Tips and tricks for optimizing and simplifying social media

Social Media Guide Step 2: Tips and tricks for optimizing and simplifying social media

In our last article, Creating Your Veterinary Social Media Strategy, we provided a checklist for drafting up a social media strategy. This article is going to help you in the next step of getting the most out of your social media with some amazing inside tips and pointers for both your social media strategy and content plan. Our goal is to leverage LifeLearn’s expertise to make this essential part of your practice’s growth and sustainability less overwhelming.

Like it or not social is here to stay and you need to be in the game to ensure the future growth and sustainability of your practice. It’s where most of your clients and colleagues are hanging out — so the opportunities to reach and engage with them there are endless.

Luckily, you’re not alone. The LifeLearn team includes people who spend their entire day learning and applying the best findings in social media. These gems are part and parcel of some of our services, including WebDVM. We’ve also rounded out our SEO (Search Engine Optimization) team and will be sharing more on this in the next article in this series. That and article #4 on content planning will give you the full picture of what you’ll need to soar in social in 2018.

But enough of that. Let’s get going on some of the time-saving tips and tricks you can be applying to get the most out of your social media strategy.

1. Designate a social media person or resource

Planning your social media strategy works best as a team effort, but when it comes to creating content, we recommend choosing one person for the job. That way, it’s easier to stay consistent, track analytics, avoid repetition or contradictions, and engage with followers and fans. This designate should also be given the time to stay on top of trends and plan out the social media calendar for the year (more on that in Step 4).

Oh, and don’t worry—the designated person doesn’t have to be a social media expert by any means! After all, that’s why you have this handy guide as well as a regular stream of articles on this topic from the LifeLearn marketing team.

Worried about creating killer content? This article gives some tips on that and we’ll be sharing more in the last article in this series.

 

2. Tackle each platform individually

Social media is both a blessing and a curse, in that it is constantly changing and getting better. Exciting as that is, it can be hard to keep up, and you’ll have to do a bit of experimentation to find out how each platform works best for your veterinary practice.

One overall strategy that applies to every platform is the importance of engaging with your fans, followers, and friends. That’s why it’s called “social” and it isn’t a set it and forget it way to market your business. Have a strategy in place to reply to comments on your posts as well as new follows, etc. Learn from what others do and how good it makes you feel when your comments and engagement are recognized and appreciated.

Let’s dive in now with some super helpful pointers that can help streamline, simplify and optimize how you use each platform. Keep them handy as you formalize your strategy and develop content.

Facebook

To kick things off this new year, you’ll want to make sure all of your practice’s basic information is current on your veterinary Facebook page:

  • Ensure your business hours, contact information, local address, and website link are accurate and up-to-date
  • Update your “About” tab to include any new services you’re offering in 2018
  • Consider adding a new cover photo to liven things up

To revive your Facebook page beyond the basics, there are some best practices that can lead the way to a better online presence.

What are the best times to post on Facebook?
While this isn’t an exact science, research shows that Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday are the best days for engagement. The same study also suggests the best post times are 9 am, 1 pm (gets you more shares), and 3 pm (gets you more likes).

Again, you’ll want to experiment with what days and times work best for your unique audience to ensure ongoing success.

What are the ideal image sizes for Facebook?
Profile picture: 180×180 pixels
Cover photo: 828×315 pixels on a desktop; only the center 563×315 portion shows on mobile
Individual post image: 1200×900 pixels
*Don’t worry, they’ll automatically resize if you’re not spot on*

What is the best veterinary content to share on Facebook?
Your Facebook page is the ideal place to share fun pet videos, educational how-to’s, practice updates, links to your blog, and funny pet memes. Whatever you choose to post, incorporating visuals will help boost your engagement every time.

Instagram

Unlike your Facebook page, your veterinary Instagram profile contains far fewer details, which means this is bound to be a pretty simple checkup:

  • Check that the link to your website is current and operational
  • If you’re new to Instagram, make sure to add a link to your website

Next, you’ll want to refresh your content regularly to make the best possible impression on pet owners throughout 2018.

What are the best times to post on Instagram?
Studies show that Monday and Thursday are the best days for engagement, while 2 am, 8 am-9 am, and 5 pm are the best time slots to choose. Experts recommend posting more during off-work hours to best reach users.

Like Facebook, leave some wiggle room for experimentation here.

What are the ideal image sizes for Instagram?
Individual post images: 1080×1080 pixels
Profile picture: 110×110 pixels
*Don’t worry, they’ll automatically resize if you’re not spot on*


Pro Tip: Tread carefully when using Instagram filters—try to use the same filter, or similar ones, to keep your feed uniform, and consistent. The aim is to stay as authentic as possible to build trust with pet owners.


What is the best veterinary content to share on Instagram?
Given that Instagram is all about images, you should avoid any text-heavy content on this platform to garner more interactions with pet owners. Post fun pet photos, short, engaging how-to videos, and even live behind-the-scenes photos and videos via Instagram Stories, to boost your reach and keep clients interested.

Twitter

Ready to bring things full circle? Let’s cover our bases with a quick walkthrough of how to update all things Twitter. Starting with a brief look at the basics:

  • Confirm your location, website link, Twitter bio, profile and header photos are all up to snuff on your profile
  • Add a “pinned tweet” to your profile to highlight an important event, promotion or update. Simply find the desired tweet, select the “more” option, and click “Pin to your profile page” to ensure visitors won’t miss this essential information.
  • Build authority by targeting influencers and using their Twitter handles (E.g. @agreatvet) when you wish to post something you’ve heard from them (at a presentation, conference, webinar). In Twitter as in all social media, always credit your source.
  • Use meaningful and relevant # hashtags (see more below). Search Twitter to find the ones that can boost the audience for your post or use the one provided for an event you’re attending. Posting interesting insights during live events, using the hashtag provided by the organizer, is a great way to attract followers and building community.
  • As in all social, engage with the tweets of your clients, colleagues, and influencers by retweeting, commenting or liking.
  • Spice up your own feed—follow influencers, colleagues, clients, local businesses or charities to make new connections.

What are the best times to post on Twitter?
According to a study, Wednesdays are the best day for engagement. Since many Twitter users check their feeds to stay informed, it makes sense for them to check their feeds midweek.

Aim to publish content on Twitter at 12 pm, 3 pm, and between 5 pm-6 pm to catch pet owners, most likely surfing the net on their work breaks and after work.

What are the ideal image sizes for Twitter?
Profile picture: 400×400 pixels
Header image: 1500×1500 pixels
Individual tweet images: 506×253 pixels
*Don’t worry, they’ll automatically resize if you’re not spot on*

What is the best veterinary content to share on Twitter?
Ideally, keep your Tweets focused on news-worthy topics that keep pet owners in the loop about animal health and well-being. This might include product and food recalls, blog posts, educational materials, clinic updates, or industry news.

 

3. Know—and follow—the proper social media etiquette

As in any marketing or media platforms, there are some clear do’s and don’ts that will keep your practice on the right track and hopefully, out of trouble!

Handy hacks for social media images:

  • Keep your business profile pictures uniform across all social media platforms, to ensure consistency. Using your veterinary practice logo is a great option if you’re not already doing so
  • Avoid using images you found on Google, due to copyright issues—use a free image resource instead (see below), or better yet, take your own photos
  • When taking photos of patients, be sure to get pet owner permission first. We have a free printable consent form for download here

More details on how to handle hashtags (#) like a pro:
If you’re not sure what a hashtag is, we’ve got you covered: your phone’s pound sign (#) has taken on a new role, acting as an online tag that labels your social media content under specific topics to make it easier to find. Here’s how to use them:

  • Hashtags should be used only when relevant to the topic, and of interest to the audience, you’re targeting.
  • Some hashtags are more popular than others, so do a bit of research first to find the sweet spot. You don’t want one so obscure that nobody will find it, or one too popular your content will get buried.
  • Make use of weekly hashtags like #MotivationMonday to expand your reach.
  • Don’t overdo it—you never want to have more hashtags than words in a post, no matter the platform. The best practices? Keep hashtags minimal on Facebook (1-2), moderate on Twitter (2), and more substantial on Instagram (11+).

However many hashtags you use, prioritize #quality over #quantity.

 

4. Take advantage of the tools available to you

Take advantage of these time-saving tools to streamline your veterinary social media process:

  • Find a trustworthy resource blog to hone your skills, and stay informed
  • Use a free scheduling program like Buffer or Hootsuite to plan your content in advance, and automate posts. For something more advanced, check out WebDVM Social
  • Save space using a link shortener like Bitly, which also tracks analytics and clicks
  • To avoid copyright infringement, use a free image resource like Pixabay or Pexels.
  • Track your social media engagement rates with free, built-in analytics like Facebook Analytics, Twitter Analytics, and Instagram Insights.

Congratulations, you are well on your way! You now have what you need to dive into creating your own social media strategy with a clear view of where you’ve been and where you hope to go in 2018 on social media. We’ll help you along with some more great info on SEO and Content Planning…coming up in articles 3 and 4 in this series.


Social Media Guide Step 2: At a glance checklist for optimizing and simplifying social media

  • Designate a social media person or resource
  • Tackle each platform individually
  • Know—and follow—the proper social media etiquette
  • Take advantage of the tools available to you
  • Watch for Step 3: The why and how of Search Engine Optimization (SEO)