It's that time again! February. The season of Valentine's Day romance, my beloved Mardi Gras, and of course, National Pet Dental Health Month! Dental month is a health aspect that no pet owner can deny- not when it's literally breathing down their neck, courtesy of their own tartar-laden furball. Now it's your job to educate that owner about what dental disease is, what health impacts it can have on their four-legged friend, and what your clinic can do about it. Here are my top ten tips to accomplish those goals using your clinic's social media platforms.
10. Update your cover photo. Take this opportunity to share a picture of your staff demonstrating how to brush teeth on an agreeable pet or advertise your dental month events and promos. Try designing a cover in Canva or PicMonkey, and don't forget to leave space in the left hand corner for your profile picture.
9. Blog about the importance of dental health. The interwebs are teeming with pet dental products and recommendations. However, your clients want to hear why YOU think dental health is important, and what products and care YOU recommend. Draft a short blog piece for your website, and be sure to share it to all your social media channels.
*Tip: Most experts recommend a 1500-1700 word limit for blog posts!
8. Run a Facebook Ad promoting your dental special. For as little as $1 a day, you can target your dental month special to your exact demographic and as close as a 3 mile radius from your business. A great way to fill up those dental days! Get started by clicking the "Ads Manager" button on the left hand side of your Facebook page, and then "Create Ad" in the upper right hand corner on the next page.
7. Share AVMA/AAHA/other trusted resource's posts about dental health. Sharing resources from nationally recognized and trusted resources not only reinforces your recommendations, but also provides quality content that demonstrates your commitment to staying current and relevant.
6. Post a picture of the clinic pet or your own personal pet enjoying a dental chew or treat, and explain why you trust that particular product. Heck, I even tried one of those chews right along with my pup and blogged about it for my clinic. It ended up being the most-read blog our clinic ever had! Don't judge- it was a slow month and I only sampled it for the pic :-)
5. Before and after pictures of dental cleanings are always great! Be sure to get the owner permission after the procedure and try to take the same angle/lighting. Use PicMonkey to create side-by-side collages! Side note: Can you believe the hunk of calculus I had to deal with on this Pug?
4. Provide access to trusted resources, such as the Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC)'s list of approved products or the AVMA's how-to video on brushing teeth. Create a Pinterest board of helpful infographics, links and photos to serve as a resource your clients can use year round, not just during the dental month craze. Need a few ideas? Check out my Dental Month Pinterest board here.
3. Ask fun fact questions to get your clients interested and involved. Try asking "How many baby teeth does a kitten have? We'll post the answer at 6 pm so check back to see if you're correct!" You can even take it a step further and offer a prize (maybe a free bag of dental chews) for the first correct answer, or select a random winner. Ask the winner to bring in their pet when they come pick up their dental-themed prize, and post a picture! See how one content idea can create another?
2. Educate EVERY. DAY. You already educate your owners about dental health every day in the exam room, now take an opportunity to do it online. Posting resources is great, but your clients care about your clinic for a reason- YOU! Try recording a a 30-second video demonstrating how to brush a pet's teeth or or snap pictures of a dental cleaning in progress, of one of your vets evaluating a dental x-ray, or of your front desk recommending a dental product to a client. The message will hit home much sooner with a personal touch.
1. Show off those pearly whites! Reward the clients who are doing a great job with their pet's dental care- either after a dental cleaning or simply by following through with your home care recommendations- snap a picture of a pet going home with their post-dental kit or after an appointment going home with a bag of your dental diet. Don't forget to commend the owners in the comment for doing such a great job-- it will inspire others to take the same great care!
*Pro Tip: If your clinic is using Twitter and/or Instagram, come up with a consistent hashtag and ask your clients to post their own pics (e.g. #BrentwoodPetSmiles or #PawsPlusPearlyWhites)
Be sure to follow along on my Facebook this month. I'll be sharing lots of resources, some dental month-themed social media freebies for your clinic, and showcasing what other clinics around the country are doing! Have great idea pr promotion go over well? I'd love to see it and share. In the meantime, go print out a February calendar and get to planning your month!
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.