In this VETgirl online veterinary continuing education blog, Rachel Feldman, CVT, Interactive Media Associate at VETgirl, fills us in on what it’s like to be the social media master for VETgirl. Because it’s not for the faint of heart. If you’re thinking of changing your veterinary career and doing social media from the comforts of home, here’s what you need to know!
Veterinary Social Media…not for the faint of heart
By Rachel Feldman, CVT, Interactive Media Associate at VETgirl
When I tell people I work in social media, I frequently get the comment, “Wow, what a fun job. You get to be on Instagram or Facebook all day.” And yes, while one of the perks is having all-day access to those channels, it isn’t all fun and games.
To work in social, you must be flexible and adaptable. You must be able to think on your feet and roll with the punches. You must be quick to answer your audience, to keep them engaged and learn not to take everything personal. Ever wonder if you are cut out to make the transition to social media extraordinaire? Don’t be too quick to say “yes” before you digest these key points of consideration.
1. Content: Know your audience, their likes/dislikes and create content that aligns accordingly. Give them a reason to come back to your page looking for more. You must rotate your content so that you keep your audience engaged. This means keeping up on industry trends, reels, TikTok, etc. This eats into personal time as it’s easy to pick up your phone off hours and start looking for great content.
If someone takes the time to engage with your content by leaving a comment or sharing a message, acknowledge them and answer back. Just be aware you are never going to make everyone happy, so come to terms with that and move on. (Pro Tip: Never argue with crazy. It’s a waste of energy and will spiral south quickly.) While the general rule is to address conflict directly, in some cases it’s best to walk away. As VETgirl herself says (Justine), don’t throw pearls to the pigs. And don’t take it personally.
Creating content that sparks engagement, can also be controversial at times. Some veterinary pictures or videos are not meant for an audience outside of animal health and may be deemed as inappropriate images; at the same time, it could also be a picture of an interesting case you experienced your colleagues could greatly benefit from learning more about. Be aware when posting medical content, you may also wrestle with social media channels censoring your sensitive material.
2. Audience: While the majority of our feed is for our fellow #vetmed crew, there are always a handful of non-vetmed people who follow along and think the comments are harsh or can get offended by the post. Admittingly, our VETgirl page is aimed for veterinary professionals and is not intended for the general public/pet owners. We do share memes that bring levity to the community sometimes at the expense of someone else. After all, we survive in our vet med field with some dark humor. It’s social media, it happens. Thick skin is needed.
3. Public Disclosure: Warning! Having a social presence exposes a business to public scrutiny, much like a Yelp review. It can be scary to any business, new or well-established, to put yourself and your brand out there for public ridicule, but it’s also a great vehicle to connect with your customers one on one. It’s best to take a proactive approach by setting guidelines and rules for your social team to follow before diving in to start posting (e.g., no politics, etc.). Prepare a schedule and plan of action should negative feedback find its way to your channel. Never take it personal and think before you react.
4. Cyberbullying: Everyone in social media has seen a good “keyboard warrior.” That person who writes aggressive comments and is quick to point fingers and cut you down sight unseen. That begins to wear on your mind. Sometimes it is just worth deleting the post rather than having to explain why you posted what you did. Remember, you can’t argue with crazy.
5. Burnout: Yes, there can be burnout with this job as well (as fun as it is). There is a constant need to stay engaged and monitor the business channels, even over weekends and holidays and that can be overwhelming at times. Like any industry, you must stay current, always looking for new, fresh ways to present engaging content to your subscribers.
At its best, social media it’s an extremely effective way of disseminating messages, business or otherwise, to real people in real time. At its worst, it is a daily “time suck” that makes burnout a very real challenge. Weigh the two and like any job you’ll find it’s not all fun and games, rather a balance you manage.