How to Get a New Social Media Account Off the Ground
For your social media marketing to be really effective, you have to make it over that awkward hump of being a new account. Unless you’re a celebrity or your first post goes viral, you’ll have to go through those uncomfortable growing pains. There’s no magic formula to eliminate that period entirely, but here are some tips to make the process a little easier.
How to Build a Vet Social Media Strategy
No matter which social network you’re starting on, you’ll need to determine a strategy before you plunge in. Knowing what your goals are and what you’re going to do to achieve those goals is an essential way to be successful.
1. Make it manageable
Unless you’ve got a whole army of social media managers at your disposal, there’s no way you can be on every single social network. And there’s no reason to be. Your clientele will likely be predominantly on one or two social networks, so it’s probably best to focus your efforts there. It’s better to only have a few social accounts than to be spread so thin that you’re not updating any of them regularly.
2. Set goals for success
Before you start posting like crazy, consider what it is you want to achieve with this social network. Are you chasing likes, clicks to your website, and direct ROI? Knowing what your goals are will enable you to know when you are succeeding. Plus, establishing goals with your boss helps you prove your success (and the worth of social media) to them as well.
A couple of basic goals that are good for veterinary practices:
- Engagement: The more engagement you get, the more awareness about your practice you will build, which can help keep you top-of-mind when people are thinking about where to bring their pets. Engagement includes likes, comments, and shares, and leads to greater reach, which ultimately exposes your practice to more people.
- Increased practice visits: While awareness is good, ultimately, you want your social media marketing to help you see an increase in revenue too. This means actually driving followers from your social media accounts to your practice website, and ultimately through your practice doors.
There are a couple of ways to achieve this goal. One is to write informative blog posts that you can share on social media and draw interested readers onto your website. Blogs also have many other benefits, including education and SEO. Include a CTA in every blog post encouraging readers to visit your practice if they are concerned about their pet’s health.
Another way to achieve this goal is to promote your online appointment form directly on your social accounts. If you feel it’s appropriate to the social post you are sharing, add a little blurb at the bottom that says something like “Come in for a visit! Book an appointment here: www.linkhere.com.” It doesn’t have to be intrusive to be effective. And if you want to know if your social posts are working, include a section on your form asking clients how they heard about your practice.
3. Share a mix of entertaining, educational, and promotional content
Social media marketing is always a delicate balance. If you’re too promotional, people won’t want to follow you, but if you’ve never been promotional, it will be hard to effectively market your practice. Make sure the majority of your posts have some sort of entertainment or educational value, but don’t be afraid to throw in some self-promotion, especially when it fits in naturally.
4. Determine administrative duties and access
You don’t have to do it all alone. If you know you won’t have the time to find interesting and funny links, take photos of your patients, and create blog posts that you can share on social media and link back to your practice, recruit people to help you. Make decisions about who is doing what, and determine who gets administrative access to your social accounts. It’s also a really good idea to create a social media policy, so that everyone is on the same page about what’s OK to share and what’s not.
How to Grow Your Vet Social Media Accounts
Once you’ve got your strategy in place, you’re ready to actually get online and set up your accounts. From there, it’s all about executing your strategy and growing your social media presence. Here are some tips for going from zero to hero on social:
1. Fill out your profile
The more information you give potential followers about your practice, the more incentive you give them to follow you. Let’s be honest, no one wants to follow an egg on Twitter. Fill in all the blanks, with your practice logo, an about section, and a cute cover photo to draw attention.
2. Populate your accounts
Post a few starter posts to give people a taste of what they can look forward to if they follow your social media accounts. Don’t overdo it, but two or three posts are a good way to get any initial viewers interested. Then, once your account is set up, make sure to…
3. Post regularly, even if it feels like no one is watching
Nothing is worse than an empty account. No one has ever followed a Twitter egg with a single tweet that said “Hello, world!” Posting a ton is not a good plan either, because you will irritate and alienate any followers you have already gathered. Instead, stick to a regular posting schedule, even if it initially seems like you’re only posting for 2 people (including your mom). Regularly posting quality content is one of the keys to increasing those 2 to 200 and then on to 2000.
4. Advertise your social accounts on other platforms
A great way to build those initial followers up is to draw on people who are already fans of your practice. Make sure to add social buttons to your website, so visitors can find you on social media as well. Consider adding something to your weekly newsletter and making a special banner for your website directing people to your accounts. And if you’re already on a social network, let people on that social platform know that you have a new account elsewhere – there’s a good chance that some of them will follow you there as well.
5. Follow other people
Once you’ve got some quality content posted, and some followers on your account, now is a good time to start following other people. Not everyone will reciprocate the favor, but following other accounts is a good way to let other people know that you exist and that you have something interesting to say. This is especially true of social networks like Instagram and Twitter (you can only follow other Pages, not people, on Facebook).
6. Engage with others and join the conversation
Liking, commenting, and sharing are all great ways to let people know that your practice accounts exist, and to participate in the most crucial activity of social media – being social. Plus, it allows you to acknowledge other Pages and people and the great content and ideas they’re putting out there.
7. Use quality content
Finally, the best way to build up a following is to share quality content. As we said before, there is a delicate balance between self-promoting and entertaining. Find that balance and you’ll find yourself creating content that people want to engage with and share. The more engagement and shares you get, the more people you’ll reach, and the more people you reach, the better it is for your practice. Like most new marketing efforts, there will be some growing pains when you start a new social media account. Fortunately, with these tips, you can more quickly overcome those growing pains and create a flourishing social media presence.
How to use a hashtag for vet social media accounts
Every month, the pet care industry celebrates an array of pet-related holidays and awareness initiatives—which gives your veterinary practice some awesome opportunities for client education. What better way to spread the word on pet health than through using hashtags (#) on social media?
Chances are, you’ve seen hashtags in action—or maybe even used them—on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. These useful symbols act like an online tag that labels your content under specific topics to make it easier to find.
Whether you’re unclear on the world of hashtags or simply looking for a refresh, we’ve got you covered. Here’s everything you need to rock the hashtag game and expand the reach of your educational content.
Why use a hashtag?
Hashtags are a great way for marketing your practice better on social media.
Hashtags are designed to categorize content. For example, if you use #marketing, your post will show up in the feeds of everyone following you, as well as in searches for #marketing—even if the searcher isn’t following you. As a bonus, because hashtags create a category for content, they can also extend content life. Anyone who’s following more than 10 people on Twitter knows how quickly posts can drop off the bottom of the feed. But hashtag searches make it easier for people to find that content again.
You can also measure the impact of a hashtag using third-party tools like Hashtracking or Keyhole. This will let you see just how many people saw the hashtag, how many clicked the associated links, and more. You can even track the sentiment associated with a hashtag to make sure you don’t accidentally pick one with a negative connotation. This will come in handy if you decide to run a social media contest using a hashtag.
How do you find effective hashtags?
In order to reach the right audience, you’ll need to do a bit of research to learn what keywords and phrases pet owners are likely to search.
Start by checking out the social accounts of other local practices to see what types of topics they’re covering and which respective hashtags work best for them. While you want to avoid copying their strategy, it helps to get a general sense of how pet owners are thinking.
Hashtag monitoring tools like hashtagify.me are another useful way to check out popular hashtags for certain topics, so if you have an idea for a post, you can always plug in the topic to find related and proven successful hashtags.
What’s the proper hashtag etiquette?
Although applying a hashtag is as straightforward as putting a ‘#’ sign before a single word or unpunctuated phrase, there are a few tricks to using a hashtag.
Don’t make it too long. There’s an art to creating a hashtag, and while you want it to be specific, you also want to remember that every character in your hashtag takes up space in a post. So, rather than creating a #FullSentenceHashtagThatTakesUpYourWholePost, build a hashtag that’s #ShortButSweet.
Numerals are also fair game for saving space in a hashtag.
Make sure your hashtag means what you think it means. Too many big names have been the victims of not doing their research, and you don’t want to fall to the same fate, especially on the public forum of social media. Even if you’re pretty sure you know what your hashtag means, do your research. Sites, like tagged, will tell you exactly what a hashtag means, which comes in handy before you make and use a hashtag.
In some cases, it might be a good idea to check a pop culture resource like Urban Dictionary (check your sensitivities at the door) to make sure that you haven’t inadvertently referenced something that you really don’t want to be associated with your clinic’s brand.
How many hashtags should you use per post?
So you’ve filled your social toolkit with heaps of different hashtags and you’re eager to put them all to good use, but try not to overdo it. Nobody wants to be spammed by content with too many hashtags: it looks messy and it’s just bad etiquette.
Instead, use hashtags strategically by only adding those which are relevant to your content and of interest to your desired audience. While there are no exact rules governing the number of hashtags to use on every platform, best practices suggest:
- Use a minimal amount of hashtags on Facebook posts—around 1 or 2
- Use a moderate amount on Twitter—about 2 or 3
- Use a substantial amount on Instagram—about 11+
Don’t over-tag. Over-tagging makes posts difficult to read, and in some cases, causes readers to skip over a post without reading it. Tweets with 1-2 hashtags, for example, see (on average) 21% more engagement than Tweets with three or more hashtags.
To save you time in coming up with hashtags, many social platforms like LinkedIn and Instagram automatically suggest related tags. If you’re making a post on LinkedIn, for example, and start keying in the hashtag #veterinary, LinkedIn will automatically present a dropdown list containing hashtags that you may also wish to use, including #veterinarytechnician and #veterinarymedicine. You can also consult apps like All Hashtag and For Display Purposes Only, which will generate common combinations that you can use in your posts.
Need a hand with your social media? WebDVM websites come with WebDVM Social built-in to help you reach your audience!