There are a lot of clients having conversations and asking questions about animal care in the world of social media. Shouldn't your practice play a part in that conversation?
Eric Garcia is a digital consultant and founder of Simply Done Tech Solutions, a company that helps veterinary practices improve their services and marketing communications. Mr. Garcia joins Dr. Natalie Marks for a Quick Cup of Knowledge to give us five social media hacks that can boost your practice. No one is a post to better customer relations, right?
For the veterinarians, practice managers, or owners who aren’t excited about social media—think of it as a business-building opportunity. There’s a conversation that is happening online about your practice right now. What if you could know what they’re saying to receive feedback, solve problems, and keep returning customers? What if you were the reliable resource that people turned to?
Most people looking for information about animal care or a veterinary clinic will first go online to look at reviews and recommendations. Social media is the platform people have to voice their opinions about you—and most of it is positive!
Focus on Retaining Friends, Not Finding Them
Mr. Garcia stresses that primarily, social media is a way to bond clients to your practice. Don’t think of it as a platform to win new clients, although it definitely can do that.
It’s a retention tool more than anything, which is why publishing thoughtful content and responding to clients on your social media channels really does boost the effectiveness and improves care at your practice.
Start with Square One
So you’re convinced your practice should have an active social media presence. Now what? Mr. Garcia’s advice is to start with Facebook. The vast majority of clients are using Facebook, and it’s the least intimidating.
The key to operating a successful, diverse, and stress-free Facebook page is to take a team approach. The entire team can generate about 1–2 posts per week at a minimum easily, from their patient success stories (with client permission) to frequently asked questions they get from clients.
Social media is a chance to celebrate successes and relay interesting information with not a lot of extra work or effort. Team members can feel even more valued by your practice with a sense of responsibility when contributing or managing the social media channels.
Educate the People
As said before, many clients go to the internet with their questions. Being able to answer those questions with quality educational content builds trust and nurtures your practice-client relationship.
When it comes to educational posts, Mr. Garcia recommends a narrative approach rather than just giving the facts. If talking about a specific disease, tell a story about a patient who suffered from that disease.
According to Jennifer Aaker from the Stanford Graduate School of Business, people remember information 22% more when it’s weaved into a narrative rather than getting the facts alone.
Ready For More?
Ready to move beyond Facebook? Another creative social media channel that veterinary practices would do well to utilize is YouTube. Garcia says that 2/3 of the content we consume is video content. That’s a lot of video!
As you may know, many informational videos out there aren’t done by experts and spread misinformation that can harm animals. If veterinary professionals publish good video content that teaches best practices and correct information, it can do so much good. Clients (and patients!) will appreciate it.
Everyone dreads the negative online review. Don’t despair—you can save most dissatisfied clients from becoming an ex-client.
If it’s stressing you out, disengage! Leave the review alone for 72 hours before coming back to it. Reacting emotionally won’t get you anywhere. When handling a negative review, Mr. Garcia suggests a few things:
- Handle it offline—Email or even call the client. Many times they just want to be heard, and the personal attention can solve the problem and keep them as a returning client.
- Don’t engage with crazy—Those book-long reviews often written in all caps with no punctuation aren’t worth the time and effort. Trying to refute their points won’t change their minds, either.
- Don’t give specifics—Do not reveal confidential patient information online in reaction to a review. If someone claims you overdosed their pet, saying the drug name and amount you gave their pet can get you into trouble.
There’s no question—any kind of business that wants to develop and nurture a friendly relationship with its client base needs to have a social media presence.
With a huge potential to tap into and hundreds of stories to share, your practice will feel that boost in client relations and patient care that social media involvement brings. Happy posting!
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