My wife was out of town recently and left me with our 4-year-old daughter. Friends of mine, both veterinarians, decided to
spare my child another hot dog dinner and invited us over for the evening. As soon as my daughter was engrossed in her meal,
talk turned to Mike's fledgling mobile practice.
Andrew Roark DVM
"How are you using social media in your marketing?" I asked.
"As little as possible," he replied. .
I put down my fork. As a business consultant and lover of all things social, I was at a complete loss. He might as well have
told me he had started examining pets in the nude.
"That stuff is a major time suck," he explained. "With everything I have to do at work, I don't have the extra time. Besides,
if I come home late and then get right on Facebook, my wife will kill me."
There is no doubt that people today are looking online for their veterinarians and other service and care providers. (If the
Yellow Pages aren't completely dead, they're on their last legs.) Your clients are using Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+,
etc. If you want them to see you, you need to have a presence in these social networks.
That being said, my friend has a point about the need to expend marketing time and resources wisely. (I agreed that being
killed by his wife was not the desired outcome.) With that in mind, here is a six-step plan for maintaining a useful social
media presence by devoting just one hour per week. This is in no way a full social media marketing strategy, but it will help
your practice get out there and connect with clients in a meaningful and manageable way. Let's get started.
1. Set reasonable goals and expectations
Just like with a workout routine, you can't expect to put in minimal time and get herculean results. However, focusing your
efforts in an efficient, meaningful way can give you something to be proud of over the long term. You shouldn't expect to
get thousands of fans using this approach, but rather to communicate with—and stay in the minds of—people who may actually
bring their pets to you for care. You're going for quality in your connections, not quantity.
2. Remember your brand
Yes, the photo of the cat smoking a cigarette you saw on the Internet may have been hilarious, but is that the picture you
want associated with your clinic? Every post or tweet you put out should fit the brand image you want to build in people's
minds. If in doubt, err on the side of caution and come across as caring and professional.
3. Pick a platform
All the large social networks out there do things slightly differently and have some advantages and drawbacks. Your goal is
not to become omnipresent by using them all, but to find a service that you're comfortable with and that your clients use.
It's better to have a single, well-run presence than a half-dozen neglected and disorganized efforts that all make you look
For most practices, I recommend a Facebook business page. The other social media sites are great, but Facebook is easy to
learn. It's also the largest network by far, and the number of posts you need to stay visible is manageable. Facebook's recommendation
system also helps put your page in front of people who live in your geographic area, and that's a big plus.