Previously, I explored the question of whether using social media is worth your time and effort for marketing your therapy or holistic practice.
If you do decide to use social media as part of your plan for increasing exposure of your private practice and attracting clients, you might feel overwhelmed about which platforms you should be utilizing, as there are now so many.
In order to help you decide, below is a summary of the most common social media platforms and some of the pros and cons of each.
Facebook was founded in February 2004. It has grown immensely since that time. As of 2020, it has 2.60 billion active users (not total members), which makes it the most popular social media site by far.
One of Facebook’s biggest strengths is its large active user base. Almost everyone and their grandma are on social media it seems. This means that there is a large pool of potential clients on the site. Users also spend a lot of time on Facebook. Approximately 74% of users log in every day, and the average time they spend on Facebook per visit is 38 minutes.
Facebook is all about relationships, which makes it easy to engage and communicate with people you already know and to build relationships with new followers. It’s fairly straightforward to get a page up and running, and to post content-whether it’s your own, or content created by others that would be of interest to your target audience. Facebook also offers excellent measurement tools, which makes it easy for you to analyze the performance of your page.
While Facebook is a potential marketing tool for therapists, it takes time to use it effectively, and there is a learning curve in mastering its advanced features.
Due to Facebook’s algorithm, you can only expect about 6% (or less) of your fans to see your posts, and this number could go down even further. You’ll have to post frequently and have a strategy in place to maximize the number of fans who see your posts, which includes getting people to Click, Like, Share or Comment on them.
One of the most challenging aspects of Facebook is that you have to stay on top of the constant changes it makes to its platform. It can be time-consuming to keep up with the ongoing changes.
Twitter got its start in March of 2006. As of 2020, it has over 330 million active and 145 million people that use it every day. It’s popular for its short posts, consisting of a maximum of 280 characters.
Starting a Twitter account is easy and doesn’t require any advanced technical ability. It can be an excellent tool that you can use to drive traffic to your website by tweeting your own content if you have a blog. Like Facebook, you can also tweet others interesting and relevant content that is likely to be of interest to your target audience.
Twitter does not have an algorithm like Facebook does, which can mean more of your followers may see your tweets. You can also target your conversations easily by adding hashtags (#) to your tweets, which makes them searchable in Twitter’s search feature. Using hashtags can potentially increase your exposure as well as your followers.
Your ability to reach your target audience may be more limited than Facebook because Twitter doesn’t have as many users. Also, while more of your posts can potentially be seen because Twitter does not control who sees your post, the sheer volume of tweets can cause people to overlook your tweets.
The 140-character limit also means that you must make your tweet compelling in fewer words if you want it to be noticed.
Pinterest was started in August 2010. As of 2020, Pinterest has more than 322 million active users. Pinterest has grown quickly, and experts expect it to grow even more in the coming months.
Visual images are now a huge part of the Internet, and this is part of the reason Pinterest is so popular. People love to view the images, and when they attract one’s attention, people will click through to your website. This means if you are posting your own content, it is important that you use a compelling image along with your blog post.
Pinterest has proven to be an excellent referral source for many businesses. It drives more traffic to websites than Twitter, LinkedIn and Reddit combined.
About 71% of users are women, and since women are the ones most likely to seek out therapy or healing for themselves and their families, Pinterest could be a useful platform for you. I’ve yet to see many counselors and holistic professionals use Pinterest, but I do see potential there.
Because Pinterest relies on pinning and repinning images, there are copyright issues to consider. It’s important that you credit the original source whenever you pin or repin an image unless you have been given permission otherwise.
Pinterest isn’t as directly business-focused as some of the other social media sites because it doesn’t allow direct promotions, although that doesn’t stop you from posting images that lead back to content on your therapy website. It can also be limiting for anyone who prefers text content as opposed to visual images.
Pinterest is still relatively new, and while some businesses are profiting from using it, its future remains to be seen.
Instagram is another visual social media platform. It was started in 2010. In 2012, it was purchased by Facebook. As of 2020, Pinterest has more than 115 million active users and over 1 billion people use it every month. Instagram has grown quickly, and experts expect it to grow even more in the coming years. The gender mix on Instagram is pretty even.
You can share images or videos on Instagram, as well as "Stories" which stay on Instagram for 24 hours only. You can interact with users on this social networking platform by sending messages, tagging, liking, commenting, following them You can also save photos.
Instagram is easy to use and has a highly engaged user base. The visual nature of it makes it a very compelling platform. Although there are users are of all ages, Instagram is a popular platform to use if you have a teen or younger adult audience. You can share your own photos and use the filters available.
It can be easier to get engagement on Instagram than on other platforms because of its active user base. As of 2020, Instagram has a 70% higher engagement rate than Facebook.
Instagram has become a popular platform for businesses that effectively market on the platform. It's easy to set up a business account which gives you access to stats and the ability to advertise.
Instagram is primarily a phone app. Although you can access it via a computer, its features are limited there.
Another limitation of Instagram is that you can't click on images to access links. There are ways around this and even tools you can use where you can post a link to a page in your bio that has links to any web pages you may want to include with your posts.
The text on Instagram is limited to 125-150 characters, so you won't be able to write long posts on the platform.
LinkedIn started in May 2003. Its primary use is to promote professional networking. Since it began LinkedIn has grown to 760 million active users as of 2020, and about 40% of all users say they use it every day.
LinkedIn provides you with a networking platform to use with other counseling professionals. While a lot of therapists and health care practitioners have signed up for LinkedIn, few are using it to its full potential.
LinkedIn now allows you to create a customized business page for your practice and has numerous features you may want to use. These include professional groups that you may join on a variety of topics, or you can start a group yourself.
You can also post content on LinkedIn much as you do on Twitter or Facebook. If you have a blog, you can set it up so that your blog posts will be automatically pulled into LinkedIn. LinkedIn has a feature called “Endorsements” which makes it easy for those who know you to quickly endorse your work, helping to boost your credibility.
If you want to grow your practice through networking with other professionals, LinkedIn can be a great help, providing you use it effectively.
Because LinkedIn is more about networking with other professionals, it offers you limited interaction with potential clients.
One of the biggest cons of LinkedIn is that many users use it to SPAM others, by sending bulk promotional emails through the platform. Many complain about this feature, but it is still used indiscriminately by many who don’t understand the etiquette (and in some countries, laws) of email marketing, which essentially do not allow for the sending of unsolicited, bulk emails.
As with all social media platforms, there is a learning curve to LinkedIn, and you’d be wise to study how to use it effectively if you choose to use it as a tool to grow your counseling practice.
Other Social Media Platforms
While the above social media websites are some of the most popular, there are others that may be worth your while to consider. If you want to create videos, which can be highly beneficial for marketing online, you might think about using YouTube. Slide Share is another cool platform for sharing slide presentations. There are several others that exist that may be appropriate for your audience as well.
So, Which Social Media Platforms Should You Use?
As I mentioned above, the answer to this question is not easy. Having said that, I would probably start with Facebook since it is the most popular network. After you get into the swing of things there, you might add Instagram since it has become so popular. If you want to primarily create video content, YouTube would probably be one of the best platforms to use.