04/02

Veterinary Facebook Marketing


Best practices for Veterinary Facebook Marketing

 

Social Media Marketing. Noun.

You can buy attention (advertising)

You can beg for attention from the media (PR)

You can bug people one at a time to get attention (sales)

Or you can earn attention by creating something interesting and valuable and then publishing it online for free: a YouTube video, a blog, a research report, photos, a Twitter stream, an eBook, a Facebook page.

-David Meerman Scott, Web Ink Now

Consumers don’t want to be sold anything anymore and they want to feel like they have control over what they purchase.  They use social media and online reputation scores to make educated consumer decisions.  Social Media provides the much of the content for that decision-making.  The border between social media and search engine optimization is blurring and this content is becoming more and more important.

The statistics surrounding social media and its importance will not be covered during this lecture, however a good summary can be ofund at www.bit.ly/JedGraphic.

My opinion about social media for veterinary practices is that it isn’t the most important marketing channel for your business.  I would argue that it is less important than advertising, search engine optimization, link building, signage, involvement in the community, publishing of articles through off-site SEO, etc.  Social media is such a hot trendy topic but rarely do I see practices get a positive return on investment unless they are doing everything else first.  I would argue that you should only attempt to market with social media after all your other marketing is in place. There is one exception however.

Facebook and Misconceptions:

Measuring the ROI of SMM can be very difficult.  Some misconceptions were identified about Facebook such as the cost of maintaining a social media presence on Facebook, the fact that overnight success is rarely possible, and the fact that “likes” are not the most important things but rather engagement of the audience.  Facebook is work and should be approached professionally with a content calander, clear team member responsibilities and a budget.

Facebook EdgeRank

When you post something on your business’ Facebook wall, only a fraction of your Facebook fans will see the post.  A comScore study found that with the new algorithm updates, on average, content that a brand posts five out of seven days only reaches 16 percent of its fans. Given that a Facebook post typically lives for about three hours, how is it possible to reach your fan base?

EdgeRank determines the reach of every item you publish to your business’ news feed and is thought to be composed of affinity, interaction weight, and time decay:

  • Affinity measures a fan’s interaction with your brand, the frequency that they visit your Facebook page or interact with your posts.
  • Interaction weight means that Facebook gives more significance to interaction types that require more effort. For example, a “Like” is given less weight than a comment, because it takes more effort to write a comment than to click “Like.” Sharing a post is given the greatest weight because it requires the effort of social sharing with a friend and indicates that the content is relevant enough to share.
  • Lastly, time decay accounts for content becoming less and less important as time passes.

The good news is that there are plenty of best practices and tactics to score better with EdgeRank and increase your exposure to your Facebook fans. Here are four tips to boost your rank and regain the loyalty and love of your followers:

  1. Don’t be too short and sweet. Posting more than 141 characters—140 is the maximum for Twitter’s tweets—has been proven to be more engaging for readers and leads to better overall EdgeRanking than posting shorter posts.
  2. Post pictures and videos. Photos are the most effective type of post, followed by videos. But never post a photo or any type of content without accompanying it with at least a 141-character description.
  3. Get your fans involved.  Including a call to action in your posts’ descriptions is the key to this puzzle. For photos, ask a question—for example, “Do you agree with what’s going on here?” If 12 people reply yes and 10 reply no, that just boosted your EdgeRank. When you post a cute picture of a pet or something going on in the hospital, why not make it into a caption contest?
  4. Focus on quality, not quantity. You should always think to yourself, “Is this great content?” If it isn’t, don’t post it. Studies have demonstrated that it may take six months or more of EdgeRank-friendly posting to improve your rank and regain the privilege to effectively engage your clients—a privilege you once took for granted.

Timing your posts

A sudy was carried out by Buddy Media called, “Strategies for Effective Wall Posts:  A Timeline Analysis” that used 1,800 of the world’s biggest brand pages in 2012 to determine the best practices for timing of Facebook posts.  As it turns out, weekends, when brand post too little, the audience appears primed for interaction and Wednesdays are the worst days to post.

And at what time should you post on a given day?  The study divides the day into “Busy-hours” (8AM -7PM) and “Non-busy Hours” (8PM – 7AM).  The study found that off-hours (Non-busy Hours) are the more effective time to post.  Realize that scheduling your Facebook posts for Non-busy Hours and weekends is the way to go.

Automation and Third Party Tools

There are several platforms out there that can be paid or unpaid where you can manage multiple social media accounts and shedule posts for optimized timing.  I have used several and I prefer the user interface of Hootsuite.  Hootsuite provides a dashboard where you can link your social media accounts into their app.  It is free to manage five social media accounts.  You can highlight which accounts you would like to post to which is great because you can kill two birds with one stone. One of my favorite things to to is to post to Facebook and Google + at the same time.  They share the fact that they don’t have a character limit and it reduces the workload on the team member carrying out your social media initiatives.  Scheduling posts can allow you to get ahead in time and allows the social media posting to be optimized for Non-busy Hours and weekends.  Check out Hootsuite at http://hootsuite.com.

Although the company is still in the beta phase, I think an interesting tool to keep an eye on is PostRocket (www.getpostrocket.com).  Not only do they have a scheduler, but PostRocket witll space out a queued list of posts throughout the day and optimize timing.  Also, there are other features like post optimization analytics.

Case Study

A case study showing effective and non-effective posting methods was presented.

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