Dear Dr. Noah Lot – How to grow a social media following with a limited budget
Dear Dr. Noah Lot,
How do I create a social media following for my veterinary specialty practice without breaking the bank?
Practice Manager, Veterinary Specialty Hospital
This is an excellent and not surprisingly common question in social media marketing. First, let’s quickly go over two important digital marketing terms.
Organic content – A post (article, photo, video) shared on a social media page that users interact with by liking/reacting, commenting, or sharing.
Paid content – An ad or message that is promoted through an ad spend. This could be considered a boosted post, display ad, or pay-per-click ad.
A successful social media strategy needs a mixture of both organic and paid content to reach your desired target audience. Here are my four tips to gain followers and increase engagement (likes/reactions, shares, comments, and clicks) on your veterinary specialty practice’s social media pages.
1. Establish a Consistent Social Media Content Strategy and Schedule
First, you need to develop a social media content strategy that will include goals, objectives, and tactics. One of the tactics should be a publishing schedule that is decided by the amount of content available (stories, photos, blogs, articles) and your staff’s bandwidth. You do not have to post every day, but you do have to post consistently to establish and grow a presence on Facebook, Instagram, or any other social media site. We also recommend creating categories or topics for your schedule.
For example, a twice a week publishing schedule on Facebook might include, “Service Tuesdays” to highlight one of your practice’s services and “Pet Patient Thursday” to share a story and photo of a recent pet patient.
A consistent schedule will not only support content development but will subliminally train your audience when to expect content.
2. Interact with Your Followers
Social media is a great way to listen and learn from your audience. We call this community management, in which you interact with your online followers by responding to comments, answering messages, and acknowledging when your clients are talking about your veterinary specialty practice online. Make sure to check notifications carefully and thank users for their positive and kind words and comment on your clients or followers’ Instagram or Facebook posts. This type of interaction will show other users how well your practice cares about its online community.
3. Promote offline
Create a poster, flyer, front desk sign, postcards, or other marketing materials that include your practice’s social media handles (account names). Add links to your Facebook and Instagram pages in follow-up emails, appointment reminders, and of course, on your website! If clients aren’t aware that you are on social media, it is less likely you will be discovered there.
4. Invest and test an ad spend
While it is free to set-up a Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, or any other social media channel, it isn’t free to be successful. In addition to investing time to manage the pages and learn digital marketing best practices, you will have to invest some resources in paid advertising. However, even a small ad spend can yield excellent results. First, you have to decide on what you want to achieve (have an objective), such as grow followers, increase engagement, refer more traffic to your website, or increase appointment requests, etc. After you establish your objective, then determine an ad spend. We recommend testing with a $5 a day budget for a 7-14-day campaign. Then, evaluate and adjust accordingly.
However, the paid efforts won’t be successful if you don’t have the organic tactics as part of your content strategy.
I hope this answers your question about how to grow your veterinary practice’s social media following on a tight budget. If you need more assistance with your social media pages or are interested in a social media marketing training, contact BluePrints Veterinary Marketing Group Digital Department, firstname.lastname@example.org.