Sarah Rae Murray is a writer, veterinary practice receptionist and an advocate for all animals.
The reality is that most veterinary clinics aren’t formed because of business aptitude. But at the end of a day, clinics are businesses and effective marketing is important for any enterprise. That’s why Peartree is introducing the Monthly Marketing Spotlight, with straightforward, cost-conscious and effective marketing strategies for your clinic. These tactics are expert approved and easy to integrate into any veterinary clinic’s routine.
This month we begin with a social media titan: the hashtag. Cole Maruk, Marketing Strategist at IVY, weighs in on what the hashtag does, why it’s effective and how you can use it to your clinic’s advantage.
Anyone who uses social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram has likely seen hashtags in action. They can be identified as a single word or short phrase preceded by a pound sign (#). Often misunderstood as the symbol of social media confection, hashtags can be a formidable business tool, says Maruk. "Adding hashtags into your social media posts will combine your clinic’s online marketing messages into a single conversation stream that is searchable and clickable for your clients.” Maruk also recommends the use of a social media analytics tool such as hootsuite so that your clinic can easily monitor and join these conversations.
The use of this small symbol can actually be quite powerful. According to statistics collected by Neilsen, consumers have the highest level of trust in word of mouth marketing, including recommendations and reviews. “Creating a singular hashtag for your veterinary clinic will encourage your existing clients to share when they have a positive interaction or experience at your clinic, which will expand your veterinary clinic’s reach and give potential new clients confidence that they will also have a positive experience if they visit your clinic,” says Maruk. Your hashtag can become a recognizable part of your clinic’s identity, distinguishing you from other clinics while helping to build your strong online reputation.
There are a few creative ways to craft your clinic’s exclusive hashtag. You could use it as an opportunity for a team building exercise or open it up to your clients as a fun contest. Whichever avenue you choose to create your hashtag, ensure that it accurately represents your clinic, that it’s not already used by another clinic and that it’s memorable. “The trick is being consistent, persistent, and thoughtful with your clinic’s use of its new hashtag, allowing your clinic’s clients to easily recall it when it comes time to post or share their experience with your clinic,” says Maruk. You can use it on your social media channels of choice as well as on posters, signage, brochures or even on your invoices. So share away and watch as the conversation around your clinic grows!
Global Trust in Advertising: Winning Strategies for an Evolving Media Landscape . The Neilsen Company, September 2015.
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