Using social media to attract pet owners to your veterinary practice
People in my Facebook group often ask, “How can I get more followers and keep our clients more engaged on social media?” Growing your following starts with getting your current clients and community to follow your practice’s social media accounts. Here’s where I tell them to start:
4 Ways to engage existing clients on social media
Invite clients to follow you. Get them personally invested by taking a photo or video of their pet and then requesting permission to post it on your social media accounts. Include QR codes wherever you can to take them directly to your accounts and be consistent with your handles across multiple platforms so they recognize you when they see you.
Include your social media handles on everything your clients see, such as your:
- Email signature
- Business cards
- Signs in the lobby with QR codes
- Bottom of invoices
- Appointment reminders
Host a giveaway and invite clients to enter by following your social media accounts.
Partner with a business. For example, you might provide dog treats to a local espresso shop and display a sign with your social media handles.
Benefits of using social media for your veterinary practice
But why go through all that hassle? There are many benefits to investing time and resources in an online presence, including:
Increased visibility: The increased visibility from your hospital’s profiles can lead to more followers, likes, and shares, which can ultimately generate new clients.
- Post idea: Create a post with “5 tips on how to potty train a new puppy” and encourage your existing followers to share it with other new puppy owners they know. This will help establish your practice as an authority that pet owners can reach out to.
Improved client engagement: When you post engaging content that matters to your clients on a regular basis, your social accounts become a way to quickly and easily communicate important information. You’ll establish trust and credibility by responding to comments and questions.
- Post idea: Record a quick video of one of your veterinarians giving general advice on how to check for ticks on a dog. Even though there’s a lot of information out there, pet owners often don’t know what’s trustworthy or even where to start. By putting a human face to the tips being provided, you open the opportunity for them to connect personally with your practice.
Increased website traffic: Unlike other parts of your online presence, you have control over your website. If Facebook or your social media accounts suddenly are unavailable, your website is your primary source of communication (as well as your email list, if you have one).
- Pro tip: Always include links to your website in your social media posts and encourage followers to learn more about your services and practice there.
Positive reviews and testimonials: Positive feedback shared publicly helps build trust and credibility with potential clients. Your existing clients offer "social proof" (evidence that other people trust you) that your hospital provides high-quality care. Additionally, responding to negative reviews in a professional manner shows that your hospital takes client feedback seriously.
- Pro tip: If you choose to respond to reviews, do so only when you have a clear head and have checked the facts within your hospital to see what the real story is. You’ll be able to craft a better and more professional response.
I like to say that social media is like “word-of-mouth on steroids” due to how easy it is for us to share posts and information with friends and family. The negative stuff will happen occasionally, but for the most part, clients who are happy with their experience will be glad to recommend you. You can take control of your practice’s online narrative when you post informative, engaging content, which increases the likelihood that clients will remember you and tell their friends.
Social media is just one component of a comprehensive marketing strategy and should be used in conjunction with other tactics and efforts. Do you have a veterinary marketing challenge that you’re currently struggling with? If you have questions about how to create a social strategy, send me an email at [email protected], and I’d be happy to help!
Cheyanne Flerx is a former veterinary assistant turned veterinary social media marketing coach. She teaches veterinary professionals how to become confident social media marketing managers and how to use social media more effectively and efficiently for their hospitals. To learn more about her, more about social media, or social media management, visit her website at HeyCheyanne.com.
Photo credit: © herraez E+ via Getty Images Plus
Disclaimer: The views expressed, and topics discussed, in any NEWStat column or article are intended to inform, educate, or entertain, and do not represent an official position by the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) or its Board of Directors.