(This blog post was originally posted on September 18, 2015, and has been updated to be even more awesome!)
Here at LifeLearn, we’re big fans of social media marketing. We regularly write in-depth blog posts on how veterinary clinics can use social media to connect with their clients and local pet owners. We also use social media marketing ourselves to reach out to veterinarians and promote blog posts like this one!
But we do have to acknowledge that there are reasons why some veterinarians throw their hands up and decide not to do social media marketing. After all, in order to be effective, social media marketing requires time and effort, and if you can’t see the benefits in return, it might not seem worth it.
However, we believe strongly that social media marketing can have huge returns for your practice. So we’ve done some brainstorming and come up with the top 9 reasons why your veterinary clinic might be hesitating to use social media marketing – and added our top reasons for why you should take the plunge anyway!
1. We don’t have enough time.
Social media takes time. There’s no denying that. And at a busy veterinary clinic with plenty of patients to see and work to do and not enough time in the day, it might seem ridiculous to spend another couple of hours posting silly cat videos and responding to people on social media.
Fortunately, you don’t have to do it all on your own. One way to deal with the demands of managing social media is to spread the duties out. Finding or creating content and posting to social doesn’t have to be shouldered entirely by one individual, and if different posts or types of content are the responsibility of different people, you might be amazed at how little time you spend on it.
Additionally, there are tools that can make posting to social quick and easy. For example, use a scheduling tool like WebDVM4 Social to plan your posts ahead of time, so you can accomplish a whole week’s worth of posts in one sitting. LifeLearn also finds and emails out 20 pieces of curated content each week so you don’t have to spend time searching the web for relevant media to share. This can keep your social media marketing effective while making it far less time-consuming.
2. Social media marketing doesn’t work.
It can be hard to tell when social media marketing is working, and this can make clinics feel as if it isn’t working at all. But just because you can’t directly see what the benefits of social media are, doesn’t mean you aren’t achieving something. Social media marketing has a lot of indirect benefits, such as showing off your clinic’s personality, building trust in pet owners, and reaching new audiences through your followers.
Additionally, there are ways to achieve direct results from social media, such as directing traffic to your practice website, maintaining customer satisfaction and loyalty, and advertising events at your practice.
The reality is that if you don’t put in the effort, or do it poorly, social media marketing won’t work. But with regular updating, promotions, and great content, you’ll build a loyal following that will share your posts, recommend you to their friends, and visit your practice often.
3. The risks are too great.
Things can and do go wrong on social media. You might slip up and say something inappropriate. An angry customer might kick up a fuss on your Facebook page. Cyberbullies could attack your practice online. There are definitely risks to marketing on social media. But we think that the potential risks are worth it because there are also far greater rewards to reap from being on social media.
The best way to deal with the potential for risks is to plan ahead. Every great social media marketing strategy includes a plan for when something goes wrong. Take the time to do some research and prepare yourself for mishaps. This can include deciding whether or not you will delete abusive posts, determining what to say to angry customers, and creating a social media policy for your clinic. If you put in the initial legwork and planning, you’ll be prepared to easily deal with any social mishaps that happen.
4. We can’t afford social media marketing.
This is an odd reason not to use social media. While we do recommend advertising on Facebook, the beautiful reality is that if you don’t have a budget, that’s OK because social media is free. You might not reach quite as many people, but with great content and interaction with your social followers and a little in-clinic promotion, you can build an effective social media following without spending a single dollar.
5. We don’t have enough followers.
If you don’t have 1000 followers, it might feel like your efforts aren’t paying off. And unless you create a viral video like “All About That Spay,” you probably won’t gain 1000 followers overnight. But that doesn’t mean your marketing isn’t working. On social media, quality comes before quantity. It’s better to have 100 followers on social media who actually live in your area and can visit your clinic than to have 1000 followers from across North America who might appreciate your practice’s sense of humour, but will never bring a pet through your doors. However, if you’re looking for ways to build your practice’s following, we have some tips for you.
6. Our clients aren’t on social media.
If you don’t think your clients are on social media, then there is obviously no reason to put time and effort into marketing there. However, research has indicated that more of your clients are on social than you might think. According to the Pew Research Center, 74% of adults in the United States have an account on social media. Even if all your clients are over the age of 50, 65% of them are still signed up for a social network. These numbers reveal that everyone is on social, including pet owners!
7. We don’t have anything to say.
As a veterinary clinic and a business, it can be hard to figure out what you should post to your social channel. Unlike your personal accounts, you can’t just share what you had for breakfast or talk about what you and your friends have been up to.
Fortunately, veterinary clinics naturally have some of the best content to share on social – pets! More than almost anything else, people love to see pictures and videos of pets on social. Getting permission to post pictures of your clients on social media is one of the easiest ways to create great content that your followers will want to see. And if you need more ideas, we’re never short on suggestions for Facebook, Twitter, and even Instagram.
8. I don’t really understand social media.
You might be a veterinarian or a veterinary technician or a practice manager. Whatever your role in your clinic, you probably aren’t a marketer, and you may not feel fully comfortable on social media. It’s true that if you don’t really understand social media, not only will it be difficult to market on those platforms, but you might also commit some of these deadly social media marketing sins.
The good news is that you don’t have to figure it all out yourself. There is plenty of help on the Internet, including our own veterinary marketing blog. With tons of free online advice about social media marketing for small businesses, you might not understand social now, but it won’t be hard to transform yourself into a social media guru.
9. There are too many social platforms.
Between Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Snapchat, Periscope, and YouTube, there are an awful lot of social channels, and keeping them all updated could take up an entire work week!
But you don’t have to be on every social platform. You don’t even have to be on most of them. In fact, you shouldn’t be! The most effective way to market on social media is to determine where local pet owners are and meet them there. That’s our number one rule for veterinary social media marketing: go where your audience is! There’s no point in marketing on every social channel. You’ll overload your clinic and staff and probably do a poor job in the process. Focus on two or three social channels and market really well there. You’ll save time and get better results!There are plenty of reasons to hesitate about marketing on social media, but there are even more reasons to give it a try. Hopefully, we’ve convinced you to take the plunge and try out social media marketing for your veterinary practice.