Managing Your Veterinary Hospital’s Twitter Account

0 Comments Posted by Vet Network in General, Social Media on Tuesday, July 3rd, 2012.

Tweeting your Veterinary Hospital to Success

We all know the importance of social media in promoting your veterinary hospital. But what we may not know is how to use it. Or better yet, how to use it effectively as a part of our veterinary marketing campaign. If you’re one of these veterinarians or hospital owners, you’re not alone. One of the most popular – as well as most misused social marketing tools – is Twitter. You’re probably accustomed to hearing people discuss their profiles, posts, and statuses, but when it comes to tweets, hashtags, and trending topics, your brain may shut down. Yet what should catch your attention is that Twitter can serve as one of the most simple, widespread, and not to mention – free – forms of veterinary marketing and promoting your veterinary practice. With some basic information and vocabulary, you too can tweet your animal hospital to veterinary marketing success.

1. Know the lingo! Once you understand the vocabulary, much of the mystery will fade. Knowing the terms is the first step towards putting them into practice. So, here are the vocab basics:

  • Tweet: an update or announcement (similar to a facebook status) of up to 140 characters. You can mention certain people through the use of an @Mention (see below) or a specific subject through the use of a # Hashtag (see below).
  • Retweet: This is when you take a tweet from someone else and post it yourself. The original source is automatically credited. Therefore, your goal is to be retweeted whenever possible in order to gain maximum exposure to your veterinary hospital throughout the online community.
  • Trending Topics: These are the “trendy” subjects of the moment. They can span from the most popular topics of the week to the most highly discussed topic of that moment. Once you click on a trending topic, you will be exposed to a whole range of tweets on the subject. You can also find trends in your specific area. So, make your veterinary tweet interesting. And even if your post is only relevant in your particular community, it’s still worth tweeting about!
  • Hashtags: Hashtags are a way of organizing tweets, and making a certain word or phrase searchable. Anyone can create a hashtag by typing “#” followed by a phrase or subject, which can then replicate. For instance, if you’re tweeting about a new and improved pet shampoo, you may want to add a hashtag such as “#petcare”, “#dogshampoo”, or find one already in use. This way, if someone clicks on a certain hashtag in any tweet, they will be redirected to a page where your tweet (with the same hashtag) shows up.
  • @Mentions: You can mention another person in your tweet, such as another pet-related business, person or client/pet of the month. By using an “@” followed by the person’s Twitter name, this will automatically link the tweet to their profile.
  • Friends and Followers: Just like you have “friends” on Facebook who monitor your veterinary practice’s activity, you have “followers” on Twitter. However, you can also have “friends” on Twitter. These are the people and businesses that you and your veterinary hospital are following.

2. Twitter with care! Don’t tweet about everything and anything. Only use Twitter when you have something especially interesting, cute or relevant to say. New surgical or medical cases, pets of the month, tutorials, or special promotions and discounts provide perfect tweet subjects. From your Tweet, direct people to your veterinary hospital’s website or blog for more information. You can also have your tweets automatically posted to your hospital’s Facebook page. But again, be careful not to inundate your audience with the same information again and again. Though it’s useful to provide multiple outlets for your clients to obtain information, try not to overwhelm their inboxes. Just provide enough information to establish your legitimacy and expertise in the veterinary field – and stop there.

3. Keep it simple! Avoid verbose or redundant tweets, and try to keep your updates short and concise. Twitter is specifically programmed to limit a tweet to 140 characters, but you should strive for even shorter. As the human attention span decreases, so should your messaging. In all social media, it’s smart to abide by “the simpler, the better” principle.

4. Gather followers and start a conversation! A Twitter account isn’t of much use without a following. The more interesting your veterinary posts, the more followers you’ll have. In turn, the more potential you have to generate visits to your veterinary hospital’s website and attract new clients through this interactive veterinary marketing technique. But don’t make it a one-way street. Once someone begins following you, they will likely want you to follow them too. So go ahead and follow, and don’t shy away from starting conversations; after all, that’s what social media is all about!

5. Lastly, create your own Twitter style and agenda. Don’t get too wrapped up in the details and competition of Twitter. It is not necessary that you spend your nights trying to gather the most followers possible. This is a waste of time. Target a relevant audience, and post relevant issues. Finally, don’t take it personally when people unfollow you – this is common in the Twitter world.

Tweeting is your entry into real-time messaging an audience of over 300 million people, and there is no reason for you or your veterinary hospital to miss out. With your twitter toolkit, your potential to immediately connect with a new client base through veterinary social marketing will expand exponentially. So go tweet away (with discretion, of course)!

Copyright © VetNetwork, LLC / Mark Feltz, DVM

VetNetwork – Marketing Solutions for Veterinarians and Veterinary Hospitals

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