Socially Acceptable columnist Caitlin DeWilde, DVM, is the founder of The Social DVM, a consulting firm helping veterinary professionals learn to manage and grow their social media, online reputation and marketing strategies. She earned her DVM from the University of Illinois and is a recipient of its Outstanding Young Alumni Award. Before stepping back to focus on her marketing passion, she served as medical director for a large hospital in St. Louis. Today, she divides her time between practice, consulting and writing. She is the author of the “Social Media and Marketing for Veterinary Professionals” textbook.Read Articles Written by Caitlin DeWilde
If you’re exploring new technologies to enhance your veterinary practice’s marketing effort, one worthy of attention is ChatGPT, an AI-powered conversational tool that generates humanlike responses. Marketers across many industries tout ChatGPT as essential when creating content for social media, email and blogs. However, you need to understand its limitations and how to integrate it into a marketing strategy effectively.
What Is ChatGPT?
It’s a free, online artificial-intelligence tool released in November 2022. Trained on vast amounts of text data, ChatGPT produces humanesque, long-form responses. Through deep learning, ChatGPT analyzes patterns in your inputs and produces coherent, contextually relevant output.
What Can It Do?
While some might say, “The possibilities are endless,” ChatGPT can do many things — some helpful, some interesting and some fun. However, it doesn’t replace an experienced veterinary professional. Some practices use it to generate social media and website content, photo captions, blog posts and video scripts. Practice managers find ChatGPT useful when writing job ads, responding to online reviews, creating email templates and producing standard operating procedures. On the medical front, veterinarians use ChatGPT for case research, writing notes and client communication.
What Can’t It Do?
ChatGPT doesn’t replace your team members’ veterinary expertise or people’s common sense. It relies highly on how a user inputs a request, but you can’t always trust the output. Because ChatGPT relies heavily on predictive text, it doesn’t always pull correct data, statistics or sources. It doesn’t integrate directly with veterinary-specific software (yet), so most outputs must be copied and pasted into other services. Indeed, its capabilities and integrations are bound to expand over time.
How Do I Get Started?
First, go to chat.openai.com and create a free account. An account allows you to save your “chats” (questions and answers). Next, you’ll see “Send a Message.” Type in your prompt (what you want ChatGPT to do) and hit enter. You’ll see a result within seconds.
Your prompt should be specific and contain as many details as possible. The text input is limitless as long as it can be typed or copied and pasted. You can’t upload files or images, but you can include website links and suggestions about the reply’s tone and reading level.
Each prompt generates a response. The question-and-answer exchange is called a “chat.” You can ask for edits or further information, but you might want to start another chat if the topic is new or unrelated. For instance, you might ask for a blog post about canine dental disease and, once it’s generated, request a caption for sharing the post on social media.
Think of chats as threads, each saved and named in the left-hand menu.
Here are sample marketing prompts you can use in your practice:
- “Create five quotes for social media use on the human-animal bond.”
- “Generate a response to the following client review of my veterinary practice.” (Copy and paste the review.)
- “Create a blog post for our veterinary practice website about dog-friendly locations in (your town).”
- Follow-up prompt: “That looks great! Now write a social media caption to help us promote the blog on our social media channels.”
- “Write a social media caption for our veterinary practice’s upcoming closure on Labor Day, which is September 4. Be sure to include helpful Labor Day weekend pet-safety tips and include the contact information for (your town) emergency veterinary practices.”
- “Write a three- to five-sentence website bio for our new veterinarian, who graduated in 2009 from the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine and practiced in another state before recently relocating to our community of Anytown, Missouri. He enjoys camping, hiking and reading and has two kids and four dogs.”
- “Our veterinary practice wants to book more appointments for senior cats (ages 8-plus). We have a cat-only exam room and use Fear Free techniques. Write an email newsletter we can send to our cat-owning clients and include a funny cat pun call to action that encourages them to book online or call for an appointment.”
When to Use ChatGPT and When Not to
As a ChatGPT user for more than six months, I’ve entered hundreds of prompts on behalf of veterinary practices and my business. The tool is essential for two main reasons:
- It helps with efficiency. ChatGPT generates an email, blog or social media caption faster than I can type it (and I’m pretty fast). Even after we review and edit the responses, our practice releases more (and faster) content and client communication.
- It’s a springboard. When I’m out of creative juice, ChatGPT helps me move forward. When I’m having trouble with a caption, being objective in responding to a review or writing a help-wanted ad, it generates ideas I wouldn’t have considered. In other cases, it confirms that I’m on the right track or reminds me of one more thing I should include. There’s less staring at a blinking cursor.
I love ChatGPT and use it regularly, but I don’t trust it. I’ve seen it make up data, source websites that don’t exist and, particularly for medical information, make serious omissions. Even with straightforward marketing content, I need to tweak or rewrite something nearly every time.
I also recognize that as ChatGPT enters the mainstream, my local and regional competition is likely using it, too. I want my practice’s marketing to be unique and, above all, professional and accurate.
I wouldn’t rely exclusively on ChatGPT for marketing content, client communication or ideas. That’s because while it pulls from a seemingly endless well of intelligence, ChatGPT doesn’t know your team, community or clients.
Use it, explore it and teach it over time to know your tone and “voice,” but always double-check it and tweak the results to work for you.
Many tech articles tout ChatGPT’s assistance with website search engine optimization (SEO). However, I’d still rely on a trusted human expert to analyze, monitor and adjust your keywords and back-end SEO.
Finally, if you’re using ChatGPT in your veterinary practice, talk with your team members about it so everyone understands the tool’s capabilities and the caveats. Remind them that while ChatGPT can craft a response, caption or content, they must review the output for accuracy and tone and confirm that the reply satisfies your practice’s goals.
ChatGPT can help veterinary marketers overcome barriers to efficiency and creativity. However, it’s not a replacement for veterinary expertise.
Here are 20 ways to use ChatGPT in your veterinary marketing.
- Social media captions
- Social media calendar ideas
- Blog posts
- Email newsletters
- Staff bios
- Push notifications
- Video scripts
- Marketing channel content ideas
- Online review responses
- “About Us” statements
- Updating or creating client education handouts
- Email templates, such as typical responses to questions handled by the front desk
- Job ads
- Updating website copy
- Video titles, descriptions and hashtags
- Hashtags relevant to your community or niche
- Standard operating procedures for everyday tasks
- Comprehensive marketing plans for a new product, service or team member
- Translating content into another language
- Email campaigns for particular client groups, such as new puppy owners, cat owners or the owners of senior dogs
HOW TO MAKE AI PROMPTS WORK FOR YOU
- The message you input must be as specific as possible. Instead of requesting, “Write a social media caption about Halloween pet-safety tips,” type, “I’m a veterinary practice using social media to educate our pet owners about Halloween safety. Generate a social media caption that includes five to seven bulleted tips (with Halloween emojis) and provides contact information for after-hours emergencies (available at yourvetpractice.com/er) if their pets have a health concern over the holiday.”
- Ask ChatGPT to edit its reply until you get what you want. If you don’t like the output, your next prompt should ask for a different response and explain why. Over time, the interaction will help ChatGPT understand your preferences better.
- Tell ChatGPT who you are and who your audience is. For instance, you’re a veterinary practice speaking to local pet owners. Also, outputs should recommend that pet owners contact you for further information instead of another pet care specialist or generic expert.
- Keep the outputs short and sweet. Advise ChatGPT about the desired content length. Remember that people consume social media, email and blog content rapidly. Get to the point quickly.
- Tone and reading level matter. Over 50% of U.S. adults read at a seventh- or eighth-grade level, so make sure the masses will understand your content. If you want a funny, conversational or professional tone, say it in your prompt. You can even ask ChatGPT to respond in the style of a particular author or celebrity.
- Don’t forget to request call-to-action statements and provide relevant website links.