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The Pandemic and Pet Businesses: How Social Media Can Help

You’ve probably heard it said by now that the real winners in the COVID-19 crisis are the dogs. As you’re sheltering at home and spending more time with them than perhaps ever before, they’re blissfully unaware of the pandemic wreaking havoc around the globe. 

That goes for cats, too — though they won’t admit it. Really, any kind of animal companion you have at home is probably extremely happy you’re at their side 24/7. 

For retailers and pet clinics or shelters providing products and services to our fur babies, there’s an incredible opportunity to connect with pet owners on social media throughout this time of need. Just as we humans need to get to the grocery store for food or to the doctor for certain medical needs, we have to be able to supply the basic necessities and healthcare — and all the treats and toys — for our precious pets.

Many retailers and providers are remaining open during the COVID-19 crisis, ensuring that all our pets’ needs are met. However, at the same time, they are operating under restrictions to ensure social distancing and to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. If you have a pet-related business, this first article in a four-part series will specifically help you to pivot your business model, connect with a captive digital audience and even grow your business despite COVID-19.

For Retailers

If you have a retail location selling pet products and services, you can easily pivot to offer curbside pickup, online ordering with in-store pickup and even free local delivery if you have the resources to do so. Give your customers plenty of options to get the products they need without having to leave their cars or their homes.

You could also develop an autoship program to put customers on repeat orders — creating recurring revenue without you having to do any extra work to earn their business. With so many options available for pet products, find ways to differentiate yourself so you become the retailer of choice.

If you have in-store services you’re having to put on hold right now, such as grooming and dog training, you can also offer exclusive discounts for customers to “buy now and use later.” Let your customers know they can buy gift cards or services at a discount, for instance, and save them to use once you reopen. These extra purchases can help you maintain your operations as you manage the reduction in revenue in certain areas of business.

However you’re addressing the changes, be sure to spread the word on social media. Throw in a few cute puppy pics while you’re at it — that’s key for social engagement!

Read more: Why You Need to Keep Up Your Marketing Despite the Coronavirus

For Animal Shelters

The upside of COVID-19 is that some animal shelters are completely clearing out their animal populations. As people shelter in place, they understandably want a fur buddy to help pass the time while they catch up on their Netflix binging. 

Other shelters may be experiencing a greater need for foster parents and adoptions. With fewer people venturing outside the home and some shelters closing to the public as well as canceling public events, there are also those shelters that have fewer pets being adopted out. It’s a concerning situation, as shelters want to adopt out as many animals as possible in the event they experience staffing shortages due to COVID-19 (and of course they want to help their animal populations find their forever homes!).

Some shelters are replacing in-person adoptions with more creative solutions to address the COVID-19 crisis. Virtual adoptions are becoming more commonplace — with online interviews of potential pet parents and digital adoption applications. In some cases, animal shelters may be booking private appointments for a meet-and-greet outside the building’s front doors to allow for social distancing.

In place of live fundraisers and adoptions, animal shelters could go live on Facebook and Instagram. Ask for online donations and set up a system to match animals with their humans. Reach out to your usual adoption partners, like your local pet store, to collaborate online and drive more business.

For Veterinary Providers

If your vet clinic is staying open to provide essential pet services, you can adjust your operations to ensure the safety of your staff, customers and patients. Many providers have implemented limited-contact policies where they have pet parents call from their vehicles once they arrive in the parking lot. Staff members then retrieve pets to provide veterinary care and return them afterward, helping to limit the contact between the clinic and outside parties.

You may also be able to offer telehealth services to your patients to deliver remote care for basic health needs. As noted in this article from Today’s Veterinary Practice (TVP), veterinary telehealth is an evolving area of healthcare with the laws varying from state to state. 

However, COVID-19 has given rise to discussions about how telehealth may be used in veterinary practices. Another TVP article notes, “Over the past few weeks, several states have amended their laws to allow the use of telehealth in an effort to provide patients and doctors with a way to interact without physical contact. The FDA temporarily suspended enforcement of some federal veterinarian-client-patient relationship (VCPR) requirements.”

Make sure you understand the rules in your state and how they apply to your practice. And, if and when you’re able to offer telehealth services, let your customers know through your social channels how to access those services. If you’re not in a position to do so at this time, tell your customers what you can do instead and how you’re taking the proper precautions to keep everyone safe.

Tap Into the Power of Social Media

As you’re taking care of social distancing, Rallio is here to take care of your social media engagement — with no initial fees. We have many different solutions for all types of businesses to help them navigate the COVID-19 crisis with greater ease.

  • Rallio Dashboard — Our social media management tool was built specifically for franchises and multi-unit businesses. It lets you control your brand’s social and review pages from one simple spot, as well as syndicate content to different types of franchisees and set permissions.
  • Rallio Local — Technology is great, but humans are better. Rallio Local combines the power of the Rallio technology with the creativity of real people. Receive weekly custom, local content, custom responses to your online reviews, social ad campaigns and community management. We pair you with a Social Strategist to deliver hyper-local content that gets seen by your audience through fully managed ad campaigns.
  • Rallio Activate — Leverage the power of your employees to reach customers like never before. Incentivize them with rewards programs that you create, and collect assets into your brands image library. Have them submit their own photos and videos to earn points, and publish your brand-approved content on their personal profiles. 

To get started, fill out our online form or reach out to Remember, we’re all in this together — and Rallio is here to help you keep growing even as we navigate the current challenges.

This article was the first in a four-part series exploring ways to respond to changing times, digitize your business and blow up your social media presence. Watch for our future vertical-specific articles to learn how to adapt for the current economy.

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