Does Your Veterinary Website Adhere to a Code of Conduct?

Veterinarian education

Most tips for veterinary websites focus on veterinarian marketing, and how to build a professional website. These tips are of course very important to follow, but they often leave out when critical aspect of website content. If you have watched enough cop dramas, then you may know this next line by rote:

“You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can, and will, be used against you…”

One big website and marketing tip that is often neglected is the issue of content, and conduct. Veterinarians must be careful about how they use their website and marketing as a forum for personal and professional opinions or advice. The veterinary profession recently suffered a blow due to some statements made by Andrew Jones, former veterinarian, on the ABC show “20/20.” In November, the segment “Is Your Veterinarian Being Honest With You?” left many pet owners wondering if their vets were selling them unnecessary services, and many vets fighting the assumption that they might have money on their minds rather than the health of their patients.

This is just an example of how your well-intentioned personal or professional advice might spark some negative notoriety. It is not to say that you will be making any similar claims on your website, but if you intend on using a blog, email marketing, or social media, then you will need to think carefully about what you choose to share.

Veterinarian websites are an extension of the brick-and-mortar veterinary clinic.

Your website and branding are an excellent promotional tool for your vet clinic. This also goes for other forms of veterinary practice marketing, such as social media, or a blog. They are, essentially, digital reception areas where you can show your best face to the world, and interact with current and future clients. Remember this when you choose to post anything to your website or blog. Ask yourself if you would say those things out loud in your reception area. If the answer is no, then the web may not be the best forum for those thoughts.

The best veterinarian websites are interesting, without being inflammatory.

You may find that clients are more likely to sign up for a newsletter, or “like” or “follow” you on social media if you provide them with free, and useful information. However, you should remember that in some cases there is a fine line between fact and opinion, and you should not say anything in a newsletter, or on Twitter, that you would not be comfortable backing up with facts, or professional expertise. Remember that much can be lost in translation from screen to client, and you will need to be extra clear so that your information is not misunderstood.

A Pew Internet study found that approximately 58% of people research services and products via the internet. Since many people also use the internet to find local veterinarians, it is safe to assume that veterinarian websites will be scrutinized more than you might think. Just remember to treat your online presence, whether it is the front page of your website, or your Facebook, as you would a physical space in your clinic. Measure any responses to clients, or advice that you give, very carefully. The reputation of your clinic could depend on it. Find more on this here:

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