A key step in claiming and personalizing your Facebook Business Page, as well as creating a unified brand identity, is claiming your Facebook handle, also known as a vanity URL.
This handle will allow your Page’s web address to be customized. Instead of the default jumble of numbers and letters like facebook.com/alkjsdlfkjwelkrjlkjf13lkj234, you’ll be able to direct your viewers to facebook.com/yourveterinaryclinic.
To customize, you’ll need to be an admin on your practice’s Facebook Page. This process is easiest done on a desktop, where you’ll
Having trouble? Check out Facebook’s username guidelines here, or shoot us an email!
-The Social DVM Team
One word. VERY.
Simply put, a social media handle is a “username,” preferenced by the “@” AKA “at symbol” and used on social media channels. Your handle allows others to find your business on social media by adding it to the tail end of any platform’s web address. For instance, the handle @thesocialdvm can be added to facebook.com/thesocialdvm, instagram.com/thesocialdvm or twitter.com/thesocialdvm and properly direct you to our pages. You may also see this referred to as claiming a “vanity URL.”
So why is it so important to have consistent handles across all social media platforms? Your social media handle is a huge part of your branding when it comes to online marketing. It creates a clear, unique identifier of your practice and brand. Ideally, a strong and memorable handle will be easy for your clients and customers to remember and tie back to your business, no matter where they are searching.
In addition, having a single unique handle will allow you to market more effectively. Simply add the “@yourvetclinic” to business cards, brochures and client materials for a universal result!
Some things to consider when creating your social handle:
The bottom line? When creating a social media handle, it is important to try, whenever possible, to be consistent across channels that allow you to customize- Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Linkedin, and even Google Business. Be creative, but be concise! In some cases, a username you want may already be taken, and you can then decide if you want to have multiple handles or choose a new one that will apply across all channels.
Have questions? Need help coming up with a social handle? We are just an email away!
-The Social DVM Team
One of the main reasons to use social media is to allow followers to know more about the practice and specifically, about the people, caring for their pets.
Facebook’s “Our Story” section gives us the opportunity to do just that-- tell our story, humanize our business, and connect on a more personal level. Differentiate your practice from all the others that also provide “compassionate, state-of-the-art care” by taking this opportunity to tell your viewers exactly what makes you different.
The Our Story section is located prominently on the right side of your Facebook Business Page (desktop view), or under the Home and About tabs when viewing on mobile. Clicking the “finish your story” button underneath gives you a new screen that will allow you to add an image, title, and long-form text.
Think of your Our Story section as the Facebook version of your website’s About page. Share the background of your practice and the “why” behind the work you do. Spotlight the people who make up your team and highlight the services your practice offers that make you different. We’re not talking about digital dental x-ray or the latest heartworm preventative. We’re talking about your team’s unabashed goal to channel their inner cat lady vibe to make cats more comfortable in a feline-only exam room, the extra attention you give to geriatric patients, your receptionist’s special talents in helping those dealing with pet loss, or your owner’s decision to open the practice based on their goal of fulfilling their childhood dream in their old neighborhood.
Add a photo (NOT of your building-- of your people doing what they do best! Go for the warm and fuzzy)! Dimensions have changed, but we’ve found luck with images sized 1200 x 445 pixels. Next, add a title, and then review your full product. Grammar nerds will appreciate the word processing features like paragraphs, bullets, quote blocks, bold/italics, and even the ability to add links.
When you’re done, add your story and click the blue “Publish” button in the bottom right corner. Your updated “Our Story”’s image and first few characters will appear on your page.
Take advantage of this free, easy and quick option to give a little more personalization to your page. Your viewers may never visit your website to read that “about” section or staff profiles, so give them this key information where they’re looking-- on your Facebook page!
- The Social DVM Team
Can you believe nearly 85% of mobile users watch social media videos with the sound OFF? Truthfully, I can. I almost never have my sound on- I’m always worried about my phone going off in an exam room or waking up a kiddo at home. It’s just easier for to leave the phone’s sound off.
Consider this stat along with the facts that:
1) videos are the preferred social media content (from the perspective of users and algorithms alike) and
2) we have just a few short seconds to capture our viewer’s attention.
Combined, these reasons make captioning your videos a worthy investment of time and in some cases, money. Captions are a great way to improve the length of watch time as well as getting your viewer to understand your message.
Even on image-heavy Instagram, captions can increase view time by 12%.
Adding captions sounds hard, but really can be done in just a few steps. Here’s the roundup of the platforms and options:
A quick note about file type: I had never heard of an .SRT file (SubRip file type) before I started captioning videos, so don’t feel bad if you hadn’t either!
Unfortunately, the only way to include subtitles on your Instagram videos is to have them be a part of the original file. There are a few apps that can help with this, or traditional video editing software like Adobe Premier Pro.
The Social DVM Team
Google posts are a relatively recent feature that allows verified businesses like veterinary practices to create a post, much like a traditional Facebook post, that will appear in the local panel on Google’s search results as well as on Google Maps. Here’s a rundown of what you need to know and how you can implement these into your marketing strategy.
Practices that are verified businesses on Google are eligible to use the Google posts feature. Pet owners searching for veterinarians or your specific practice may see these posts in the search engine.
Posts, much like a traditional Facebook post, can include a description, photo and clickable call-to-action button. They act as mini-ads for your practice! Content can include photos, images, GIFs and videos.
Google offers several post type varieties, including:
Call to action buttons can be linked to your practice’s specific URLs, such as your appointment booking link, recent blog post, or website home page. Call-to-action button options are:
Most Google Business posts expire after a week, with the main exception being event posts with a date in the future. Posts can be scheduled within the platform up to seven days in advance. In addition, Google does send an email notification when your post is about to expire, or if you haven’t posted in a while.
Google business posts appear in a user’s search engine results (specifically the Google knowledge panel). Google states that they may also appear in the Google feed (for Android devices) if the user has shown an interest in the brand. Offers appear near the top of the Business Profile on Google Search and Maps. They also appear with all other posts in the Updates tab.
Google Business posts offer several advantages, including:
Bottom line? If I have a FREE opportunity to take up more space on a search engine result, use a photo or video to show a warm and fuzzy feeling to potential clients, and provide an easy, one click way for clients to book an appointment, I’m going to take it.
To create a Google post:
Most Google posts can be similar to those you would run on your Facebook or Instagram accounts. Since they have the benefit of “lasting” a bit longer, it’s reasonable to use more “evergreen” content. Avoid the daily barrage of cute puppy pics and try general “Book Now” posts highlighting a specific service or feature such as laser therapy or a cat-only exam room. If you have a blog, share the link and image and a teaser for the content. Remember that your posts will be seen by clients who are searching not only for you, but for the search terms that may appear in your post. Vary the content each week between cats and dogs, and between service, offers and news for a balanced approach.
Your post can be edited or deleted, much like social media posts. It can also be shared directly to your Facebook or Twitter page, emailed directly, or a shared via a direct link visible on each individual post. You can also view the post on Google directly in order to give it one last final review.
Reviewing Your Posts
You can monitor the success of your posts easily within your Google Business dashboard. Luckily, users are likely to engage with your content because they’re already searching for you on Google. Click on each individual post to view it’s metrics, or check your email for a weekly summary from Google. Specifically, you can view how many people saw each post and how many clicked the link.
For more info, check the latest on Google here, or shoot us an email!
-The Social DVM Team
Make it as easy as possible for your customers to leave you a glowing five-star review by creating a direct one-click link.
Once you have your link, throw it to the masses! Embed it on your website, include in post-visit surveys and communications, and share it on social media along with your latest five star review.
-The Social DVM team
I’m a big believer in practices having a social media/digital “team.”
A team approach:
Let’s focus on that last bit for a second. When I say “safer,” I’m not just talking about protecting it from a disgruntled employee. I’m also talking about, ya know, that thing I do like three times a week, which is forgetting a password or getting locked out of an account.
To be fair, the first possibility is also just that- a possibility. Having multiple admins means that if someone does leave, on good terms or not, the practice won’t suffer and can still access their accounts without that awkward transition.
I think this is particularly important for practice owners who often don’t actually manage their accounts day-to-day. Even if you have no intention of ever logging into your Facebook, Yelp, or other accounts- it is THE online representation of your business, and you should own it the same way you own your client list, blood work machines or inventory.
So? How do you do that?
I’ve rounded up the “how to’s” for all accounts that allow multiple admin or manager roles.
For the accounts that don’t yet offer this feature but still need multiple people to access (looking at you, Instagram and Nextdoor), I would recommend using a password manager like Last Pass owned by the practice owner.
Happy account securing!
Caitlin DeWilde, DVM
1: Find & Claim Your Page
You need to access the specific "Yelp For Business Owners" site, available at https://biz.yelp.com/ to claim or edit your listing.
Follow the prompts to either login, or get started and set up a new account. Enter your practice zip code, name, and business info.
Thanks to the magic of Google et al, your practice's info will appear and you'll be asked to confirm.
From here, there are two possibilities: 1) you'll need to confirm your email and set up a new account or 2) you'll find out that your practice has already been claimed. If the latter, you'll need to start the process of trying to reset the password.
2. Create a Business Account for Your Practice
Next, you'll be prompted to create a business account. Unfortunately, you'll have to create this in a person's name, not just the clinic name. I would recommend either the practice owner or the practice manager- whomever you want it to look like is responding to your reviews, etc.- set up the first access to the account For instance, if your practice is owned by Dr. John Doe, when you respond to reviews, it will appear as "John D." responded. Similarly, this person will also be the "owner" of the page, and you'll also need to share a bio and photo for this person. Run this by your practice owner if you're not sure who should be the face of your practice's Yelp page.
Yelp recently allowed manager access- so once the practice owner or manager has set up the account, additional managers can be added to the page for notifications and managing reviews.
In addition to the first and last name, you'll need to input an email address and a password for your Yelp login. Use the email address that you want all notifications about new reviews, etc to be sent to. Typically I would recommend either the practice manager or general office account, so that new reviews are seen by the practice quickly. Make sure to record this email address (username) and password so you can find them in the future.
3: Verify Your Business
You'll need to be at your actual place of business to complete this step. Set yourself up by the phone, or let your receptionist know a call will be coming. The Yelp screen you will see states that "To protect you and your business, we need you to answer a quick phone call." It will show show the business number it has on file, and you'll be able to actually trigger the call by clicking on the "Call Me Now" button. The screen will also show you a four digit code that you will be prompted to enter . This proves you're actually a human answering the phone at the business you say you're at, and not just some robot or disgruntled customer. The whole ordeal should take less than 30 seconds. If successful, you'll see a new screen that says "Your Business is Claimed!" and offering Yelp ads. Skip this part by clicking the "No thanks, continue to my business" phrase in the bottom left hand of the screen.
3b: Remove previous users, if necessary
If your page was previously claimed/owned, you'll see the first name and last initial of previous owners, as well as a portion of the previous user email addresses. If you don't recognize the name and/or they're not a trusted employee, delete them by clicking the "Remove From Business" button.
4. Download the Yelp app, if you'd like.
The next screen gives you the option to have a link for the iOS or Android app texted right to your phone, so you can download the Yelp app and be able to read and respond to your reviews. This step is OPTIONAL, but if you're interested in monitoring on the go, this is a good app to have. If you're not interested, click "Skip."
5. Edit Your Business Information
After skipping or saving your info about the Yelp app, the next screen will look almost identical, but ask you for general business information. This is where many office managers may get stuck, since this information will most likely come from the veterinarian/owner. Be prepared to answer the following questions:
Enter the info as prompted. If you don't have all the details when you're first setting up your profile, you can skip certain questions, but it's best to just get it all done at once!
6. Confirm Your Email Address
Check your email that you used to set up your business account for a confirmation email and click the link. You'll need to be confirmed before proceeding to the last step of adding your photos!
7. Upload Photos
After you've completed the information, add some photos to personalize your profile, and draw attention during a search. Without adding your own photos, your profile will: a) look dull and boring b) customers will think it's an autocreated profile and less likely to visit/review your profile and c) potentially showcase photos OTHER people have uploaded of your business. Therefore, it's best to add your own and have control over your profile!
I would recommend not only the typical photos of the building outside, your practice logo, the reception area and the exam room, but be sure to showcase photos of what animal lovers want to see- your veterinarians interacting with animals! I typically try to add 5-10 photos, and ALWAYS am sure to add photos of the veterinary team doing what they do best-- helping animals.
If you want to go all out, you can also add captions to the photos. I have even used a few PlaceIt photos to showcase app or website-based features that some of clinics offer, like a clinic app or online appointment requests, etc.
You can access your photos from the left hand menu. Unfortunately, Yelp randomizes the photos so there is no way to pick which one is first viewed, so make sure they're all good photos :-)
8. Admire Your Work and Share with Your Followers!
You're done! Go back to regular 'ol Yelp.com and search for your business to see how it will look to your customers! Check out your site and if you're happy with it, share the link on your social media pages and ask your web designer to add a link from your website. Your clients will be able to easily find you and hopefully leave great reviews!
Have questions? Need help? I'm just an email or click away. Good luck!
Here we are with that platform we all love to hate.....Yelp. It's been steadily gaining traction and steam since 2004, starting out as a depository for restaurant reviews. You may have even visited it, looking for the best burger joint in the neighborhood near you. Well now, your potential clients are doing the same thing- so your clinic needs to be represented!
With more than 75 MILLION unique visitors looking at Yelp from a mobile web browser EACH MONTH, the platform now boasts more than 170 million reviews.
Truthfully, Yelp can be difficult and often gets a bad rap for its lack of recourse when allowing businesses to protest an unwarranted review. On the plus side, they offer a free listing with multiple avenues of business contact points, and across industries, nearly 50% of the reviews are 5 star and over 70% of businesses are "recommended."
Here are my FIVE reasons every practice should be represented on Yelp:
1. Reviews, photos and info are automatically pulled in by Google and Apple Maps' search engines. When someone searches for your practice on either of these platforms, you want to have some "screen real estate" here and some control over what business information is given.
2. Without the business account, you have no recourse to be notified or respond to new reviews (good or bad).
3. Even if you don't claim your page, clients can STILL leave a review! I'd rather know what was being said about my practice and try to have some control of at least some of the content (photos, contact information, hours, etc).
4. Client feedback. If we're not listening to them, we can't improve.. I know, I know- there will be a bad review at some point, but the overwhelming majority are positive and reinforce the great work we do. Even a "deserved" bad review, or any review less than those glowing 5 stars in the sky, has information we can use to improve our teams, our practice, and ultimately the experience we deliver to our clients and pets.
5. Client Referrals: last but not least......Yelp has the potential to bring you new clients. It provides clickable links to call, visit a website or map directly to your business. I've seen multiple clinics generate new client leads from Yelp- my own included, without spending a cent.
If I've convinced you and you're not sure how to set up this access, or you need to go in and spruce things up, visit my Yelp for Business tutorial blog here.
Need help or have other questions? I'm just an email away!
Caitlin DeWilde, DVM
I've been really serious about tracking client referral sources at my clinic for the last year. I was tired of the "online" generic response, and changed my clinic registration form to give our new clients more specific choices. I still had the "fill in the blank" spot in addition to checkboxes for the usual: Google, Facebook, Yelp, Instagram, existing client, etc, etc.
For the first time, I started noticing more and more people writing "Nextdoor" in the empty blank. Then, we received a "Neighborhood Winner" sticker from Nextdoor and an invitation to claim our business page, so of course I did. So what the heck IS Nextdoor, anyway?
According to the platform themselves, Nextdoor is the world’s largest private communications platform for neighborhoods.
It launched in the fall of 2011, and has steadily been gaining traction. As of this writing, when I logged into my personal neighboorhood Nextdoor account, there were 186,000 neighborhoods established on the platform. My own little neighborhood has over 300 members, and when I searched for "veterinarian," more than a dozen clinics came up with little hearts next to them- indicating how many of my neighbors had "recommended" them, along with more than 2 dozen specific posts. I quietly trolled them all, making a mental note of my "neighbors" who had recommended or mentioned my practice in the posts.
I decided it was time to claim our practice's Nextdoor page. LIke many platforms, the good news it that establishing your profile can be a "set it and forget it" approach that needs little updating. Setting it up and enabling the proper notifications can allow you to be more accessible to your neighbors without the need to post frequently.
You'll recognize the process of claiming your business account as it's nearly identical to the process of other online registries like Yelp, Bing, Apple Maps, etc. It requires the typical practice contact info, history, hours, profile pictures, and verification by answering a phone call on the business number. You can see the screenshot slideshow below, or start the process at www.nextdoor.com/business.
Once you've established your clinic, you can share the word with your existing clientele via email, Facebook, Twitter, etc. Similarly, your profile will allow you to see recent neighbor comments and recommendations, and reply to them if you so choose.
Many of you may be thinking "Why do I need to do this? Do I really need one more thing to check or worry about?" I get it. I really do- in the day-to-day scheme of things, I don't think that Nextdoor is going to really make or break any vet clinic's reputation. But I DO think that if your clients are looking for you, you want to be found, and you want to be the first to know if your clinic is receiving any negative press. Without claiming your page, you'll have access to neither option.
To be truthful, I suspect this is more popular in urban and suburban areas. Small towns have many pros and cons, but not needing a digital platform to connect with your neighbors is often one of the pros.
In my community just outside St. Louis city lines, I could see where some of my clientele may be Facebook-averse and instead use Nexdoor as a smaller, more personal recommendation search engine. My own little neighboorhood group proved to be exactly where I turned when I needed a recommendation for a landscaping project, and the info I got from my post there far exceeded what I found on a similar Google search. Nextdoor is more akin to leaning over the fence and asking your real next door neighbor for advice- far more personable and trustworthy than a random search.
Bottom line- it takes just a few minutes to set up, and could be helpful in building your online reputation and bringing new clients in the door. Worth a few minutes of your time, in my opinion.
I'd love to hear how it goes at your practice- shoot me a Facebook message and let me know if your clinic was already getting mentioned, or if you've been seeing clients from Nextdoor's referrals.