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Draw a Line When Online

Updated: Aug 12, 2022

Learn to safeguard your practice’s social media channels and encourage positive client interaction.

Today's Veterinary Business |

Make sure review-related posts are a regular part of your social media strategy.


Veterinary practices that maintain multiple social media accounts and review platforms can struggle to keep their channels secure and client friendly. However, following the eight steps below will help shield your clinic against common online risks, like a damaged reputation, hacked accounts and less marketing effectiveness.

The channels that might need armoring include social media accounts like Facebook, Instagram, TikTok and LinkedIn, which offer special features for small businesses, and review platforms such as Google Business, Yelp for Business Owners and Nextdoor, which can collect client reviews and recommendations. If you don’t claim the business accounts, you can’t control the imagery and accuracy of information presented, receive notifications about reviews, or respond to reviews.

1. Minimize the Admins

Ensuring you can easily access your social media accounts and review platforms and that they aren’t in the hands of the wrong people is essential. So, always know who can log in and their level of access. Platforms like Facebook/Meta Business Manager, Google Business, Yelp and Twitter permit multiple administrators and managers, all linked to a user’s email and password. A practice owner should always have administrative access, even if someone else manages the day-to-day activities. A second key team leader should have admin-level access.

Particularly with Facebook, only an administrator can add or remove users and delete the page. Having two administrators ensures that one person can access the account if the other gets locked out. Beyond those two, managing social media and online reputation platforms can largely be done with editor or manager-level access.

Instagram, Nextdoor and other channels offer a single login, meaning everyone logs in with the same username and password. The password should be strong and updated at least yearly, if not quarterly.

2. Identify Old Accounts

Remember setting up that Pinterest account six years ago? If your practice has social media accounts that aren’t being used or are used improperly, your clinic is at risk of:

  • Not seeing client communication.

  • Sharing incorrect or outdated information.

  • Losing access due to inactivity.

Rather than ignoring neglected accounts, spend a few minutes updating them with contact information, deleting old photos and videos, removing former users, disabling messaging and directing visitors to your more frequently monitored pages. If you don’t mind losing your unique handle (@yourveterinarypractice), deleting the account is reasonable.

3. Have a Social Media Policy

Prevent online mishaps by setting clear expectations for everyone on the team. Key elements should include:

  • Brand guidelines, such as the use of your practice’s name, logo, colors, fonts, messaging and hashtags.

  • User roles and responsibilities.

  • Appropriate and inappropriate content.

  • What team members may tag or post about your practice on their personal channels. For instance, if you don’t want them to take photos and videos of client-owned pets and share the images on their channels, set the expectation now.

  • The consequences for violations.

4. Set Up Auto Responses

Save time and energy, set client expectations and deliver a better experience by sending automatic responses to Facebook Messenger and Instagram visitors. In Messenger, for example, you can send an instant greeting or reply based on the time of day, the keywords a client used or the Q&A topic chosen.

Configuring the response is a great way to save time by not having to repeat answers to questions such as “Can I book online?” and “What are your hours?”

Customized messages also can be sent to Facebook users who submit a job application or leave a review. The latter is an excellent way to thank your online advocates and allow them to share their recommendations on other platforms.

5. Verify Your Pages

Confirming your page and practice profile on review platforms and social media sites is a tedious but one-time step that rewards your clinic with a shiny badge or blue checkmark and lends a degree of authenticity, social proof and brand protection.

Most review platforms, notably Google Business, require you to verify your account with a phone-delivered code or mailed postcard before you can unlock specific access and features. Facebook and Instagram rolled out the feature to some regular accounts in recent years.

Verification further secures your account, helps you regain access when needed, builds client trust, and is rumored to increase search rankings and views in social algorithms.

6. Request the Sharing of Positive Reviews

Negative online reviews can damage a practice’s reputation and stress you and your team members. While you can’t do much to prevent them, you can lessen their impact. For example, building an arsenal of five-star reviews can create a buffer against the occasional negative review. To do it, make sure review-related posts are a regular part of your social media strategy. Once or twice a month, put in your Facebook feed a recent review posted on Google Business, Yelp, Nextdoor or Facebook’s recommendation section. Add a clear call to action by asking clients to share their stories.

7. Use a Team Approach

Your practice’s reputation is more secure when more than one person creates online content, responds to posts and handles reviews. Dividing the workload also ensures a consistent approach when employee turnover occurs and lessens human errors. When marketing team members work together to create, publish and monitor content, they’ll spot and rectify mistakes sooner. Some third-party tools like Buffer and Hootsuite offer an approvals process to ensure that no post is published without a second look.

8. Leverage Your Choices

Remember that you simply lease space on Facebook, Instagram, Google Business and other platforms. You don’t own or control them. While I don’t advocate claiming and actively using every online platform, it’s reasonable to use your social channels to drive traffic to the online real estate you own, such as your website and practice-specific app.

Social media and online channels provide wonderful ways to connect with clients, though the opportunity comes with risks and the occasional headache. Still, you can strengthen your marketing channels’ security, reputation and effectiveness by taking steps to protect your accounts and platforms.

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