This post comes to us from the incredible Dr. Jessica Vogelsang.

Way back in 2009, “Social Media for Veterinarians” was offered for the first time at a big CE conference. To give you an idea of its importance in people’s eyes, it was slotted for 7 pm on a Friday night. The total number of attendees: three. Topics included how to open a Facebook account and how to change your Twitter avatar from the egg to your own photo, and if you already figured out how to do it, you were a visionary.

Keep this in mind as you scroll through these top marketing trends for 2020. What seems super far-off and futuristic today is probably going to be an old hat in five years. Why ignore it if you’re missing a shot to lead the pack in the veterinary business?

If you’re reading the Whiskercloud blog, you’re already invested in staying ahead of the competition, right? So even if these trends seem out of your reach, just keep in them in the back of your mind. There’s bound to be at least one you could implement pretty easily (cough cough video).

Personalization

Generic email blasts are annoying. With the amount of data at your fingertips already in your database, it’s easy to create newsletters or emails with information relevant to your clients’ individual pets. On a very basic level, sorting by dogs vs. cats is a good start. Want to level up? Send a senior newsletter to owners of older pets focusing on signs of pain, or the need for regular senior exams. Want to really impress clients? Try a list addressing a specific breed.

Not only is personalized content appealing, but it also makes clients more likely to engage with the brand as it shows you put a little effort into thinking about their specific needs. Who doesn’t like that?

Video Marketing

Video is far and away the one thing clinics can and should incorporate in 2020 in order to get more bang for your buck on social media and in SEO. Why? People like it better than any other content format. Google ranks you higher in SEO when you use video content. It strengthens your brand identity with clients. That’s just scratching the surface.

As veterinarians, we have the added bonus of ready-made compelling content. You might think there’s not a need for yet another video of how to trim a pug’s nails, but if the internet has proven anything, it’s that we have an endless appetite for animal videos, even if we’ve seen the same version of it 55 times already. With the quality of today’s smartphone cameras and easy to use editing apps, the barrier to entry for video creation is low and the rewards high. Give it a try! Want to dip your toe in the waters? Have your doctor improv 5 minutes on Facebook Live talking about flea control.

Think Local

While some clinics are plugging away at trying to educate the entire world on the heartworm epidemic (a noble cause, by the way), others are focusing on the small circle of people who could realistically show up at their clinic. There’s nothing wrong with addressing a big audience, but if you are a local business, you might find better ROI focusing specifically on your local audience.

What does this look like? Start by using local hashtags on Instagram. Find popular local Instagrammers and engage- not sell- in a pleasant way. Take those health issues important to you and put a local spin on things to make it relevant to your clientele. It’s one of the easiest and best ways to gain traction in your own community.

Messaging Apps

I get it. It’s scary to venture into the world of messaging apps when you never know what you’re going to get on the other end, question-wise. What if someone has an emergency? What if they’re asking for an estimate better handled over the phone? What if they start asking for medical advice?

There are tons of what-ifs and legitimate concerns about how it’s going to play out in your individual clinic, but the fact remains that this is where your customers live and how they prefer to interact. At some point, you’re going to have to figure it out, so why not now.

If you’re just starting out, using a dedicated clinic app that allows for 2-way messaging gives you a lot more control over the interaction than, say, turning on Facebook Messenger for your clinic and seeing what shows up. Those who have already taken the plunge haven’t reported terrible outcomes- in fact, many say the opposite. Some clinics are already experimenting with AI chatbots.

New communication channels will always prove a challenge, and we always make it work. We had the exact same concerns about email and how much of a hassle it was going to be, and look where we are now. You can do it.

Content Marketing

When I started writing in 2009, the mantra was always, “Content is King.” A lot has changed in the past decade, but thankfully for those of us content creators- this one hasn’t. Creating valuable content will always be important, even when all other things keep changing at warp speed.

What does that mean? It means you should always have your own little space on the web with blogs or content that you have created and live on your business site. It’s vital to good SEO, establishes you as a pet health authority, and gives potential clients more opportunities to learn about your values and your overall brand. And lucky for you, if you’re a Whiskercloud client, they take a big heap of this off your hands with blog content you can personalize.

Implementing all of this in one fell swoop would be overwhelming even for a full-time marketer, so don’t worry if you have no intention of trying. It’s suggestions, and even if you just pick one to consider, you’re going to be miles ahead of everyone else in town. (Did I mention video? You totally need some video.) Happy New Year!