At BSAVA Congress this year there were more lectures and sessions on social media than ever before – showing that the veterinary industry is interested and understands that being present on the web in some form is important.

I was part of an amazing panel on Saturday afternoon. While we discussed a lot during the two hours there was even more to say! I’m writing a few blogs to try and go a little deeper on some of the questions asked.

Being present on social media adds another level to your client interaction. Where word of mouth recommendations used to have to be from person to person we now have social media. Another opportunity to create a bond with current and potential clients.

I know that there will be many of you reading this and thinking that it’s also a new way to spend time and money that could lead to a complaint being posted online that is out of your control.

I’m here to show that it doesn’t have to be like that! Creating a social media presence for your business is different to using social media as an individual. Its less about posting an amusing shot in the context of an event to tell a story and more about deciding what story you want to tell before you post.

Whats your style?

There is usually an assumption that veterinary social media must be full of pictures of animals. This is often where practices decide not to have social media. The extra work of consent from owners, following up cases, checking outcomes and consent again before sharing stories is a lot. Unsurprisingly I’ll tackle consent for social media in a blog all of its own.

However, you shouldn’t stop here.

You can decide what you want to offer on social media. What is your practice “style” going to be? What will your posts offer to the public, pet owners and clients? Who is your audience?

While it may seem that all social media is about posting as things happen and making everything instantly available this is rarely the case for businesses. Take time to decide what you want to share about your practice and how you want to share this. Running a successful social media campaign is less about snap chatting during a pyo surgery and more about planning posts to show how this situation can be avoided.

This lets you decide what type of posts you wish to share. Here are some basic examples of post types.

 

Post style  Example of content Audience
Service led Advertising services

  • OOH
  • Vet skills
  • Offers on products
Pet owners and clients
Patient/case led Successful surgery, routine vaccines, nurse appointments Pet owners and clients
Public info Alerts for product recalls, alabama rot, Public, pet owners and clients
Staff led – achievements, CPD, published works SVN passes final exams, vet attends BSAVA Public, pet owners and clients
Charity

  • Local groups
  • National campaigns
Promoting a local rehoming charity event or sharing posts for RSPCA “dogs die in hot cars”

campaigns

Public, pet owners and clients
Response to news stories that cross over to daily newspapers Throwing sticks for dogs, Babesia ticks Public, pet owners and clients
Lost pet posts   Public, pet owners and clients

 

Examples of post types (starting top left): case led post with Hollies hydrotherapy, service led post (my clients are vet nurses), sharing news post

Usually a combination of these works best. However, I do see practices who choose to not use patient or case led posts and focus on using service and staff led posts. These accounts still offer something for the everyone, are easy to plan and avoid the issue of consent for sharing client’s pets’ pictures. You do still need consent from staff to share their pictures and story, but this can be established as you plan the posts and let staff have input into their presence online.

Some further advice on how best to achieve some of these posts

  • For staff and service led posts create a stock of pictures you can use and do this in advance
  • Have a logo or practice picture you can use for service led posts where there is no other available picture
  • Patient and case led posts need consent from the owners to take the pictures, not just to post them – make sure you have that
  • Public info/lost pets – make sure that your message about your practice doesn’t get lost in these. Check your timeline regularly, especially if multiple people post and share
  • Charity campaigns – decide which you will share and support. There are so many your timeline can easily become lost. Try and choose 1-2 local and 1-2 national charities or campaigns to post about. This gives flexibility as many of their posts will be seasonal. Consider making sure you cover areas relevant to your practice.
  • Cats, dogs, exotics, wildlife, overseas welfare – there is an amazing choice

Your social media posts should be what you want them to be. If you’re not sure what style to go for then trial a few different options. Follow some accounts that you like and see what they do and see if you could do something similar, on your own terms.

Social media should not be a burden, best to achieve three great posts each week that are planned and create an achievable workload, than try to do three posts a day and end up putting out low quality posts that don’t show you as the caring professionals you are.

Next time we’ll tackle planning – the key to avoiding controversial posts and controlling your content.