3. Go where the people are.
Not all social media websites are created equal. If you decide to test the social media waters, focus on one of the big four
social media websites: Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and LinkedIn. Start with one and see what it does for your practice. If
you feel it's a good investment, pick another site to master. Let's look at the "big four" one at a time.
Facebook is by far the largest and most active social media site with users posting more than 60 million updates daily. Reputations
can be made or broken here by wall comments, "likes," status updates and postings.
User demographics align well with companion-animal veterinary clients. And Facebook's commercial component is well suited
to veterinary practices. It requires that you first have a personal Facebook account. From your personal account, you can
create a Fan page or a Group page. The Group page provides more options and is easier to use than the Fan page.
Creating a Group page makes the most sense for veterinary practices. To find out more, go to
http://Facebook.com/ and look for simple-to-follow instructions to set up a page. Before you do, however, have a plan to use it. Administering
a Facebook page is a great way to share new, interesting and useful information with your clients and other pet owners to
increase awareness of your practice.
YouTube is the world's second largest search engine after Google. It is far more familiar to most people, however, for the interesting
and often entertaining video clips housed there. Consider using YouTube to upload short video clips on how to clip pets' toenails
or brush pets' teeth. Ordinary, seemingly mundane practice activities like these can be of great interest to pet owners, and
printed instructions can't compare to video. Who knows, a novel, useful video clip from your practice might even "go viral"
and be sent around the world, giving your clinic instant YouTube celebrity status and exposure. If nothing else, it will provide
your clients with an easy-access learning tool from your practice.
Once you've created a video, make sure your clients know it's there. Put the video link address on appropriate client handouts,
post the link on your Web site, and send it to your Facebook group, if you have one, to spread the word.
Twitter is one of the fastest growing social media. A "tweet" is a text message of 140 characters or less. You can broadcast a tweet
to one or many, and other Twitter users can "re-tweet" your message to many more.
Millennials and Gen Xers, ages 15 to 44, are the heaviest Twitter users. If your practice has a younger or tech-savvy clientele,
why not consider it? Ask clients for their reminder preferences — would they like reminder telephone calls, e-mails or tweets
for future appointments? You can also tweet short announcements or news. For example, if you have openings in your doggy day
care or are offering a new kitten class, tweeting is a great way to let clients know.
LinkedIn is an online business network people use to make connections and find contacts to help their businesses. Like the other social
media websites, LinkedIn is free. It is especially useful in recruiting employees when you have openings in your practice.
In fact, last year, 80 percent of employers used LinkedIn for this purpose. An added advantage of using your LinkedIn contacts
to put you in touch with potential employees is that you'll avoid the avalanche of unqualified resumes that
http://CareerBuilder.com/ searches typically generate.