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What are the pitfalls of social media for the practice?

Social media has its benefits and pitfalls for veterinary practices, but there are ways to minimise damage caused by negative comments online

Social media has revolutionised the way we do business online and you are probably already using some
form of it to market your practice. With more customers than ever using online searches and reviews to choose
who they go to for animal care, an effective and positive
social media presence can be key to winning and retaining
customers.

Negative social media comments can damage your practice’s reputation, but you can limit that damage by having
an effective online risk management and response plan in
place and knowing your legal rights.

An unhappy customer has posted a negative
review about my practice – what is the next
step I should take?

Great practices are all sometimes subject to customer complaints, but even if you have an almost perfect satisfaction
rate, it only takes a couple of aggrieved customers (rightly
or wrongly) to change this.

Most reputable review websites offer you a right to reply.
If you are considering writing a response to a negative
review, don’t rush it. Ensure any response is solution orientated, rather than defensive, and do remember that your
response could be reposted anywhere online.

A great customer service response from you, which makes it clear that you take responsibility and work quickly
to rectify any problems, can turn a difficult situation to your
advantage.

One of my employees has posted a
defamatory comment about my practice
online – what can I do?

Employee misuse of social media can be devastating to
your practice, both legally and from a PR perspective.

A properly drafted and enforced policy on the use of social media by your employees is your most effective tool in
protecting yourself against legal liability and harm to your
reputation.

It’s crucial that parameters are established for the safe
and effective use of social media and it is made clear to
staff that you have the power to take action if they contravene that guidance.

What are the consequences of posting animal
images online?

If you are the photographer – none. Pets are legally considered belongings and so do not have a right to privacy.
Nonetheless, you will need to make sure that you respect
your customers’ rights to privacy and comply with data
protection law. This means you will need to remove any
personal information of a customer from an image.

If you are not the photographer of the images – be careful! If the picture is taken by a third party or posted to your
Facebook page by a customer, you cannot use it unless you
have the permission of the photographer. The person who
takes the photograph owns the copyright in that image; if
you then use that image without their permission, you will
be infringing on their rights.