Originally published: DVM360 – January 2013
In our profession, great Facebook pages can be harder to find than Cesar Millan fans at a veterinary behavior conference. That’s unfortunate, because a good Facebook page can be a source of entertainment, content to share with clients and practical examples of good social media marketing.
For years, I’ve grown my Facebook page with all the patience and care a Buddhist monk might lavish on a bonsai tree (shameless plug://Facebook.com/DrAndyRoark/. And after much digging around, I’ve also found some excellent pages in our industry to follow. By examining their strengths, I’ve learned how to create interesting content and engage an audience.
In no particular order, here’s my list of the top 10 people, practices and nonprofits that currently impress me most, along with what makes them excel. Note: There are lots of great pages worth following that just don’t fit my criteria here or simply slipped under my radar. If you feel your wonderful Facebook page is omitted, please forgive me.
1 Dr. Ernie Ward ( //Facebook.com/DrErnieWard/. Dr. Ward is a veterinarian and practice owner, practice management consultant and media personality. His Facebook posts are original, engaging and educational. He links to his own articles and blog posts, uses medical photos from his clinic and speaks to followers with a voice that is uniquely his own. Click “like” on Dr. Ward’s page for: Nice mixture of content types (clinical and nonclinical photos, blogs, articles, videos and so on).
2 American Veterinary Medical Association (//Facebook.com/AVMAVets/): With more than 23,000 fans, the AVMA has an enormous audience of both veterinary professionals and pet owners. It’s a reliable source for veterinary news presented in a pet-owner-friendly format. The AVMA’s willingness to listen to the desires of its audience and have some fun is also impressive (on Halloween, they promoted veterinarians as valuable members of any zombie apocalypse survival team). Click “like” on the AVMA’s page for: Excellent mix of veterinary news and educational materials.
3 Pawcurious ( //Facebook.com/Pawcurious/): Dr. Jessica Vogelsang is a veterinarian, popular pet blogger and lifestyle expert. While her page is rarely clinical, Dr. V does an outstanding job of engaging her pet owner audience in a meaningful way. She, like Dr. Ward, creates a social media persona that is unique, approachable and interesting. Click “like” for: Brilliant examples of how to create original content, plus a wonderful voice for conversing with pet owners.
4 Leo’s Pet Care ( //Facebook.com/leospetcare/): Dr. Greg Magnusson is a veterinarian and practice owner in Indianapolis, Ind. He has obviously embraced social media marketing as a tool for growing his single-doctor practice, and his practice blog provides him with great digital content to build on. Regardless of whether you share Dr. Magnusson’s opinions, you have to admire how he continues to create engaging content on topics of interest to pet owners. Click “like” for: Unique content designed to build client relationships, from the perspective of a solo practice owner.
5 CATalyst Council ( //Facebook.com/CatalystCouncil/): If you’re hoping to bring more feline patients into your clinic, then the CATalyst Council can help. Click “like” for: Reliable educational materials, along with some pro-cat humor.
6 Dr. Justine Lee ( //Facebook.com/doctorjustinelee/): Dr. Lee is an emergency and critical care specialist, blogger, speaker and author of two humorous books for pet lovers. Click “like” for: Humor mixed in with emergency and toxicology content.
7 Student AVMA ( //Facebook.com/pages/SAVMA/74321927455/): The Student American Veterinary Medical Association page is all about veterinary students, and that’s why it’s worth watching. This page often provides a thoughtful perspective on veterinary medicine from those looking at it with fresh eyes. Young, energetic and just a touch irreverent, it’s well worth keeping in your news feed. Click “like” for: Fresh views on issues affecting veterinary medicine.
8 North Ryde Veterinary Hospital ( //Facebook.com/northrydevet/): Dr. Dave Nicol is a veterinary management consultant, blogger and author of the bookThe Yellow Pages Are Dead: Marketing Your Vet Practice in the Digital Age. He is also a full-time veterinarian and practice owner. Click “like” for: Strong examples of how a digital marketing expert uses Facebook to grow his own practice.
9 NorthStar VETS ( //Facebook.com/pages/NorthStar-VETS/98279254547/): NorthStar VETS is a 24-hour emergency and specialty center with a knack for using everyday patient visits to create fun and unique Facebook posts. It also utilizes blog posts from its doctors, speaking engagements, community outreach events and even celebrity visits (actress Linda Blair recently stopped by) to keep the page interesting. Click “like” for: Specialty practice interacting regularly with clients and making the majority of its Facebook content in-house.
10 Dr. Marty Becker ( //Facebook.com/DrMartyBecker/): With the largest Facebook following of any veterinarian out there, Dr. Becker’s page is aimed squarely at the pet-owning public. The most noteworthy aspect of the page is how Becker adds his own commentary to articles and photos from external sources to create a unique experience for visitors. Click “like” for: A unique voice and strong calls to action that encourage readers to join in and converse.
Facebook is a big place, with countless voices saying lots of things all at once. By following those who set a good example, we can all become better at engaging with others online. I hope this list will inspire you to grow your social media presence, have fun with it and create bonds with your audience. Good luck.
Dr. Andy Roark practices in Greenville, S.C. He is the founder and managing director of veterinary consulting firm Tall Oaks Enterprises. Follow him on Facebook or @Dr AndyRoark on Twitter.