Where do pet owners go every single day? Facebook. That’s right, the giant of social media is the new watercooler where people go to hear the latest news, not only from their friends and family, but also from the businesses they care about.
There are more than one billion Facebook users and nearly 60 percent of them log into their account once a day. Even better: you can reach an estimated 98 million American pet owners on Facebook.
Fifty million small businesses already have a business page on Facebook. It’s easy to get started, but you can’t just create a Facebook business page and expect to acquire thousands of fans and generate a high level of interest and engagement without any hard work. You have to put in the daily elbow grease it takes to build a relevant audience of followers who will keep coming back to your page for useful information (or have us do it for you!).
If you want to build a robust and relevant Facebook following for your veterinary practice – a task that has the potential to drive traffic to your website and increase your brand’s awareness – you have to stay on top of the latest social trends, post timely and engaging content and interact with your audience daily. In short, your Facebook page should feel like a community for your followers – a place where pet owners want to go while spending their 40 minutes, on average, of time on Facebook each day.
Although that means you’ll need to dedicate staff time to manage Facebook as well as advertising dollars to build your fan base, Facebook is still a comparatively low-cost way to reach pet owners where they are already spending their time and looking to engage with businesses.
- Make the commitment
Like all marketing efforts, being successful on Facebook involves a commitment of time and money. At a minimum, you have to develop and post regular updates and respond to fan comments on your page daily. Ideally, you’ll post multiple times a day, create fun contests to help build your fan base and loyalty, provide coupons or calls to action, and review your Facebook Insights to see what’s working so you can do more of it.
- Set up a page
There are several decisions and steps you need to make as you build your Facebook page:
Claim your name: Type in your business name and see if a page or group has already been created. If so, try to track down who in your organization built the page and get ownership transferred to the correct person. Or, if no one in your organization created the page, see if you can claim it through the Facebook process. Alternatively, you can build a page from scratch.
Choose a category: Choose what “page type” is appropriate for your business. For veterinarians, this will be a “local business or place.” Although, if you have multiple hospitals, you may want to choose “company, organization or institution.” The “category” you then select is “pet services.”
Make it visually appealing: At the top of your Facebook page is a big area for what is called the “cover photo.” You can use stock photos you’ve purchased or others you own (and have permission from any pet or person pictured to use), just make sure they are the right size.
Tell your story: Complete the “about” section of your page as thoroughly as possible.
Reviews: You’ll need to decide if you are going to enable the “reviews” portion of your page. You can either turn it on, and Facebook users will be able to add reviews of your business, or you can turn it off. However, you cannot turn it on and then delete bad reviews. It’s all or nothing.
Custom URL: You can also get a complimentary custom URL for your Facebook page (so it’s not facebook.com/gobbled-gook…). You can add your name after the slash instead, which makes it easier to put on marketing materials later.
- There’s still more to do
But, we don’t want to overwhelm you. In our next post, we’ll share tips for maximizing your Facebook page’s impact through posting content as well as ways to effectively promote and grow your page’s fan base. (Be sure to sign up for our blog updates so you don’t miss: “Setting up a Veterinary Facebook Page That Works: Part 2.”)
- Bypass the hassle
If starting and managing a Facebook page sounds overwhelming or you just can’t imagine who on your staff would have the time, let alone the interest, we can help. Click here to receive a free Facebook page management quote from our team of social media experts.
Fetching Communications specializes in managing social media accounts for veterinary and pet businesses and organizations and offers packages personalized to your particular needs. We create pages, write posts, review your analytics, monitor comments, and develop and oversee Facebook advertising campaigns.
Let’s discuss what would work best for your business. Contact Liz Lindley at 877.703.3824 x105 or firstname.lastname@example.org.