VETSURGEON

CREATING SPACE FOR PROFESSIONAL COLLABORATION AND GROWTH

Working Communities specialises in building and maintaining online communities for professional audiences, of which VetSurgeon.org and Vetnurse.co.uk are two. Developed by digital partner 4Roads, these online communities are now leading websites for UK veterinary professionals. Both have two key objectives: to be an effective platform to market products and services to veterinary surgeons, and to make a real difference to the lives of those in the profession.

In a UK industry of an estimated 14,000 practicing vets, VetSurgeon.org has over 12,500 members with over 150,000 page visits every month.

The communities take veterinary professions out of isolation and empower them to share clinical information, experience and knowledge. Consequently, helping improve working practices, elevating patient care, supporting each other and enhancing working lives. It also offers digital advertising opportunities to veterinary suppliers. Not only this, forums, a well-established part of the fabric of the veterinary profession are used as a catalyst for change and as a vehicle through which members can bring thought-leadership to issues facing the industry.

BACKGROUND

Working Communities (www.workingcommunities.net) specialises in building and maintaining online communities for professional audiences, of which VetSurgeon and VetNurse are two.

These well-established and leading community sites were originally developed for UK based veterinary surgeons, veterinary nurses and veterinary nursing assistants, on a bespoke platform. They were subsequently then transferred, by the 4 Roads team, onto the Telligent Community platform.

The communities are free to join, and the platform allows members to connect with their peers, share ideas and experiences with other professionals within the forums, advertise and browse jobs, catch up with the latest news, and share videos and photos to showcase their work in the galleries. In addition, there is a collaborative diary of training and other events for the profession.

CHALLENGE

VetNurse was rst developed in 2000 as a bespoke marketing communications platform for the pharmaceutical multinational, Novartis. In 2008, Novartis sold the platform to Arlo Guthrie of Working Communities, who then set about upgrading the platform to Community Server (CS) 2008, and rolling it out to veterinary surgeons in the form of VetSurgeon.

The two communities ran well on CS 2008 until 2014, when Arlo decided that the sites would bene t from a refreshed, more contemporary look and feel, together with the added features and exibility offered by Telligent Community. In addition, upgrading would allow the development of new revenue-generating features.

The biggest challenge was to ensure a seamless transition between the old and the new platforms, both technically and in terms of the user experience.

"4 Roads have been one of our strongest partners in the UK since our founding in 2004, and their technical expertise makes them a sensible choice for the implementation work involved in this project. We are also proud and happy that Working Communities are using the Telligent Community platform for the VetSurgeon and VetNurse communities and we look forward to being part of any future vision there may be."

Jon Allen, Telligent Community.

SOLUTION

VetSurgeon and VetNurse offer users a tried and tested formula, proven over more than ten years:

  • Forums in which to ask questions and share ideas and experiences
  • Free classified job advertising
  • Industry news
  • Video, photo and file sharing galleries
  • Collaborative CPD and events diary

FORUMS

The forums allow members to discuss clinical cases and debate veterinary issues with others in the profession, and be confident that others will offer their thoughts, advice or support, usually within minutes or hours. In addition, an anonymous login means members can seek advice and help from their peers about sensitive issues, both professional and personal.

VetSurgeon also hosts discipline-specific forums such as Neurology, Cardiology and Dermatology, and dedicated forums for a number of external associations.

JOB ZONE

Both the VetSurgeon and VetNurse communities feature a job section where members can advertise for, or find suitable jobs. Jobs can be filtered by location or job type and the posting colleague can be contacted easily and directly from the site, using the private messaging functionality. The platform feeds each job advertisement out to dedicated jobs pages on the main external social networks (Facebook, Linkedin and Twitter) and members can also subscribe by email.

The job section has been significantly improved as part of the upgrade, in order to compete with new online offerings from traditional print media publications. Enhancements include a geolocation search tool, mapping and the addition of microdata to enhance search engine listings.

INDUSTRY NEWS

The vet-focused communities have successfully become a ‘go to’ news source for vets and vet nurses, throughout the UK.

The news sections feature the ability for members to subscribe and receive up to date news by email, plus filter specific areas of interest using tags, most viewed and most comments options.

CPD AND EVENTS 

Chronos allows members to add an event to the online collaborative diary. Thereafter, other members can indicate whether they are attending. Members can also subscribe to the feed via RSS, ensuring they are kept up to date with latest listings, and also export CPDs or events of interest, to their preferred external calendar.

James Johnston, Developer at 4 Roads commented: “Chronos is built using the same technology stack and techniques as the main platform. Chronos also levers SOLR to search for events both textually and geographically using spatial search technologies.”

Other options include the ability to share these events on social media platforms, bookmark events, subscribe by email, leave comments and each event posting includes an event location map.

RESULTS 

With the existing revenue-generating community powered by Telligent (formally Zimbra Social), the single most important measure of success during an upgrade is that the community suffers as little interruption as possible, and that business (banner and email advertising) is able to continue as normal. The VetNurse upgrade involved a downtime of no more than a few hours, after which the upgrade was universally well received, with no usability issues reported.

Longer-term measures of success will include greater levels of interaction between members as a result of the new features added. This will increase dominance of the veterinary job-advertising sector, improved search engine traffic as a result of the 4 Roads SEO microdata plugin, and other enhancements, and a reduced editorial/moderation workload as a result of, for example, widgetisation of the new platform.

“4 Roads have been one of our strongest partners in the UK since our founding in 2004, and their technical expertise makes them a sensible choice for the implementation work involved in this project. We are also proud and happy that Working Communities are using the Telligent (formally Zimbra Social) platform for the VetSurgeon and VetNurse communities and we look forward to being part of any future vision there may be.” Jon Allen, Zimbra.

VISION 

Once the upgrade is complete, Working Communities plans to commission 4Roads to develop a bespoke directory software solution with multiple applications. The new solution will build on the geolocation / SOLR functionality already installed on the new platform, and is expected to provide a significant new source of revenue for the company.

Speak to James about your digital challenge

James is Client Services Director at 4 Roads and happy to talk through your current digital challenges