Since the advent of social media we have become addicted to likes, shares and retweets. It shows our post is good – doesn’t it? If likes and shares are good then a viral post must be the best?

 

Well, it shows people are interested but if your post gets more than the normal number of views is it really good for you? Is the Moon the dream viral destination, or a lonely place with little interaction?

 

What is a viral post?

 

The name tells you little about what a viral post is. Yep, it’s like a virus…. It’s a post that takes over and grows larger than your usual audience and usually at a rapid pace. That might mean a few hundred shares and likes or more, but still within YOUR community. It’s truly viral if it gets shared across more than one social media platform, gets trending or spreads outside of your country, EVERYONE sees it.

 

Of these two options – either viral for YOU or viral for EVERYONE which do you think is best and how does it get there? 

 

 

What makes something “go viral”?

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viralmadnews.com   – is this an image you would like to be known for?

There are common themes for viral posts we often see. The post usually provides one or more of the following:

 

  • Invokes a reaction – good or bad

 

  • There’s an error – beware of cropping pictures properly, typos, checking facts, photo bombs

 

  • It’s emotional – animals always get a response! Telling a story with animal pictures/videos will always get increased interest

 

  • New information – which might seem obvious to you but is new to clients – think of the recent interest in the posts on not giving sticks to dogs

 

  • Use of key words or # – this creates an easy way for people to search for and find your post, naturally increasing the audience

 

  • Timing – local papers can pick up stories that then get into national press. This is more likely to happen on a slow news day for most vet related stories.

 

 

There’s Good Viral and Bad Viral too. Posts often get shared because of a reason…  

 

Post type  Good Viral Bad Viral
Invokes a reaction Re-uniting lost pets Animal welfare issues raised that are contentious – cruelty cases
There’s an error An amusing typo Client details revealed on paperwork or screen!
It’s emotional Feel good stories – patients get better Highly contentious areas

  • Tail docking
  • De-clawing
New information Health advice such as not throwing sticks for dogs Issues with insurance claims – may be relevant to your clients but not to the wider public
Use of key words or # Active veterinary #s such as #teamvet #planetrvn #whatvnsdo Piggy backing from a trending # not related to your post  – dodgy Bots do this so avoid!

 

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Social media sites have many examples of businesses promoting poorly chosen products for likes –  do you want to answer all these negative comments for a the sake of a few more likes?

 

Is a viral post the Moon Landing of a good social media account? 

 

This might be a surprise to you all but having a post go viral isn’t the unicorn that people think it is. As a service provider a vet practice is unlikely to see a huge benefit in having posts go viral for EVERYONE.  

 

It will probably reach more people than you wish to register at once and they are likely to be out of your geographical area. The point of practice social media is usually to drive more clients to your door or website – but at a level you can cope with and creating committed clients who will return and again and again, not people who travel miles to attend a “celeb” vets but don’t use you for all their pets care.

 

There is a lack of control of a post once it goes viral. It is harder to read and respond to comments made and you will need specific software to track the post. It can be more work than you intended to keep up with a rapidly shared post.

 

As a vet practice in the UK there can quickly be a loss of context for some posts. Animal issues vary widely between countries and something that is of concern here may be routine in another country. This can result in then some negative comments that are not intended to be, but are posted due to the lack of context that can happen. Social media users are aware of this and you often find other posters advising people of the origin of a post. Having others correct issues is a great attribute so don’t rush to correct people too quickly yourself.

 

I see social media is another way of spreading the traditional word of mouth recommendations and a viral post can result in a loss of personal interaction. I like ensuring that comments on my posts or blogs all get a “like”, even if there are too many comments to respond to each individual comment. It’s the same for a business page.

Your practice Instagram is unlikely to become the vet equivalent of Beyoncè, where thousands comment and you aren’t expected to reply, just exist and be adored! It is more realistic to have tens of replies that you can respond to and engage with clients or potential clients. Therefore, a viral post can quickly remove the practicality of doing this and reduces the posts impact and ability to do what you want – increase footfall to practice or website.

 

What type of viral is best?

 

For the average vet practice a post that is in the “good” category AND is viral to YOU is the best option. These types of posts generate a bigger audience, they may be picked up by local and maybe national newspapers (or a spot on This Morning!) for a story but you still have control over seeing the responses to the post. If your usual likes are 15-20 and share 5-10 then a viral post for YOU would probably see likes of 150+ and shares hitting 35+. This is great work, and is an asset to your practice, not a burden.

 

Shoot for the Moon and you’ll still land among the Stars? Maybe hanging around the Stars is the best place to be, the Moon isn’t all its cracked up to be.