I'd like to just start out this article with the blanket statement that if you had told me a decade ago, sitting in the back row of my vet school lecture hall, that I would someday write an article about robot's role in veterinary marketing, I would have laughed you out of the room. I probably would have made fun of you with a "beep boop boop" sound and/or calculator watch impression.
But here I am, ready to tell you that robots, or more specifically something called a chatbot, are going to be your new best friend. Maybe not today, maybe not next month, but soon.
What's a chatbot? A chatbot is a computer program that simulates a conversation. Often, they're designed to do their job so well, they imitate how a human would behave in having a conversation via text, or for the purposes of this article, Facebook Messenger.
Chatbots are relatively new to the marketing and customer service scene...but are rapidly gaining traction, especially as their technology and ability to "machine learn" improves. If you're feeling nerdy and interested, some articles I found helpful early on. are here and here.
We'll skip their background, how they work, and why they're a thing. Here's basically what you need to know: we can now use them to communicate directly with clients via Facebook Messenger.
Why is that important? Oh, I don't know....maybe because 80% of adults use messaging (text or via apps like Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, etc) every day. The amount of messaging has increased worldwide nearly 70% in the last 2 years. And for those specifically using Facebook Messenger (that's 1.2 billion people, if you're counting), 58% of them use that every day.
So when we compare that to our "old school" methods of sending a postcard reminder........ or even email marketing, which has an average open rate of just 32%......using a messaging app and delivering that personalized message, straight to their phone and to the app they're probably already using, and making it beep with a new message.....is amazing.
So that's "messaging" as a whole. Now let's get back to chatbots. How can we use them in veterinary medicine?
Using a chatbot builder like ManyChat, you can create fully automated Facebook messages to connect with your client. Better yet, you can add your subscribers to various classification "sequences" to deliver even more customized content. And the best yet? Most of this is FREE, if not extremely affordable (<$10-20/month), depending on how much/detailed you want to get. As Brandon Brashears stated on his podcast about chatbots in veterinary marketing, most "subscribers" are going to cost you less than 20 cents!
Here's an example that I have implemented in a few practices:
On the first of every month, I always post a reminder on our Facebook page for my clients to give their pet's heartworm and flea/tick preventatives.
Using a chatbot I created with ManyChat, I took our last few month's posts to a new level. On that post, I asked my followers to comment in the post if they would like to receive a Facebook message reminder (as opposed to them taking the chance that they would see the post in their newsfeed).
Their comment on the post triggered my chatbot to automatically send them a Facebook message. They were given the option to "opt-in," meaning they had to take one more step to complete their subscription. Without it, nothing more would happen. If they took the "opt-in," which in my case was asking them to state the name of the heartworm product they were using, they would automatically receive a confirmation from my hospital stated that they were fully subscribed and would start receiving heartworm reminders each month. I was also able to attach links to directly call for a refill or to our website to make an appointment, if needed.
So this is the first part of this awesomeness. I now have a small, but engaged and committed, list of clients that have
1) told me they want me to contact them about a pet health topic,
2) told me where they want me to contact them (Facebook Messenger) and
3) also told me which heartworm product they use, so if I wanted, I could classify them by product type (e.g. Heartgard users compared to Interceptor Plus users, for instance).
The fun doesn't end here, folks. Let's talk about the next month's reminder message, which I can schedule in advance, to remind them to give their pet's heartworm preventative. Again using ManyChat, I schedule a fun reminder to be delivered. But instead of just the boring reminder, I attach two options. "All done!" with a link, or "Uh-oh, We're Out!" with a link.
The users that click "All Done!" automatically get a virtual high five in the form of a dancing dog GIF that I've embedded in the link. The users that click "Uh-oh, we're out!" get a different response. Depending on the clinic, I have used this to
1) link directly to a "request a refill" contact form on their website,
2) call the clinic, or
3) automatically respond with a message stating that we're available to help (with links to call for a refill or make an appointment), or a more personalized message that we'll review their patient's chart and contact them.
That entire sequence was pre-programmed, by me, a vet, with no coding/nerdy robot education.
One last thing.....remember how I asked them what product that they're using? Using their responses, I was able to sort them into individual product lists, and send them a helpful rebate link, for their specific preventative product only, mid-month.
So there you have it. That's an example of how I have used, and see chatbots being used in the future. Is it for every clinic? Nope. Is there a bit of a learning curve? You bet. Maybe some day it will replace vaccine reminders, or appointment requests/reminders, or other fun stuff. Who knows where technology will continue to take our profession, the way we communicate with owners, and how we treat animals. But if it means improved communication with clients, that means better-educated pet owners, and that means healthier pets.
So I'm all in. Are you?
ILast week, I was surprised to hop onto my clinic's Facebook page and see a new marketing feature, called "Our Story," asking me to add information to complete our business' profile.
It took just a few seconds to add the requested info: a title, a cover photo, and a much larger space than the traditional "about" section you probably haven't seen in a few years since you set up your page to begin with :-)
I opted to share our standard "About Us" message, detailing our history and a brief description of the things that sets our hospital apart. I'm still not sure why Facebook decided to add this feature, and it's only appeared on about half of the pages I manage so far. Ultimately, even though it's basically the same info that appears elsewhere on your social media and website, it's another opportunity to showcase your practice and what makes you rock, so I'm all for it. When you're all done, it lives on the right hand side of your profile on desktop, and has a prominent placing on mobile view as well, just under your likes and above your reviews.
Check out the screenshots below to see the process and the end result, and let me know if your practice has this feature yet!
So no surprise, I take a ton of pictures and videos when I'm in the clinic. I've relied on a cheapo flexible tripod for years for smartphone use, and a Gorillapod when I bring in my dSLR. I thought my little tripod was just fine...until I sat next to Dr. Sue, the Cancer Vet, at a recent meet-the-expert event. She pulls out this mini-tripod that looks much sturdier, AND HAS A WIRELESS REMOTE! So I'm geeking out about it....and had to have one of my own: the Joby GripTight ONE GP Magnetic Impulse. I can't believe I didn't get this sooner. You can watch the video for my full review and see how I'm using it in practice, but here are my top three favorite aspects:
1. Portable and compact: The entire device folds together so neatly that I can throw it in my purse or camera bag without worrying about it taking up a ton of space.
2. Magnetic: the feet of this bad boy are MAGNETIC! Extra stability on exam room tables, surgical tables, metal door and window frames, the sink, you name it! I love a little reassurance that my pricey smartphone will stay put and that I can get this guy in weird angles to take some great images.
3. Wireless remote: there's nothing more awkward than having to start your video with the obtrusive finger and awkward reach. Look calm, cool and collected and start your videos remotely, or use the remote to snap pics from a camera set up from afar.
The full video review (with captions), is available on my Facebook page, or watch via YouTube below!
A quick note from Dr. DeWilde: this topic appeared as an online video, including screensharing, on TheSocialDVM Facebook page (click here to view the video on Facebook with captions). The text below is an abbreviated, transcribed version of that video.
I wanted to do a quick video tutorial for you guys today on something really fun. Something that I think is pretty nerdy but pretty cool. That's right, we're gonna spend a whole video in the next few minutes talking about emojis. 'Cause why not? Who doesn't love emojis? Everybody loves emojis!
Emojis are a great addition to your social media posts. Here are just a few of the benefits:
I think it's important to realize that lots of big brands, not even just veterinary industry, are using emojis in their social media marketing. Just since 2016, we have seen a nearly 800% increase in emoji use across marketing efforts, including social media.
So we're gonna talk a little bit more about actually how to add them and how to integrate those into your posts. I do wanna make a point that, you know, they're not for, for everything, right? So there's a time and a place for them in which they're gonna be appropriate. Kind of like the hash tag thing, you don't wanna go overboard. You don't wanna use hundreds of emojis in every post 'cause people will think that's annoying. But try to use them sparingly and where they're appropriate.
You've probably noticed that I use them quite frequently, mostly for fun. But I do use them especially if I'm sharing large blocks of text. You know, if I have a post that has a lot of information, and I wanna break that up, or I wanna have bullet points Instead of the, just the dash is all you can do most of the time on social media posts, I'll use an emoji. It doesn't even have to be one of the cutesy ones, like an animal one. I do sometimes use the emojis that are like the blue diamond as a bullet point or something like that. But of course, everybody loves using the animal emojis because they're awesome, right? So, we're gonna talk about how you can actually do that, but just keep that in mind. Try to use them when they're appropriate, use them sparingly, but definitely start incorporating them into some of your social media posts.
You can add emojis to your posts four ways:
1. From your mobile device: emojis are automatically integrated with your keyboard!
2. From your PC: access the on-screen touch keyboard, available in Windows 8.1 and higher. Right click in your bottom toolbar, click on toolbars, find your keyboard, and then you'll see an emoji in the lower left hand corner. Unfortunately in my experience, this doesn't give you ALL of the emojis, but it's a start.
3. From your Mac: Press Command, Control and the spacebar down all at the same time to open up your emoji keyboard.
4. Using Emojipedia.com: That's like the coolest word I've ever said in a professional sense, right? So emojipedia.com is a free website and you can actually go there to search all the emojis and learn all their history, which is crazy. These are all the emojis that are standardized-- approved by the Unicode Standard, (which is apparently like the governing body of emojis. So, how do I get to be on that board? 'Cause that sounds like fun. I want that job). But anyway, so you can go there, find all the emojis that you're used to and integrate them super easy and super quick.
Check out the screencast video to see Emojipedia.com in action and how you can quickly search, copy and paste your emojis into your posts.
We've talked time and time again about how important video is in your practice's social media and marketing efforts.
Most veterinarians HATE the idea of being on camera, so don't worry, before this goes too far....you're off the hook. For this one.
This one...is fun. It's goofy. And....your clients will love it. We're talking about GoPro footage.....from your dog.
Clients LOVE clinic tours and behind-the-scenes glimpses. What better way to give them that, without a fancy professional video? Strap a GoPro on a willing pup and let them see your practice from a dog's view!
Granted, this does require some specialized equipment. Two pieces, to be exact. 1) A GoPro (obvs). 2) A GoPro Fetch dog harness like this one. Now, if you're a nerd like me, you may have a GoPro laying around, or maybe a friend to borrow one from. The dog harnesses are a little more obscure, but they're available on Amazon and a friend just saw one at Target, so you can totally make this happen.
I have an older GoPro Hero+, but I think any GoPro would do. The Hero5 Session model might be a good investment if you plan to do many of these videos with your dog, since it can be voice controlled and also has video stabilization.
The GoPro Fetch Harness works on dogs 15-120 lbs, has two camera attachment points, and seems to be really well tolerated by all the dogs I've tried it on.
A couple of tips, when considering doing filming a dog's tour in your practice:
1. Do this before or after hours. It's difficult to keep your dog videographer focused with lots of distraction, other pets, staff, moving about, etc.
2. Pick a lazy, food-motivated dog (like my Maple!)....she was happy to wander toward the next treat, so we "planted" staff at various points along the hospital so she just followed her nose to the next treat, giving us the exact tour footage/path we wanted.
3. Motivate with treats- but use Pill Pockets or something else so they don't have to stop and crunch.
4. Plan ahead: what do you want your clients to see? Do you want them to show a quick exam? Do you want them to tour the boarding area? Plan your route and make sure your clinic's spic and span, and consider moving barking pets temporarily to limit distraction.
5. Don't even try it on the cat. Just don't. Trust me. :-)
If you'd like to see a few examples, check out Maple in action here, here and the embedded video below. Admittedly, my 40lb-ish Corgi/Lab mix is a bit vertically and orthopedically-challenged, so we've got a fair bit of swagger here that may contribute to a motion sickness vibe. In this view, which we recorded with a lab mix wearing the harness, you can see it's a bit easier/less motion.
The GoPro Fetch Dog Harness also allows you to position the camera on top of the harness (on the dog's back), or the front of the harness (on their chest). If you put it on the front, you don't get the dog's head in the footage, so it's hard to appreciate that it's from a dog's perspective. But it may be a cleaner look overall, depending on your preference.
The GoPro app, formerly called Capture, is available for iOS and Android. The app allows you to quickly transfer the footage to your smartphone, or you can transfer it to a computer via it's SD card/cable. I've posted that footage natively without editing, and I've also imported it into iMovie for additional editing.
These aren't the most professional videos I've ever done or published, but they have been some of the most fun. If you try this out with your clinic, please share what you create so we can all see it! Happy videoing!
--Caitlin DeWilde, DVM
P.S.: This post contains affiliate links. You probably already figured that out, but just in case, if you purchase something from one of those links, I get a teensy commission. Which means trying more new cool toys and ideas to share with you here! Thanks :-)
Keeping track of all of your clinic's social media channels, notifications, progress and activity is a tough job. It can take a fair amount of time to log in and check all of your pages, and sometimes the text, email or in-app notifications can get lost in the fray (or annoy the heck out of you with their constant appearance).
However, keeping a close eye on your online reputation is key to avoiding problems and growing a loyal clientele. Therefore, it's important to do, no matter how tedious. I've tried out lots of different methods, services and strategies. While there isn't a universally perfect answer for each practice, the Perch app is about as close as it gets.
The Perch app, which is free on both iOS and Android devices, is designed specifically for small businesses. It's not specific to the veterinary industry, so the information you'll find on their website is more generalized. However, I've been using it for about three months with my personal practice as well as testing it for a few other clinics as well.
Perch keeps track of Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Yelp and Google traffic. It actually even tracks Foursquare but I honestly didn't know that was still a thing. With one click to open the app, I can immediately see my total audience (number of followers on all channels), my engagement (how many likes, comments, shares, retweets), and my "chatter" (the number of Facebook checkins or Instagram tagged photos), over the previous 14 days.
Highlighted Successes & Reviews
Scrolling down to additional features of the app, I can actually see our recent Facebook, Twitter and Instagram posts in one place. If one of them is doing well, it will be highlighted with a "popular photo" banner so that might be a post I would consider boosting or trying to replicate. New reviews also appear in this area.
Though optional, you can also elect to monitor other businesses in your area, and a small summary of their social activity will appear in your feed as well.
You can enable either daily or weekly emailed reports. The report (I went with the daily digest), shows all the posts we made over the last day, and also shows me any reviews made by "businesses I watch." This is kind of helpful to keep an eye on your competition, if you're into that :-)
In some ways, I've found it to be even better than the platform stats and notifications themselves. For instance, I've been finding all of the Instagram photos our practice has been tagged in easier on Perch than I have been able to track them down in the Instagram app, depending on if they tagged us or our actual location, etc. I also got an email notification BEFORE my Google notification came in for a new review of our hospital on Google.
As can be expected, it sounds a little too good to be true, right? Well, they do offer a paid level called the "Step Up Series," a monthly personalized guide and reports that tell you what you're doing well, and what your business could improve on. At $10/month or $90/year, that's honestly not too bad either. However, I've haven't sprung for this level yet, and I've been able to make some of these determinations based solely on the information I've gleaned from the free version.
All in all, Perch seems like a great way to quickly keep an eye on your clinic's social media/online review presence. It's quick, convenient and free. For those of you who struggle to keep up with regular monitoring, I'd recommend you give this a try. If it works for you, I'd love to hear about it!
--Caitlin DeWilde, DVM
I learned an important lesson early in life that I only fully understood when I became an adult and embarked on my journey to becoming a veterinarian. As a little league baseball player, I was terrified of failing at the plate. I didn’t want to swing and miss, become embarrassed. So how did I address this fear? I simply never swung the bat. You can imagine how far that got me. My point is you’ve got to swing the bat, even if you fail over and over. The only way you’re going to hit the ball is by making an attempt. If you have an idea, take a swing on it. Run with it and make it happen.
Why do you get up every day to go to work or school? What keeps you going back for more? And conversely, why do you leave situations that don’t make you happy? Is it the money? The sense of accomplishment? The recognition? The fluffy puppies and kittens we get to play with all day (sense sarcasm here)? In most cases, it’s the connections we make with our fellow peers, teammates, clients, and patients that make us excited to go to work each day. As a veterinary student I saw a need to build this connection amongst our student community and find an arena where we could interact. And thus, the Vet School Unleashed: Dissecting the DVM Podcast was born.
In my short two years as a veterinary student, I’ve found that there is plenty room for improvement in terms of the quality and quantity of our interactions with our peers and soon to be colleagues. Why isn’t there more collaboration amongst veterinary students at other institutions? Or between veterinary students and (human) medical students? I don’t know if there is a single, simple answer. However this podcast aims to improve the quality of our connections.
The goal of the podcast is to provide an outlet for candid discussions about any and all topics relating to veterinary school and veterinary medicine. According to my research, this type of environment has not existed in the podcast medium until now. Each episode features a special guest – a fellow veterinary student, veterinarian, consultant, veterinary technician, etc. – to share their experience and expertise on the topic at hand. The aim is to get us talking about important issues and for others to join in on the conversation. So far, we’ve been able to do just that.
The podcast was launched in October 2016 and since then we’ve released ten episodes. We’ve started with some of the most pressing topics: wellness, addressing imposter syndrome, how to be a more efficient learner, and networking just to name a few. One of the most influential episodes to me was an interview I conducted with friend and medical student, Clare Brady. We dove into what makes veterinary school and medical school similar and different. We talked about the struggles both of our cohorts experience in school and what we’re doing to combat them. We also helped open the doors to more connection between students in our two professions. Strikingly, we revealed to each other that our motivations to become doctors were nearly aligned. It showed that there’s much to learn from each other. Imagine what such insight from “the other side” could do for each of our careers.
In addition to providing a new place for these important discussions, I hope to influence and inspire my fellow veterinary student peers to transform their ideas into a reality. Each one of us has great ideas that will undoubtedly make great impacts in our career and lives. Unfortunately, many of these ideas will never get the chance to become a reality. But why? The fear of failure? Lack of time? While these are certainly valid reasons to delay or disregard putting your ideas into action, I can assure you two things: there is time for anything that is important enough to you. Even though you may fail at first, you will succeed in the end. If you have an idea, take a swing on it. Run with it and make it happen.
In the modern era of social media, mobile devices, and the rapidly decreasing necessity for human interaction in many of our daily tasks, it’s not surprising that my fellow millennials are finding it more challenging than our predecessors to build these ever-important personal connections. Don’t get me wrong, social media is a valuable tool for building connections. But there’s so much more to be had. More personal interactions not only energize us to do what we love but also play a major role in building our skills and moving our career forward. So let’s talk more. Interact more. Build more connection. It may not be easy at first, but I promise you that these connections you build and strengthen will help give you the tools and confidence to fulfill your dreams ahead.
Creating the Vet School Unleashed podcast has opened doors for me that wouldn’t have opened otherwise. It has helped me in my own communicating and networking skills. It’s given me the confidence to take a chance on my ideas and make them a reality. And most of all, it’s made me even more energized and excited to be a veterinarian.
If you’d like more information on the logistics of setting a podcast or want to discuss anything about the podcast or vet school in more detail, please don’t hesitate to contact me at email@example.com.
Seth is a veterinary student at the University of Missouri and will graduate in 2019. He was born and raised in St. Louis, MO and hopes to build his career and family there after graduation. His dream is to become a companion animal veterinarian and a practice owner. When not flooding his brain with veterinary medicine knowledge, Seth enjoys spending time with his wife, Rebecca, and two dogs: Cane and Chase. Seth also enjoys spending time outdoors, cooking, both making and listening to music, and playing ice hockey.
Hey everybody: Just a quick review of the Polaroid Zip mobile printer, which I've been wanting to try out for a while! I love taking pictures of my patients and happenings in the clinic, but sometimes it's nice to actually have a "hard copy" of those images, right? Remember how we all used to print out photos and get our pictures developed all the time? I am super guilty of taking thousands of pictures, but I rarely get around to doing anything with them other than share on social media, both at the clinic and at home.
Enter the Polaroid Zip mobile printer. After researching a couple of mobile smartphone printers including the HP Sprocket and the Canon Selphy, I decided on the Polaroid Zip. The cost of the printer, the cost of the replacement printer sheets/stickers, and the overall size made this the winner for surviving life in a vet clinic.
Basically, this smartphone printer uses Bluetooth technology to connect with any iPhone or Android smartphone or tablet. Using the free app, SnapTouch, you can quickly edit a photo by pulling from your camera's photo library, and print wirelessly to the printer in under a minute.
I'm hoping to incorporate this more into my practice as another way to personalize each patient's experience. We're toying with the ideas of using these 2x3 instantly printed little gems to:
1. Apply to the front of any puppy/kitten/new client folder (they actually print with a sticker back!).
2. Display in clinic (e.g. bulletin board)
3. Include in the welcome card we send to new clients after their first visit.
You can see my full review, pricing, and see the printer in action on my Facebook video. Here's a quick summary:
Pros: Small, portable, affordable. Printer cost: $115-130, protective case: under $10, Printer sheet refills depending on location/price: $0.35-0.50/each. No ink cartridges to mess with. Fun and unique.
Cons: The app (FREE) that corresponds, SnapTouch/Polaroid Print App, is a bit clunky. I was hoping to be able to write on the images, or include our logo, etc but no luck. There are some work arounds (e.g. editing the photo in PicsArt before uploading to the app), but I'm all about simplicity.
Have you tried one of these in your clinic? Let me know if so- I'd love to see what you create!
If you're interested, here are the links to each product I mentioned in the Amazon store. We will earn a small percentage of any sales, but that just helps us continue to test and try out new products to use in veterinary practices!
We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.
I had the pleasure of meeting Samantha Palmer at the recent AVMA Veterinary Leadership Conference (VLC). If her impressive Instagram account (nearly 5,000 followers) wasn't enough, it was inspiring to meet a young veterinary professional so enthusiastic, innovative and creative! Samantha and I had the opportunity to speak again as she was wrapping up her externship with AVMA Headquarters (Membership Division), and it's even more clear that this girl has some serious skill that will benefit her career journey as well as our profession. Be sure to follow her Instagram page at https://www.instagram.com/i.am.a.vet.student/.
--Caitlin DeWilde, DVM
“Sam, why won’t you get an Instagram, everyone has one” my friends asked me throughout my senior year of undergrad. My response was always the same, “I have a Facebook, why do I need an Instagram.”
I simply didn’t see the point of Instagram when I could just as easily post photos on my Facebook account. That was, until April of my senior year when I finally caved and started my own personal account. After following my friends, I began exploring all the other thousands maybe millions of accounts out there. I quickly realized that although there was a plethora of animal accounts, these days everyone’s family dog and cat has their own Instagram, and a few accounts specific to veterinary medicine like @vetgirlontherun and @vetsnobiety, there were not really any dedicated to veterinary school. This new found void gave me the idea to start another Instagram account that would be open to the public called @i.am.a.vet.student.
I chose the name out of simplicity-there would be no mistaking the purpose of this account by using this handle. I began my account five days before I started veterinary school at Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine in August of 2015, and I have posted one photo a day of my journey since then. I haven’t missed a day yet!
At the time that I started the account, I believed that I would use this platform to increase public awareness of the vigorous and academically challenging process of becoming a veterinarian. While that mission has been a huge part of the account’s success, it was not until I got my first direct message (private correspondence) a month after starting my account from a prospective veterinary student that I realized my account could also be a resource.
Prospective pre-vet students began to ask questions about the process of applying to veterinary school, high school students interested in veterinary medicine inquired about what they could be doing now to explore this field, and current veterinary students wanted to exchange study tips especially those entering their first year. As I have watched my account grow from my first followers, my siblings, to almost 5000 followers, I am elated by comments about how my account is inspiring the next generation of veterinarians and that makes this project one of the most rewarding tasks that I have undertaken.
I have learned many lessons in communication through this project. Taking photos of animals, research or client owned, was the first obstacle, although I had anticipated this one. I spoke to my veterinary school within the first week of starting classes about their social media policy to ensure that I was not breaking any rules in the student handbook with my account. I have had to tread lightly through this process.
Although students were initially given permission to take photos with the teaching animals including dogs, cows, and horses, this rule seemed to change depending on the class. It was clear that photos from wildlife labs or anatomy dissection were not permitted and that pictures of client-owned animals could not be posted unless we asked for permission.
While some social media rules make common sense, others appear arbitrary. This inconsistency is not uncommon in veterinary schools across the country as many schools have yet to write down a clear social media policy for their students or worse, in my opinion, have decided that no photos of any animals in the veterinary school can be posted online.
To complicate veterinary school social media policies further, the veterinary teaching hospital at a veterinary school can have its own social media policy, but that policy might not extend to classes or labs. In which case, permission is often left to the discretion of the professors- who may or may not address this at all. Issues like these are part of the reason that I have begun to urge my school to clarify this policy because I am a huge advocate for social media and its benefits. I worry that veterinary schools might begin to implement a “no photos on social media policy” rather than one that clearly states what content is or is not allowed. I strongly believe that the public should be able to share in the experience that is veterinary school.
An unforeseen obstacle from this social media experience was a need to learn about all the photo apps available. In fact, there are so many editing apps to download that it was overwhelming at first. I currently have six apps that I use on a regular basis and developers are always coming out with more.
Usually I need to edit a photo to keep the whole image in the frame without it getting cropped when I upload it to Instagram, and unlike the celebrities who have every photo edited to the extreme, I mostly add a filter or change the brightness to make the image stand out. In contrast to many Instagram accounts that are about the glamorous life of the blogger, veterinary school is anything but glamorous, as you all know, and I am dedicated to posting photos that represent the truth- the good, the tiring, and the dirty!
Sometimes I find myself with a great photo opportunity and no one to act as the photographer and then I must come up with a creative solution to capture the moment. In dire situations like these, I’ve learned to rely on the good, ol’ fashioned timer setting or the modern “selfie” timer. Fortunately, I often have a friend around to take my photo. I’m well known as “InstagramSam” around the vet school.
Ultimately, this Instagram account is a lesson in the importance of marketing yourself. With photos that can be misconstrued or taken out of context, I give each a post the appropriate forethought before posting. Although this task can be tiresome, I believe that my account will make me standout. When I graduate from Cornell in 2019, I want my future employer to pick up my job application and notice me. I hope that my social media skills will provide me with a unique niche to fill as the benefits of a social media presence become more well-known over the next few years. I look forward to seeing how my account and interactions with my peers, mentors, and the public continue to evolve.
Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine
DVM Candidate, Class of 2019
Contact Information: firstname.lastname@example.org
A few days ago, I visited a clinic that had moved last April. Having absolutely no concept of direction or navigational skills, I typed in the clinic name into my Maps app on my iPhone. A short time later, I found myself in an empty parking lot in front of a deserted building.
If you've followed my previous blogs, you know I'm a huge fan of verifying your clinic's social media accounts, review sites and really anything that could give you more control over your online presence. Previously, I had assumed that verifying your clinic information in your Google Business settings (which encompassess Google Maps), was all anyone needed to do.
While I eventually figured out how to get to the new location (by checking their website and typing in their actual address instead of searching by the business name alone), this got me thinking. How many people use Apple Maps (the default map service on iPhones) as opposed to Google Maps? According to a quick online search, more than three times as many people use Apple Maps compared to Google Maps, and there are more than 5 billion map related requests every week! And sure enough, there's a way to update your business address, info and more for Apple Maps too.
This will likely only be a necessary issue for clinics that have experienced a move, as Apple initially pulled any web info to create your location and map. However, it doesn't hurt to check, and the process was simple and painless.
I verified my clinic's location, which was correct, and we've been in our current location for 8 years. However, knowing that we have access to make any changes in the future (including the phone number, website, Yelp profile and hours), and be sure our clients can find us was reassuring.
Here's the how-to. If you're more visual, I have screenshots of each step in the slideshow below!
1. Visit https://mapsconnect.apple.com/.
2. Sign in with your Apple ID (I would recommend a practice manager or owner sign in, or creating a new free Apple ID for your clinic).
3. Click "Add My Business."
5. Type in your clinic name; if it doesn't pop up you'll need to add your address as well. Click on your business.
6. Here's where it get's interesting. Apple Maps Connect will pull your clinic information, including your phone number, hours, website, address and photos, from your Yelp.com profile. Assuming it's found the right business, click "Claim This Place." Note: I was surprised to see this, but even more evidence for setting up your clinic's Yelp page with the most current info. For help on claiming your Yelp page, check out my tutorial blog here.
7. I would again review all the info: your website, Yelp profile, hours and phone number. Luckily, it had pulled all of my clinic's info correctly. Make notes of what you'd like to change after you have completed gaining access to your business profile.
8. Next, you'll have to choose if the business is open or closed, and also if you accept Apple Pay. While convenient, I haven't heard of any clinics offering that yet! I picked "This business is open" from the drop down menu and no on the Apple Pay.
9. Now you'll have to "answer a call" to officially verify your business. You'll have to be at your clinic and able to answer the phone of the main number for your business. This was a bummer for me since I was initially doing this at home after hours, but I finished it up the next day, so you can skip this step if needed. When you're at the clinic and ready, click the "call me now" button and be ready to answer. Literally just a second later, we received the call and a 4 digit code to enter. Enter your code and click "done."
10. Here's where you will be given a chance to edit any location/address information. Hopefully, they've already gotten it all correct, but if not, make any necessary changes.
11. This was pretty fun- you can actually drag and drop the pin closest to your clinic's front door on a satellite view of your clinic. Mine was a little off, but they had it pretty close!
12. Next up is your daily hours. Again, if you've already set this up in Yelp you should be set! If not, make any necessary changes.
13. The next step was the only step I needed to make changes to: here you're able to add other social media profiles. In addition to verifying your website and your clinic's Yelp page address, you can also input your address for Facebook, Twitter and even add your app link if you have one. Click "next" after you've completed this section.
14. Finally, you can click "Submit for Review." You're done!
15. You should receive an email confirming that you have submitted your info properly, and another when your edits are confirmed.
The entire process took me about 10 minutes, so I think that's well worth a quick review and claiming access. In my opinion, it's NEVER a bad idea to simplify how potential clients can find your business. Check out the step by step screenshots below, or email me if you have any trouble!
Caitlin DeWilde, DVM