Originally published in the October 2015 issue of Veterinary Practice News. Enjoyed this article? Then subscribe today!
Digital media aren’t simply a pastime for kids thumbing their way across an iPhone screen. Technological advents like iPhones and easily accessible Wi-Fi have caused a major shift for people of all ages.
Sure, businesses that choose to market toward millennials have a huge user base to do so. But when we look at who is using social media with the highest rate of growth, it’s actually the baby boomers. Nielsen, a world leader in information measurement and analytics, notes that “Internet users over the age of 55 are driving the growth of social networking through the mobile Internet.”
While this statistic might at first be surprising, it’s a concentrate indicator of the multigenerational impact that the Internet truly has. Regardless of media portrayal or common misconception, new forms of digital media like emailing, social media and even texting aren’t media and even texting aren’t only being used by younger demographics.
Nielsen and top-performing veterinary practices know the same thing: Digital media are tools for people of all ages.
While some might argue that younger demographics took to social media quickly and that increased traction from other generations might be inevitable, I see an even larger trend at play.
This transition is an indicator of a wider transformation toward the use of digital technology across all ages and professions.
More and more people are finding that they get more done online than ever before. From booking appointments to calling a cab, people use the technology in their pockets and at their fingertips to make life easier, often with serious economic benefits.
While at first this might seem difficult to adapt to veterinary medicine, you don’t have to do it all on your own. There are several veterinary-exclusive companies that can help. Take Vetstreet, for example, whose services provide a wide array of automated and custom functions built specifically for veterinary practices, leveraging the latest technology to provide seamless solutions for veterinarians and pet owners alike.
How do these services leverage digital media to enhance brick-and-mortar veterinary practices? In almost every way.
From automated reminder systems to social media content curation and beyond, these types of services are built to make life easier by letting you focus on what you do best: helping pets achieve optimal health. When veterinarians can focus on pet care instead of the daily tasks needed to manage a veterinary practice, both pet care and business can be significantly enhanced.
That being said, here are my top-five tools for seamless digital communication management, or in other words, the keys to the digital universe:
- Online Pet Portals
This feature allows clients to access all types of basic information in a single place — from reminders that a pet is due for an appointment to prescription background to an array of education resources. Online portals allow pet owners to access veterinary pro-veterinary information at all hours of the day. Since education is key to pet health, I can’t recommend this service enough. It’s one of the best tools veterinary practices can use to fight Dr. Google.
- Digital Reminders
Email is a crucial tool for getting important information to pet owners. Anything from checkup and appointment reminders to health tips may be sent via email. While email and digital reminders can be a great way to contact a pet owner, I must note that your approach should always supplement, not replace, traditional mail.
- Social Media
There are no two ways about it, social media is here to stay. Social media may be leveraged to provide updates about your practice and valuable health information. If you’re looking to connect with pet owners locally or simply bond with clients, there is no beating a popular medium like Facebook.
A good website can be well worth its weight for bringing in new clients and retaining existing ones. Websites should include an abundance of information to educate pet owners about your services. For example, it’s not enough to tell pet owners that you offer dental services; your website allows you a chance to explain and showcase exactly why dental care is so important. A good website should also be mobile friendly to reflect Google’s shift toward mobile-traffic measurement, and since on average one-third of all organic traffic generated to a veterinarian’s website is from mobile, a good mobile display is becoming more relevant by the day.
- Spreading the Word
Word of mouth is frequently within a veterinary practice’s top-three referral sources. Such recommendations now occur online, primarily via social media and online reviews. Managing your reputation online is a crucial piece of the digital puzzle, and conveniently enough, automated programs such as Vetstreet’s “Thank You” emails may assist with building your online reputation.
How you use digital tools is up to you. By leveraging the advantages offered by digital media, you can enhance pet health and the success of your practice in one fell swoop. When good technology contributes to good pet health, that’s a win-win.