Twin sisters and veterinarians Audrey and Alison Shen were ahead of their time when they created their business, Aussie Mobile Vets in 2014. Using bespoke modified vans that mirror a vet surgery with equipment, consultation space and medications, the entrepreneurial pair have successfully defied criticism that house calls were a risky and unsafe occupation for women.
Audrey and Alison have successfully used Facebook and Instagram to expand their fleet, grow their team and build a loyal customer base in Sydney and Brisbane.
Here, Audrey Shen offers her tried and trusted hacks to use the platforms with the best return on investment.
1. Choose the right medium for your business
The sisters ran a vet hospital for nine years prior, and used print advertising and the Yellow pages to spread the word. The huge uptake of Facebook and Instagram by small business coincided with their mobile business launch and they chose to create Facebook and Instagram accounts.
“I was just starting to use Facebook and then Instagram on a more personal level,” she says. “We could see the popularity and we saw it was important for business to have a social media presence.”
2. Trial your content to find the sweet spot
The challenge was to find the right content to attract customers but also educate them about how a mobile vet service worked.
“Making a vet business look interesting on social media is actually kind of easy because everybody loves pics of cute animals,” Audrey says. “But which ones do well? Do people want more videos? More with staff? Do they want information?”
After much trial and error, they settled on an approach to post crowd-pleasing (and highly shareable) memes and videos, cute photos of animals in their care, and images and videos to showcase the mobile clinics and how pets are treated on site. A professionally-created video that follows the sisters to an appointment is now pinned on their Facebook page as a testament piece.
“That video says everything that I try to say in 100 words,” she says. “It is quite informative and it changed everybody’s perception of what we were.”
3. Use paid ads to build awareness and generate bookings
The pair began Facebook ads when they added an extra van to the fleet. Ad content is exclusively informational — images (and later videos) introducing the sisters, and showcasing how the mobile clinics are used.
They hired a social media manager to determine which ads and boosted posts worked best and have followed those insights ever since. They target their audience based on their customer demographics and geography.
“That’s the great thing actually about Facebook is you can do that geographic targeting,” Audrey says. “It meant I could focus the advertising in the areas we were wanting to expand into.”
Interestingly, when they started Aussie Mobile Vet they saw a need from clients who were elderly, had a disability or had kids at home. But their customers turned out to be mostly younger time-poor professionals and families, and so their ad targeting has followed suit.
4. Leverage Facebook Messenger for business
As their Facebook followers grew, so did their clients’ comfort with using Messenger for general enquiries and appointments. Audrey says the last 12 months have seen a huge increase in Messenger use, the result of it being more integrated and user-friendly, but also user behaviour.
“Where Facebook works really well when people are at home and it’s after 7pm and they’re looking through and find out about us,” she says. “So I’ll wake up every morning, go to work and we’ll have three to four messages that turn into bookings throughout the week.”
The team get messages via Instagram as well, but these are often general enquiries — Facebook garners most of the bookings.
5. Monitor your return on investment
Through a mix of organic and paid posts, Audrey and Alison have almost doubled their Facebook and Instagram following and engagement every year since launch. They spend between $30 and $80 per month on Facebook ads — more in some months where it is seasonally appropriate, for instance ads for arthritis treatment for older animals in winter.
The ads generate around 30-40 new followers, and they receive an enquiry or booking from 90% of these new followers.
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