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SOCIAL networking usually takes place around the edges of conferences but at the annual congress of the Society of Practising Veterinary Surgeons, held in Durham this May, it provided a central element of the CPD programme. In a full day's session entitled ‘Practical online marketing for vets’, Susie Samuel and Cat Henstridge explained how veterinary practices can use social media such as Facebook and Twitter to market their services more effectively.

Ms Samuel, who runs the website Vet Help Direct, which provides information for pet and other animal owners, drew attention to statistics that 73 per cent of households in the UK have internet access, 60 per cent of adults access it every day and that 75 per cent of internet users have used the internet to research a product before they buy. In addition, 21 million people access the human health website NHS Direct every year. ‘We would all absolutely love it if every time any of our clients had a slight concern about the health of their pets that they picked up the phone and rang us,’ she said, ‘but unfortunately that's not going to happen – either for our existing clients or potentially new clients.’ People were increasingly using the internet to find information on products and services, and that would be true for information on veterinary health problems, too.

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