Regular posts to your Facebook Page not only promotes your practice’s professionalism—it also reveals your personality. By Kerryn Ramsey
Celebrating its 10-year anniversary this year, Facebook is the essential social network used by most businesses. One of its most effective tools, Facebook Page (formerly known as brand or fan page) is a fantastic option for vet practices as it helps connect regularly with your clients, as well as attracting new customers. “Social media is the perfect marketing channel to position you and your team as trusted influencers to your clients and their extended networks,” says Sam Mutimer, ThinkTank agency’s director of social media. Posting regularly on your Facebook Page helps foster client loyalty and spreads the word. Here are seven tips to make this public profile work effectively…
1. Set the tone When updating posts, it’s important to balance your professionalism, warmth and even a sense of humour. “Above all, show some personality, ask your fans questions and encourage a conversation that will ensure they see you as their friendly local vet,” says Michelle Prak, an Adelaide-based social media consultant. “Ensure you don’t talk about yourself all the time, but offer tips and advice that will attract and retain fans.” Topics could cover subjects such as the introduction of a new staff member, inspirational stories, tick problems during summer, pet insurance tips, latest products, and news snippets. “Being interactive is key,” says Prak. “Ask trivia questions or have your fans share their thoughts or opinions on various topics.
The more actively you engage your fans, the more visible your veterinary Facebook Page will become and the more people will want to share your content with their own networks, thereby increasing your reach.” A few snippets from your staff’s lives, such as a vet nurse’s new kitten, is certainly worthwhile as it resonates with your audience and builds rapport. “Veterinary practices often support animal organisations or community groups,” says Prak. “You can share stories related to those, and show your Facebook fans how you’re committed to your community.”
2. Showcase your expertise “Social media and mobile marketing are all about personality, and consumers will choose your business over another because of its perceived personality,” explains Mutimer. “So flaunt what makes your veterinary clinic pop and disperse it across all your digital channels, whether it’s your state-of-the-art machinery, the characteristics of your team, your unique premises or your convenient location. Heighten your public awareness to potential clients by showcasing the unique personality that sets your clinic apart from the rest.” But don’t reveal all your trade secrets. As Mutimer explains,
don’t overwhelm your clients with too much medical jargon. “Instead, simply offer them digestible content that will keep your practice in the forefront of their mind for any animal medical needs. Share your expertise on daily problems faced by pet owners.”
3. Loyalty time Facebook is the perfect vehicle to reward dedicated clients. Offering an exclusive discount or free sample on your Facebook Page can encourage clients to come into your practice or to book an appointment online. “Facebook fans do enjoy discounts and competitions, and Facebook’s terms and conditions around these are
now more flexible than ever,” says Prak. “Experiment with
competitions, offering perhaps fun treatments for some pets.”
4. Animal attraction “One thing I’ve noticed on social media for many years is that people adore animal photos,” says Prak. “Where possible, share photographs of the animals that come through the practice. Share their little stories.” But remember, you’ll need to gain customers’ permission first. Mutimer adds: “Animal owners love showcasing to the world that their pet is the best in show. So when your patients and their beloved pets visit your practice, encourage your staff to snap a photo of them and upload it to your social networks.” Prak suggests it’s also worthwhile showing off your staff’s pets. “Many vets and their staff are passionate animal owners themselves, so sometimes your Facebook updates will be about your own pets and how you like to spend time with them.”
5. Unleash your creativity Facebook fans are quickly bored of the same old thing over and over, so the trick is to add new elements, such as images, personal anecdotes, amusing quotes, links to current news articles, and even your own blog updates. One of the most effective ways to keep your Facebook Page viral is to add video uploads. “Your video doesn’t have to be super-slick or expensive,” says Mutimer. “Just ensure that you upload short videos that highlight your expertise. Provide your potential clients with a little insight into your personality, offering a piece of knowledge to take away.”
6. Use your keywords Since you’re competing against so many vet practices, a simple way to solidify your Facebook presence is making sure your text is ‘keyword rich’. Just like the search engine optimisation (SEO) process, choose suitable key phrases to improve search engine ranking. In other words, you don’t need to enter oodles of text—just incorporate your targeted keywords, such as ‘Kids & pets’.
7. Fine tuning To keep your Facebook Page popular, remember to review and refine regularly. “Continue to look back over your results and learn from what works, including the best time of day to post, and the most popular type of content,” says Prak. A free feature called Facebook Insights shows the age, gender and location of your followers. Mutimer explains: “It also shows how many people saw your posts, what days are best to post, as well as who took action—eg. liked, commented or shared a post from the surgery.” When refining, check what tone appeals to your clients—a quick-fix cartoon often has a better hit than a well-researched piece. A funny story may spread the word. After all, laughter is often the best medicine.
If you’ve got your social media down, then it’s time to move on to greener pastures and get your SEO up to scratch too. We recommend this guide to get your website up to scratch.