COVID-19 has turned veterinary practices upside down. Across the United States, the majority of practices have barred owners from the premises, meeting them car-side to bring pets into the building. Some have even gone so far as to provide euthanasia services in clients’ cars, with staff dressed in full PPE. It’s a scary time – for veterinary practices and their clients alike – but practices can provide reassurance by building online connections with their clients.
If you haven’t already built a social media presence for your veterinary clinic, now is the time to explore your options. Clients need to hear from you, whether you’re updating them on available services or providing insights into how to keep their pets healthy, and these 4 social communication strategies can help.
Give Visual Insights With Instagram
Instagram is one of the best platforms for veterinary practices because everyone loves to look at cute animals, but for your practice, those images are just there to grab attention. For example, with the right release, your practice can share images of clients’ pets to highlight potential health risks or to show how you’re caring for patients without owner contact. And don’t forget about the value of stories; when marketing with Instagram, using stories allows you to provide larger units of information, to share video, and increase that sense of connection with clients.
Know Your Audience
One of the major decisions your practice needs to make when building your social media presence is what platforms you’ll use. There are so many social media channels, and you can’t possibly tackle them all, nor should you. The best way to decide which platforms to use, then, is by evaluating your audience. Instagram is fairly diverse, which is why many practices like it, while younger audiences have started to reject the old standby, Facebook. Then, there are the new platforms, like Snapchat and TikTok. Should you be using these?
If you’re considering newer platforms like TikTok for veterinary marketing, the best way to evaluate their role in your COVID-19 communication strategy is by looking up existing veterinary content, polling clients via email, and talking to your employees. These platforms aren’t necessarily intuitive, even if you’re otherwise confident with social media, so you want to ensure you feel comfortable with these new platforms before presenting content to clients.
Share Industry Information
As our veterinary practices seek to support their clients, industry leadership is also working to provide similar support to providers – and practices should make use of those resources when communicating with clients. For example, the American Veterinary Medical Association has produced social resources about COVID-19 that are pre-formatted for platforms like Instagram and Facebook. These resources are particularly valuable for small, independent practices that may not have the tools to produce professional quality graphics.
Focus On Context
When creating social media content for your veterinary practice within the context of COVID-19, it’s important to differentiate your goals from your approach to marketing outside the pandemic. After all, when you’re trying to communicate with clients under typical circumstances, you’re primarily working to market services. At present, however, you’re seeking to reassure clients by sharing your COVID-19 protocols, make clear what services you’re offering at this time, and make clients feel comfortable contacting you with any questions. These are unusual times, and your social media accounts should reflect those changes.
Because clients can’t come into your building right now, social media has the potential to serve as the bedrock of your relationship – if you use it effectively. The key is to stay attuned to how clients are feeling, as well as what is and isn’t working. While we all hope things will return to normal soon, your practice needs a social strategy that works for current circumstances.