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A look at social media’s influence on veterinary medicine

INSTAGRAM @andresantosvet   
André Santos is a Portuguese small animal veterinarian. Dr. Santos works at Hospital Veterinário do Restelo (@hospitalveterinariodorestelo) in Lisbon and works as one of the cardiologists. He posts some his daily work on Instagram (@andresantosvet), including some clinical cases with quizzes about approaches and treatments. Dr. Santos is available for digital marketing counseling at andresantosmedvet@gmail.com.

 

Times are changing and as veterinary professionals, we need to keep up with the progress.

Nowadays, any business that is not online stands in a clear disadvantage, and veterinary clinics and hospitals are no exception.

Today, advertising products and services and reaching a large audience is not difficult or expensive through social media. There are suitable solutions for every level and type of business, so that everyone can take advantage of this valuable tool.

Facebook and Instagram, among others, are amazing online platforms that can help practices gain huge engagement and inform people more about our day-to-day duties as veterinary doctors. We can share information about products, services, complementary exams, patients, and even clinical cases and their progression over time.

Personally, I try to share my daily work routines with followers in the best way I know. When I first started, I began by publishing some clinical cases and have now moved toward interactive “stories” on Instagram, where I share quizzes on clinical cases and questions about various medical topics, which are later explained and answered. I also post complete medical cases, sharing the entire exam’s results, therapeutic options, the outcome, and of course, clinical insights.

Sharing this information is also helpful for other veterinary professionals who want to connect and learn from each other.

Veterinary students can use social media before they start to work to build a solid audience for the future. However, it is important to be conscious that when we are beginners or inexperienced, we should avoid giving advice or guidance to owners without having complete knowledge of a subject. I suggest speaking theoretically or posting patient photos as strong beginner content. I don’t recommend answering owners’ questions about their pets or touching on clinical cases, because mistakes are easily made and this can potentially put your credibility on the line.

I have noticed that overall, my interactive posts are well-received in terms of numbers and even those that receive lower engagement, have positive reviews. Thus, I try to promote our hospital’s services (@hospitalveterinariodorestelo), as well as to show clients that our life as veterinary professionals may be demanding and strenuous but it is also very gratifying.

On September 17, I shared a video of myself feeding an old Cocker Spaniel with a donut on my Instagram page. I asked my followers if this was a good move. The reason I posted this was to properly introduce the subject of euthanasia, which is an important and controversial theme. I had a lot of comments and interactions on the post and I felt as though I made an important connection with some owners. This is a specific example of how social media can help and support a veterinary business and clinical practice, even when it comes to touching on difficult topics.

By using social media as a tool, we not only have the opportunity to promote our activity to a very specific and targeted community, but also to advertise our services or products, which ultimately can lead to increasing turnover.

Digital marketing, whether it is done over Facebook, Instagram, or other digital platforms, always aims to increase profit. Different kinds of companies may rely more or less on it depending on their type of clients and planned advertising strategy.

Personally, I believe that it is crucial to invest in at least one digital platform. It is equally important to include good basic knowledge on it as clients tend to seek information online about every service/product their pets might need.

So far, Instagram has been my preferred digital platform and it is there that I share my daily work (@andresantosvet). Even though I reckon that it has once been cheaper to advertise on this platform and that it might not still have the reach it once did, it is still an awesome way to get to our clients and general public at an accessible cost.

The development and growth of an Instagram account may take some time, but we, in the veterinary field, have an important factor in our favour: most people like pets, making this growth easier and natural.

There isn’t an objective rule about how often to post, what kind of images or videos people most interact or what kind of stories should we share to the audience. Each hospital or veterinary practice has to find its own niche. I only can share my experience, which is what I believe is one example of what works for small animal veterinary medicine. That would be, interactive clinical cases, photos with pet clients, and videos showing our face and voice, and basic clinical explanations.

I believe that being able to work daily among pets, sharing their clinical stories, and our experience as veterinary professionals (probably one of the dearest and most stimulating professions there is) allows us to expand our business effortlessly online, not only increasing our profits but also improving our relationship with our clients.

Digital media, for me, is the present and the future of any business sector, including veterinary medicine and can be one of the main billing factors of a hospital.

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