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Pragmatic Pitfalls: 3 Temptations to Avoid in Veterinary Social Media

A cat gnawing on a table edge

Social Media has changed how we interact with – and attract – our clientele. While the instant interaction of social media can be an effective way to connect with your clients, it can also turn a seemingly innocent post or comment into an internet firestorm if the wrong person gets on the digital loudspeaker.

Thankfully, Beyond Indigo’s Social Marketing Team has learned a few lessons the hard way – either through our experience, or via our clients’ – so you don’t have to. We hope you’ll take our sage advice with regard to what to avoid in veterinary social media.

The Declaw Debate

In the age of Dr. Google, you have a hard row to hoe when it comes to getting credible information to pet owners, and this could not be more true when it comes to the topic of declawing cats.

As an actual expert in the field, you may be tempted to educate pet owners by talking about “humane” declawing on your Facebook page, or simply be tempted to mention that your practice offers the service for interested clients. Or, conversely, you might be tempted to discourage the procedure and decry the practice as inhumane to our feline friends…

Unfortunately, the mere mention of the word “declaw” on a veterinary practice’s page can be enough to send people into a tailspin, no matter your position. And, evidently, these same people will spin out on your FB page, then boycott your practice.

No matter the focus, discussing declawing on your veterinary page is asking for Unlikes, reported content, and an angry online mob. People will see the word, stop reading, and take to the comments, hoping to add to the snowball of angry people. There just isn’t a reliable way to present this information in the social space and not have it turn sour.  

Including this service (if you offer it) in the Services section of your website, or discussing the surgery and its merits on your blog is fine; just don’t go out of your way to point people to this content on social media.  

It won’t end well, we promise.

Pets and Politics Don’t Mix

You may think you know your demographic and the political slant of the majority of the people within that demographic. But if the current political climate has taught us anything, it’s that people don’t always believe what you think they should.

Unfortunately, all it takes is one contrary viewpoint from someone with too much time on their hands to turn your veterinary page into “the rest of social media.”  

Many of your fans depend on your page to be an oasis of dog pictures, cat videos, helpful information, and celebrations of birthdays and employees of the month; that relationship can quickly sour if you pave the way for political diatribes.

Regardless of your political leanings, your business page isn’t the place to advocate for the change you wish to see in the world. Politics, no matter how well-meaning, brings out the worst in people; and trust us when we say that there isn’t enough time in the world to babysit the comments section of a post that turns politically sour. If you do find a discussion like this brewing on your page, hide the post/comments as quickly as you can in order to keep your page from erupting into a fireball of political complaints.

In short, keep your veterinary practice’s business page about your staff, your services, and happy pets.

Don’t Take the Bait

It’s hard to read unkind things about your brand; and it’s harder still to find a review that’s an outright lie about an experience with your business. While you might think that “setting the record straight” is a great way to correct these inaccuracies, we implore you not to ready your keyboard missiles and prepare to fire. All it’s going to do is make you look like a sore loser.

Think about it from a potential client’s perspective. If you read a restaurant review citing stale bread, overcooked meat, and slow service as a reason for their 2 out of 5 star rating, then see that it’s been replied to by the manager, who is belligerently insisting that these things could never happen in this restaurant; are you going to be more apt to side with the diner or the restrauntier?

When a client leaves a review, make sure to thank them for taking the time to give feedback – especially when it’s a less-than-satisfactory review. Assure them that you will take their feedback seriously, and to invite them to return for a better experience. Don’t go out of your way to admit fault, that doesn’t help things either; but don’t make excuses or invalidate their opinions.  

Cooler heads always prevail and your online reputation depends on it.

Knowing What to Avoid in Veterinary Social Media

Understanding the role Social Media Marketing plays in your digital footprint is important. Facebook and its ilk make for a fantastic way to share exciting content with users, but it also opens the door for users to complain to an audience of thousands. Don’t give these users the fuel to burn your business page to the ground. Keep your page focused and positive and your review responses succinct and respectful.  

If you would like to learn more about how to successfully manage your digital footprint, or if your practice in a bit of a social media emergency, please contact us. We have the experience needed to lead the way.

Have questions about this veterinary industry marketing topic? Want tips on what else to look out for or how to improve your business' marketing? Come ask questions, share solutions, and join the conversation on VetMarketingTalk, a new online community designed for the veterinary industry and powered by the marketing experts at Beyond Indigo Pets. Click here to sign up today—FREE for the first 30 days, no credit card required.