In the technology age, there is a plethora of social media options. Many businesses have an account with each of the various outlets, but do you really need all of them? When does posting become too much for your business and correspondingly annoying to your clients?  Do they really want to follow you on every social media platform and see the same thing posted multiple times? Do they want to see bad animal puns every day or would they rather see pertinent information regarding pet health?

Let’s break down the differences between the four most popular social media platforms—Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter.

Facebook

Facebook is great for those who want to provide information about their business, as well as share information with their followers. Similar to a website, you can list a ton of information including hours of operation, services offered, and team bios. At the same time, you can also provide current information that may not be as easily updated on a website.

For example- Sally brings in a dog she found wandering on the street with no collar and no microchip. A simple picture of the dog and description of where the dog was found can be shared by multiple clients at that exact moment, which may increase the chances of finding the dog’s owner. Similarly, an update as simple as “Hospital closing due to snow” gets the word out fast and efficiently.

You can also share things such as client photos or veterinary articles that your clients may find useful or just downright entertaining. Clients can also leave reviews directly on your page, which may as a result, bring in new clients!

Instagram

Instagram is a platform used mainly to upload pictures and videos. This can be a great way to keep in touch with your existing clients, and can foster a relationship more than just at their annual visit. Sharing pictures that clients send in may make them feel more connected to the practice and less likely to go somewhere else for next year’s checkup, or a random sick visit. Adding “behind the scene” clips to the Stories section can show the client how your team works together everyday to provide the best service possible for their pets.

However, Instagram has its drawbacks for businesses. There isn’t a dedicated section where you can provide a description of what you do, just a short space to fill in your name and a general idea of who you are. This could limit your followers to existing clientele and may not reach a new client who needs more info to take action and visit your practice.

LinkedIn

LinkedIn is another social media platform that is used mostly for professional networking. Individuals can upload their resume directly to the sight for potential employers to view. Meanwhile, businesses can post available jobs and descriptions. It may be helpful for the veterinarians at your practice to have a profile on LinkedIn so that clients can learn more about their education and experience. However, there isn’t a lot that your business can do on this social media site on a daily basis.

As an employer, LinkedIn does serve as a great tool to keep in touch with contacts within the veterinary industry. Met someone at the AVMA conference? Want to keep in touch with former classmates? Find them on LinkedIn to stay connected. LinkedIn is a great source to find/offer job opportunities and can keep you connected to your professional contacts.

Twitter

Last but not least, there is Twitter. Known mostly for rants by celebrities, Twitter is a platform used as a “micro-blog.” Basically, users can post short posts throughout the day (limited to 280 characters) about anything they want. For business purposes, this is similarly useful to Facebook in that it gets news out quickly and efficiently. You can use this site to provide information about closures and lost pets as well as share client pictures and “behind the scenes” snapshots of your hospital with short descriptions. Clients can direct their posts to you with questions or reviews, and you can respond and repost their comments to your own “feed.” Twitter can keep you directly connected to your clients, as well as their followers, to keep in contact with them, as well as potentially bringing in new clientele.

Social media is all about the instant gratification of a web-based connection. Staying in touch with your clients outside of the office is a great way to retain your clientele and establish loyalty. However, there is a lot of research that goes into how people respond to posts and what posts they choose to respond to. Is your goal to become famous worldwide for your funny posts? Or is your goal to share information about your practice and increase revenue? The platform(s) you use is up to you. However, we recommend you consider what your goal is and how each site works towards this goal, prior to clicking “sign up.”

Some do’s and don’ts of social media:

Don’t over post… Research shows that once a day is optimal; anything more may become annoying and result in your clients “unfollowing” you.

Do know WHEN to post during the day… If your clients are mostly full-time workers, posting after normal working hours may increase the reach of each post.

Don’t post pricing information… Since prices can change and each situation can vary, do not lock yourself in by posting prices online. A receptionist can provide a range for an estimate better than a website.

Do make your pages easily accessible… Provide as much pertinent information as possible. Make sure you always link to your website and provide a phone number for any questions.

Don’t give access to just anyone…  Limit social media access to 1 or 2 staff members who are trustworthy and can work together to keep the platform going.

Do interact with your followers… But do not respond in negative ways to bad reviews. Simply ask the reviewer to reach out to your office to settle the situation.