Christina Sutu: Social Media and Your Veterinary Hospital: What, Why and How?
SOCIAL MEDIA ANDYOUR VETERINARYHOSPITAL:WHAT, WHY AND HOW? Christina Sutu Social Media Manager Encina Veterinary Hospital Walnut Creek, California
WHAT IS SOCIAL MEDIA? According to Wikipedia, social media is “an umbrella term that defines the various activities that integrate technology, social interaction, and the construction of words, pictures, videos, and audio.” Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, YouTube, blogging, LinkedIn
“In essence, social media is a tool to insert ourselves into theconversation between current and would-be clients. In fact, depending onhow “viral” your exposure is, a person could be getting a personalrecommendation about us from a friend-of-a-friend who they don’t evenknow! By placing our messages in this conversation, you can craft amessage that can support the conversation and develop a relationshipwith someone who the practice has never met yet.” Angela Linvill, MS (Hospital Administrator of Encina Veterinary Hospital) “We don’t have a choice on whether we DO social media, the question is how well we DO it.” Eric Qualman of Socialnomics.com
MOST COMMON SOCIAL NETWORKS Facebook allows you to set up a customized “page”, which other users can “like” to become fans. You can then share interesting content, such as updates, pictures and videos with your followers and engage in two-way communication. According to Social Media Today, in April 2010 an estimated 41.6% of the U.S. population had a Facebook account. As of April 2012, Facebook has 901 million active users (PCMag.com) Twitter is another huge online network that can help to expand your reach exponentially and should be a part of your veterinary marketing plan. Users set up accounts from which they can disseminate quick, helpful and interesting tidbits of information. Each “tweet” is limited to 140 characters, so you have to be creative. Over 140 million active users as of 2012 (Twitter Blog) 340 million tweets are sent every day on average (Twitter Blog)DVMelite.com
MOST COMMON SOCIAL NETWORKS Youtube YouTube is a video-sharing website, created by three former PayPal employees in February 2005, on which users can upload, view and share videos. Youtube offers a wide variety of user-generated video content, including movie clips, TV clips, and music videos, as well as amateur content such as video blogging and short original videos. In November 2006, YouTube, LLC was bought by Google for US$1.65 billion, and now operates as a subsidiary of Google. Youtube is the 2nd most used/popular search engine in the world, only behind Google (Rocketmedia) Youtube is the third most visited website in the world (Rocketmedia)
VETERINARIANS IN SOCIAL MEDIA It’s a very small pond right now; veterinarians are not utilizing the tools they have to become active and present in social media or online. A website gets your information out there but social media allows you to connect to clients and potential clients Many feel a sign outside and a Yellow Pages ad should suffice when it comes to advertising and building clientele – it no longer does! Gone are the days of looking up a business in a phone book; people are now relying on the internet and friends to tell them where to go and why. 78% of people trust recommendations (yelp, friends) versus only 14% trust traditional advertising
According to a survey released byPew Interest, amount of userschecking in on social networks atleast once per day: Facebook – 52% Twitter – 23% Myspace – 8% LinkedIn – 6%According to the 1995 AAHA Reportentitled A Study of the CompanionAnimal Veterinary Services Market,45% of pet owners considered therecommendation by anotherperson as the most importantfactor in selecting aveterinarian.
WHY IS SOCIAL MEDIA IMPORTANT? Social media is how people search for services they need Social media allows you to connect with your clients which leads to future/new clients Social media gets the name of your clinic out into the world wide web more often which leads to more business Clients share your information with their friends and family easily through social media Clients don’t have a chance to forget about you in between exams Facebook, Twitter and Youtube are all FREE Become a trustworthy resource for pet owners
WHERE DO YOU FIT IN? As a veterinarian, it’s important to build personal and trusting bonds with your clients. Social media helps with that: Your clients can and will stay connected with you through social media, year around Your clients wont forget you or your hospital because you will have a constant presence Your clients will refer you to their friends because of your personal touch and it’s EASY to do so on Social Media platforms
WHERE DO YOU FIT IN? Target age: 20-40 Your future clients are already using social media; to keep up and be appealing, you must be on the same playing field as them. As time goes on, technology improves. You must keep up with the trends to remain relevant and attractive to clients and prospective clients Our Dr. Jill Christofferson has been in practice for 20 years and maintains an excellent presence and bond with her clients through Facebook Coming to the vet to see Jill isn’t scary or unpleasant; they feel like they are going to see a friend and are at ease.
WHERE DO YOU START? Depending on your area, see which social networks are most popular with staff, clients and other businesses. Select only 2-3 networks to become active in and a universal username for all You may select more to simply sign up and put something out there on that network, but it becomes very difficult to manage so many networks while providing quality. Select a username that reflects your hospital that can be used on all venues (encinavet) Let your clients know you are now on Social Media A sign in the lobby, email newsletters, stamp on invoices/statements If you’re interested in blogging, then do it! Blogspot.com = free easy to use blogging tool
WHERE TO START? Set up a posting plan Who will be posting? Do not have more than 2 people who will post; you don’t want the style of information to vary too much Devote a calendar to social media and make a schedule each month for things you would like to post. Week before the fourth of July, remind pet owners that this is the number one holiday pets go missing, promote micro- chipping Do not over post! You do NOT want to spam your followers; you will annoy them and lose them Quality versus Quantity Decide how much time you want to dedicate Ask staff to keep an eye out for cases
ONCE YOU HAVE CREATED YOUR HOSPITAL’S PAGE ON FACEBOOK Let clients know Email clients, stamp/print on invoices, handout, sign in lobby, on website Find local and veterinary related pages to like AHAA, organizations, pet supply stores, specialty veterinary hospitals, emergency veterinary hospitals, rescue organizations, companies of products you carry You will be able to comment on their pages as your veterinary hospital which will get your name out to their followers Ask clients to send you pictures of their pets for an album on Facebook People love to share their pets; this will give them the ability to share your post of their pets picture with their friends on Facebook which leads to more exposure for you
ONCE YOU HAVE CREATED YOURHOSPITALS PAGE ON TWITTER Let clients know Email clients, stamp/print on invoices, sign in lobby, on website Sync your Facebook and Twitter page When you post on Facebook, it will automatically post on Twitter Find pages on Twitter to follow Local businesses, pet related, clients Tweet and Connect!
ONCE YOU HAVE CREATED YOUR HOSPITALS PAGE ON YOUTUBE Let clients know Email clients, stamp/print on invoices, sign in lobby, on website, handout Include links to “How To” videos on take home instructions How to cut your pet’s nails, how to tell if your pet is dehydrated, how to administer sub-q fluids, how to brush your pet’s teeth, what to include in a pet emergency kit, how to clean a pet’s wound Create a video of a tour of your hospital Highlight an employee each month Each time you post a video, share it on Facebook! Your Facebook can be synced to automatically post each update to Twitter so your information can go EVERYWHERE!
WHAT TYPE OF STUFF SHOULD YOU POST ABOUT? Success stories and complex, puzzling cases Patient photos, thank you cards, testimonials Milestones for the hospital and staff Weddings, anniversaries, new babies, new pets Changes to the hospital Policies, remodeling, new staff members, new hours, new products Information Recalls, specials, sales, events (yours and other local businesses), seasonal pet dangers, tips for pet owners, adoptions available, emergency hospital, how to Contests Ask representatives of the products you carry to give you free stuff (products, coupons, water bottles, tee-shirts etc.)
WHAT TYPE OF STUFF SHOULD YOU NOT POST ABOUT? Cases with an unhappy ending Posting about a patient without the client authorizing it can lead to troubles Create a simple authorization form for clients to sign allowing you to use the first name of their pet and pictures of their pets for social media Diagnosing or giving personal veterinary advice If someone posts on your wall describing a condition, answer them in a manner that acknowledges their concerns and suggest they see a veterinarian for the best care “Wow John, I can see why you’re concerned for Rover! My best advice would be to schedule an appointment with Dr. Smith, that way Rover can get the best care possible.” Anything negative!
HOW TO MEASURE SUCCESS/ROI Create coupons for each Facebook and Twitter which are easy to track in your practice software with a specific product code Ask new clients how they found you and make sure Facebook, Twitter, Google/search engine, YouTube and any other social media you may use are listed as options
ENCINA VETERINARY HOSPITALSUCCESS STORIES Icebear the cat March of 2011, one of our interns took possession presented to us in of a German Shepherd who had been hit by a car early summer of Through posting about it on Facebook, it got out to 2011 for 2 foxtails our 300+ fans and 21 shares. that penetrated to his lungs. We raised over $1,500 for Sammy’s We blogged about care, spread story to him, his interesting local blogs, and case and happy generated positive ending! buzz about us and In July of 2011, a found a future home man called from New for Sammy! Mexico, scheduled anappointment and drove for 8+ hours for anendoscopy with our team after reading ourblog on Icebear.
HOW CAN YOU WORK WITH PET BLOGGERS AND OTHER INTERNET MARKETING PERSONNEL? Helpareporter.com Myblogguest.com Clients who are influential in your community Local rescues
Create a business profile on Facebook and Twitter Your company logo is your picture and avatar If you are a consultant, use a professional headshot Don’t mix personal and business profiles Start social networking with peers Experiment with social media tools Facebook, LinkedIn, Blogging, Youtube, Twitter, FLICKR Twitter Daily Learn from the experts Study, research the peers sites Enroll in free webinars Determine how your success will be measured Do not spend too much time online; set schedules Embrace customer review social sites such as Yelp Consider using Groupon Ask each visitor and customer how they heard about your business Remember it may take 6 months or more to get results
Christina Sutu Social Media Manager email@example.com Encina Veterinary HospitalEast Bay Veterinary Specialists & Emergency Walnut Creek, California www.encinavet.com www.facebook.com/encinavet www.twitter.com/encinavet www.youtube.com/encinavet www.encinavet.com/blog