Communication Beyond the Clinic: Utilizing Social Media for Veterinary Outreach

Written by Angela Beal, DVM
pet owner social media

With the right strategy, social media can be a powerful and economical communication tool for nurturing client relationships, growing your reputation as a trusted pet health resource, and building brand loyalty. But, that will take more than sharing third-party articles and funny memes. Here are some practical insights and ideas for using social media to connect meaningfully with your clients.

Get real

While establishing a professional image through consistent branding and thoughtful, accurate content is important, sharing only polished or educational information-dense posts can keep your followers at arm’s length. Like face-to-face interactions, the best social media connections are formed when someone shows a touch of vulnerability. So, pull back the curtain and let clients see the authentic, compassionate, intelligent, and imperfect people behind their pet’s care.

Content ideas for building brand authenticity include:

  • Video clips or reels of the veterinary team at work
  • Team members sharing their “why”
  • Candid moments with patients, with client approval
  • Staff participating in continuing education
  • Veterinarians responding to fun prompts (e.g., “This or that,” “In or out,” “Love or hate”)
  • Team members describing their coworkers as dog or cat breeds
  • Showing how your practice gives back to the community (e.g., volunteering, fundraising, supporting other small businesses)

While sharing more personal or less polished content can be initially uncomfortable, you will know your clients welcome and encourage your efforts with their increased support and engagement.

Know what to focus on

Like everything on social media, the difficulty is knowing where to focus your attention—especially when it comes to measuring audience engagement. But, when you’re starting to grow your reach, monitoring the wrong numbers can be defeating, and you will find it difficult to continue generating content. So, don’t track followers, likes, and reactionsfocus on quality over quantity. Don’t spend time attracting followers who may never enter your clinic. Rather, prioritize building a thriving and interactive community by consistently engaging with those who already subscribe to your channels.

Position yourself as the solution

While recognized calendar events such as National Poison Prevention Week, Pet Obesity Day, or Pet Month are an easy way to fill your content calendar, a more personal approach can better suit your client’s needs. Timely topics and concerns you share in your practice not only help clients feel seen and heard, but also can set your brand apart with social feeds filled with similarly themed content.

Ask your team to share recent concerns or questions they’ve heard from clients, or any pet-related trends they’ve noted. Identify any spikes in specific diagnoses (e.g., atopy, parasites, obesity) and then build a series of posts focused on the pain points to raise client awareness, acknowledge their concerns or struggles, equip them with accurate information, and invite them to take action. Similar to popular marketing strategies, but adapted for social media, this approach validates and reassures followers (e.g., other pet owners share my struggle) with expert-vetted information and practical takeaways. As your followers repeat this learning journey with each new post series, they ideally learn to seek out your practice—not Dr. Google—for education and support.

Nurture productive dialogue with interactive content

Use your social media platforms as more than a general message board by sparking real conversation—and keep it going. Some simple tips for generating and sustaining an informative and engaging online conversation include:

Hosting live stream events — Recurring “Ask me anything” (AMA) events let clients interact with your team and receive answers to questions they may forget to ask—or feel uncomfortable asking—during their pet’s appointment. For a more structured approach, veterinary rounds sessions on specific pet health topics (e.g., renal insufficiency, periodontal disease) can educate clients without the time constraints of a formal visit.

Providing how-to videos Brief tutorial videos on basic pet owner tasks, such as ear cleaning, toothbrushing, medicating, and nail trimming, provide valuable and practical education. Invite owners to share their own demo videos or ask questions in the comments.

Offering quizzes and polls — Challenge your client’s pet prowess with educational quizzes and polls. These engagement-driving posts should be followed by an informative post that provides additional information and resources about the correct answer.

Posting a call for pet photos, videos, and stories — Take this fun and fail-safe engagement strategy to the next level by prompting followers to share specific pet-related content (e.g., “Show us how your pet stays fit,” “What does responsible pet ownership look like to you?”). Then, use responses to prompt relevant questions and conversation.

Staging contests, challenges, and giveaways — Incentivize participation and learning by offering prizes or discounted services.

Bring it full circle

Once you’ve established a robust online community and a library of valuable resources, ensure you direct your in-clinic clients to your social media channels for specific content and helpful tutorials. Clients can use your channel’s how-to videos and recorded events to review and expand on what they learned at their pet’s appointment, go deeper into complex topics, or simply ensure they are correctly trimming their cat’s nails.

Keep the conversation going

Social media success relies on regular updates, fresh content, and positive brand interactions. Monitor your channels daily for engagement and promptly respond to any posts, comments, reviews, or interactions to ensure your followers feel seen and valued. While you don’t have to post new content every day, it is vital to show your budding community that your practice is a reliable, accessible, and trustworthy source where they can turn for anything related to their pet’s health and well-being.