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.
With the holidays upon us and Cyber Monday deals launched, it's time to get crackin' on that gift list. If you need a few more ideas for your favorite veterinary lovin' social media nerd, look no further. I know these are good, because I actually own almost all of them! Some are fun, some are super handy, and some are downright essential. Whether these are gifts for a friend, colleague or yourself, they promise to make social media even more fun.
Happy holidays! -CD
DISCLAIMER: You'll notice that these are almost all Amazon links for a few reasons: 1) Who doesn't love and need Amazon 2 day shipping right now?! and 2) We'lll earn a small fee if you follow the links below to order, but it doesn't change your price! This helps us continue to test out and report on new gadgets in the clinic! TheSocialDVM is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.
National Veterinary Technician week has ARRIVED! For the next seven days, it's time to put out some serious thanks and appreciation for the technicians that make this industry great!
Here are just a few ways to celebrate your vet techs on social media:
1. Individual staff profiles:
Sharing your technician's pictures and bios is a great way to give them a virtual shout-out, plus allowing your clients to get to know more about the team that cares for their pets on a daily basis. It also allows your clients to share their thanks, photos and memories in the comments! Post a candid or headshot photo of each technician scattered throughout the week, or make a specific graphic in Canva.
2. Group photo thanks:
This is a perfect excuse to get all your technicians together for a photo. We know it's hard to get everybody in one place at one time (and picture-ready!), but you'll be glad you did. Great way to identify, showcase and thank your whole team in just one post (but I think you can do even more!).
3. Facebook Frame:
Facebook profile picture frames are fun ways for technicians (or their allies) to add a fun border to their Facebook profile. You can create your own using the Facebook Frames Studio and a design tool like PicMonkey or Canva, or search
"vet tech" in the
Frames library (facebook.com/profilepicframes).
Don't have time to design one? Dr. Andy Roark has two- one for techs and one for their allies now available!
Use social to help educate your followers about what your technicians actually do! Regardless of where you fall on the "technician vs nurse" title debate, it's safe to say that the general public only knows a small fraction of what their job duties actually entail. There's no way to improve on that if we're not giving credit where credit is due, and helping share the realities of the 9,453 things vet techs do every day. Try a slideshow showing your techs in their different job roles- from blood draws to surgery, x-ray to filling meds, medical records to monitoring anesthesia, and of course, patient care. Run a "who got" on some of your tech-specific services in your practice management software and put a number to exactly how many fecal exams or technician appointments were performed in the last year! Bottom line, do what you can to help illustrate and thank technicians for all the hard work they do.
5. Share great content from industry leaders.
It helps to reinforce our message when we're able to share similar content from trusted sources, especially when they've done a great job of crafting it! Here are a few of my favorites (as of posting this on Sunday, although I'm sure several more will pop up this week so stay tuned to my Facebook page for shares!
6. Say Thanks!
Last but not least, nothing goes further than a personal thank-you. Take a minute to record a quick video to share with your followers about your technicians. Talk about why you rely on them, why they are the best!!, and how they help your client's pets. Need some inspiration? Check out Dr. Jenn Wardlaw's post about her techs on her page @Gateway Veterinary Surgery.
Give your techs the recognition they deserve- it's the best gift of all.
Another new app. Another new feature of social media. Another opportunity, or another obligation?
Instagram shook the world of social media content once again last week when they dropped a totally new experience, IGTV.
IGTV, or Instagram TV, is a new app that offers long form, vertical video from Instagram creators. While the app itself is standalone, you can watch within the original Instagram app as well.
At first, I was simultaneously excited and bummed- Instagram video without the limits of 60 seconds, PLUS an opportunity to connect with pet owners and clients on one of the most popular platforms..... On the downside, I have been PREACHING about avoiding vertical video at all costs. No more double dipping to film video for multiple platforms..... but in reality, most people seem to have a natural tendency to film vertically anyway.
But again, with a platform of ONE BILLION users.....seems like a good place to invest some time and content, right?
The IGTV is easy and user-friendly. Open it up and it starts playing, just like, ya know, regular TV. There are "channels" that will bring you content from people you already follow on Insta, or find new content based on your interests. Just as with normal Instagram posts, followers can like, comment and send videos to friends via direct message.
So, how is this relevant to the veterinary practice? Can you imagine clients that would tune to your clinic's "channel" for specific shows and videos by you, their veterinarian? With IGTV notifications, your clients will get notified about new videos you release. Gone are the time constraints of traditional Instagram videos- take all the time you need to explain that procedure or give a tour of your practice. With Facebook for small businesses being a constant uphill battle in recent months, and social media user's affinity for video over all else growing every day, Instagram is quickly becoming my preferred platform for veterinary practices and groups.
It's new, and the "shiny" may wear off over coming weeks. I'm anxious to try it out in my clinic later today, and find out the opportunities to link my videos to other platforms or embed in blogs or website content. The possibility of an educational "channel" just for my clients, one in which we can refer clients to for helpful tutorials or for more info about our practice, all created for free, seems pretty appealing right now.
Move over Facebook, see ya later television. IGTV has arrived. Check out my first IGTV video on the platform, and let me know what you think with a DM or note here. Stay tuned tomorrow for a quick tutorial on setting up your channel, and download the app here:
--Caitlin DeWilde, DVM
We all spend a lot of time worrying about that one negative review- how to respond to it, how it will look to clients, the stress it will inflict on us and our teams. While that concern is valid and we do need a strategy for handling negative reviews, we need to put a similar emphasis on building that library of POSITIVE reviews. Think how much stronger our reputation could be if we spent the same amount of energy eliciting positive feedback from those who do support us and will likely continue to visit and advocate for our practice!
Positive reviews are just that- positive all the way around. Not only do they help bolster our reputation and earn client trust, but they can help us attract new clients, reinforce our ideals and give us feedback on what’s working well. They can brighten our spirits and help our teams remember why we do what we do. So why are we not trying to get that information? Here are my four tips to getting more reviews.
#1 Make It EASY!
We can’t assume that our clients know that we’re on Facebook. Or Yelp. Or that we even want reviews. We need to make it as easy as possible for our clients to GET to our review sites and as easy as possible to leave a review. Here are a few tips to make it easy for both your clients AND for you to access your reviews.
If we’re not asking for feedback, we’re much less likely to get it. While an in-person direct request can seem pretty awkward, there are many ways to elicit feedback indirectly. Here are a few ideas:
Be careful not to offer incentives for reviews, or overtly tell clients that you need more reviews. This can violate the terms of service of some platforms, especially Yelp. Leave the trail of breadcrumbs so they are prompted to and can easily share their experience.
#3 Don’t Forget About the Visual Reminders
Don’t forget about the power of a visual image. Here are some ways that simply providing signage in your hospital can increase client awareness about your review sites.
#4 Follow Through
Just like any relationship, nurturing your online connections with your customer and your community takes some work on your end.
Get to work, and get those reviews!
Coming in as the #2 search engine, it's worth ensuring that your practice is well represented on Bing. Though it pales in comparison to the business listings and options offered by the Google powerhouse, you want to make sure that your practice information is correct wherever your clients are searching. Other benefits? It's free, quick to setup, and requires little to no maintenance. Establishing a Bing Places for Business profile is simple, and gives you control over the practice information (hours/address/contact info), as well as giving you control to add practice logos and photos. In 15 minutes, you can scratch this off the to-do list of getting your practice found online. Scroll to the bottom of this tutorial for step-by-step screenshots!
1. Visit www.bingplaces.com and click “Get Started."
2. Search for your business via name, phone number or address.
3. Verify their result, and then click “Claim and edit details.”
4. You’ll need to sign up for Bing Places using an existing account, or you can create one.
5. Verify/update basic info. You’ll need:
6. Click “Next” to enter Category Information. In this area, you’ll need to enter your:
8. Click next to add up to 10 photos of your business.
11. Once verified, you’ll receive an email to confirm that your listing is complete and live on Bing.com!
Two years ago, on a whim/as an experiment, I started a private Facebook group for my staff members. I was looking for a way to communicate with my team, and was exploring options. I had tried Slack, Facebook for the Workplace, and the traditional methods (aka a printed sign in the breakroom), and I was still looking for something more. Here’s the how and why our Facebook Group has worked.
Starting a private Facebook group for your veterinary team members is relatively easy. Of my team of 22, all but one were already present on Facebook, so I knew I’d have a fairly reasonable success rate of being able to “reach” them. I signed into Facebook, and navigated to the “groups” page.
To start a new group, you’re given three options:
2) closed or
I elected the “secret” option and named our group. Secret groups are open to anyone, but members have to be invited or added by an existing member. No one but the members of the group can see the group, its members, or its activity, so this is what I would recommend for practice teams. You can check out more of the closed vs secret group criteria here. As an extra precaution, I named our group the “Rockstars of BAH,” removing our actual practice name from the equation.
Next, I needed to add our members. You will need one of two things to do this:
This access depends on each clinic’s dynamic. I’ve been in practices where everyone was personal friends with each other on Facebook and those in which no members were, and everything in between. There is an individual-specific and practice-specific dynamic here that could be a whole ‘nother blog, and maybe it will be someday. Bottom line: either you need to be personal friends with them on Facebook or you need the email address that they use to log into Facebook. Either one works the same way to add them to the group. Adding team members to the group does NOT give them access to your personal profile (unless your personal profile privacy settings are zilch).
And now, THE WHY:
Fast forward to when my team of 22 is all conveniently grouped into our own online microcosm. What’s the benefit? What’s the value-added proposition here? Why does this work? Here’s my shortlist :
1. Improved communication:
Let’s face it. My team is all already using Facebook, they like to be on Facebook, and frankly, we allow them to use their phones on breaks, lunch, etc. The reality is that it’s accessible on and off the clock.
My team will tell you that I LOVE to create Facebook events for our staff team. This includes any specific trainings, clinic events, and more importantly, staff meetings. Why? Because:
So hi, I’m Caitlin, and I’m a veterinary nerd. Obviously spending a fair amount of my time in the online/digital veterinary space, I come across a fair number of articles, product developments, pharmaceutical company initiatives and continuing education opportunities. Whether from company pages or other online groups, I’m able to share information and opportunities with my team. We frequently share webinars, drug recall info, marketing opportunities and overall practice tips from a variety of sources in our online group.
Helpfully, we can store files and documents, and share them, via our Facebook group. I’ve found this to be especially helpful as I often work from home. I will upload documents, staff meeting notes, flyers for the exam room, etc. to this, and that way it’s easily accessible to my team. I can also tag specific team members so they know where to refer back to and/or to print said documents.
5. Ability to "see: "
The beauty of the Facebook group is many…but it is helpful to know who my message has reached. If I post an announcement: for instance, on the latest meeting, or change in vaccine protocol, or deadline for insurance open enrollment: by clicking on the “seen by….” At the bottom, I can visually appreciate who effectively “should know” this info by a certain standpoint. If there have been team members who haven’t appeared in this list, I know I need to personally reach out via message, call, or in person, to make sure they’re aware of the latest developments.
Note: the caveat here is that I’m assuming they’re truly absorbing the info, when in fact they may be casually glancing through their Facebook feed in their off-hours. In fairness, I don’t expect them to be fully responsible just because they’ve “seen” it. I respect everyone’s free time, and their freedom to choose if and when to interact with our clinic team’s page. If the issue at hand is of major importance, I’ll ask them in the post to physically interact: either comment and/or like to show that they’ve seen/absorbed/understood and truthfully, and still respect their personal choice whether or not to respond to interact with this on their own time. If they don’t want to, they don’t have to. But it helps our management team know who we still need to reach in person, if any, on the latest issue.
Another awesome Facebook group feature is the ability to poll your team. My team knows that I frequently come up with hare-brained ideas that sometimes work and sometimes don’t. In fairness, I’m often relying on the work and effort of my technicians and receptionists to see these initiatives out, and I can’t always speak to them in person to assess their perspective. I respect their opinion in many cases, and I know that without team buy-in, a lot of ideas are going to fall flat. Using the polling feature lets me know if my team is on board, and if an idea or project is worth pursuing. Obviously, it’s not the be-all, end-all, but it helps me know where to focus our efforts. In addition, also used it to help narrow down dates for staff events, etc.
7. Appropriate Outlet:
We all know that there are times, when as a team, we need to “break it down.” We need to discuss the crazy case, the unbelievable day, the frustrations and joys of everything that comes with being a part of a veterinary team. For many people, in this day and age, the natural outlet is social media. We know that doctors, technicians and practice managers need to express themselves and have a venue for “the vent.” Creating a safe place for that in our private Facebook group gives our team that option, and that “safe place” to do that, in a way that doesn’t jeopardize their personal, or the practice’s, reputation online.
8. Fun staff/team bonding:
In general, I think as our team has grown in both number and in professional development, having the group has allowed us to be more connected. This has been especially true for me as I have stepped back from physical time within the four walls of the clinic, and as we’ve brought new team members in to an established “family” for our practice of more than 50 years. We have team members who have been a part of our practice for more than 20 years, and team members who have been added within the last six months. We have some staff who work every day, some who work one day a week (sorry guys), some who work days, some who work only nights. The bigger and more expansive our team and our practice has grown, the harder it is to bring everyone together in one spot. Our Facebook group has allowed our team to learn and grow as a whole. And let’s face it, we all need to share that hilarious veterinary meme somewhere, with our “tribe,” right?
To wrap it up, I think there are many practices that could benefit from having a secret staff Facebook group. It provides another avenue to communicate with your team and improves team interaction. There will be some practices out there that this will not work for, and others that need more advanced options for file sharing and the like. However, for my team, this free option has been of value to myself and many of my team mates, by improving efficiency, communication, event and policy compliance, and given us a few more smiles along the way.
For more information or Facebook group help, you can shoot me an email or check out Facebook's help page for groups here.
--Caitlin DeWilde, DVM