Social media: You're doing it, but are you managing it?
Note: This is the final article in a 12-article series.
Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Foursquare, and a dozen other venues have you hopping all over the Web. Now that you’re involved in social media marketing for your veterinary practice, are you managing it or is it managing you?
As busy practice managers (or owners), the last thing we need is something else that’s going to consume our valuable time. Add social media to your mix of daily tasks and you might be feeling overwhelmed. Let’s take a look at some strategies and tools to keep you in control.
Alerts: Surfing the Web to see when and if your practice’s name is being mentioned, whether in a positive or negative light, can be extremely time-consuming and counter-productive. Use a few simple tools like Google Alerts or Social Mention alerts to make sure the key phrases you want to monitor are hitting your e-mail inbox on a daily basis.
Applications: There are literally hundreds of apps available to make your job as a social media manager much easier. By finding and utilizing these third-party applications, you can literally tie several different social media venues together. This eliminates the need to repost information from one site to another. A method I like to use is posting original material to the blog on our practice website then posting a link to the new “story” on our Facebook page, which cross-posts it to Twitter through an “app.” With a single blog post, I generate search and drive clients from multiple social media sites back to our website.
Research: You need to do some homework in order to generate quality posts that keep your clients interested in what you’re saying and doing. Reading blogs, subscribing to Twitter feeds, and utilizing tools such as the iPad app Flipboard can save you valuable time and energy when it comes to research. Flipboard turns your choice of feeds into digital magazines. I like to cruise my Facebook and Twitter news feeds, as well as specialized feeds in business and technology to keep abreast of new stories and information our clients want to learn more about. Whenever I find something of interest, I e-mail myself a link and store it in a folder with ideas for future posts to our practice’s social media pages. And because the feeds are set up as digital magazines, I don’t have to follow links within a feed to see the full story. Flipboard automatically displays them, saving lots of time.
Schedule: You need to set aside time to work on social media. And the further out on the calendar you can get, the better. Plan your weeks based on the research you’ve done, designating which weeks or months hold special significance to pets and their health. For example, we all know February as Pet Dental Health Month. Well in advance of February, list on your calendar ideas that revolve around dental care for pets to generate your social media and blog posts in advance. Each day, you can then pull up your social media sites and look at your calendar to see what you’ll be discussing—after you’ve scanned for direct questions and comments, of course.
Don’t fall into the habit of posting something when you arrive at the office first thing in the morning and then forgetting about it until the next day. For one, is that when your clients are on their social media sites? Take a look at your Facebook insights, which any page administrator can find in the left-hand column of your practice’s page. If posts at certain times of day are generating more comments than others, then that’s your target time of day and you should schedule accordingly.
Social media is here to stay and will continue to develop and change over the next few years. If you are involved, stay involved so you don’t fall behind the technology. Implementing a few basic tools and staying disciplined will keep you in control of your social media strategy.
Brenda Tassava, CVPM, CVJ, is a Firstline Editorial Advisory Board member and author of "Social Media for Veterinary Professionals." She's been a social media enthusiast since her teenage daughter introduced her to Facebook in late 2008. Tassava quickly saw the enormous potential and began learning all she could about the social media world. Today, she manages multiple Twitter and Facebook fan pages, including those for Broad Ripple Animal Clinic and Wellness Center, Bark Tutor School for Dogs, and Canine Colors. She also volunteers her time to assist in managing the VHMA and CVPM Facebook Fan pages. She will present on social media at the 2011 CVC in San Diego.
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