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Issue: 38 - Feb 15, 2012
Your Clinic's Social Media Strategy
By: Martha D. Jack, B.J., M.A.
eConverse Social Media Consulting Inc
It is so easy, especially after you’ve attended a social media-themed conference or read a great “How To” book, to be inspired by the people you’ve talked to and the new information you’ve learned and want to jump right on to every social network.
 
While, in many cases, having your clinic join a social network is as simple as opening a free account, there are so many issues to consider before you make the leap.
 
Here are a few “big picture” considerations to help you start thinking in the right direction about your social strategy:
 
1. Why are you here? Since you started reading this blog post, there have been new social media tools and applications invented. You need to figure out the “why,” not the “where” of your social media strategy, so that as new tools emerge you understand how they fit into your strategy.
 
For example, do you want to use social media as a tool to reach current clients, or to reach out to potential new clients? If your geographic area is rural, it is likely that there are fewer of your current/potential clients using platforms such as Twitter than if you are in an urban area. Perhaps, you want to use social media to stay on top of industry news or connect with professional associations. All of these reasons, or perhaps a combination of them, are valid reasons for having a social media presence, but this consideration will make a big difference in your strategy.
 
Once you know what you’re trying to accomplish through your social media presence, consider the platforms available to you and how each might help you reach your goals.
 
2. What are your available resources? In my opinion, one of the key elements of a social media strategy is that it be sustainable. While it is great to want to update Twitter 20 times a day, does your clinic have the resources to keep up that posting rate for the foreseeable future? Almost always, social media duties are a responsibility that is on top of an employee’s already busy workload, so be sure to keep that in mind when you are introducing this new communication tool.
 
Beyond staff resources, there may be equipment you will need to invest in, such as having a digital camera at the clinic. To increase the efficiency of your social media monitoring, you may want to invest in a dashboard platform to assist in monitoring and measuring your social media presence.
 
Some veterinary clinics that I have worked with have had social networking sites blocked in their clinics to prevent employees from being on the sites during work hours. You may need to speak with your IT team about making these sites available on certain computers or to certain individuals.
 
3. How will you know that you’ve succeeded? There are so many different metrics you could pay attention to, but what are you going to use as benchmarks?
 
Remember, you’ll need a combination of social media analytics and “real world” clinic observations to have a well-rounded picture of the success of your social media campaign. Keep in mind that this is a marathon, not a sprint and that the goal is long-term success and engagement.
 
By understanding these elements, you’ll be on track for a strategic, sustainable and measurable social media campaign even when there are changes in technology or your clinic.