Ask any business owner and they’ll tell you that, especially today, online communication is vital to your success. As a veterinarian, you’re also a business owner and therefore online communication is also vital to your success. If you’re not very good at communicating online, or you simply haven’t been doing very much of it, this article will tell you why it’s so important. It will also tell you what, specifically, you can do to increase your online communication and use it to build your practice, get your name out into the public eye and brand yourself as the go-to vet in your area.


What Is Online Communication? – more than social media

Simply put, online communication is any form of communication that involves the internet, including the world-wide-web and all of the devices that can connect to it and thus connect you to prospective clients. It’s no secret that today, millions of people use the internet to communicate. This can be 2 people communicating from across the street or from somewhere on the other side of the world. It can also be multiple people communicating at the same time or one person communicating their thoughts for many others to read and think about later.

As a vet online communication is one of the best methods for reaching out to the people in your community and letting them know that you’re there, you’re knowledgeable and you can help them with their pet’s health needs. Online communication also allows you to send out your ideas, thoughts, advice and opinions so that others may learn from them and use them. In short, online communication is one of the best ways to grow your practice and thus you should be using it to the fullest extent to take advantage of everything it offers.


What Are the Different Forms of Online Communication?

Unlike yesteryear when communication was either face-to-face or through a landline telephone, online communication can be achieved through a wide variety of means, methods and devices. As a business owner looking to grow your practice, increase your patient base and grow your income, you should be using practically all of the different types of online communication on a regular, ongoing basis.



One of the first forms of online communication, email is still very popular today and still read by millions of people each and every day. Yes, people are moving away from email as more and more of them start using smartphones and text messaging, but email is still very popular, especially among older folks. One of the best methods of using email in your practice is to send out an email newsletter once or twice a month to all of your clients letting them know what’s going on in the practice. Anything interesting or new that’s happened, announcements about new or improved therapies, congratulations on new pet adoptions, etc.


SMS Text Messaging & Push Notifications

Communicating by smartphone through the use of SMS texts and push notifications is extremely popular today among millions of people, families and businesses. It’s easy, it’s practically free and, since most people take their smartphone everywhere they go, your message will be seen much faster than almost any other form of online communication. Push notifications are great for sending out a message to everyone on your call list at the same time. You can announce things like new products, new services and anything interesting that’s happening at the practice.


Social Media

More popular than almost any other form of online communication, social media is one of the trendiest and fastest ways to communicate online to all of your clients and prospective clients. There are several social media platforms that you can and should use, especially Facebook, Instagram and, to a lesser extent, Twitter and Pinterest.

Instagram is a powerful way to communicate with a wide range of people but especially your clients and the people that live in your town or city. As a vet, you could send out pictures of all the lovable, adorable and just plain cute animals that come through your clinic. It’s a great way to show them off, show that they’re getting better under your care and especially to show that you truly do care about them.

Then there’s Facebook which is a must-have for any business owner, especially a veterinarian. On Facebook, you can give all of your information, like hours of operation, location, phone number and so forth. You can also update clients about what’s new in your clinic, interesting happenings, celebrations and just about anything that they might find interesting or thought-provoking. Plus, like Instagram, you can post pics of all your furry patients!

Keep in mind that, once you start a social media ‘page’ or account, you should post to it regularly. That means you should put pictures and write words on your account so that all of your ‘followers’ can see them, ‘like’ them and ‘share’ them. This will have 2 effects; 1, it will brand you as the expert in your community and 2; it will help grow your popularity and, in time, help bring in new clients and new patients.

NOTE: If you can’t post regularly due to time constraints or any other factor, you might not want to start a social media account.

The reason; once people are used to seeing you on their favorite social media site they will look for your posts and, if they’re not there, it could cause more harm than good. As a veterinarian, you should know all about this as your training should have taught you that you should never perform a procedure or give a medication that causes more harm than good. So don’t start unless you make a commitment to continue posting, or hire someone to regularly post for you.


Chats, Forums & Whiteboards

These last 3 online communication platforms allow you to ‘talk’ to several people at the same time, where you can have discussions and debates. If you like, you can even educate your clients about how, when and why to take care of their pets, including feeding, care, training and more. You can then use instant messaging to drive your message home.

Hopefully, you can see how social media is one of the keys to building your client base and increasing knowledge among the people of your community, including the knowledge that you, their veterinarian, is the person they should seek out when they have questions or concerns about their pets. Use them all or stick to 1 or 2 but definitely use some of these platforms on a regular basis and your clinic will never lack for new patients.


How To Answer Reviews

Years ago, when a customer was pleased (or displeased) with the service or product that they purchased, word-of-mouth was the way they communicated their pleasure (or displeasure) to their friends and neighbors. They would talk and their friends would listen and, if they said good things, your business grew. (And vice-versa.)

Today, people still talk but not nearly as much (which is a whole different story). Instead, when they want to find out about a business, including their local veterinarians, they go to online review sites and look at the reviews that their peers have given. Based on those reviews they then make a decision to either become a client of the business or not, sometimes with little or no extra information save for the review itself.

In short, online reviews are powerful. How you respond to them can either make or break your clinic. Here is a short list of the most popular.

  • Yelp
  • Angie’s List
  • Better Business Bureau
  • Yellowpages
  • Facebook
  • Manta
  • Google My Business


Respond To Everyone or No One

First off, you really should be responding to all of your online reviews both positive and negative. If you only respond to the negative you could end up looking like a hypocrite. If you only respond to negative reviews you’ll likely insult clients who are trying to leave you a compliment and hoping that you notice. If you don’t respond at all that’s up to you but then don’t respond to anyone or, again, you’ll look like you’re picking and choosing and that could offend some people.


What Is Proper Online Etiquette?

If you’re going to respond to everyone there are a few rules that you must follow in order to keep your reputation intact and make sure that you don’t get a rep for being something you’re not. Like a fool, a hypocrite or, in the worst-case scenario, an uncaring person. As silly as this might seem at first glance the truth is that, when you’re online, the usual visual elements that people use to determine your motive are missing, including body language, the tone of your voice and so forth.

In short, it’s best to err on the side of caution when communicating online and/or responding to reviews. By adhering to the following rules of online etiquette you can be sure to keep everyone happy, even the clients that might be angry at you for some reason.

Choose the right words so that you always appear genuineRespect the opinions of clients even if you disagree with themBe as forgiving as possibleReview your response and give it some thought before you hit ‘send’Keep your messages short and succinctNever use ALL CAPS. It looks like you’re yelling and is also harder to readDon’t forward silly, frivolous or unimportant data, jokes or storiesStick to your point, make it and be done


Write On Your Website and/or Blog

Another excellent form of online communication is your website or your blog (or both). Your website is usually the first point of contact that a prospective client has with your clinic and if they see that you are involved, interested in what people have to say and responding to their messages and questions, your reputation as a great vet will only grow.

Much like social media, it’s a good idea to constantly be responding to client questions or comments. If you start and stop responding on your website in fits you’ll turn people off and they’ll seek help for their pets at another vet’s clinic. The same goes for your blog which, as you’ve hopefully guessed already, you should be writing on regularly.

Both your website and blog give you a wonderful opportunity to show your clients the kind of veterinarian that you really are; caring, thoughtful and educated. This is the place where you can show off all of your knowledge, educating and informing the public about all things animal health. You should post to both as frequently as you can.

One caveat, however, is that you should keep some kind of posting schedule. For example, if you post on Mondays and Fridays always post on Mondays and Fridays. Your clients will get used to your schedule and, more importantly, look forward to your posts with gusto. That’s where the magic can happen, turning your posts into a practice building juggernaut that takes your practice to the next level and then the next.


Show Your Face and Share Your Stories

One last thing that you really should do in your online communication is simply to show your face and share your stories. You want to show prospective clients in your community that you’re human and the best way to do that is to put a face with the name and a story with the face.

Talk about the animals in your care (being careful to not post anything that might go against your state and local privacy laws) and share the stories of how you helped them, how their owners were in a panic but are now ok, etc. And again, show your face on your website, Facebook, Instagram and more. It’s a great way to build trust and affinity for you and your clinic and build your practice at the same time.



We hope this article has illuminated for you the importance of online communication and how you can use it to engage with your community, build trust and increase the flow of new clients and patients into your clinic. If you have any questions or would like to leave a comment please do so in the space provided, and best of luck with all your online communication efforts!