3 safeguards for managing social media at your veterinary practice

Overseeing your clinic’s social media comes with many caveats ranging from fun and creative to stressful and burdensome. Find out how to curb your social media use and set boundaries when you’re on and off the clock.

Along with the growing demand for a strong social media presence in veterinary medicine comes a dire need for a healthier work-life balance, says Caitlin DeWilde, DVM, owner of The Social DVM, a veterinarian-owned and operated social media marketing company.

“Very few of us [veterinary professionals] are happy and have a good work-life balance. Over time, this can lead to a real problem like psychological distress,” she said.

During her lecture at the May Fetch dvm360® virtual conference, DeWilde highlighted the crucial role social media plays in promoting veterinary practices and how it can also contribute to mental health issues such as burnout and compassion fatigue within the profession. To curtail these evolving stressors, she provided 3 social media safeguards that practices can utilize to promote a healthier and more cohesive workplace.

Step 1. Awareness is key

Does your employer have a social media policy? According to DeWilde, these policies help determine who is responsible for responding and monitoring reviews and who creates, posts, and monitors the content. “I find a lot of people are not aware of what their true policy is or maybe they don’t have one,” she said. “Social media policies help you to be aware of what those expectations, roles, and timelines are.”

For example. Many veterinarians like to dive right in and handle situations, “that’s how we operate,” said DeWilde. However, when it infringes on your personal time, a lot of unnecessary stress will start to accumulate. Having defined and assigned roles can help set boundaries so that you aren’t working or worrying after hours about negative reviews or comments. “Are we responsible for this 24/7? The answer should be no,” she added.

Step 2. What are your goals?

Determining your level of involvement in social media at your practice is integral. Do you want to share the responsibility of creating and posting content or be the only one in charge? How much time are you willing to spend on it? “If you’re becoming involved in [social media management], you should know what that commitment looks like,” she said. DeWilde generally divides veterinary social media into 2 groups of people: Those who love it and spend way too much time on it, and those who don’t enjoy it and are unsure about how much time (and skill) is required.

Additionally, upper management doesn’t always consider the time, effort, and commitment it takes to manage social media properly. If you’re involved in creating, posting, monitoring, and analyzing content, you should be compensated for the additional workload.

“Bottom line is, how much time are we investing in this? Most practices don’t think about this from a time perspective. They don't think about the fact that it will take this person or these team members 4 hours a week to create, post, and analyze this content,” DeWilde said.

Step 3. Lean on your team

Social media can feel like a full-time job, making it tempting to manage it all on your own. Remember that your team is there to help. Implementing a team approach to managing social media ensures that the weight is being distributed equally so that no one is bogged down. DeWilde says taking a team approach enhances clinic culture by incorporating a diverse collection of voices to represent the practice. In addition to this, it also promotes the fostering of new ideas and support. “However you divvy out [the responsibilities], know that it allows for a collective voice and the bouncing of ideas. Talking to the front desk for ideas is a great resource as well as they are the ones who understand your clients the best,” she said.

The takeaway

The vast and evolving world of social media can be consuming and addicting, which is why it’s crucial to take breaks from it every now and again. According to DeWilde, managing your social media use can help you avoid negative effects on work-life balance, addiction, and boost productivity. “I can tell you from experience that going unplugged helps me be more in tune and in the moment. Sometimes you just need that break, and it’s amazing what you will get done when you’re not looking at your [device].”