Want Facebook success? Use data to know your fans

Analyzing the demographics of your veterinary practice's Facebook fans ensures you're talking about what they want to hear.
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Aug 20, 2010
Editor's note: This is the ninth article in a 12-article series.

Six months ago, I did a presentation on social media at the Veterinary Managers Hospital Association (VHMA) retreat in Cocoa Beach, Fla. I began the session by asking for a show of hands to see who in the room was using at least one social media tool—such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, MySpace, and so on—for their practices. About 10 percent of the veterinarians and practice managers in the room raised their hands.

If I asked that same group of people that question today, the numbers would be startlingly different: Many more would raise their hands. While 2009 may have been the year of early adopters, 2010 is the year social media became mainstream across the country as part of all businesses’ marketing and client service strategies, veterinary practices included. Social media is part of today’s culture. For example, with Facebook passing the 500,000-member mark in July, it is now considered a mass media tool.

How you can leverage Facebook and social media
My practice, Broad Ripple Animal Clinic and Wellness Center (BRAC), reached a milestone in June, just a year after launching our social media program: the practice surpassed 1,000 total Facebook fans. Why is this statistic important to you? Because it shows that social media is a vital tool for reaching large numbers of veterinary clients. Take a look at the possibilities social media affords you:

• Facebook allows veterinary practices to reach more people through the method of communication many people prefer: their personal Facebook news feed.

• Veterinary practices can alert large networks of people to breaking pet news in just moments.

• Veterinary practices can feature links to new blog posts or clinic news in a friendly, noninvasive manner.

• Veterinary practices can interact on a more personal level with their clients even outside the practice walls.

• More clients can recommend your practice to their friends via social media avenues including Facebook, the fastest growing Internet site in history.

What you can do with Facebook demographics
Because social media is still relatively new as a mainstream marketing tool, data is hard to come by. Facebook does offer some analytic tools that are embedded in business and celebrity pages. If you’re the administrator of your practice’s Facebook page, paying close attention to these analytics is extremely important to your success. As an example, here’s a review of data from our BRAC Facebook page, which is called BRACpet:

• 78 percent of BRACpet’s total Fans are women.

• 98 percent of the people who interact with BRACpet are women.

• The men who interact with BRACpet are all in the 25-34 age range.

• The women who interact with BRACpet break down into the following age ranges:
    2 percent are 18-24   
    28 percent are 25-34
    32 percent are 35-44
    23 percent are 45-54
    13 percent are 55+

• The BRACpet total fan-base age range breaks down as follows:
    2 percent are 13-17
    20 percent are 18-24
    33 percent are 25-34
    22 percent are 35-44
    13 percent are 45-54
    9 percent are 55+

You should use this information from your own practice’s Facebook page to shape your posts. Are you writing posts that appeal to your audience? Are you creating posts that inspire your fans to interact with you? If you aren’t getting many new fans or aren’t getting interactions, chances are you aren’t hitting your target audience. Get outside your own frame of mind and create posts that appeal to your practice’s audience. Your practice will be glad you did.

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.

Also in this series
Article 1:
Making social media worth the time and effort
Article 2: 5 basic rules of social media
Article 3: Creating a social media strategy: Step 1—set goals
Article 4: Hush up to cut through the social-media chatter
Article 5: Join the conversation, start with Twitter and Facebook
Article 6: Converse with clients through Twitter
Article 7: 6 tips for blogging to clients
Article 8: 4 keys to Facebook for veterinary practices
Article 9: Want Facebook success? Use data to know your fans
Article 10: Put your practice on YouTube. Here's why—and how
Article 11: Mobile apps—the future is now for your practice
Article 12: Social media: You're doing it, but are you managing it?