Can You Run a Dog Business Without Social Media?

With over half the world using social media, it’s easy to see how these platforms have become synonymous with getting your brand and business out there. There are a host of tools and methods related to social media marketing, and navigating these can feel exhausting. While there is no doubt that social media can be a dog pro’s best friend, if you find yourself agonizing over posts and spending way longer than you would like scrolling through the abyss, it may be time to re-examine the friendship.

So what do you need to think about when it comes to social media and your business?

Understand the purpose
If you have a social media account for your business, what is its purpose? Which platforms are you using and why? And how does social media fit along your client journey? Understanding the aims of your social media presence, whether it’s improving brand awareness, getting more traffic to your website, or engaging with your current clients, is key to its effective use. Amassing followers can feel rewarding, but if those followers aren’t engaging with your content or converting into paying clients and opportunities, it may not be the best use of your time.

It can also be beneficial to understand which social media platforms your ideal clients favor. Taking a look at the demographics associated with each one may help inform your social media strategy and stop you feeling you have to be active on every channel. There’s little point pouring all your effort into making incredible Tik Tok videos if the suburban families you want to work with are all hanging out on Facebook.

Play out those ‘what ifs’
Social media is an enticing marketing avenue for a reason – you can share promotional content without cost and feedback happens in real time, making it a great place to experiment with different messages and approaches. It also provides you with a potentially large, active and global audience. This immense scale can also be a barrier as you compete in a crowded market of short attention spans, fuelled by complex algorithms and analytics. And what happens when these platforms fail? 

Many will recall the big outage of 2019 in which Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp all went down for 14 hours. For the average user, this may have meant a short hiatus from watching cat videos. For many business owners, it marked a disconcerting disruption to ad campaigns, live presentations, bookings and sales. It also served as a reminder that as a business owner, you don’t actually own the client data on your social media business pages. If these pages are hacked or banned for a vague or misunderstood violation, they can be lost for good. It can be beneficial to mentally play out these scenarios. If your social media pages disappeared overnight, do you have other ways of connecting with your audience? Maintaining email lists, nurturing client relationships, and employing diverse marketing tactics are key ways to mitigate against putting all your eggs in the social media basket.

Look after yourself
At dogbiz we love seeing people flourish in their personal and professional lives. For some people, social media can be a cause of stress and frustration. There is also compelling evidence to suggest that extended social media use isn’t great for our brains. There have also been concerns raised about the privacy and ethics of these platforms. For those who may want to jump off the social media bandwagon, or reduce their use of it, business pages can present a quandary. How can you spend less time on social media if your business is closely tied to it? It’s so easy to take a quick peek at your latest business post and then find yourself raging in the comments section of an aversive dog trainer post two hours later. The good news is that if you want to shift your relationship with social media and its role in your business, there are plenty of options to play with.

Expand your marketing horizons
Thinking of different ways to market your business, particularly in your local area, can be a fun and creative opportunity. Selecting options that fit you and your personality also tends to make it easier to get out there and promote yourself.

 A few ideas to kick around:

  • If you want to use social media but don’t want it taking over your life, set yourself up with a social media scheduling system. There are loads of free and paid options out there and they allow you to draft your posts in advance and schedule them when you want. That way, you can ‘set and forget’ your marketing messages and check in more sporadically. 
  • A regular newsletter allows you to meaningfully connect with clients and provide great content which can be shared – online, printed or both.
  • Build that email list! Make it easy for people to subscribe to your mailing list by including a link on your website and email signature. Providing freebies, such as a PDF on a specific training or dog walking topic, can be a great way to encourage people to sign up as well.
  • Printed media may have more upfront costs, but it can be a fantastic way to market yourself locally. Drop leaflets, postcards and business cards in places where dog lovers spend their time, such as pet stores, groomers, vets, and local cafes. 
  • Pitch your expertise to the media. Being featured on local radio stations, podcasts and magazines has the dual benefit of educating the public while promoting your business.
  • Teach a class in your community to connect with potential clients and show off your knowledge. Some towns have community centers with great adult learning programs, while dog safety classes can be a good option for schools and youth groups.
  • Connect with other businesses, both dog and non-dog related, to establish a referral network. Are there cross promotional opportunities you could explore with them? Could you feature them in your next newsletter?
  • Remind your clients that you value them! Checking in with current clients, asking for feedback and highlighting how helpful those ‘word of mouth’ referrals can be are all key to nurturing those relationships and establishing new ones.

If social media is working well for you, keep it up! If you are struggling with it, however, don’t despair. Just like in the dog pro world, there is space for everyone to find solutions that fit their business.