Building your community with social media

There are some easy steps to follow to get the maximum benefit from your efforts with social media

01 March 2021, at 8:55am

A well-run Facebook page is easy to spot. You’ll see a page with thousands of fans, full of fun and original content and back-and-forth interactions with customers, who in turn add and generate discussion of their own.

Your practice can achieve similar success if you follow the right steps. Once you decide on your strategy, your mission is to build your community and get the maximum benefit from your efforts. With that in mind, here are eight tips for building a thriving community with your social media.

Make your social easy to find

Your community needs to be able to find you. Your Facebook business page is indexed by Google, so to begin with, check that every part of your Facebook business information listings are full of detailed information and keywords that people might be searching for.

Then, in order to get the word out, invite your customers to like your page. Ask them to “check in” or leave a Facebook review whilst in the waiting room. And don’t forget to put your social links on your website, emails, receipts, appointment cards and other printed materials.

Know your community

To speak to your community, imagine your “ideal” social follower and create all your content with them in mind. You can then build trust by being the local source of vet information and up-to-date news items relevant to your customers. This will help you stand out from the local practices who only offer dry and generic content.

It also helps to be solution-focused. Content that solves problems could include links to blog posts, instructional videos, how-to guides and FAQs. Invite your community to join in and ask questions of their own. Your role is all about bringing people together so they can get value from you and each other.

Be available

Customers and clients who can’t reach you will turn to someone more available. Make yourself easy to reach and offer Messenger chat to answer questions quickly. Have a “triage” strategy in place with your team to instantly respond to questions and direct people to where they need to go. Having a slick system in place to effectively deal with people’s questions is a great way to gain trust and win new fans.

Run giveaways and contests

Competitions are a very cheap and easy way to grow your social following. You don’t need to be complex: just ask people to share images of their pets or answer a simple question. All you need to do is be clear with the rules. Then, maximise the benefits by getting photos of happy winners and resharing them after the competition.

Be honest

Use your authentic voice in your Facebook posts. Explain your love for pets and the reasons why you became a vet. Share behind the scenes stories from your team and all the things you are doing to keep people and your staff safe from COVID. Let people know about your plans for the future, such as new buildings or equipment upgrades, and any industry awards and recognition that your team have received.

Incorporate some paid ads

Facebook does provide preferential treatment to those that pay them! Taking out some advertising will ensure your page is seen by more people. Put together a budget for a small amount of Facebook ads each month. One good idea is to utilise a type of ad called a “Page Like Ad”, which contains a call-to-action button suggesting that users like your Facebook page. These ads can appear in users’ news feeds or in the ad column on the right-hand side of their web browser when they’re on Facebook and are a good way of attracting new followers.

Be active

This is a really important part of creating an engaged community. Consistently post daily or every other day, and interact with everyone who engages with you, by liking or responding to their comments. Engage with other brands that you like in the vet and pet space. You might have some fun interactions and find you gain some of their followers too.

Learn and improve

Use the “Facebook Insights” page to monitor your page success. See which posts get the most engagement and plan to make more of the types of post that your audience wants. Minimise your mistakes, amplify your wins and you’ll keep growing your social community. Ultimately, people will want to engage with you if you provide them with lots of value.

Will Stirling is a freelance marketing consultant who has worked in small animal practice marketing for over a decade, consulting on marketing strategy. He now spends his time helping independent veterinary clinics to grow and thrive.

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