Social Media Overview
What lies behind you and what lies in front of you,
pales in comparison to what lies inside of you.
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
It is increasingly difficult, if not impossible, to maintain privacy online even with the highest privacy settings.
If it is a platform that you want to use both personally and professionally, you may want to set up two profiles – one for you, your friends and family, and one for more professional purposes. That said, even if you don’t see yourself using the platform, you may want to set up a profile in your name so that no-one else can use it on the site to avoid brand confusion.
Personally I never used (and still don’t use) any social media for my counselling private practice other than LinkedIn. I have professional social media account for my consulting work, but none for my clinical work.
Remember the questions: Why am I doing this and what am I hoping the result of this action will be? If the answer is, because I think that I should – don’t do it! If it isn’t something that excites you, it will take up too much space in your brain.
Social Media rarely brings in clients for therapists but it does create an awareness of you to others who potentially may refer clients to you. If it is not something you are comfortable with, it will create a lot of stress and take up a lot of time that could be used to network in more authentic ways for you. However, if you are media savvy and enjoy being online and connecting with people in that way, Social Media can be a great way to extend your network.
Also go back to your vision for your practice and your ideal client:
Does your practice plan include virtual sessions or working with clients in different geographic areas? You may want to consider how you can extend your online presence.
How does your ideal client interact with their world? If they aren’t online, then you probably don’t need to focus much energy there
Do they use certain platforms? Certain platforms tend to attract a certain type of audience. For example, Pintrest tends to attract more females. Instagram has a slightly younger audience etc. The more you understand your ideal client, the more you can understand if it is important for you to be on various social media platforms.
Below are VERY basic overviews of some of the most popular platforms just so you have a sense of what they are. We could run an entire course around the ins and outs of social media. I don’t claim to be an expert in all of them.
As mentioned before, this is one of the platforms I recommend having two profiles for – one personal under a nickname and one professional under your full name. The reason that FB can be incredibly useful is for joining groups. With your professional profile you can join groups either dedicated to your colleagues to get support or to join groups focused around your clients to get insight into their experiences or potentially advertise your services.
Using a professional profile for these purposes will help you keep your personal life personal and your professional life professional. You can also set up a Facebook “Page” however I would invite you to really consider what you would gain from doing this. Unless you are really comfortable with Facebook and plan on being online often, this might not be the approach for you. A Facebook page is separate from your personal profile and people are able to “like” your page and follow the content you post. Many therapists feel like they have to have a page but a FB page only works if you are planning on really committing to the platform and often doesn’t result in much direct business. If you are online and plan on being active, be mindful of privacy settings and you may want to set it up so people can only post comments with your approval. If Facebook is part of your marketing strategy this can be helpful, but I would avoid it if you do not understand the platform as it can be more trouble than its worth if you don’t know how to use it effectively. Also FB has changed its algorithms so unless you are prepared to either spend a lot of time or a lot of money on advertising, it will be hard for you to reach your audience.
Tip: Facebook loves visual content and sharing articles that your ideal clients would find interesting. Generally need to be posting daily in order to get any organic reach.
This platform is changing quite rapidly. It was meant to be Google’s answer to Facebook but it never really took off the way they hoped it would. One reason that I would recommend at least claiming your name in google+ is Google gives priority in its rankings to people/businesses that use this platform so it will help your website rank higher in google searches, even if you don’t add content.
Tip: Google+ likes sharing articles you have written.
LinkedIn is the simplest social media to be a part of, and has a set it and forget it aspect to it. Once you have set-up your profile, you don’t have to keep adding content to it unless you want to. It is essentially an online resume that allows other to search you and “link” with you. I would recommend creating a basic personal bio that describes you and your practice. This will show up in online search results and help boost your online visibility. If you choose you can publish blog posts to the platform or join various LinkedIn groups to connect with others in the field, but it can still be a very effective tool without taking those extra steps.
Tip: LinkedIn likes complete profiles. Make sure you have a professional looking photo.
Instagram is great if you like creating graphic content i.e. quotes, photos or shareable images. It tends to be a bit more informal with people sharing things that are a little more personal. You use hashtags # to label your images which allows others to search and find you.
Tip: Instagram likes interesting visual content and short video clips. Use multiple hashtags to increase your chances of being found.
Written content tends to do better on Twitter and you need to keep your posts to under 140 characters. There is software you can use to shorten domains so they fit in a “tweet”. People tend to post more often but with smaller pieces of information and with hashtags # to allow people to find you.
Tip: Twitter likes small snippets of information and sharing interesting articles you’ve found online.
Pintrest also likes graphic content. It has a powerful search engine component and I’ve been told when used effectively can be highly successful at driving traffic to your website, but again, you have to take the time to really learn the platform.
Tip: Pintrest likes graphic content and uses hashtags # to search for content.
If you like producing video content, YouTube is the second largest search engine behind Google. If writing isn’t your style but you are good at speaking on camera, or like providing quick tips or psycho-education for your clients, this might be a good fit for you.
Tip: YouTube likes video content.
If you have accounts for any of the above social media platforms related to your business or that you use for public or professional purposes, post the links in the group so everyone can find and follow you.