Alternative aromatherapy – Veterinary smells

For Vet Times this month I pondered the good, bad and ugly of the smells we get exposed to in The Veterinary World. That might sound weird but there’s something very powerful about smell and memory and in the vet world we get to sniff the weird wonderful and down right nasty.

Check my blog out here, but sorry, it’s not scratch and sniff!

Social media for vet practices – Fracture or # ?

 

I first became familiar with the # when training as a veterinary nurse. The symbol appeared frequently as the practice saw a high number of emergency patients and there were the inevitable broken legs from dogs being hit by cars and the broken jaws and pelvis of the high-rise syndrome cats.

Happily I now associate # as a hashtag and enjoy using it on social media, a little different from seeing it and knowing I was heading into theatre for a 3-4 stint. I find on social media people usually see a # and either love it, avoid it or misuse it, so what is it, what does it do and how can you use it?

 

What is a # ?

Simply put a # is a form of metadata. i.e. it provides data on other data. While that sounds quite dry and dull it’s a very specific way of saying that a # used on social media links all posts that use that #. # terms are also picked up by search engines so can help with your SEO.

It’s an easy way to link people with similar interests or to raise awareness of events or issues without it being focused on an individual account or page.

 

What is trending?

 It is usually the content of a # that you will see “trending”. Trending describes the list of the most popular topics on social media sites. It can be a single word, a phrase or a name. It lets social media users see what is popular on their platform at that time. It can help spread messages quickly which, like my previous blog on viral posts can be really beneficial.

Is a # beneficial to me?

Using a # is quick and easy and can create different communities within your followers and attract new followers. It saves you setting up new accounts for sharing new products or information yet you will still be able to be found on social media and using SEO – yes you can Google #s.

It can be great for short term sharing of information – like having a stall at an upcoming summer fayre or a promotion on preventative health care. I use #planetrvn on social media to link my posts and others use it too to promote what they are doing in the ventures world. It also makes the posts less about me and my account as a person, its a community.

How do I start one?

Choose your message and put a # in front of it – it’s that simple. But make sure your message is easy to understand and not easily confused with others. Avoid the basic pitfalls of:

 

  • Bad spelling – Facebook you can edit posts on – Twitter you can’t so that will live with you forever (deleted posts don’t disappear entirely either) and people then can’t find all the posts

 

  • Typos – as above a typo will make the # look poor and hard to find

 

  • Punctuation – #’s don’t like punctuation and it will stop linking letters and numbers, meaning #no.1petcare will become just #no – not a great #

 

  • # already in use – check especially with commonly used words or initials. Your message will be lost Google your intended # as well as searching on social media

 

  • creating words you didn’t intend to – Susan Boyles album launch # was #susanalbumparty which doesn’t read well when put together

 

  • piggy backing on popular # – some companies have done this and it doesn’t end well. We know that #strictly will trend most weekends over autumn in the UK as the BBC have Strictly Come Dancing on and it’s a show where viewers vote for contestants. Yes, it’s popular but it’s not really vet related – unless Noel Fitzpatrick is in this years contestants. Posting something about flea treatments with #strictly usually won’t win you any favours!

 

Managing your #

Do remember to head into your # (just click on it) and check whats going on. This means you can make sure it hasn’t been hi-jacked, but also you can respond to comments and re-post. This has the effect of connecting you to more followers and boosting the frequency that your # is seen, as well as creating a community.

#plan, #create, #enjoy

Using a # well can really expand your horizons on social media and it is a great way to increase your SEO. Avoid the pitfalls above, plan what you want to do and enjoy! Join me on #planetrvn to see how it can work.

Social media for vet practice – Should you Shoot for the Moon? 

 

 

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”?

Screen Shot 2017-07-05 at 16.08.54.png

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.