What a year. The craziness of abbreviated work weeks are over, your post-holiday pancreatitis cases are resolving well, and only a few stale cookies remain in the breakroom. Now, it's time to settle back into reality and get ready to make 2015 a great year for your practice. Here are a few tips to get your social media strategy rejuvenated:
5. Involve your team
Remember that saying popular in the 90’s, “It takes a village to raise a child?” Well, it’s applicable here. Consider your clinic’s online presence to be an adorable little baby that is the very essence of your practice. You made it in your image, and now you’ve got to raise it right. Eventually, it may even bring home the bacon and if you’re lucky, help put you in a nice home full of other old veterinarians, comparing stories from the trenches and questioning your MD’s diagnosis of your hip conditions. But for now, you can’t do it alone. If you’re the only one contributing to your practice's social media, you’re only expressing the character of yourself and how you view your practice. But it’s unlikely that your clients only interact with one person when they’re in your clinic.
From the moment your client walks in the door, they are experiencing the effort and talents of an entire team of people, all combined to create a great practice. Your social media presence needs to reflect that.
Furthermore, your team members have great ideas too! You may not have considered that your techs are the ones getting bombarded with questions about how to trim puppy toenails, or that your receptionists are fielding all the questions about a recent pet article in the news or recommendations for the best vegan cat food available. Your staff knows what your clients are interested in--so let them help connect with your target audience! Listen to their ideas, delegate projects and value their input. By doing so, you’ll engage your team, fill your pages with new content, and connect with your clients as a practice, not as a person.
4. Use a social media calendar
There is absolutely no way you can efficiently and effectively accomplish everything you want to do online without a game plan. Not when Mrs. Jones is calling at 4:59 with a sick cat, your payroll is due and that colleague called in sick. Set aside 30 minutes or less to print out a calendar, make a strategic plan for a month at a time, and stick to it.
This doesn’t mean you have to actually post or schedule every article, photo or resource you want to share for the month. However, if you can formulate a plan for 1-3 posts each day, you’ll be ahead of the game when it comes time to make those posts. Consider applicable holidays (both human and pet-related), local events in your community and happenings in your clinic. Plan to share content once a day from a trusted resource. Remember to share information that is of value to your clients--from an educational and a humor perspective. And above all, you absolutely must incorporate funny cat photos.
3. You’re going to have to pay for that……
I hate to break it to you friends, but we’ve all been riding the wave of free advertising for a while now, and that ship has started to sink. Changes over the last year and even within the last month will drastically reduce the views your posts will receive, without a little help from your clinic’s wallet. This doesn’t mean you need to “boost” every post or run hundreds of Facebook ads. It does mean you need to spend a little more time making sure you share great content that’s of value to your readers (and will translate into increased views on its own), and you may actually have to fork out a few bucks to get your really important goals accomplished. On the plus side, spending these kind of advertising dollars is WAAAAYYY more effective than the days of yore when you were throwing cash down the sinkhole of the yellow pages. Even just $1 a day will allow you to make sure your ads are seen by EXACTLY who you want to see them--you can target them specifically down to a pet-owning female in any age group you choose who lives in a 3 mile radius of your clinic. You can also remarket to email addresses you already have or to people that have already visited your website. That seems a lot more effective and a lot more targeted than hoping a pet owner sees your ad under the graffiti and old gum on the park bench.
2. Be a resource.
You can do this one. I promise. You already know how to take great care of pets. You already tell people how to do that every day. Now tell them online. Because believe me, they’re totally googling how to clean their dog’s ears after you sent them home with that cleaner. Instead of hearing it from you, though, they’re reading a crazy post about how they should make their own cocktail of grain alcohol and talcum powder, and wrapping up their dog’s head with pantyhose to “seal it in.” Yep,an owner actually told me that once. Not kidding.
When I say be a resource, I don’t mean share that canned article or tired stock photo infographic. I mean put your face, your words, your own advice out there. Take a 30 second demo video of the proper ear cleaning technique. Write a blog explaining what home dental care products you use for your own pets. Take a picture of your tech demonstrating the best technique for nail trims. Share this on your website, on your social media pages, and build a collection online on your Pinterest or YouTube accounts. Your clients will soon learn that YOU are the trusted reference, not Google.
1.Try something new
It’s a scary world out there on the interwebs, especially for those of you who don’t spend the majority of the day with a smartphone in your hand. If you haven’t tried blogging, or videos, or photo contests, give it a go! The digital world is constantly changing and evolving, and if you’re not participating, it’s passing you by. Every new social media platform, blog and app is another opportunity to CONNECT with a client. If you’re not taking those opportunities, pet owners may find them somewhere else. Be brave and open to new ideas! I can’t wait to see what you create.