National Pet ID Week is April 20-26, 2014, and offers a great opportunity to educate clients about the importance of pet identification. In addition, your clinic can benefit by encouraging identification to decrease lost pets, promoting microchip services and connecting with your clients who are already doing a great job of keeping their pet safe. This blog will share some ideas, tips and graphics you can use to launch your message on social media. You can save the images directly from here, or check them out on my Pinterest page for direct download and sharing as well. Happy educating!
--Caitlin DeWilde, DVM
The Social DVM
10. Post pictures of pets with great identification
This can be a quick and easy pic to post on your Facebook page, or even incorporate images into your Facebook cover photo for National Pet ID Week!
ID Tags: An easy task you can accomplish right now with your smartphone is to take a picture of the clinic cat or your own pooch wearing their ID tag. Showing your clients that the pets you personally care for are properly identified can go a long way toward demonstrating how important pet IDs are.
ID Collars/Harnesses: For pets who are already microchipped and/or owners who hate jangling tags, remind them that a visual form of identification is still recommended! Show off a pet wearing an embroidered harness, collar or leash! We asked a client to share a picture of their pet's collar, which has the pet name and owner phone number embroidered.
Share Where to Find: If possible, highlight a local business or pet store in town that offers this service. Not only will you be sharing information with clients on how to get these products, but you'll demonstrate your involvement in the community and build on a relationship with a business likely to refer clients your way.
9. Demonstrate scanning a microchip
This is an easy one! Use your clinic pet or a staff member's pooch. If you're tech-friendly, a quick 10-second or less video shared on your social media pages can demonstrate how quickly and easily a pet can be identified. A photo collage showing off the procedure, scan result and pet's tag is also a great way to visually share this information.
8. Post a picture of a microchip on X-ray
We've all heard clients quickly jump to the glowing white alien-bot I mean microchip on radiographs while we're just trying to show them heart size or evidence of foreign body. Seeing the microchip on radiographs is an interesting/cool factoid, plus educates clients on placement.
Post the picture on your Facebook page with the microchip circled, and ask clients to identify it. Offer a prize (I usually go with a free nail trim) or a virtual high five for the first person to correctly identify. Schedule a post for later that day with the same picture labeled to identify the microchip. Getting your clients to post and interact with your page will boost your visibility and increase your overall engagement! Feel free to use this radiograph if you'd like!
7. Share a resource
While sharing an information piece can be a link to a microchip article, success story, or manufacturer website, we like to share the AAHA Universal Pet Microchip Lookup Tool at www.petmicrochiplookup.org.
This site should be of value to your clients whether or not they received their pet's microchip at your office. While adopted and rehomed pets may come to their current owners already microchipped, they may have forgotten to pack their paperwork. Owner not sure what brand of microchip their pet has? No problem. Type in the code and the website will identify the manufacturer and provide their contact information/next steps. It's also a nice tool for veterinarians and shelters!
6. Offer a microchip or ID tag promotion
Run a promotion on microchipping services (e.g. $10 off, free registration, etc.) This is a win-win for everyone! Depending on your microchip manufacturer, they might be willing to partner for a "Chip Clinic" event to quickly and easily microchip a large number of pets. If you partner with a company for ID tags or create them in house, consider offering a free tag to new pets during Pet ID week, or a similar discount.
5. Demonstrate the microchipping procedure
Use photos and/or video to illustrate the process. You may be concerned about making people squeamish, but you're more likely to educate about how simple the procedure is. Besides, a You Tube search of "microchip dog" turned up 15,200 videos. Make sure what your clients are viewing a reputable video (your own)! If you're not up for the videography challenge, check out these links for two popular microchip manufacturer demonstrations.
4. Reward Properly Identified Pets
A perfect example of positive reinforcement. Offer a free nail trim or ear cleaning to appointments during the week that come in wearing a name tag with the proper info! Bonus points if they also have a microchip. Then, share their picture, their story and what you did on your social media. Example: post a picture like the one to the left. You could say "Maple came in today for her yearly exam and showed off her cool ID tag! Since this pooch is wearing her tag AND let us scan her microchip, we gave her a free nail trim and some extra treats in honor of National Pet ID Week!"
This is a nice gesture to your existing clients, plus compliments them on a job well done. Furthermore, it spreads your message on social media and is yet another excuse to post cute dog and cat photos. Win-Win-Win.
3. Share a Success Story
Sharing a success story belonging to one of your clients or staff members- or finding one online to share is a heartwarming way to educate with a personal touch.
If your clinic doesn't have any personal reunion stories as a result of a microchip or other identification, ask your clients in person or on your social media -- they love to tell stories about their pets, especially to their veterinarian! If that doesn't work, visit the website of your favorite microchip manufacturer. A recent search of the top microchip providers revealed plenty of great reunion stories.
Check out the examples below. On the left is a Facebook post detailing the reunion of an escaped cat- found six months later and six miles away! On the right, a local lost dog whose info had previously been shared on the clinic Facebook page was found. He was identified by an embroidered collar and promptly returned to a grateful family. The clinic posted news of their reunion and a photo of the pooch with his owner in the clinic after his exam deemed him healthy. That post alone earned more than 3,200 views! For a clinic in a town of 10,000, that's great exposure!
2. Remind clients to verify contact info.
We're all guilty of neglecting this. A move down the road or across the country can be a nightmare in terms of paperwork. Changing addresses and phone numbers is easy to remember when it means you might not have electricity, but there's no prompt to remind owners to update their microchip registration info.
Sharing this graphic or other visual reminders may trigger that to-do list item for a client who has recently moved. Remind your front desk staff to ask anyone who changes their address with the clinic to remind them, or better yet, help them update it with the microchip company too. Depending on the company and associated plans, a small charge may be involved, but the process can often be done online. Having your staff familiar with your microchip partner and their process can save time and provide a valuable service to your clients.
1. Educate owners about the benefits!
Microchipping is a no-brainer, and a great service to promote because everyone-- pet, owner, and veterinarian-- benefits. The costs and risks are low, while benefits are permanent and have the potential to save lives. Educating clients about lost pet statistics and microchip successes can help increase awareness and keep pets safe.
Some tips for educating in your clinic:
Tips for educating on your social media:
10: It's FREE (mostly). Vets are a frugal bunch, and we've got better things to spend our money on, right? Other than the time it takes to post your content, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, and the rest of the social media gang are free. No cover charge. Just BYOP (Bring your own posts!)
9. It's targeted. No more blanket ads to the world of yellow pages and bus benches in the hopes that someone will *happen* to see it. People are only going to follow you if they are looking for a veterinarian (you), they're interested in what you have to say, or they already patronize your clinic. Now meet them half way and give them what they want! And by "what they want," I mean adorable puppy photos.
8. Keep an eye on your competition. Let's face it- you want to know what services your competitors are offering, if they're expanding, or if they got the newest flea and tick product. They're on social media, and if you're not, you may miss out on knowing what's going on down the street, and why your clients are going there instead.
7. If you don't claim it, it will claim you. Your information, your reviews, your practice- it's all already on the internet whether you like it or not, and whether you have taken ownership of that info or not. Don't you want to make sure that what's out there is a) correct, b) positive, and c) creates the illusion that you're not stuck in the 18th century?
An example: once upon a time, when working for a technophobe boss, I decided to surprise him by creating a clinic website, business Google+, business Yelp and Pinterest pages (I know, I'm a nerd). Here's the thing: I was able to create ALL of those media forms...without him knowing. Now, granted, I was vested in promoting the practice and knew that being present online would only increase the clinic's profitability and character. But who's to say that I wasn't a disgruntled former client or employee doing the same thing but with sinister intentions? If you haven't taken ownership of your clinic's online presence, someone else can.
6. Ummm...have you guys ever seen a YouTube cat video? Look- dogs and cats are one of the most popular search topics on image and video searches BY FAR, unless the Olympics are on or Justin Bieber has done something ridiculous again. We don't even have to try to find this stuff- it's literally waiting in the exam room for you to bring to your adoring online fans. Probably while you're reading this. Go check out that ear infection and come back for the second half of the countdown.
5. You can stay up to date and relevant- in 30 seconds. I once attended a lecture on social media, and an internationally known veterinarian stood up and said "If you're not on social media, you're missing part of the conversation." I joined Twitter that day, after years of avoidance. And that veterinarian was right- just by following the AVMA alone- I was almost instantly more aware of what was happening in the veterinary community- simply because the tweets were basically "headlines" of what was happening in our world. No more digging through the journals to find the one article that actually interested me, and no more being blissfully unaware of what's affecting our profession. By following a few other veterinarians with similar interests (like social media in practice), I picked up quick tips and ideas that were pertinent to my workday. 30 seconds between exam rooms can go a long way to keep you in the know. It's better than TMZ, anyway.
4. It motivates and ingratiates your staff. One of the basic principles of management is to allow staff members to personalize- so allow their personalities be part of your practice's social image. Featuring a staff profile on your Facebook during National Vet Tech week, posting a comment on your pages for their birthday, or featuring their pets or staff "product picks" on your Pinterest page shows your staff that you value them, their skills and their knowledge. What's more- they'll likely pick up some likes and praise from your followers and clients. They'll likely then share all this on their own social media- further promoting your practice and your reputation as a caring employer.
3. Connect with your community as a whole- veterinary and otherwise. "Friending" other local businesses and organizations can be a great source of referrals, local information and events, and is a great way to foster a true sense of community, without having to hit those boring Chamber of Commerce meetings.
2. You'll create an undeniably personal connection- I don't know about you, but if I saw a picture of my accountant lovingly calculating out my depressing tax return, or my mechanic doing a great job of pouring in some oil into my lemon of a car, I wouldn't exactly feel warm and fuzzy inside. But seeing someone post a picture and showing off my old lady pooch or cuddly feline son on their page? LOVE IT! After all, my dog Maple is the cutest dog in the Western hemisphere. I'm a veterinarian and I'm writing this article- but I would still totally fall for this. I'm totally going to "like" that post, share it onto my wall, tweet it out, add it to my Google+ and Pinterest pages, tag my husband in it, and email it to my grandma. Before you know it 862 people have seen that post with your clinic's name on it. #TotesAdorbs
1. Our job is awesome! It's easy to forget that we have one of the best jobs in the entire world. Student loans, long hours, angry clients, the evil 20/20 segment, and getting peed on AGAIN can make us forget that we fought tooth and nail to get to this job- we attained the dream almost every kid has had at some point. Remember that we get to play with puppies and kittens. EVERY. DAY. People want to see what we do. They want to see the cute furry faces, the heartwarming stories, and the weird foreign objects. More importantly, they want to see that we love what we do. Let's show them.
Caitlin DeWilde, DVM