Setting up a Veterinary Facebook Page That Works: Part 1

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.

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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.

blog-photoReady to get started? Here are some considerations and steps to get your Veterinary Practice’s Facebook page up and running:

  • 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 liz.lindley@fetchingcommunications.com.

 

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Why Your Veterinary Facebook Page is Flatlining, and How to Fix It

Remember when you set up your veterinary practice’s Facebook page? Maybe, like many practices, someone occasionally posts an update about the hospital or adds a photo. But you are now wondering, where are all the comments, likes and shares you thought would happen, not to mention the new business and referrals you expected to come naturally?

Here are four reasons your Facebook page may not be part of the social media conversation, and what you can do to breathe new life into it.

Problem #1: No one is manning the ship…so it’s sinking.Blog-Image
Rule number one is that you have to post fresh messages to your Facebook page on a consistent basis and respond to comments and direct messages that people leave on your Facebook page. This is what social media experts term “engagement” (think: interaction). You have to show your commitment to being a part of the Facebook world before followers will engage with your page.

Solution: Assign a staff member the responsibility of posting content and responding to comments at least three times a week. You can use a free content scheduling app like Hootsuite or Bufferapp to create your posts ahead of time and then schedule them to “go live” on certain days and times. As for responding to comments or direct messages that appear on your page? In your page’s settings, you can adjust the notifications to receive an emailed alert every time someone comments or sends you a direct message. You should respond to comments within 24 hours to 48 hours max. (For tips about how to respond to negative social media comments or online reviews, stay tuned for our upcoming blog post.)

Facebook-Analysis-CTA

Problem #2: You don’t know how to grow your audience.
Yep, it’s a classic mistake. Around here we call it the if-you-build-it-they-will-come syndrome. Even if you’ve posted regular updates and filled your Facebook page with compelling content (download our Veterinary Newsletter Content Cheat Sheet — it works for social media, too!), you still have to spread the word that you’re on the platform and want to connect with people there.

Solution: Make sure you add the Facebook icon to your website and link it to your Facebook page. Another super-important step is running a Facebook advertising campaign – your Facebook page won’t reach many people without it. Plus, you can target people who follow local Facebook pet pages and get in front of potential new clients.



Problem #3:
Your cover photo needs a makeover.
Similar to entering your hospital’s lobby, the big, horizontal image at the top of your Facebook page is the first impression clients receive of your practice. Does it look like your teenage nephew threw it up there –all stretched out, blurry with parts cut off? Or maybe you’re using one of the standard backgrounds Facebook offers. Boring. You want something that shows professionalism with heart. And every so often, the image should be updated to keep your page looking interesting and active.

Solution: You can find stock images for purchase on sites like istockphoto.com and stock.adobe.com, or other sites that offer free image libraries. Then, upload those photos to your Facebook page by hovering over the cover photo and clicking on the white camera icon that appears on the upper left side. Once you upload your new photo use your mouse to move the photo up or down and, when you’re happy with it, click save.



Problem #4:
Facebook changes all the time.
Facebook regularly updates its algorithm – the mechanism used to determine which posts will show up in people’s news feeds (the first thing someone sees when they log into Facebook) – which affects how many people actually see your page updates. For example, it used to be that posts with photos received a higher number of views because Facebook, through its algorithm, placed those posts in a higher volume of news feeds or homepages. Now, Facebook is placing a greater emphasis on video posts. That means posts that contain video are more likely to be seen by a greater number of your followers. The platform also routinely updates its advertising requirements and ways to target users through its advertising program.

Solution: Make sure the staff member managing your social media strategy is following the latest social media marketing trade publications and newsletters. You can be among the first to know about Facebook updates by attending the Social Media Marketing World convention in 2017. Or, ask us. We live and breathe social media, and we offer a variety of different social media management and engagement packages for veterinary practices like yours.


 

Want a FREE Facebook Page Analysis?

Let us take a look at your page today to identify areas that need attention and call out the great things we see too. Click here, or contact Liz Lindley at liz@fetchingcommunications.com to get a complimentary review.

 

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Free Download: Veterinary Practice Newsletter Content Cheat Sheet

Why didn’t your veterinary practice’s newsletter garner the results you were looking for? You poured precious time and energy into developing a newsletter, spending weeks writing, editing and collecting information, and then even more time editing and finalizing the content and design. You anticipated a great response (read: return on investment) from your target audience. And yet, as far as you can tell, your newsletter did nothing. You aren’t even sure that the digital version sent to pet parents was read, or that the rDVM’s office paid attention to the printed version.Blog-post-image-cat

From our experience working with veterinary practices, a lot can go wrong with newsletters when it comes to measuring ROI. However, there is a fix to this problem and it’s called content! The secret about content is that it must add value to your readers’ lives. Did you give actionable advice that veterinarians and technicians can use when discussing treatment options with patients? Did you provide information to help pet owners understand the causes and treatments for particular symptoms they might notice with their pets? Overall, did your content successfully show your expertise?

Writing effective newsletter content can be hard, so we’d like to help! Here’s a cheat sheet of topics you can consider for your next veterinary newsletter, to better promote your business and share content your audiences will actually want to read.

Downloadable-Cheat-sheet-CTA

Target Audience: rDVMs and/or Veterinary Technicians:

  • Profile of a pet’s case/case study
  • Hospital expansion or move
  • New rooms, medical equipment, tools or technology
  • Profile of a staff member (doctor, technician, manager)
  • Diagnostic tips
  • Treatment updates
  • A “technician’s corner” with tips for technicians
  • Seasonal or timely information (e.g., canine flu virus, food recalls, Bordetella)
  • Invitations to your lectures, roundtables, doctor meet-and-greets or wet labs
  • Invitation to visit your booth at a conference or event

Target Audience: Pet Owners:

  • Profile of a pet parent with the pet’s case in laymen terms
  • Hospital expansion or move
  • New rooms, medical equipment, tools or technology
  • Profile of a staff member (doctor, technician, manager)
  • General pet health tips (e.g., weight loss, exercise, how to read a pet food label)
  • Disease, illness or injury information (e.g., diabetes, Cushing’s Disease, cruciate ligament tear)
  • Examples of recent media coverage of your practice or a staff member
  • Ways your practice or staff members are giving back to the community
  • Invitations to open houses, educational discussions (such as pet first aid classes) or to visit your
    booth at a pet event

Would you like a printable version of this newsletter content cheat sheet?
Click here to download your veterinary practice newsletter content cheat sheet. Fetching Communications specializes in building and managing newsletters for practices like yours. Contact Liz Lindley by clicking here or email lizlindley@fetchingcommunications.com so we can discuss your practice’s specific challenges and the solutions available.

 

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