While increasing numbers of therapists have set up social media accounts on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, I’m still hearing a lot of confusion and many misconceptions about how to use social media successfully. I’m also seeing people make some social media faux pas, while still other’s tell me they are not sure what the heck they are doing.
Here’s the thing:
If you want to attract clients through social media, you need to do a lot more than have accounts set up and share a Facebook post or a tweet now and again. Below are 7 reasons why your social media efforts might not be working and some suggestions for turning that around.
1. You Don’t Have a Social Media Plan
I feel like a broken record when I say this as I repeat it so often: Whether you are using online or offline marketing strategies, you always need a plan. In fact, research has shown that businesses that succeed are more likely to have a plan.
When you work with clients you plan and set goals don’t you? Social media marketing is no different. What is it that you want to happen with your social media marketing? Are you trying to build up your list of subscribers to your newsletter or blog? Build your reputation with colleagues?
Don’t be a Social Media Willy Nilly. Get focused, know what you are doing, and be clear in what outcomes you want.
2. Your Frequent Promotions Are Chasing People Away
If you think social media is just another way to promote your services, you have it all wrong. I still see far too many counselors and healers directly promoting themselves to no end. Too much self-promotion is a sure way to turn your followers off and they will “unfollow” or “unlike” your page.
Remember the “social” part of social media. Social media is about engagement. As with all successful marketing, it’s about building connections with people and then strengthening those connections over time.
With that said, here is a better approach to utilizing social media:
First, focus on building relationships by posting interesting information and contributing to the conversation in meaningful ways. Once you have earned the respect and credibility of your audience, people will be more open to your promotional tweets. Keep in mind that even after you have built up your credibility, any promotions should be used sparingly –only 10-20% of the time –with no more than 10% being ideal. Yes, you read that right: approximately 90% of your posts should be information that is useful to your specific audience or engages with them in an interesting manner.
3. Your Posts are Boring and Lack Personality
For years, therapists have been asking me what they should write about in their newsletters and blog. In addition to lacking confidence in writing skills, many are concerned that most topics already have a lot written about them. While it’s true that most topics have been written about extensively, you have to keep in mind that you can pretty much write about any topic, if you make it interesting.
Aim for a different angle, a unique perspective, be controversial and provocative at times. Do whatever it takes to inject your personality into your posts. Instead of being afraid to show your unique personality, flaunt it!
4. You Post Inconsistently
As with any marketing strategy, you need to be in front of your target audience consistently or they will forget about you. Develop a schedule for writing and posting and stick to it –or you are wasting your time. You need momentum in a business and posting sporadically just isn’t going to cut the mustard.
So, how often should you post?
Ideally, you should be writing blog posts weekly if you can and posting on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn almost daily during weekdays.
Although there are some people that post every day, several times a day, including weekends, I’m not one of them. I think we all need a break from technology from time to time. Therefore while I typically post several times a day on Twitter and Facebook, I rarely post on weekends and sometimes even take a day off during the week. If I do post on a weekend or an evening, it’s usually fun stuff or things that interest me that are not business related.
5. You’re Not Following Enough People – On the other Hand, You Incorrectly Believe You Need to Follow Thousands of People in Order to Have an Impact.
If you are not following or engaging with enough people, you won’t be very successful. If this is the case, you even might get bored and quit social media altogether (I’ve seen this happen more than a few times). While you should always build your following up gradually, until you are reading and commenting on other’s blogs, tweets and posts, as well as publishing your own posts consistently, you won’t see the rewards of using social media.
I know you want me to state a specific number of people you should be connected to or following, but that depends on so many factors–however, I am going to say a couple of hundred as a ballpark estimate.
While you do need to have a sufficient number of people to follow in order to build a reputation and attract clients, don’t get caught up in the myth that the more people you attract, the more success you will have.
It doesn’t matter how many people you are connected to, you still need to build a reputation and establish credibility with people who have an interest in what you are doing. I’ve seen some interesting therapists who are very active in social media channels have good success without thousands of people in their network.
6. You’re Outsourcing Your Social Media Posts
I’m mentioning this as I have heard a few therapists who are using this approach, or told me that they want to. Social media is such a personal thing that you need to be cautious if you hire someone else to post for you in the social media sphere. You want to make sure your voice still comes through.
While this doesn’t mean you can’t get someone to help you with technology, write blog posts (if it’s your ideas and voice), make occasional posts on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, for the most part, you’re going to have “show up” if you want to authentically engage with people.
There are many tasks that you can outsource in your therapy or healing business, but I’m afraid you’re going to have to do social media primarily yourself.
7. Finally — And This is One of The Most Important Points — While Social Media Marketing is Important, It Isn’t the “Be All and End All”.
Even if you follow all of the above recommendations, it’s still best to market in other ways as well. Putting all your eggs in one basket is never a good idea. They key word for social media success is “integration”. To this end, increased success will come when you incorporate your social media marketing into your other marketing strategies — both those you use online as well as offline.
A few suggestions on how you can do this:
Make sure your social media icons are on your website and on any other promotional materials you have, mention social media accounts when you give workshops or give talks, know something about optimizing your posts for search engines, print off your blog articles and give them to referral sources so they can hand them out to patients, and follow people in your local area that interest you when you come across them.
In essence, whatever you do in marketing, always be thinking of how you can incorporate it into your social media strategy.
If you are feeling discouraged about the results you’re seeing with your use of social media so far, don’t give up! Once you get the hang of it, patience and persistence will bring you the success you desire.