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VNN Media Insider Newsletter December 3rd, 2009
In This Issue
Breaking News
Twitter Training
To Tweet or Not To Tweet
How to Write Great Veterinary Blogs
Featured Article
Red LIght siren
Are Dogs the Latest Victims of H1N1? 
A report out of China this weekend stated that 2 dogs tested positive for the H1N1 virus.  We have updated our Message Points to reflect this new story, but, as Dr. Scott Weese continues to state, this new fact doesn't really change any recommendations for dealing with this flu bug.
Turkeys in Canada and Virginia and a California Cheetah have also tested postive.
Featured Article
Thomas Dock, VNN Reporter Relations Manager
I thnk that Cheree did a great job of showing how a Twitter account can not only positively affect a veterinary hospital, but also how it doesn't have to take a lot of YOUR time.
Right now, only a small percentage of our 300+ reporters have Twitter accounts.  Are you ready to start one after reading our recent articles?
We have an in-depth, step by step Twitter guide posted at   Simply log in to the site with your email and password and find the Extras Tab on  your My News Desk page.  Look for the link to the "Media Insider and Social Media Training Guides" and click it.  The Twitter Training guide is available in either a Powerpoint presentation or a pdf file for you to view.
Soon, we will have additional training guides for Twitter that will reference the Twitter tools Cheree mentions in her article.  Applications like Tweetdeck, HootSuite, Twitpic, etc are very useful and help make your Twitter experience more efficient.
We are very thankful for the use of VetNetworks blog posting on Veteinary blogs this week.  There are many good ideas to help stimulate your own creative flow.  Use the tips Dr. Jim gave you in the last Media Insider newsletter to help find the writer in you.
Remember that all of the VNN resources are available for you to use in your hospital blog.  You can use the print columns "as is" or edit them to reflect your own opinions and your local flavor.  The Message Point library has good blog ideas and, of course, your News Alerts can help you keep your followers and your clients well informed! 
Quick Links...
VNN Reporter Blogs
I am sure that there are many more of our VNN Reporters who have blogs but I left off this list.  For those of you contemplating blogs, this nice cross section of VNN Reporters shows you a variety of different formats and how individual doctors use topics near and dear to them to focus their writing.
Dear VNN Reporter: 

Dr. Jim is returning from CSU with a very interesting case.  His horse, Escalando, underwent a revolutionary new cataract surgery at Colorado State University where they inserted an artificial lens implant.  Dr. Jim was able to capture many pictures and even some video of the surgery and we are planning an upcoming VNN story on the advances of cataract surgery in our pets.  We wish Escalando a speedy recovery!
Today's articles are, in a word, FANTASTIC.  The first article gives you some real world experience about Twitter from a VNN reporter.  The second is an excellent column from one of our content partners on how to get the most out of your veterinary blog.
Remember, if you don't have time to read these now, save this newsletter somewhere so that you will remember to come back to it. 
To Tweet or Not to Tweet...
Cheree Miller
(This week's column is written by Ms Cheree Miller, affiliate VNN reporter and Practice Manager for Azzore Veterinary Specialists in Arkansas.)
Is there really any question?  Mid-June, Dell announced $3 million revenue from Twitter.  Nauti-Dog cut advertising costs by 80 percent, turned to Facebook and Twitter, and increased orders by 50%.  The main cost in social marketing is time. The payoff?  Better client interaction and WOM (Word-of-Mouth) advertising.

03/24/09 our first tweet: "Getting ready to move into our new surgery center Fri, March 27th." Most of our 9 posts that day were about our surgical cases in Memphis.

977 tweets, 437 followers later, our Twittergrade ( is 95.3 out of 100, and if you search for "veterinary" we are #12.

"Nice stats, but is Twitter 'paying off'?" We can't claim $3 million or a 50% increase in sales, but while sales are important, in service Client Service is king.

"What do your clients think?"
...Thank you for posting this. It's good to see him looking happy and not terrified.
...I love the updates! thank you again.
...How wonderful to see him smiling!
...Thanks for posting the x-ray pic...quite a difference from the pre-surgery hip!

Our clients love it! They can follow us to find out when their pets are in prep, in the OR and in recovery. They have access to real-time information.
Most of our clients who aren't already on Twitter sign up as soon as they leave our office. Everyone is asked to sign a consent form for photos.

"Doesn't Twitter take a lot of time?" Some, but I can type 140 characters pretty fast, and we split up the tasks.
I post our schedule in the morning. Jennifer, our CSC, snaps patient photos with her cell and sends them to TwitPic. By the time the clients get home, their babies are on our Twitter feed. When I hear the clippers, I post who is in prep. I post when a patient is in radiology (my office is across the hall) and upload any interesting x-rays to Tweetdeck. Jennifer takes photos of patients in recovery.

And Twitter saves time for our clinical staff. Dr. Dew and the techs focus on what only they can do, while the office staff keeps the info flowing to the clients via Twitter.

"Is Twitter worth the effort?" You tell me.  Here is an example of tweets we routinely get...

@Azzore I'm so glad to see him awake! Twitter is an amazing tool for those owners of us who have separation anxiety.
(You can follow Azzore Veterinary Specialists at @Azzore on Twitter and visit their website at
Writing Good Articles for Your Veterinary Hospital's Blog 
 VetNetwork Logo
 (Special thanks to Dr. Mark Feltz and the great crew at VNN Content partner, for supplying us with this article on successful veterinary blogs)
Writing interesting articles for the internet, and especially for your veterinary hospital's blog, is not only free advertising, it also builds your credibility, spreads the word about your hospital's services and establishes you as the expert in the veterinary and pet-related fields. Providing that your blog is incorporated into your veterinary hospital's website, the articles that you post (on your blog) are extremely useful for increasing your website's search result positions on Google and the many other search engines. In fact, there is probably no better method for increasing the Google rankings of your veterinary hospital's website than writing articles on your blog.

Before writing your articles, there are a few very important points that need to be considered. They are:

» ·Keep your article simple and avoid medical jargon.
» ·Keep the article short. Four or five paragraphs are enough. Visitors don't have time to read extensive postings.
» ·Make the article as personable as possible. Your visitors are coming to your blog to read about your personal experiences. This is not the place for fact-filled medical or technical articles.
» ·Write the article in a friendly tone. The pet owner should not feel guilty about choosing an alternative that you may not necessarily recommend.

Some Example Articles That You Can Write For Your Blog
The Latest Pet News - Do you have some little tidbit that you might want to share with your community?

FAQ: Frequently Asked Questions - What are your clients asking? List the 5 questions that are asked most often and provide simple answers. Ask your receptionists what the clients are asking.

Employee Interview - Interview your head technician or head receptionist. Interview a student employee. If you don't want to conduct an actual interview, just email your employee a questionnaire.

Case Study - Focus on the personal aspects of the case, not the medical procedures. Briefly discuss the role of each employee and how well-behaved and heroic the pet was.

Seasonal Issues - Don't just list the usual chocolate intoxication and antifreeze warning. Write a small personal story that ends well.

Your Pet's Big Day - Briefly describe what goes on behind closed doors when a client brings his / her pet to the veterinary hospital for a dental procedure. After your pet is whisked away by the veterinary staff, what happens?

Personal Events - Hospital employees' birthdays and how they are celebrated at the hospital.

The Hospital Pets - Most of your clients know who they are but do they know how they ended up at your hospital?

A Personal Story - About your weekend hike or your camping experience with your dog.

Highlight A Client's Pet - As you know, every client has an interesting story to tell about their pet. Really...some are very interesting!

Taking A Stand On An Animal-Related Issue - Whether its dog fighting, bull fighting or the extinction of the polar bear, this is a great way to get your visitor's attention and comments.

Keyword Usage For Your Blog Article

Now that you have written your article, think about keywords that a visitor would type into Google in order to find it. If the keywords are not in the article, go back and include them. In fact, there are certain places where your keywords should be placed.

Always have the most important keywords in the title of your article and include them in your first sentence. Mention them again in the first paragraph or at the top of the second paragraph. You should also mention these same keywords in the first line of the last paragraph. Sprinkle all your keyword throughout the article but no more than a 2 percent ratio of the total words. Don't overuse the keywords or Google may blacklist you. It is very important to make sure your article reads well and that the content is not compromised. Follow all of Google's rules pertaining to keyword usage, article content and layout. Never ever think that you can fool Google! (Within the next few weeks we are planning to post a simple article about the Do's and Don'ts for Google - Follow Us On Twitter to see when the article will be posted.)

Your article should have backlinks to pages on your website. If you are writing an article about dentistry, your backlink should take the visitor to the dental page on your website. When you are sending visitors to pages on your website, make sure these pages contain excellent and up-to-date information.

Writing for your blog is an art. With time you will improve your skills and become more effective. Before you know it, you will have a large following and your rankings on Google will increase. And of course, the better your following becomes, the more new clients you will get.
(VetNetwork is owned by veterinarian Dr. Mark Feltz.  They provide webhosting services and web design.  Currently, VetNetwork provides more than 250 veterinary hospital websites, including those of  several VNN reporters.  Visit their site at or follow then on Twitter @vetnetwork). 
Remember, Dr. Jim and I are available if you have any questions about social media or how to get started.  You can call Dr. Jim at 719-495-2100 or email him at  My contact information is below.
Our goal is to continue to provide you with the highest level of media resources and information to grow your practice through publicity and PR. 

Thomas Dock
Veterinary News Network