(This post was originally published on August 10th, 2017 and has been updated to be even more amazing!) 

Educating today’s pet owners about pet health is no easy task, especially when many (or most) prefer looking up pet health information online rather than chatting with their veterinarians about how to handle an issue. Trouble is, that can pose risks to the health and well-being of pets. 

While veterinarians know the web is filled with often-ineffective, misleading, or inaccurate pet health information, today’s pet owners see the web as a convenient and quick resource to help them make decisions, even if information comes to them second-hand. According to PwC Health Research Institute, 90% of millennials—the largest demographic of pet owners—trust medical information shared by their peers on social media. 

In response to the prevalence of looking up pet health information online, a joint study by Colorado State University and the University of Tennessee encouraged veterinarians to “take a proactive role and help ensure clients obtain credible information” to not only positively impact pet health but also improve the client-veterinary relationship. 

So how can you more effectively share pet health educational information with pet owners on your social media channels? Here are five tips: 

1. Organize your content into themed topics 

Themed pet health content tends to engage pet owners more when the content addresses timely issues and gaps in pet owner knowledge. Example: 

Certain months of the year present a greater risk of natural disasters like hurricanes. While many pet owners may be aware of the heightened risk and may have prepared themselves with survival kits, studies show that most pet owners don’t have a disaster preparedness kit for their pets. To remedy that, post content that helps them, like a checklist of what they need in their pet disaster preparedness kits. 

To learn more about the essentials for a disaster preparedness kit for pets, please read our blog: Disaster Preparedness for Pet Owners. Even easier, scroll to the bottom of the blog and download our free Disaster Preparedness Checklist for Pet Owners

Every month offers opportunities for timely themed content, from tick prevention in the spring to heatstroke prevention and other safety tips in summer. 

2. Break down educational concepts into bite-sized tidbits 

Studies show that 60% of social-media users trust content posted by doctors more than any other group. So, you already have a large audience that places a high value on your content. Posting information in bite-size bits helps readers more easily digest content and thereby gain even more value from it, which strengthens engagement. 

Bit-size bits means focusing on the essentials. If tick season arrives early one year, for example, it’s not that important to explain why in a short social post. Indeed, where attention spans can be short on social, too much detail about the whys could disengage people. Keep content short and to the point, such as, “Tick season arrives early this year. Here’s what you can do today to protect your pet against the risk of Lyme disease and other tick-borne diseases.” Then post a link to a blog that offers details about why it’s an early tick season and what pet owners can do to help protect their pets. If you can’t write a blog, share quick facts. Overall, short-and-sweet details in social posts keeps people interested and coming back for more. 

3. Use graphics and/or images to engage more pet owners

Social posts with accompanying images get more Likes, comments, shares, and clicks that posts with text alone. How much more? According to research by Buzzsumo, Facebook posts with images see 2.3 times more engagement than all-text posts. And engagement is a big part of effective education. 

Think of a teacher you may have once had. That teacher may have been highly knowledgeable in some subject, but if that teacher had a dry delivery and generally didn’t do much to engage students, people likely lost interest here and there and thereby didn’t retain some information. Now contrast that to another teacher you may have had. If that teacher combined an enthusiastic delivery style with visuals, students were probably more consistently engaged and retained more information. So, use graphics, images, and infographics to create similar engagement with your social posts and the educational content you share with people will likely have far more effect. 

If you don’t have the time or experience to create your own infographics, online tools such as Piktochart allow users without experience as graphic designers to easily create infographics using themed templates. iStock by Getty Images offers hundreds of stock illustrations and royalty-free vector graphics, and for an extensive list of free-use photo sites, read our blog: The Jumbo List of Free Photo Sources for Veterinary Practices

4. Simplify education by using videos

Videos posted on social generate 1200% more shares than text and images combined, meaning video takes engagement to a whole new level. So, leverage the power of video to more effectively share educational content on social. 

You don’t need to have pro-quality video gear, and you don’t need to shoot anything elaborate to grab attention. It can be as simple as sharing videos about treatments that you offer at your practice or quick how-to videos about nail-trimming or administering common medications. Or attract more pet owners with a simple clinic walkthrough video. The walkthrough video involves just five simple parts. Read our blog to see what they are, as well as simple but effective walkthrough videos that other clinics have produced. 

5. Tailor your content for each social media platform

Wherever you post your educational content, be sure to keep social media best practices in mind so pet owners stay engaged and receptive. Instagram, for example, is more for posting visuals. Twitter is for bite-size info with images, videos, or links to outside content (blogs, etc.). Facebook allows for longer text, plus images, videos, and links. The more you use social channels, the more experienced you become at sharing content according to best practices, ultimately reaching and teaching more pet owners about pet health, improving compliance, and helping pets everywhere stay happy and heal.

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