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Issue: 65 - May 15, 2014
Social Media Opportunities
By: Martha D. Jack
old eConverse Social Media Consulting Inc

If you’ve only been using your social media presence to connect with present and future clients and advertise your clinic, you’re missing out on some great opportunities. 

In addition to the marketing aspects of social media, there are tons of other opportunities for networking, continuing education, market research, and creating partnerships. You just need to take a little time out of your day and some of these items strategic goals for your social media presence.
Networking: This one is right in the name (social networking), but it is amazing how many people miss out on it. Think of all the veterinarians and other animal health organizations that are on social networks producing content for you to learn from. Look at some of the accounts you find most useful and see who they are following, there’s a good chance that these people or organizations will be helpful to you to.  You can start small, by just sharing a RT or a “like” on something they’ve posted, and work your way up to actually commenting on it.  It’s one of my favorite things at “in person” events to see people who consider themselves friends actually meeting for the first time.

Continuing Education: Same as the above, there are thousands of accounts posting content that can make you a better and more up-to-date veterinarian, you just need to find them. I recommend you create a List on Twitter of the accounts you consider to be producing and sharing great information and collect them all together. This will make it easier for you to get all of this information all in one place and filter out everything else. Also, I use the favorite tool to mark posts that share great links to content I need to read, but don’t have time right at that moment. This will make them easy to find when I have the time and let the poster know you appreciate the content.

Another great way to combine networking and learning is to take part in a Twitter chat. Keep an eye out for these great opportunities to connect with other veterinarians. Similarly, whether you are there in-person or not, during conferences follow and use the appropriate hashtag to learn, connect and contribute.
Market Research: I would also make a list of other veterinarians or clinics you aspire to be like. Seeing what they post will be really helpful in developing your own social media presence. If you know you have clients following your clinic on Twitter, I would create a list of them as well so you can quickly see what they are saying. Use this list, or your Facebook page for some unofficial market research: Do your clients give their pets holiday gifts? Where are they most likely to buy their pet food? Even just a few answers to questions like this could help shape how you stock your clinic at certain times of year. 
Creating Partnerships: Pay attention to those in your social community that it would make sense for you to form an informal strategic partnership with. This could be a local rescue group, a shelter, a food bank that collects pet food, etc. Seeing who is in need might give you some great ideas for charitable initiatives within your clinic and ways you can give back to the community.