How social media can promote your practice (Sponsored by Nestlé Purina)

Feb 01, 2012

When Dr. Jennifer L. Casey Hodge asked a new client how she heard about The Cat Clinic of Cary, the pet owner replied, "I'm Willie's friend on Facebook." As CEO or "cat executive officer" of the Cary, N.C., veterinary hospital, Willie reached 5,000 Facebook friends in three years, ranging from clients to cat lovers in countries as far away as Taiwan and France. With social media savvy beyond his 5 years of age, Willie has graduated to a business page, so he can move beyond Facebook's limit of 5,000 friends on personal pages (

Willie took up residence at The Cat Clinic of Cary (in N.C.) and now posts his adventures daily on Facebook. Willie reached 5,000 Facebook friends in three years.
Found in a dumpster as a kitten, Willie had a severe eye infection that required removal of his right eye. Willie took up residence at The Cat Clinic of Cary and now posts his adventures daily on Facebook (see photos). He dressed up as Santa to visit residents at a local assisted-living facility. Willie posted holiday safety tips for feline family members.

"Create a character and personalize it for the people you're posting to," advises Dr. Hodge. "If you're going to do social media, it has to be personalized. You won't grab their interest on heartworm disease alone. Think about your social media strategy and develop a niche for yourself." She credits Willie's conversational approach for his 5,000 friends, compared with the clinic's 420 Facebook fans.

Word-of-mouth referrals have long been the No. 1 source of new clients for veterinary hospitals. With social media, word of mouth becomes world of mouth. Yellow pages advertising is expensive and a dying medium. Social media is free and gets immediate results.

Don't have change-o-phobia when it comes to social media. Think of this new communication tool as a new drug or treatment. Put simply, social media is about communicating with existing and prospective clients. Social media is more touch than tech. It's word-of-mouth marketing on steroids! Woody Allen said, "90% of success is just showing up," so show up on social media. The best way to learn is to jump in and do it.