Why Your Veterinary Hospital Should Have A Blog

0 Comments Posted by Vet Network in Blogs on Thursday, December 13th, 2012.

Are you in a fog about the value of a blog? Is it worth the time and effort? Recent marketing publications take aim at professionals who prioritize blogging and suggest that the rate of return on a blogging investment is low. The arguments trend in the same direction: blogging won’t raise your online veterinary hospital’s profile and your blog is probably preaching to the converted. When you read these arguments, however, you’ll find that blogging is not the issue. The problem is poor blogging. A badly written, sporadically published blog is worse than not blogging at all.

Let’s answer three basic questions about why blogging can help your hospital:
• Should you have a blog?
• How long should your blog posts be?
• Who should be writing your blog?

The answer to question one is: of course, you should have a blog. A blog (which is a contraction for the term web log) no longer has the stigma of being a second-rate or an untrustworthy form of communication.

Ken Makovsky of Forbes Magazine has the most succinct and relevant list on why both small and large companies should blog:

• Humanize the company
• Enhance visibility
• Build credibility and trust
• Establish industry expertise
• Promote products and policies
• Address important issues
• Generate leads … and business
• Defend the company against its critics

Hubspot, the influential marketing software company, released a survey in 2011 that emphasized the importance of blogging. A few of its many excellent points were:

• 57 % percent of companies blogging reported that they acquired new customers as a direct result of its company blog.
• Businesses are now in the minority if they do not blog.
• Businesses are becoming increasingly aware of the usefulness of their company blog.

Our second question centers on length of blog posts. These days, everyone wants to share their knowledge and opinion, but the key to any successful blog today is brevity. That’s simply an established and accepted fact. Information is now absorbed in sound-bites. Even those of us who grew up in a more analog age have adapted to the new forms. You need to make your postings brief and to the point. What do pet owners most need to know? What issues or topics are relevant to their curiosity or needs?

Neil Patel, the marketing guru from SEOmoz emphasizes that the trick is to keep it short. Simple words and short sentences will keep your readers’ attention and interest. No one wants to read a dissertation on the latest laparoscopy technique. Publishing short blog posts will make your life easier – but that is not to say they will be easy to write. Writing a polished blog requires research, time and quality writing and blogs should be published regularly so they benefit your hospital. As a veterinarian, your challenge is to identify a timely topic that interests pet owners and write about it well.

Thus, we arrive at our third question: who should write your blog?

Carol Tice, writing in Entrepreneur.com, gives her number one reason as to why companies should not start a blog: “No one has time. Be honest with yourself about whether you could spare at least two or three hours a week to write.” Her point is that starting a blog, and then letting it simply fade away, will do your veterinary hospital more harm than good.

She then offers a solution: “If no one at the business can do it, consider hiring a professional writer or a company that specializes in writing blogs. Without somebody committed to posting, you’ll end up with a dusty blog that hasn’t been updated in six months. This makes a worse impression than if you never blogged at all.”

Here’s one trick about hiring someone to manage your hospital’s blog: Don’t be dazzled by youth. Hollis Thomases, in an article posted on Inc.com, said: “Just because you don’t understand the technology doesn’t mean you should forfeit all common sense and hire your niece, nephew, or any other recent college grad (say, your best friend’s sister-in-law’s child) because ‘they’re really good with the Internet.’

Therefore, consider your current employees. Do you have an office administrator who is also a strong writer? Is there a college intern on your staff whose time could be used toward researching relevant veterinary topics? Perhaps even two staff members could blog as a team- one as the principal researcher, the other as the blog writer. Be creative. Accept the trendy marketing colloquialism and “think outside the box.”

Blogging in a new, shorter and more focused form can do wonders for your animal hospital; it can bring your hospital instant perks such as an Internet search engine lift and a reputation that is current and professional.

In today’s tech-obsessed world, it’s important to be diligent about your online presence. Neglecting it, or contrarily, spending too much time marketing ineffectively, will only set you back in your quest to grow your hospital’s online reputation.

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