Getting your social media accounts set up when you start your practice almost seems to be a given these days. Yet, some of you have posted in other forums asking – what’s the point?
Fact is, many people have built amazing practices without social media. It doesn’t mean that you can’t do the same. Social Media is simply another avenue to reach the people you seek to serve. Think of it like this, you can stand in a crowded room and shout for attention only to reach people in your nearby vicinity, or someone can give you a microphone so that everyone can hear you. Social media is a reflection of a cultural shift in communication and you can choose to join in the conversation or not.
Let’s talk about if it is right for you and then let’s look at what you need to get started.
Social media is right for you if you are willing to use it consistently, provide value in your posts and see it as a service to others. It’s also a good choice if you are looking for ways to expand your reach and connections. It’s a great if your referral partners or potential clients utilize it because they will be able to learn more about you and start the process of building trust.
Sound good so far?
Before you even open a social media account, you need a social media policy. This is an important piece of information to give to your clients so you can open and honest discussions about boundaries in the online world. Let’s face it. Technology is here to stay and we need to respond and help our clients navigate how it can impact our work together. I don’t google my clients. I don’t accept friend requests from them. I don’t connect on LinkedIn and they all know why. They respect that I want to preserve their privacy. Because I have the policy in place, the conversation is had from the outset and it eliminates confusion between me and my clients in private practice.
Find Your WHY.
If you are going to use social media in your private practice, it must be with purpose. I use social media as a way to serve others. I share relevant information, answer questions and essentially build relationships. Through my interactions on social media, people gain a sense of who I am and how I operate. I love to turn those online relationships into offline relationships. It’s how I have been invited to telesummits, podcast interviews, guest blogs and articles. It’s also how I have featured amazing people to our community and connect others together (which is by far one of my most favorite things to do). I don’t only serve my clients through social media but I serve other businesses as well.
A side effect of social media usage is that it puts your name out there and helps the search engines know more about you. It can help your SEO but I don’t think SEO is reason enough to open a twitter account.
Meet people where they are at.
The reason to open a twitter account is because it is the ideal vehicle for you to reach your ideal clients. How do you know which social media account to open first? Research! Did you know the average user of facebook is in their 50’s? Ask your ideal clients what social media accounts they use. Go into forums and ask as well. You want to get a sense of where you clients hang out and where referral partners and media are engaged as well.
Start with one account.
Once you know which account to open, be consistent and learn the platform well before you move onto other shiny objects. You want to be sure you are engaging in the best way possible on your social media accounts. One of the ways we do this is by tracking referrals to our website. When we started focusing on twitter, every week we consistently saw an increase to our website from twitter. Use your analytics to know what is working.
Engagement isn’t just clickbacks to your website, but comments and feedback from people saying – “hey, this helped me!” It takes time and testing before you find your voice and figure out what you have to offer. Consistent effort will help you get there faster. Nothing worse than a person checking out your twitter account and you haven’t posted since 2012. When you are active it shows people that you are there, you are showing up to support them. You can use tools to automate some of your social media as well.
Evaluate and decide what is best for you.
If it doesn’t work for you, that’s ok. Get some consultation and feedback from others who use social media successfully. You might determine the platform is not right for you and your audience. The key here is to be helpful to your community and you are simply looking into what social media platform will assist you in this endeavor.
Next time we will talk about developing a social media plan for your private practice.
Any other tips for starting social media practices in your private practice? Share in the comments below!