Digital picture frame can help pet owners share their love

This afternoon I had the privilege of speaking to the American Animal Hospital Association about, among other things, mobile marketing. I look forward to resuming the conversations tomorrow.

Tomorrow I will also be posting an entry with many of the links and updates I’d promised. But for now, I wanted to present for your critique a gee-whiz idea I posed to the group. I hope you can help me with your comments.

Please consider this: What if there was a way to use the viral marketing power of a Facebook widget to help your best customers talk about your practice.

The idea uses something I’ve blogged about before: widgets. Ad Age contributor Bob Garfield has postulated, and I agreed in this post, that widgets can be for healthcare marketers the new refrigerator magnet. Well, how about for veterinary practices?

A prototype image is near the bottom of this post, but the essence has more to do with functional design than actual appearances. It occurred to me that pet owners are almost as quick to flash you their latest pet pics as they are photos of kids and grandkids. One friend (a team member from my ec-connection days) even has a Facebook profile page for his lovely Dora:

The Lovely Dora

This spawned in my mind the Digital Pet Parade. It’s a digital picture frame, of sorts, that you would install and configure on your Facebook profile. Using this widget, you can display pet photos that you’ve already loaded in the Photos section of your site. The picture frame (a prototype shown below*) does these things that a mere photo collection cannot:

A logo on the digital picture frame would link to the sponsor's practice site
A logo on the digital picture frame would link to the sponsor's practice site
  1. Rotates your photos with a frequent “refresh” rate that you would set — or simply shows a new one from your collection daily
  2. Includes the photos of your friends on Facebook as well — or at least those who also have the picture frame showing their photos (and their picture frame would show your photos if they opt to allow this)
  3. Allows for picture comments, from you and you friends (not shown)
  4. Is equally functional on iPhone web browsers, as well as other many other higher-end smartphones.

This afternoon I got a chance to chat with a lot of practice managers and veterinarians about using the power of social networks to help their best customers become their ambassadors. But I still wonder if this way particular way of empowering customers has real potential.

Hot … or NOT?

Here’s the big question: Has this simple widget added more complexity than is needed?

From a marketing perspective, it’s a glamorized way to show you’re a “fan” of the practice, by using their branded widget. I frankly like the subtly of this. And yes, in this way it resides on your profile page the way a magnet would hold up papers and whatnot on the door of your fridge.

But will your customers be eager enough to agree to install one more application on their Facebook profile? You tell me!

I’ve met a lot of people today and asked them to respond. Let’s keep the discussion going!

*NOTE: Digital Pet Parade prototype was designed by the lovely and talented designer and art director Heather Prickett Bolyard.

7 thoughts on “Digital picture frame can help pet owners share their love”

  1. Loved the discussions today.

    2 things about the digital photoframes.

    I do think that people love to share images and stories of their pets, often more so than those involving a spouse or family member.

    I would suspect that downloading a small piece of software would be no barrier to sharing photos of their pets with their electronic friends.

    Looking forward to a summary of these posts!!! Thanks again.

  2. I think this would be great. With all of the creative things I’ve seen already on facebook with applications, I’m surprised you found something that hasn’t already been done.

    Would you need comments though, or could you let clicking the photo take you to the photo from the user’s photo collection so there are not duplicate comments, and the user’s standard notifications work as expected.

    This is interesting in that it has the personal recommendation, but I wonder its effectiveness since a vet seems to be a fairly fixed resource where the person neads to be near it to be effective (Networks of people I know have people from all over).

    What might seem more targeted to me would be for someone to broker selling advertisements based on zipcode of the user to the pet apps that are enormously popular these days (Pet Society, Super Pets, etc). Although you lose the personal touch you would gain with the other method. And perhaps there might be some integration that could be done to trade ‘items’ related to the vet or the commercial entity.

    For the software company that creates it, it would be good for publicity and could drive towards other apps and advertising.

  3. Jeff –
    Loved your talks at AAHA. I am looking forward to meeting with my I.T. person tomorrow to begin implementation of many of the ideas you discussed.

  4. I often hear of pet related website/blogs wanting to be started and many actually do, but you have come across a strong idea that merits fleshing out. The Facebook app itself could drive the digital picture frame development. But you’ll have to be cautious with development and sales of apps, and probably best find a suitable partner to handle that piece.

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