“Engage, Enlighten, Encourage and especially…just be yourself! Social media is a community effort; everyone is an asset.” – Susan Cooper
The trend alone says it all. When you look at Social Media use amongst adults, you’ll see an upward, zigzagging line that’s rising far steadier than the stock market. In fact, as of January 2014, it’s estimated that 74% of all adults using the Internet are also using Social Networking sites as they navigate the web. What’s more?
These numbers are still on the rise.
Whether you’ve already read my recommended article on the Rise of Social Media Marketing, or you’re just now diving into the world of online media for the very first time, there’s plenty that you need to know to be well-equipped, and I’m here to help you get started.
For this month’s blog post, I’m going to show you how to use a Social Media calendar; a truly integral piece of the digital puzzle. It’s not enough to simply log-on to a popular Social Media platform and start shooting off posts left and right via Facebook and Twitter. You’ve got to be methodical, organized and thoughtful to truly make the impact you’re looking for. I can’t stress this part enough; it’s highly important to remain organized and deliberate when it comes to your overall marketing efforts. The Internet is flush with tweets, fun-facts, blog posts and millions of tidbits. Your posts must be well-crafted and inviting. For veterinary practices, this is a must.
There’s another reality to consider. Veterinary practices are so busy focusing on patients and clients (rightfully so), that they often don’t know what to post on Social Media, and what sort of content they wish to deliver in the first place! My recommendation? Don’t make rapid-fire posts across a wide-range of topics in a short span of time. Instead, use a Social Media calendar to organize specific campaigns and focus on particular topics for longer periods of time. This has the added benefits of letting you explore your topic in-depth, allowing you to get your whole veterinary team on the same page and sparking more client engagement, which is a major goal behind utilizing Social Media in the first place.
Using a Social Media calendar is also a great chance for your management team, doctors, and staff to discuss, engage and truly understand what will be shared on a particular Social Media platform before it’s actually posted publicly. It’s important to remain unified as a veterinary practice, so members of your team should have a comprehensive understanding of which Social Media campaign is currently active and what topics are being shared with your target-audience. There’s a pretty good chance you’ll get follow up calls and engaged clients inquiring about major posts and presenting their own scenarios in kind. It’s much better to have a receptionist respond with, “I’m so glad you loved the post! Yes, we’re focusing on Dental Care and preventative medicine this month”, as opposed to a scrambling, “I’m going to have to get back to you on that…”
Ready to get started with your own Social Media calendar? Good. Here are my top three tips to help you implement an effective Social Media calendar today:
Top 3 Tips for Implementing a Social Media Calendar
- Share your Social Media calendar with your entire team. Before you begin presenting content to your community of followers, review content with your team to ensure everyone is well-versed on the topic at hand, and answer any questions that may pop up. Take this as an opportunity to poll team members about potential topics to focus on both now and into the future and refresh knowledge on existing protocols to get everyone on the same page. Your veterinary practice will benefit from this step and so will your audience.
- Gather statistics related to the topic at hand, and begin to craft well articulated, 2-3 sentence postings. Share direct case examples from within your practice, but don’t forget to have client consent forms signed before posting specific case examples. I recommend case examples from your practice in order to help paint a vivid picture and tell your audience a story that they can related to. You’ll be amazed at how many comments can come as a result of an effective, polished post.
- As mentioned previously, don’t just fire off posts at a whim. When inspiration strikes, that’s fantastic, but use it as an opportunity to bring your veterinary practice together and discuss. Use the native scheduling feature within Facebook to methodically schedule postings to go out automatically. If you are posting content to Twitter or other Social Media channels, tools like Hootsuite are free and immensely helpful for scheduling automatic postings. During slow months, use your Social Media calendar to write out content in advance and plan for future months. Even if the content is scheduled to go out well in advance, be sure to monitor activity and engage with posts when necessary. Scheduling posts helps you to bring consistency to each campaign.
It’s simple. Social Media is the way of the future, and the more you put into it, the more you’ll get out of it. By using a calendar, you give your team an opportunity to get on the same page, and get ahead of the game when it comes to engaging your audience. A veterinary practice is only as strong as the staff and veterinarians behind the scenes. Use all of the tools at your disposal and you’ll start to notice the difference.
Your audience is just waiting to engage with your veterinary practice. The only question left is, what will you share first?