Don’t Make These Social Media Mistakes
You’ve likely heard it said that you need to be on Social Media. Maybe you’ve hesitated on joining because you thought it was a passing trend. Well we’re here to tell you is isn’t. In fact, quite the opposite. Social media is getting more and more intertwined in our daily lives. And, while you probably use social media in your personal life, you may feel uncomfortable being on social media in a professional capacity. You may wonder:
- How do I use social media to promote my private practice?
- How do I avoid the ethical quicksand of social media?
- How do I speak to my followers on social media?
- How do I avoid making mistakes while I’m using social media for professional purposes?
You ask a lot of great questions. In this post, we’re going to tackle those and more. We’ll look at the most common mistakes that well-meaning therapists make when it comes to social media marketing, as well as how to avoid them. Let’s get started.
Mistake #1: Avoiding Social Media
The first mistake you can make is not being on social media to begin with.
Social media is important. Over the last 20 years, social media has grown exponentially. Now, over one billion people across the globe are active on Facebook. And, in the US, 81% of the population has at least one social media profile.
Social media is not just about keeping up with friends and watching cute cat videos (though those are certainly excellent uses). It’s about finding information and resources. This is where you and your private practice come in. Cultivating a presence on social media platforms is one of the easiest ways for people seeking therapy to find you.
People often use social media as a search engine. You can get lots of leads simply by creating a free business account on Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter.
With minimal marketing effort, you’ll be leap years ahead of where you are without social media.
Mistake #2: Not Being Active on Social
While it is a start, it’s not enough just to create a social media account. You have to be active, too. Otherwise, your account will get lost in the shuffle. In social media, the most active accounts are often pushed to the front of the line; they get the most exposure. So, it’s vital that you engage on social media often.
You don’t have to be on social media every second of every day, in fact we’d encourage you not to be. But you also don’t want to let weeks slide by without engaging. Aim for consistency. At least once a week, but preferably every day. That way, your audience will see your content regularly and you will be at the forefront of their minds, which is the best place to be. When you’re top-of-mind, they’ll remember you when they need you—or when they need to refer someone else to you.
Not sure what to say or do on social media? Here are a few ideas:
- Post inspirational photos
- Ask questions
- Answer questions
- Respond to comments
- Link to blog posts (yours and others)
- Network with other therapists
- Join therapists groups
- Create a mental health group
- Post videos
Remember that you need to be on social media so you can sell your services to the people who need your services. Think of social media as another (free) layer of your marketing strategy.
Mistake #3: Using Your Personal Social Profile
What’s the only thing worse than not being on social media or not being active on social media? Using your personal social media profile for business. That’s a no-no.
You already know that it’s important not to blur the lines between you and your clients in an offline, real life setting. Be careful online, too.
It’s incredibly easy to overshare online, even if it’s seemingly innocuous. An image of you in a swimming suit while on vacation or a political opinion piece may be fine to share with friends, but it can become an ethical dilemma when you share with your clients.
That’s why it’s so much better to have a separate social media profile for your private practice. No oversharing, no accidental peek into your personal life, no murkiness.
And be sure to set your personal profile to private. That way, you can have a separate place for your friends and family.
Mistake #4: Not Advertising on Social Media
There are two ways to market on social media: through free, organic methods or through paid advertisements. We advocate that you do both, especially on Facebook where you can reach a lot of people for as little as five dollars per day.
You may think that advertising on social media is for bigger businesses, and not private practices. But, if you plan to put your advertising budget anywhere, it should start with social media.
People search social media for therapists.
80% of Internet users look for health information online—this also includes social media. Many people turn to social media first for mental health care recommendations. If your private practice isn’t listed, they’ll find your competitors instead.
You can target your ads.
You don’t have to wait for people to find you. You can find prospective clients. Social media, especially Facebook, allows you to target your ads to a specific audience, so that you can reach the people who most need your services.
Social media advertising is so affordable.
So we mentioned that you can do free and paid advertising. Free advertising is what you’ll likely do the most of. From linking to your blog posts and sharing Q&As to posting inspirational images, free advertising on social media is all about forging a relationship with your audience.
But, if you decide to go with a paid ad strategy, you’ll be able to extend your reach a little further than you would through free, organic efforts. And once your paid ad reaches your target demographic, you can lead prospects back to your website, ask them to join your mailing list, or offer a free 15-minute consultation (just to name a few). Even if you pay for ads, you can still dictate how much you’ll spend, making it a friendly option for any budget.
Mistake #5: Sharing Useless Content
Everything you share on your professional social media profile needs to pass this one question test:
Is it valuable?
In other words, will your content enrich your audience in some way? Is it educational? It is aspirational? Is it thought-provoking? Is it helpful?
But that doesn’t mean that you should only post buttoned-up content. Fun content can also tick one of the above boxes. Just because something’s fun doesn’t mean it can’t be helpful, too. For instance, if you have youth clients struggling with anger issues, create and share fun anger management activities for kids in hopes that the parents of potential clients will find them valuable.
Be sure to share something meaningful and memorable every time you post, or else your content won’t matter to your intended audience.
Mistake #6: Not Mixing Up Your Content
Don’t get stuck sharing the same old content every time. Mix it up so that you keep your audience engaged. Here are a few of my favorite types and examples of content to share on social media:
Videos – Get in front of the camera and answer questions.
Educational Images – Use a free image as your background, include mental health advice or a how to.
Links to Educational Blog Posts – Promote your blog posts and link to others.
Q&A/Office Hours – Host a weekly or monthly office hours where you answer questions live on chat or video.
Mistake #7: Not Following Your Organization’s Code of Ethics
Last, but certainly not least, we suggest that you look up and abide by the ethical code of any organization that you belong to. We’ve rounded up a few organizations below:
- American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT)
- American Counseling Association (ACA)
- American Mental Health Counselors Association (AMHCA)
- American Psychological Association
- The National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC)
If your organization isn’t listed above, use Google to find it. To do so, search with the name of the organization and the phrase “social media policy” or “code of ethics”.
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