It all started on Facebook. Mary, who has been practicing veterinary medicine for over 20 years, is a member of several dog owner–focused, private Facebook groups. In these groups, members gather to share photos, swap stories, and occasionally ask for casual veterinary advice.
At first, Mary was mostly annoyed by the queries in the group. She envisioned the members as lazy, selfish people who were too cheap to consult a veterinarian, instead electing to solicit free advice on the internet (a big veterinary pet peeve). But then she began reading some of the posts with a more pragmatic eye.
She was surprised at what she found.
These users were, for the most part, caring pet owners who were simply reading subtle signs and wondering aloud if they were being too observant or not. They wanted help interpreting their pets’ body language.
“Everyone seems to think my dog is aggressive because he doesn’t like his paws to be touched, but I’m wondering if there might be more to this,” one user mused.
“My cat was a rescue, and she is really distrusting of men,” another posted. “Is there a way for me to help her through this, rather than shutting her away when my boyfriend comes over?”
Soon, Mary found herself offering up tidbits of advice and perspective in the comments. She quickly became well-respected within the group, given her practical tone and non-judgemental manners.
A resident of the San Diego, California area, Mary was able to pick up more than a few client referrals in this manner — and she wasn’t even plugging her services!
Building an Online Presence
Mary had never thought of promoting her practice online, nevermind on a social media network such as Facebook, until now. Now, after seeing how much help she was able to provide to others, how much of a presence she was able to establish, she was beginning to see the value in this idea.
But maintaining a strong online presence is challenging and time-consuming. Many practices already have a full workload, and marketing often gets shuffled to the bottom of the priority list.
However, achieving organic, authentic engagement on platforms such as Facebook is far from impossible. In fact, just spending a few short hours a week cultivating relationships with social media followers can yield tangible results.
Creative Ways to Boost Facebook Engagement
Facebook engagement can be a challenge. Today, with the ever-shifting algorithm that determines what users see in their feeds and an overall sense of mistrust towards businesses and promoted posts, creativity (and a sense of humor, perhaps) is a prerequisite to make a bold impression.
Mary had the advantage of cultivating relationships and educating others through the Facebook groups she was a member of, but creating similar opportunities on her own practice page presented a new set of challenges.
In order to boost authentic engagement on Facebook, try posting open-ended questions that followers can leave comments on.
“Summer is coming! What are your tried and true ways to keep your pets cool during the hottest days?”
“We’re playing Mythbusters: Veterinary Edition on our page! Tell us: what “myth” have you heard about pet care? We’ll help you sort the true from the false!”
These simple examples can invite discussion and comments — the essential ingredients of engagement.
And the buck doesn’t stop there. Be sure to spend some time interacting with users who comment. Reply to them, jump into discussions, answer questions. These are all ways to boost your page’s engagement naturally.
Why Facebook Engagement Matters
Practice managers and owners may ask themselves, “but who has the time to sit down and manage all this? We have enough going on in our office!”
Managing a busy practice, keeping morale up among staff members, and bringing in new clients while maintaining great relationships with existing clients — it’s enough to make anyone pull their hair out. Why add something else to the mix?
It’s true: it’s difficult to find time to manage all the working parts of a successful practice.
But building up a robust client base is equally important. This keeps your doors open! With a steady flow of new customers, you can invest that earned revenue into hiring additional staff to support the increased workload.
And much of social media management can be done in bulk, ahead of time. Platforms such as Loomly, Buffer, and Hootsuite offer user-friendly options for scheduling social media content ahead of time. This can be a huge time saver for a busy professional.
Of course, there is no substitute for real interaction, so it’s beneficial to set aside at least an hour or two each week to interact with comments, posts, and other users on social media. This boosts organic growth — that’s marketing you don’t have to pay for!
A Digital Land of Opportunity
Mary never dreamed she’d venture into Facebook land to market her practice. Now, after discerning that there is plenty of opportunity to reach an entirely new group of potential clients, she has invested in hiring a part-time social media manager who removes much of the time-consuming work from Mary’s plate.
Advice on what types of content to post is bountiful, and coming up with a content schedule that works for your practice can be simpler than you may think.
Veterinary practices have been a bit slower to modernize than other businesses. What does this mean? There is an entirely new frontier of opportunity to be found on social media for savvy, patient professionals!
Just ask Mary.