If you’re a therapist, you’ve probably heard all the don’ts of incorporating social media into a mental health practice:
- Don’t neglect existing ethical frameworks. [We suggest this one from the Online Therapy Institute].
- Never accept friend requests from clients on your personal pages.
- Stay away from discussing patients on social media (even with names omitted).
- Reframe from sending direct messages (these platforms are not secure and privacy could be violated)
- Don’t have clinical discussions or provide direct assistance.
What Are the Benefits of Social Media?
We’ve noticed that many helping professionals (like therapists, social workers, and nonprofit administrators) have an aversion to marketing. But the bottom line is, your practice is your business. And getting the word out is crucial if you want that business to be thriving and sustainable.
If you think about it, marketing is just another way of talking, of telling others about yourself, your practice, and your passion for helping your patients. But there are a lot of mental health professionals out there. So, how do you set yourself apart to make sure your ideal clients find you?
Position yourself as an expert. Experts and “thought leaders” tend to be the first stop for people wanting to solve a problem (or make an informed choice about a product or service). And you don’t have to be Dr. Oz, Dr. Laura, or Dr. Phil to be a thought leader.
Social media gives you a platform to share valuable information, expertise, and insights with your followers and clients. The more people learn about you (and from you), the greater their trust, and the more likely they are to choose your services when making plans to meet their mental health care needs. Know what to use in your social media ads, like your Facebook ads.
How do you become a thought leader?
First, determine your niche. Get as clear and detailed as you can about who you serve, and what makes your services unique. Make sure that both will be apparent with whatever content you share.
Next, create Business Pages on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. These “big three” are a great way to connect with the vast majority of social media users (and most people use more than one channel, so you have multiple opportunities). Keeping your personal and business pages separate is key, so you can maintain your relationships with friends and family while meeting privacy and confidentiality guidelines.
Here are some things you can share via Business Pages on social media:
- Images with motivational and encouraging quotes, or interesting mental health facts.
- Videos with tips and strategies that can help anyone (stress management, coping skills, etc.) and are not patient or case-specific
- Q&A or FAQ content (blogs, videos, posts)
- Articles loosely related to mental health, wellness, and wellbeing
PRO tip: Don’t be too focused on sales. While your business pages are meant to help promote your business, and you shouldn’t be ashamed of what you have to offer, don’t overwhelm people with sales pages. Your followers can tell when that’s happening. Offering value-added content (blogs, downloadable PDFs, etc.) lets your patients know you care about their health, not just their money. What works best for you on social media? What do you want to try next?