Times have changed.
Back when we were children, getting our picture taken was a “special” event that was marked on the calendar. It was a day that prompted the purchase of new clothes, a haircut, and, in my cases, so much hairspray that a typhoon couldn’t move the helmet head, slicked back hairstyle my mother created. Film was limited. Rolls of film held a maximum of 36 shots and were saved for the “perfect” picture. Video? Well, that didn’t even exist. We were thrilled when a relative had a Super 8mm camera that would capture our memories in silent black and white. I remember when my wife and I were married that hiring a videographer was just coming into vogue. So much so that when he made his rounds at the reception, videotaping attendees and asking them to share a message with the bride and groom, my wife’s aunt and uncle were paralyzed by the camera. They never considered being videotaped and how to act in that situation. By the way, the video of them “frozen and silent” is a hilarious part of our final wedding video.
My point is that this has all changed. Most people are walking around with very high-end still cameras and video cameras in their pockets. We call them cell phones. They are constantly being used to document events, provide visuals to those who can’t be there live, and eliminate misunderstandings that often happen with written copy because inflection, tone, and facial expressions can be viewed.
Ask yourself which of the following you would prefer: You’re making a recipe that you’ve never made before. You could follow the instructions on a recipe card or prop up your tablet next to the kitchen sink and follow along with a step-by-step video guide on how to perform every part of the process that is the recipe. Most are going to prefer the guidance that a video provides. Why would pet owners be any different? They are comfortable being filmed and naturally are comfortable learning things visually.
Follow these 7 steps to be a veterinary video pro.
Step 1. Get a smartphone for the veterinary practice.
While there are many benefits, such as texting clients when pets are out of surgery, taking photos of the pets while they’re boarding, and being able to capture those unexpected images or videos on a practice-owned and managed device, those are the subject of another lecture. Our goal here is to have you and your staff properly equipped to capture those video-worthy moments. As far as the type of phone that needs to be purchased, I don’t really have an opinion, but I suggest that you purchase the latest version of the iPhone or Android device available. These devices will yield images with quality that’s higher than the internet can display.
Step 2. Learn what’s video worthy.
Have a meeting with your staff and discuss your marketing plan. If you’re operating with a monthly content calendar in place, you should consider the topics that are being discussed throughout the upcoming months and round-table topics that might make great videos. These topics will lead the conversations towards what type of videos should be taken, who will take the videos, and situations to look for in daily practice. Everyone who will be tasked with gathering video should have access to the phone, understand how to use the video feature on the phone, and have a clear understanding of the type of video that needs to be taken. Make discussing the “punch list” of videos to be taken a regular meeting item so that employees have the need at top of mind. I highly suggest that you practice filming and review the results as a team. Often seeing the difference between different styles, positioning, and length will help everyone get on the same page.
Step 3. Look at the background.
We know that a veterinary practice can be a chaotic place and that sometimes it might appear to be unorganized. Stacks of paper, randomly opened drawers or cabinets, or other background “clutter” can be distracting to the viewer and leave the inaccurate impression that your practice is less than organized and practices less-than-great veterinary medicine. Clean it up, inspect the background, and/or adjust your angle so that it is as sterile as possible. Remember, this could be the only view a pet owner has of your back-of-practice operations.
Step 4. Get appropriate releases.
Veterinarians, veterinary technicians, support employees, and clients should sign releases that allow for their images and those of their pets to be used in your videos. Please consult with your legal advisor for exact verbiage and incorporate it in the employee manual and your new client packet. Develop “standalone” photo/video release forms that can be used for existing employees and clients.
Step 4. Launch YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter accounts.
These social media accounts have proven to be excellent places to share your video. Don’t stop with learning just how to upload a video to these channels. Instead, learn how to optimize the video fully so that keywords and phrases are embedded and understood by the search engines that are combing the internet looking for the type of content your video contains. If you do not take the time to explain the content of the video, you are missing the point and will experience only a fraction of the exposure that a well-optimized video can gather. If you’re uncomfortable with “diving this deep” you should be able to receive assistance from your website or search engine optimization vendor.
Step 5. Grow your social media following.
Step 6. Understand the power of live video.
Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube have all launched free products that allow you to use your smartphone to broadcast live video to the world. This allows you and your practice to have its very own broadcast station. Channels that speak about you, your opinions, and the information that you want your audience to view and when you want them to view it. All three mentioned products have incredible targeting possibilities that allow you to reach out and connect with those who are interested in the services that your veterinary practice offers. Did I mention this is free?
The systems all work in a very similar fashion. You turn on your smart phone, open the desired social channel, describe the video, and begin broadcasting. Those who follow you on that social channel will receive a notice that you are broadcasting live and will be given the chance to watch and interact with you live.
Because it’s much easier to demonstrate this in person (or in video if it were an option for these proceedings), I will take a very deep dive into this subject during the lecture. Then, we will create live video, learn how to have the video reach as many people as possible, discuss best practices, and ultimately make you feel comfortable enough that you will want to start sharing video as soon as you get back.
Your plan should include planned live video segments that are advertised across all social channels, such as “Cat Chat Tuesdays” that might go live every Tuesday evening or “Pet Behavior Wednesday” that might go live every Wednesday. Impromptu segments can be created to speak to things that happen in the news that affect our pets, disaster situations where pet owners may need guidance, or as a way that you can provide a “behind-the-scenes” view of you in your practice, at a seminar, or any other interesting location.
Step 7. Re-purpose live video.
Although the video you are creating is live, you will have the option to save the video and use it later as a link from a blog article, from your website, or as a video stored on that appropriate channel. When done correctly, the content will have an evergreen effect by reaching many pet owners for many years.