In the 21st century almost every business has, or is considering establishing, a social media presence. Facebook, LinkedIn, twitter, Google+, Pinterest – all useful tools and each offering a different way to connect with potential clients and referrers. It can be a great way to enhance your professional presence online and helps increase the findability of your website too if you know how. Best of all – social media is FREE marketing.
But therapists are cautious in the uptake. We are trained in the art and skills of giving not receiving, yet the mutual exchange required to create a professional presence in the world of social media is one which can greatly benefit our confidence in the responsibilities of being a public figure (and make no bones about it – that is what you are when you become a therapist).
You can choose to focus your social media interactions to make contact with colleagues and like-minded professionals who share valuable specialist information on-line. And/or focus on people you know who could become referrers. Even clients can benefit from articles you share, and be signposted to content on your therapy business website that may help them.
But setting up the accounts is one thing; using them effectively to interact with your target audience is another. Simply telling people about the services you are offering, or sharing an interesting article is not enough. Relationships are the order of the day, and with our therapeutic skills, should also be where we shine. Only talking about ourselves leads to a boring dynamic on-line as it does face-to-face.Social media strategies can be time consuming and it’s best to do some work in the early days to make sure you don’t waste time later, and to establish a little network of supportive connections. so here are our top tips:
Carefully work out who you wish to communicate with then research which media they are most likely to use and when.
Check on what other therapists are doing and how successful they seem to be, and look for what you consider to be good practice models. Ask questions of them.
Be consistent and use a tool to help you schedule your content instead of bombarding followers with messages and flooding their accounts. Also be realistic – you are a sole trader doing it yourself unless you decide to pay someone to do it for you.
Try to be creative, original and offer regular, fresh content. If you wonder what that might entail, speak with friends and colleagues face to face about what they enjoy reading.
Lastly – listen, don’t shout. The last point cannot be stressed enough. If you are not engaging with your followers, starting conversations, addressing questions, asking them and commenting on what others have to say you will simply lose their interest. Social media is only social if we interact. If we only tell people what we offer all the time, that is an advert!
It does take time to build up an effective social media presence, but then, you already know that it takes time to build good alliances.
If you pull together even a basic strategy before jumping headlong into the world of social media you will find new and effective ways to communicate your therapy business message and be someone people turn to, not from.
Cathy Towers, psychotherapist, with Suzie Grogan social media specialist