In 2015, your veterinary hospital’s Facebook posts will reach fewer pet owners for free.
I hate to be the bearer of this bad news, but Facebook recently announced changes to the algorithm that determines what users see in their News Feed.
The bottom line? Facebook is making it harder for small businesses to get their information in the News Feed for free.
The Facebook News Feed is the main page you see when you log into Facebook. You know the one – it’s full of posts from your family, friends, and that restaurant you really like.
The new catch for business pages is this: everything you post to your veterinary clinic’s Facebook page will no longer show up in the feeds of those clients who like your page (unless you pay for that privilege).
I don’t blame them; people come to Facebook for entertainment more than they come to it to shop. It is in Facebook’s best interest to limit random promotional posts. It’s not Pinterest!
So what is a veterinary hospital to do with all of these Facebook changes? Here are some easy Facebook Do’s & Don’ts to kick off 2015!
DON’T: Post Too Much Promotional Content to Your Timeline
Here’s an example of a veterinary Facebook post that might be viewed as unpaid promotional content:
This Facebook post was something I posted for my veterinary practice, Quinebaug Valley Veterinary Hospital.
It was just a regular, free post I made to my Facebook timeline. However, it includes a call-to-action about scheduling a visit. You can see how I link it in the caption.
Oops – that kind of promo might hurt my veterinary hospital’s Facebook reach in 2014. Don’t make this same mistake!
DO: Share Entertaining & Engaging Original Content
Many businesses’ posts are being seen by as little as 2% of their audience, according to research. And most of those businesses aren’t blessed with the chance to share videos of adorable puppies and kittens every single day!
Veterinary hospitals have some of the most entertaining content to share: pets.
Be sure to share plenty of photos and videos of your patients (yes, you should stop posting all of those memes and other generic content).
One last tip: help your posts get even more reach by asking engaging questions. The more comments you get on a post, the more likely it is that it will make it to the News Feed naturally.
Some engaging questions you could ask are:
What is my breed?
Can you guess my name?
How old am I?
That simple engagement trick can actually help your hospital posts get better Facebook reach.
DON’T: Spend All Your Money “Boosting” Your Posts
“Reach” is a Facebook term for the amount of people who see your posts (learn more about that here). You’ve probably seen that “Boost Post” button in the corner of your screen, tempting you to make your post look more popular and thus “Reach” more fans.
Boosting a post for a few dollars can be an OK option to help your veterinary hospital reach more people. However, every time you spend money on a boosting a Facebook post, you should think about whether it results in a benefit for your business or your ego.
Though you can target your boosted post to your local area, targeting is limited beyond that. It’s almost like paying for an ad in your local newspaper. Sure, people will see it, but are they the right people? And how can you track your return on investment?
DO: Start Preparing to Run ACTUAL Facebook Ads
A lot of veterinary hospitals will tell me, “Facebook ads aren’t worth it.” What they really mean, is that boosting a Facebook post isn’t worth it. Boosting a post is technically a Facebook ad, but it is only one basic option. This thinking can prove true, depending on what you boost. If you’re just boosting to look popular, that may or may not have a direct result on your business.
Real ads can work, and 2015 is the time to start seeing the value in spending money on your Facebook. After all, a true Facebook ad can be laser-targeted and produce quantifiable results. (I know how badly veterinary practice managers want me to show the ROI on social media. Well – here it is!)
True Facebook ads can be targeted to reach:
– Clients who are on your hospital’s email list
– People in your area who are pet owners, according to Facebook’s data
Your ads could help you achieve any tangible goals your practice has, such as:
– Book more appointments
– Increase compliance on heartworm sales
– Find new clients
Organic (unpaid) reach on Facebook is going to continue to decline for businesses, it’s a simple fact. However, Facebook is still the #1 place most veterinary clients spend their time online. People used to read the newspaper, but now they read their Facebook feed. Knowing that, I’m willing to continue investing my time & money wisely to make sure my hospital’s content is seen there.
If you are looking to reach more new clients in 2015, join me for a FREE webinar on Monday, December 29th at 2pm EST or 8pm EST. I’ll be sharing my proven strategies to get new clients on social media, plus how you can get 30 new potential clients next month. You can ask any questions you might have about Facebook ads then, too!