Kids, it's been a week. The last seven days have been some of the most stressful many of us have ever experienced. As I've shifted from helping practices market and run ads to helping them figure out how to use telemedicine and make COVID-related posts on social media, we're all adapting. In my own practices, it's been a day-to-day change and rapid/forced adoption of new technologies and policies. I spent my last shift conscious not only about my distance from the tech and the client but the inevitable distraction that came when some one-anyone- so much as sniffled or cleared their throat. It's just...been a week.
And now that our teams are adjusting to a new normal-- for most of us, curbside care, dropoffs, non-essential/non-elective care-- many of my social media and consulting clients are asking- what the heck are we supposed to be posting? Our normal strategy of crafting a mix of promoting the practice, sharing fun photos, helpful articles and the occasional meme just doesn't seem right now. But social media is now so full of COVID-related posts making MORE of them hardly seems right either.
How do we balance? How do we provide value without adding to the stress and overload? Here's what I'd recommend sharing (examples at the end, and please share yours with us too!):
1. How your team is helping: if your practice has donated gowns, masks or medical supplies, share a picture of the team packing it up or making the donation. If you've shuttered your surgery room to conserve PPE, take a picture of the dark empty room and tell the story of why your team thinks it's important.
2. Support the community: if your neighboring businesses are offering new curbside, carryout or delivery options, give them some social media love by sharing it on your pages. Just this weekend I was able to order a curbside pickup kids art project kit from the craft store, a DIY pizza kit from the pizza place down the street and a carryout dinner (even beer!) from a restaurant near my clinic as they try to minimize the loss of business. These solutions and offerings are creative, supportive and frankly, a welcome distraction (especially since I don't cook!). If your team always gets lunch or coffee from a local establishment, consider sharing a post to support them.
3. Convenience offerings: pet owners will still need food, meds and potentially, their care questions answered. Most practices have options to help in some way, and you should share these!
4. The team (at home). By now, some teams have had to cut staff or reduce hours or may even be mandated to stay-in-place. That's ok. That means that people are safe. It's not great for business and paychecks- I get it-- but it means that people are staying safe. If your team is staying home or reducing their hours, share pictures of your team at home cuddling with their pets. This will help showcase your team PLUS the knowledge that pets are not going to be a source of COVID, and let's face it- they're basically the best part of staying home right now and essential to our mental health!
5. Share what's relatable- we're all stressed, we're all tired, and we're all ESPECIALLY tired of COVID. A funny meme, video or totally non-COVID social post is OK. Looking for some good, safe sources? Check out The Pet Effect, Meowingtons or Mutts Comics. Or maybe this particular social media video that I've watched and laughed at 30 times this week (best with sound).
6. Consider supporting those with two-legged kiddos too. Many are stuck at home WITH kids, looking for things to do. My personal feed has erupted with live videos, at-home exercises, and kid-friendly online activities. If your practice is up for doing some kid-centered live videos, like a tour of the practice, a pet exam, or even reading a pet-themed story- I guarantee you this will be a hit with parents EVERYWHERE and further bond your practice to your community. Stay tuned- I'm working on a two-legged veterinary resources kit to share!
It's a rough time to be a social media manager and this is an unprecedented experience that is continuing to evolve. Focus on your people and your practice first, and worry about social media if and when you can. Hopefully, these tips will give you a few ideas on keeping your page valuable to your practice and your followers. Stay safe!
-Caitlin DeWilde, DVM