I think overall, it is important to have a social media presence as a private practitioner. But for sure, having a social media presence is not nearly as important as (1) being a great therapist, (2) networking with other therapists, and
(3) having a specialty. I have colleagues who hardly ever post any practice-related content online, and their client load is consistently full. This is because they have nailed the 3 aforementioned qualities.
Why Social Media Marketing Often Fails
In recent years, leaders of the social media industry have made it more difficult for anything we post (business related or otherwise) to make it to others’ feeds. There are so many users and so little space, so they weed out many posts that the algorithm finds less relevant. We the therapists of course think our material is relevant, but the algorithm is checking to see if people are engaging with our material. Simply “liking” our post usually won’t cut it. The post has to spark some sort of banter. This banter tells the algorithm that your post is meaningful to other users, and it will then allow your post to reach more users.
Popular people usually have no problem with the algorithm because people like commenting on popular people’s posts. A popular person can just be sitting at home saying “Watching the game” and they’ll get 200 likes and 30 comments. A lesser popular person can post about the exact same thing and get no visibility at all. Other popular posts include big announcements like “Engaged” or “Having a Baby.”
But what about a post such as “Will Porn Addiction Affect My Sex Life?” or “3 Ways to Treat Bipolar?” If these were posted by a very popular organization, then sure, there will be pretty good engagement. But if the ‘average’ therapist posted these, no matter how great the content is, if people are not engaging by commenting or sharing, these posts will not even gain visibility. It makes sense, too, because who in their right mind will comment, “Oh my gosh yes, my porn addiction totally affects my sex life! I used to get erect no problem but now it’s hardly ever!” This does not mean, however, that we should not be producing relevant content. It simply means that we should not expect our content to spread well on social media.
Play by Social Media Rules
My Facebook business page got blacklisted for reasons still mysterious to me. They said I did not abide by their guidelines. When I asked which guidelines, they directed me to a long list of potential reasons. I asked them to be more specific, and they said they cannot be more specific lest I try to circumvent the system. Yes they really said that. And so even though my Facebook business page still exists, I can not pay money to boost posts and thereby reach a larger audience. I am limited to just anyone who is a follower of my page. Though it stinks, I have come to accept it, and my strategy is to now find ways to just increase engagement.
Some therapists I know do not promote content hardly ever, but instead just post things about their pets, or interesting places they visit, or about funny family members. It’s an interesting strategy because when I think about popular posts from non celebrities, it’s usually about pets, beaches, or endearing stories. I remember getting so many engagements when I post about my 80 year old dad working at Smart & Final, or about my relationship with my stepdaughter. I suppose that if people come to like your online presence, then indirectly they will trust you for therapy? Not sure but that might be the way the trend is going.
It still is important to be relevant online. As mentioned in previous posts, I will likely not refer clients to therapists who I don’t know. So how does one get known? By putting yourself out there. By engaging. You don’t need to come up with anything profound. Just interact as yourself!