A couple years ago my twenty-something son wanted a dog as a pet. Never mind that I breed and show affenpinschers and would have given him one; he had thoroughly researched breeds using Google and social media websites and determined his ideal pet would be a French bulldog.

At the time I thought it odd to make such an important decision based on online researching, but what I experienced with my son is typical behavior of his peers; described as Millennials, the largest generation of young adults this country has ever seen; nearly one third larger than the rapidly fading Baby Boomer generation. These young adults are the first generation to have grown up with the Internet. They are a generation of Googlers and Facebookers who are truly “connected.”

Social media concept with speech bubbles on smartphone

This is the first generation that turns to social media to make even simple decisions, like where to have lunch. Their social peers and the reviews and recommendations they provide online are golden in driving purchasing and employment behaviors.

The implications for the veterinary practice owner are significant, both in hiring and retaining team members and clients. In recruitment and retention of team members, your practice website and Facebook page should be appealing to this generation. The website homepage should be designed to load as close to instantly as possible and offer navigation to pages that explain who you are and your business philosophy.

Millennials are concerned about the environment, so it can be helpful to display on your homepage the recycle logo and logos of conservation or animal rescue organizations your practice supports. For example you could display the Arbor Day logo and pledge to donate $20 to plant trees for every client referral to the practice.

On the practice Facebook page you should be ready to interact with clients and prospective clients. The greater the interaction, the more appealing your practice will be.

As you no doubt already know from the younger members of your care team, texting and Google are as important as the air they breathe. They are voracious researchers and social networkers. Your staff can be a valuable resource in ideas for using social media in the practice.

You should ask every new client how they want to be kept informed of upcoming programs, discounts and appointments. Chances are the majority of your younger clients will ask that you communicate with them via texting.

As Baby Boomer clients die off, the future for your practice will be driven by social media and the lump in the demographic snake; the Millennial generation.