Making the most of social media
For veterinary practices, social media predominantly means Facebook, said Justin Phillips during a lecture at this year’s BSAVA Congress.
Facebook can be used to provide a window into your practice and you have the ideal subject - with pets being the most engaging content on the internet.
Mr Phillips emphasised the need for each practice site to have its own Facebook page, filling it with great content from the people in the practice. He suggested that managers should empower the front of house team and invest in training to show everyone how to use Facebook to its maximum.
His message was to photograph as many pets as possible - obviously with the owner's consent - and to use these pictures to populate your Facebook pages. He advised having a social media calendar so that you can plan your Facebook content for each day and make sure you have the appropriate material. Of course, this does not prevent you from putting up lots of extra posts and pictures should something of interest happen.
Make sure you review your ‘insights’ tab as this will show you what posts have received the most engagement and allow you to plan more content along the same lines. As you can schedule your posts for the week via the Facebook scheduling tool, this will allow you to schedule the most popular posts for the times when you know they will be most viewed.
It is inevitable that there will be the occasional conflict and Mr Phillips had three pieces of advice to help with possible or real conflict issues.
1. Prevention is always better than cure so build a great community of pet lovers who engage with you on Facebook and are very likely to jump to support you if they see negative posts about you. It is also worth proactively asking for reviews of your practice; this will serve to dilute any less positive posts.
2. Assess any negative comments, be objective and do not engage with any offensive or beyond reason comments that are made. The genuinely negative comment should be see as an opportunity to learn.
3. If a comment is reasonable, take action and reply as soon as possible, asking the person who has posted the comment to come and discuss the issue with you. Posts left in the review section cannot be deleted (posts in any other section can be deleted and the user can be banned), but if you feel things are getting out of hand it may be wise to temporarily take down the section and then reinstate it a few weeks later.
Facebook is undoubtedly a massively important tool for engaging and attracting clients and if its use is planned and handled carefully, it can be an enormous asset to any practice's PR tool kit.