IDEXX @ VMX 2019
Social media for veterinarians: How to conduct a marketing 'wellness exam'
By Shelby MacLeod, Sr. Manager, Media Strategy, IDEXX
IDEXX's Shelby MacLeod presented social media marketing tips for veterinarians at VMX 2019. Follow these steps to perform a wellness exam on your social media profiles and keep your marketing healthy throughout 2019.
As a veterinary professional, you know how important wellness exams are for the health of your patients. But did you know a wellness exam is also an important part of your social media marketing?
Getting started: Baseline profile and complete physical
Begin with an overall examination of your practice's social media profiles – the accounts you have on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social media channels.
Organize your profiles and the key information you'll be tracking. List your social media accounts in the first column and columns for each of the following metrics:
- Follower count (how many people are following each of your profiles)
- Post frequency (how many times per week or month you're sharing content on each profile)
- Time spent on each profile (the hours you're spending each week or month in managing your profiles)
Next, focus on the "info" or "about" sections for each of your profiles. Is your practice's information up-to-date? Are your hours of operation correct? If your physical address correct? Finally, is your phone number listed so that a potential new client can click on their smart phone and call to make an appointment?
As you conduct your examination, take note of any inactive accounts and profiles for your practice. Perhaps you had an employee who started your page on Facebook, left your practice, and took the login credentials in the process. Make time to delete those inactive accounts. All social media channels have help sections with information on how to remove old accounts (click these links for quick instructions):
Finally, make sure you're using "business accounts" (not personal accounts) for all of your social media profiles. If you're not, your practice is missing out on free resources like user insights and analytics. Again, use the help sections on Facebook and Instagram to learn how to convert your profiles into business accounts.
Social Media Diagnostics
Next, run these diagnostics to understand the health of your social media marketing efforts.
Are your accounts growing, or standing still? How fast are they growing? Note that the raw number of followers for each account isn't important. Instead, pay attention to which channels are growing the fastest for you.
What is social media engagement? Simply put, it's the likes, comments, and shares your followers leave on your posts. This engagement tells you how healthy the content is that you're are sharing with your followers. Do they find it interesting and helpful?
You don't need to do any fancy math and calculate an engagement rate. Just scan through your profiles and record whether your engagement is high, medium or low. If you're using business accounts, you'll have access to insights and analytics that will provide you with more information about the health of your posts.
Compare and Contrast
In this part of the exam, you will compare your practice's profiles to the profiles of other veterinary practices in your area.
- What channels are other practices using?
- How engaging is their content?
When you find a post that seems to be more engaging than the content you're sharing, take some time to dissect it. What is it about that post that is so interesting?
- Is it the topic of the post?
- Is it the image they're sharing?
- Are they using video?
It's okay to borrow these good ideas from other practices and use them in your social media marketing. With a small twist, you can turn it into unique content for your profile.
The last part of your annual wellness exam is developing a plan to keep your social media marketing healthy throughout the year.
Determine what channels you want to focus on this year. Go back to that spreadsheet and look at the follower growth and engagement on each of your profiles. Now compare that to the amount of time you are spending on each channel. Are you spending lots of time on a channel that isn't growing or having strong engagement? Consider shifting away from that channel this year and focus your limited hours on a channel that is performing better for your practice.
Create a calendar for the year and set goals for how many times you want to post on each of your practice's profiles each month.
Look at the calendar and think about seasonality and holidays and jot down any ideas you have for topics and posts each month.
You don't need to draft all of the posts you plan to share throughout the year. Having a high-level plan and setting goals will help to keep you focused, even when your practice gets busy.
Social media is changing rapidly, and it is important to stay up-to-date on the trends. The best way to do this is by reading newsletters to discover tips and tricks you can try on your practice's profiles.
Here are a few newsletters you can subscribe to and scan through when you have the time:
That completes your wellness exam of your social media profiles. As with any wellness protocol, check in annually to make sure your social media marketing stays healthy.