is significantly more engaging than plain text, so use images whenever you can. Obey copyright laws when posting any images. You can determine what type of content gains the most responses by utilizing each platform’s analytical reporting. Because you’re trying to open a dialogue with your clients, it is important to respond to their comments, whether they are positive or negative. While you don’t need to respond to every comment, it will demonstrate that you are listening if your practice responds promptly to comments.
Because managing social media accounts is a fairly simple endeavor, it is not necessary to outsource this task, but if you prefer to do so, there are plenty of options for companies to help you. What is important is that you embrace the concept of marketing on a platform that is widely viewed by the clients you want and serve.