The Modern Equine Vet
May 2024
Vol 14 Issue 5 2024
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Practice Management

Can Social Media Improve Your Practice?

By Landon Gray

Increasing social media engagement by equine veterinarians may positively impact veterinary practices and improve veterinarian-owner relationships, according to a presentation given at the 2023 AAEP annual convention, held in San Diego.

However, proper strategy and social media education are critical factors affecting its reach and effectiveness, noted presenter David Hall, the founder of The SEO Effect and co-founder of GeniusVets, in Austin, Texas.

“It’s really important to understand how to incorporate the objectives of your business, and how to support a community—not just with information that they find fun and engaging on social [media]—but you’re actually giving that community a direction on how to move forward to achieve their own goals, while also achieving the goals of the business,” Mr. Hall said.

He explained that the mission of equine care is to deliver information first, services second. This is due to the process of equine care. Ultimately, decisions regarding care and treatment are the responsibility of the owner.

“You know how obsessive horse owners become about their animals. It’s an all-consuming passion, right? Google gets [searched] a lot for this information. So, the mission of equine care requires delivering information first, and services second,” Mr. Hall said. “And that’s just not the way that doctors and practice owners typically think about it, because they’re consumed from their perspective with delivering the services—but this is the truth. It’s because the decisions that are being made for the horse are being made by the owner.”

In the past, there was a school of thought that marketing done by new practice owners was unethical. Mr. Hall noted the way people communicate and educate themselves have changed in the past 30 years due to the internet.

“Because consumer habits have changed, it just requires that, as providers who are servicing those communities, for us to recognize that change.” Mr. Hall noted. “It’s always important to understand where people are at, meet them where they’re at, and then lead them to where you need them to be.”

The main job of any equine practice website or social media page is to be the go-to source for equine care information that educates owners and strengthens the bonds with clients, while also demonstrating a good working environment to prospective doctors and staff.

“Now, don’t get me wrong. I understand that [there’s not a doctor out there that] is going to think it’s a fun thing to go create content—that’s not a thing,” Mr. Hall said. “That’s not where their passion lies; it’s not what they want to do. But there actually are fun ways to do it; there are easy ways to do it.”

An easy way into content creating, Mr. Hall advised, was to approach the process from an encyclopedic perspective. A simple idea for a video or video series would be to have a doctor or clinician answering frequently asked or searched for questions. This is a simple and easy way to start creating engaging online content. Then, as more content is produced, engagement builds, and an online community emerges that is reliant on you for information, translating into more business and stronger veterinarian-owner bonds.

Mr. Hall cautioned practice owners to not become overwhelmed by the differences among the top social media platforms, including Facebook and Instagram. His advice was to start with 1 post, and as you become more familiar with specific platforms, posting sophistication will improve. He also suggested diversity in the type of content being created, such as using a mix of infographics, user-generated content contests, testimonials, reviews, interviews, quotes, demos and tutorials, webinars and live streams.

In addition, equine websites should feature the care team and put practice culture on display through real-life images (not stock photos) and information that demonstrates expertise and dedication to an overall mission.

“When you start a business, first thing you have to think about is your mission and what is it that you intend to do in the world…But then it’s so important [to put] yourself in the shoes of your client and understanding the journey that they go through in the life of [equine] ownership,” Mr. Hall said. “And every step along that journey, where’s the touch points where you can support them; because again, you’re the go-to person, you should be the next most important person in a horse’s life, where [owners] get the information from and make sure that [a horse] has a good life and is well cared for,” Mr. Hall said. MeV