In the ever-changing world of social media and veterinary marketing, it can be tough to get a handle on everything that you need to manage. Sure, we’ve all heard of Facebook – but what about all those Twitters and Snapchats? There are many more secondary social media platforms than just Facebook, and each has its own strengths and weaknesses. While these platforms might not have the granular control over ad targeting that Facebook does, they each serve a particular niche and can be great complement to Facebook, especially when reaching younger demographics.
Let’s look a bit more closely at three additional social media platforms and how to best use them to reach your intended audience with the content they crave.
If coming up with social marketing ideas for Halloween has you spooked, never fear! At Beyond Indigo Pets, we specialize in social marketing for veterinary practices, no matter the time of year – and Halloween is no exception.
Sure, you could run a last minute pet costume photo contest on Instagram, or post your favorite Halloween pet treat recipes to your Facebook and Pinterest pages, but why not think outside of Pandora’s box and do something that will help your practice stand out in the social marketing crowd?
Facebook – When people think social media the first thing that tends to pop to mind is Facebook. It is the most climbed “social media mountain” for marketing journeys. The highlights of Facebook to know are as followed:
Numbers: As of October 4, 2012 there are over 1 billion active users. In the USA 137.6 million users.
Business Only Platforms: Yes, there is a separate business only pages vs. Personal.
Time Per User/Per Month: 7:45 hours a month in the US
Business Needs to Devote: Minimum of 5 hours a week on their Facebook Page.
Mobile: 54% of month users access Facebook through a mobile device.
When starting your marketing efforts in social media Facebook is one of the first ones to approach. Why? Because the sheer number of people using it and the amount of time they spend on Facebook. In eight years Facebook has become integrated into people’s lives. It is where they are building and maintaining relationships.
Many times at Beyond Indigo we talk to people who are moderately to extremely overwhelmed with their marketing Journey. For most veterinary hospitals they do not even know where to start, what to do or how much time it is going to take. I don’t blame people for being overwhelmed. There is significant amount work, time and knowledge involved in a marketing program. If you are on the overwhelmed train, here are some points to consider that I have gleaned from 1000‘s of veterinarians about why planning for this Marketing Journey can be so overwhelming. Maybe you can relate to some of them.
Overwhelmed Issue Number One: Since most veterinarians and their staff have had to conduct very little marketing until recently, there is a steep learning curve to get up to speed. Most veterinarians still tend to be between 1996 and 1999 in their online marketing initiatives. Hospitals still try to build websites themselves, have servers located in their physical buildings and are struggling weather to use Yellow Pages or not. The problem is how to quickly learn 15 to 17 years of knowledge in a short period of time? Where to start?
Overwhelmed Issue Number Two: Who in the heck does the marketing program? Many hospitals are trying to tackle it completely by themselves and noticing it causes a juggling problem. Multiple people are tapped to do different aspects of the marketing program but nobody really is in charge. Then the message from the hospital is not consistent either in tone or timing. Or the marketing program goes really great until a new problem or focus comes into play and it is forgotten for awhile. This causes gaps with building and growing relationships which is the primary function of online marketing today. The problem is how to have the staffing resources and time to keep the marketing program ongoing.
When a person goes on a Journey we think of a trip that has multiple stops and extends over a period of time. Other times we use the word “Journey” to mean a process that is an every changing that allows us to grow and develop. It is time to think of your marketing program as a “Journey”. A process that involves more than one “stop” and is every changing and every growing. Why? Because frame of mind is everything to embracing a process. If you are still in the mentality that you check the box once a year on your marketing and then go back to medicine, then your business has a higher chance of not maintaining and gaining new relationships. Lack of maintaining relationships could mean less customers and that would be suboptimal.
For your marketing Journey there are a few essentials to sneak into your travel back pack that will be your roadmap and guide along the way. Every aspect of your marketing should fall into these guidelines.
- Savvy Consumers. Today’s consumers are savvy about where and from whom they purchase products and services. They take the time to research online before they ever pick up the phone or get in their car to make a purchase. By having a social media presence that is both engaging and engaged, it helps reassure clients that your business is reputable and cares.
- Humanize your brand. Social media gives your business the opportunity to reach out and actually connect with your audience. Real one-to-one relationships are formed.
- Your competition is using it. The vet down the street is likely using social media. If you aren’t currently engaging and interacting with social media, how easily will you be found? And just because you aren’t participating, doesn’t necessarily mean others aren’t doing it for you.
You target audience is using it. Here are a few quick facts about Facebook.
a. 845 million monthly active users at the end of December 2011 b. 483 million daily active users on average in December 2011 c. 425 million monthly active users who used Facebook mobile products in December 2011
- Google counts social sharing when ranking. When many different people on social media refer to your content, your website, or your videos, it means those individuals find your content useful, entertain, informative, or all of it. When this happens, the search engines pay attention and in return use this as a factor to provide better search engine placement for your content.
- It’s the next generation version of word-of-mouth marketing. One of the best ways to interact with potential clients is by way of people who have already experienced what your brand has to offer. When your social media presence starts to generate conversation and reaction, such as likes, shares, tweets, pins, etc., it’s a visible reaction of their approval and they are sharing this with their friends and family.
- Provides transparency. Social media is an open book. If someone likes you, that’s great, everyone can see it. If someone doesn’t like you and mentions something negative about your brand or experience, then this too is available to the community. Many successful clinics that leverage social media use this as an advantage to show how in tune they are by replying and finding a way to close that loop. This shows to those watching that your clinic has integrity, values interaction and criticism, and cares about its clients.
- Opens up conversation. Your clients are the best people to learn from when it comes to making things better. By asking questions about their experience or their needs, you will get an understanding as to what clients are looking for. Social media for small business success is truly about listening as opposed to marketing
- Aids customer service. Use your social media outlets to answer questions concerning customer service. By doing it this way, you can not only highlight to your community that you are available, but also get other people within the community to provide answers and support to new or potential clientele who have per haps experienced the same issue themselves.
- Brand exposure. Everybody wants a larger piece of the pie. The more targeted people who are aware of your business, the greater the chance you have of turning those individuals into paying clients and them becoming an advocate of your services.
It turns out, a lot. As many of you know, Google and Facebook do not have a “formal” relationship, but that doesn’t mean they don’t talk to each other. In fact, it turns out, they’re quite close!
If you care about your business getting ranked high in Google search, then you need to start paying closer attention to Facebook. That’s right, Facebook. It turns out that the more you incorporate links back to your website from your Facebook page, the better you’re business will do when someone searches for you on Google. According to Hubspot, there is a “correlation between the amount of action your website gets on Facebook and how websites in the top 30 search results rank on Google’s SERP (search engine results page).”
Of course, don’t insert links just for the sake of links. Always think about your audience and provide content that’s relevant, interesting, and ultimately drives business back to you.
Yesterday, Facebook rolled out the new design for Pages. If you have a personal profile page on Facebook you won’t have any problem adapting to the layout, because it resembles the recent upgrades to both the Places and People pages. While it’s nice to have visual consistency, the real reason for the change (according to Facebook), is to better meet the communication and engagement needs of its Page users.
The real benefit for a marketer is that you can now see how your fans interact with your page, as it happens. By clicking the “Notifications” button on the top left of the page, you can quickly see when someone has Liked your page, shared content from your page, and Liked or commented on one of your posts or pictures. This will help you determine what type of information is most relevant to your fans, as well as respond to comments in a timely manner.
You will now also have the ability to navigate the site as your page, Liking other pages and commenting on their posts. Once you Like another page, you can follow their activity on your News Feed and stay abreast on new content.
Facebook plans to make more improvements to Pages in the coming months, but the features outlined above are available on your page now. Not ready to make the switch? Want to spice up your info or add new pictures to enhance your page? You still have time. All Pages will automatically be upgraded on March 10.
Read more about the Page upgrades in more detail here:
It wasn’t that long ago that when you went online, it was a given that at a certain point, and usually more than once in a day, you’d go to Google. Google was the center of the online universe.
Not any more. According to a recent study by Hitwise, Facebook surpassed Google as the most-visited website in America in 2010, also beating out Yahoo, YouTube and MSN.com. And, when people were on Google, Facebook was the most searched term for the second year in a row. If you add in variations on Facebook, like “Facebook login” and “Facebook.com,” then Facebook amounted to a whopping 3.48% of all searches (a 20% increase from last year).
What does this mean to you? It means that if you’re a business large or small, you need to be online where people are. It’s no longer okay to have just a website. You must diversify across the web so people can find you where they are. And, all of your digital places (website, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, etc.) must be inter-connected. That’s how you grow traffic and that’s how you ultimately build a customer base.
If you’re not on Facebook personally, then it’s time. Get an account and start to play. It’s a whole new world out there!