4. Manage social media from within, starting with your employee manual.
Social media use by employees is a completely new workplace behavior category that practice handbooks should address. Start
by reminding your team members that confidentiality is equally important online and off. Let them know that they should never
talk about clients or privileged practice information outside of the clinic. For more ideas of social media topics to cover
in your employee manual, go to the Veterinary Hospital Managers Association Web site,
http://VHMA.org/, or visit
http://dvm360.com/ to download a sample social media networking policy.
Finally, don't forget to check with your insurance provider to find out if your practice policy covers social media. Already
a lawsuit is pending over negative comments veterinary employees made online about a client. Would your insurance cover your
practice if this happened?
5. Stay on your toes.
The world of social media is evolving so rapidly that whatever you read today is likely to be out of date tomorrow. For instance,
Google, the monster of online search engines, has just declared that its developers are creating a Google social media website.
I suspect it will be successful and might even soon usurp one or more of the leading four. You'll probably want to join it
when it does.
Privacy is another topic coming under scrutiny by lawmakers and consumer groups. Soon conditions that are more stringent may
influence how practices use social media websites and e-mail. Even now, it's wise to ask permission before contacting a person
by e-mail. Also, be sure to pay attention when social media sites announce privacy changes.
Thanks to the run-away popularity of the Smartphone, you can count on all things Web becoming accessible to mobile phones.
To see if your hospital's website is mobile compatible, simply type the website address into your handheld device's search
box and see if your site loads. If it doesn't, work with your website designer to make it mobile compatible. Also, make sure
to list your practice on sites such as Google Maps and Yahoo local. There's no charge to list and doing so should help ensure
that pet owners' Web searches return driving directions to your hospital.
Karyn Gavzer, MBA, CVPM, is a veterinary business consultant and nationally known writer and speaker.