Now that you’re set up on social media, how do you make sure people know about your feeds? It’s important to publicize your social media feeds so clients – or your other target audiences – will know where to connect with you. Your best approach: Use as many of your existing client communication channels as possible to spread the word. This includes:
- Your personal social media accounts: Wherever you’re personally active on social media, announce that your business has launched a new page and ask your friends to follow it. This is especially important on the social network where your new page is set up, but you should post the announcement on all social networks where you’re active.
- Your staff members’ social accounts: Make sure everyone on your staff knows about your new page, and ask them to invite their friends to follow as well. And whenever you feature one of your staff members in a post on your page, be sure to let that person know; there’s a good chance they’ll want to re-share the post to their own networks, giving you more visibility.
- Your website: Link to all of your social media pages from your clinic’s website, so anyone going to your site will see that you’re active on social media. Be sure to use recognizable visual icons for each social network (such as the white “f” in blue box for Facebook), and include them on every page of your website – not just the home page.
- Emails and newsletters: Announce your new social media page to your email list and in your print newsletter if you have one, and link directly to the page to make it easy for people to find and follow you. And don’t stop with a single announcement; just as you put your social media link(s) on every page of your website, you should add them to your email and newsletter templates, so they appear in every issue. For printed materials, be sure to include your page’s URL or username – for example, @AVMAvets for Twitter.
- All mailed materials: Every piece of mail you send to clients should include your social media icons and links. This includes appointment reminders, holiday cards and even your clinic letterhead.
Clinic signage: Post visual signage in your clinic showing the visual icon(s) of social networks where you’re active and your username(s) or URL(s). These can go on your office door, waiting room or exam room walls, behind your front desk… anywhere people are likely to see them.
- Word of mouth: Ask your staff to mention your new social media page to clients during clinic visits. Whether that happens at the front desk during checkout or in the exam rooms – or both – take the opportunity of one-on-one conversations to help spread the word.
Another way to promote your new page is to buy ads or promoted posts to gain visibility. We recommend that you first try to grow your audience organically, though – if you have good content, your followers will like, share and comment on your posts, and that will raise their visibility in other people’s news feeds. Start with the free marketing methods above, and give them some time to work. You won’t see immediate, huge growth; rather, each promotion should bring you some additional fans, and you should see those numbers growing over time. Remember, also, that it’s not a contest to see who has the most fans/followers; focus on quality of interactions and the positive effects on your business, not the quantity of fans/followers. Social Media Metrics for Veterinarians offers good guidance on how to decide what measurements are most important for your page(s).
If you do decide that you want to try paid marketing on social media, you can either buy ads or promote your posts. If you pay to promote a post, it will appear at the top of the news feeds of potential customers. Though it may seem counterintuitive, the posts you should promote are the ones that already are performing best for you, not the ones lagging behind. This is because they are your proven, most engaging posts – and therefore the ones that are most likely to attract more attention if their prominence in the news feed is boosted. Facebook, for example, will inform you which of your posts is doing well and will ask if you’d like to promote them. If you think that you might want to pursue this option, here’s a good primer on promoted posts. Don’t promote posts too often, or you run the risk of fatiguing the viewers and driving them to click the option to hide all of your posts.
Tactics to Avoid
Although you want your social media community to grow, there are certain marketing tactics that you should avoid, either because they are bad manners or because they are short-sighted. We advise against the following:
- Buying likes and followers: This is possible for some social networks, but that doesn’t make it a good idea. You want your followers to be real people who are interested in you and the content that you post; and you want real likes and comments because they will tell you what content resonates with your audience. The followers and likes that you can buy will not actually serve any of your long-term interests. Remember, quality over quantity.
- Promotions that attract fans/followers with no interest in the services you offer: Did someone give you a tablet computer or other electronic gadget that you can’t use, and you’re thinking about giving it away as a promotion to get fans to “like” your Facebook page? Think again. Unless you tie the offer directly to your business’ services in some way, what you’re likely to get is a lot of new fans who want an iPad – and not necessarily people who have an interest in veterinary services.
How AVMA Can Help
Social Media Metrics for Veterinarians