“People just don’t read anymore.” Steve Jobs made this statement in 2008 at the annual MacWorld Expo. Even then it wasn’t a surprise to marketers.
Visual content dominates social media streams and news websites. It’s estimated that, collectively, we’re uploading more than 1 million images online per minute. It’s pretty safe to say at least some of those images are animal visuals. For example, remember this adorable video of the baby panda who sneezed and scared its mother? It now has more than 220 million views.
So what does this trend mean for your veterinary brand strategy? It means you should absolutely incorporate visuals into your brand strategy. Plus, you should tap into the trend to help strengthen your brand. Visual content offers businesses a unique opportunity for real precision marketing, which has so far been missing from traditional marketing methods. Here’s how:
We’re Visual Animals
Humans are, anyway. And we’ve always known it. From the rock art of ancient times to the elaborate tapestries of the Middle Ages, people have loved – and responded to – pictures. One of the first forms of advertising was the use of murals, such as an early wall painting found in the ruins of Pompeii showing bread on sale to worshippers at the temple of Apollo. OK, it’s unlikely that this was part of an official brand strategy, but you never know. The fact is, people responded to it by buying the product!
Think about the pet parents who walk into your veterinary clinic. You know many of them have at least one photo of their dog or cat on their phone. You also know that some of their Facebook and Instagram pages are filled with pictures of their furbabies. Your clients – more likely than not – actively contribute to adding visual content online. If you need some convincing, just check out the more than 39 million Instagram posts with the #catsofinstagram hashtag.
The Role of Visual Content in a Veterinary Marketing Strategy
So how do you make sure you use visual content to its fullest potential in your brand strategy? And how do you appropriately engage with your clients’ online love of their pets? There are a number of ways:
- Make it a part of your Facebook and Twitter profiles: If you’re a veterinary clinic, you should include a visual of who you help – fluffy, bright-eyed, loving pets. You can incorporate this into your Facebook and Twitter profile pictures. The cover photo for both social media channels also provides a huge asset for strengthening your brand. It’s the perfect spot to convey that you’re a caring, trustworthy, compassionate vet.
- Use video. Some reports find that consumers spend 88 percent more time on websites with video. This explains the rapid increase in the popularity of business videos posted on websites and tagged with keywords. It works.
- Post it to Pinterest and Instagram. These two social media platforms make sharing visual content simple and fast, and they open a window into your brand for pet parents who are looking for your service. You can’t get more precision marketing than that.
“But our company is on social media,” you say. “It’s doing nothing for us except taking time to upload posts.” Why do you think that’s the case?
Making Social Media Marketing Part of Your Brand Strategy
Too often, business people inexperienced in social media dive headlong into creating a profile and posting without a proper strategy. To use visual platforms like Pinterest and Instagram effectively, approach them the same way as you would any other marketing channel: with a plan.
Your plan should consider your brand and your other veterinary marketing materials. To get started:
- Research who your target audience is for each social media profile. Ask yourself, “Who is using each channel?” and “Can that help my veterinary marketing and branding?”
- Drive traffic to your website from your social media profiles by posting links and your original visual content, rather than content from third-party websites.
- Cross-promote your visual content. If you have multiple social media profiles, use them as part of your veterinary marketing strategy. For example, you can share an Instagram post on Facebook. You can also share a Pinterest pin on Facebook and Twitter.
- Schedule your posts as you would for a traditional communications campaign, and follow the plan.
- Embed your social media posts into your website or blog content. If you have a blog, you can easily embed a tweet, pin or Instagram post. This serves a dual purpose: You get visual content in your text content, and you remind website visitors that you have a presence on that social media channel.
Make your visual content marketing a part of your overall brand strategy, and coordinate it with your other marketing for precision marketing with maximum impact.
Publish Quality Material
Quality material is the biggest issue in the online environment. Google’s frequent algorithm updates keep most marketers and business owners on their toes: As the technology gets more sophisticated, it’s getting better at distinguishing quality content from bad content.
Search engine rankings are based on all the content on the page, not just the written copy. It applies equally to audiovisual content, with video, podcasts, photography and even design elements. If there is any indication of plagiarism, or if keywords are used badly or don’t include the various types of tags available, your website rankings could suffer. According to Google, unique, specific content is found to be valuable for consumers.
You also need to budget for visual content as you would for any other aspect of your brand strategy; get real filmmakers and photographers to create your branding material. While your veterinary marketing plan may allow for some candid cellphone photos added to Facebook or Instagram, the true quality visual content comes from the pros, and your potential clients will be able to tell.
Publish good quality visual content, and your traffic stats will show the returns. According to the National Federation of Small Businesses, professionally produced visual content can turn browsers into clients. Plus, it can help you compete with the “big boys.”