Ahh social media. The most beautiful double edged sword out there for practitioner marketing. It presents you with opportunities to help fulfill all the goals you have for your practice and your life (for real). It also has the potential to be the biggest waste of time, energy and attention you could dedicate yourself to.
Because 99% of people will tell you to be on it. When your schools teach you “business” they all say a presence on social media is a MUST. But does anyone tell you how to actually use it for business. The basic principles that move you forward rather than keeping you feeling stuck, drained and totally frustrated?
I’ll answer that for you…NO. Almost never. So here you go.
I tried to narrow it down to 10 but there are 12. 12 principles that form the basis of everything you do online and allow your social media presence to be more than a series of random posts. To save you time, save your sanity and actually use social media for the incredible opportunity it can be.
1. IT IS A TOOL TO FIND, MEET AND CONNECT
The purpose of social media cannot be overlooked. It is designed, first and foremost as a platform for socializing online. Think of social media as the Tinder for businesses. It allows you to find and meet people you maybe wouldn’t otherwise, connect with them, start a conversation and then take that conversation offline. That means 2 things have to happen to use social media to it’s fullest: meet people and connect with them. Actually connect. As in have conversations, talk. If you’re hiding out just putting out posts and waiting for people to come to you, you’re missing out on the MAIN opportunity that social media offers.
2. IT IS NOT AN ENTIRE MARKETING STRATEGY
I cannot stress this one enough. Maybe I should have put it first. Social media is not a complete practice growth strategy. It’s not even an entire marketing strategy. It is simply one tool in the big picture. One cog in the machine that grows your practice. It can’t do everything. For instance, social media is not a great generator of bookings. Conversion rates are not high. This is the biggest misconception I see (and why so many practitioners think social media doesn’t work). If you’re using it as a one-stop shop to find, meet, connect, convert and book people…you’re going to be disappointed. See #1 for it’s strengths and then put the rest of your strategy in place.
3. YOU NEED A STRATEGY
And no “posting on social media” is not a strategy. There needs to be a purpose to your posts. You knowww I’m all about strategy but seriously it’s because when you’ve got an overarching plan, one that’s actually written down, you’ve got a clue what you’re doing. This is what will keep you from going crazy, endlessly posting without results (and spending WAY too much time in the process). A strategy is what creates consistency, it builds a presence with a purpose. It allows you to post where and when you need to be in a way that is MUCH more powerful than just piecemealing together random posts.
4. BE A RESOURCE NOT A SALES PITCH
One thing I hear a lot about social media, and marketing in general, is that it feels sleazy, cheesy or in-authentic. And yeah it totally can but often it does because someone is “pitching” rather than offering themselves as a knowledgeable resource. When you focus first on GIVING in order to get, the process feels a whole lot more genuine. The number 1 way to do this is by providing valuable content to your audience. If you follow the 80/20 rule of offering up awesome, free content 80% of the time and then “promotion” 20%, your audience will be ready and excited to hear that 20% and it’ll feel a lot better to both of you.
5. GIVE YOUR AUDIENCE WHAT THEY WANT
Remember how I said social media is kinda like Tinder? Well just like a romantic relationship, the one you build with your community is about genuine connection, trust and respect. And the best way to create that trust is by giving them what they actually want (not what you think they need or want). This takes knowing what they care about…in THEIR own words. What are their most pressing problems? What do they want help with? Sometimes this takes actually asking people to find out but once you do you can create that quality content from #4 to become their go-to trusted resource.
6. GO WHERE YOUR AUDIENCE IS
The online world is a big f*cking place and if you try to be everything and everywhere to everyone you’ll just get lost. You’ll find a lot more success (and make it easier on yourself) if you focus on carving out your own little space online for just YOUR people. Which means first knowing who those people are and where they show up. If your audience is younger, you’ll go live on Instagram and Snapchat; if they’re over 35, they’re more likely on Facebook. Mostly moms? Pinterest is a hidden gem. Keep in mind too, that you’re local. You don’t need to worry about people on the other side of the country. Be where YOUR people are.
7. BE SEARCHABLE
90% of adults have used social media for health information, including seeking out a practitioner. If people are out there searching, will they find you? If you’ve given thought to numbers #5 and #6 then hopefully yes they will but also consider: what might people be searching for on social media that I SHOULD be coming up for? Is it specific hashtags, a location, a practitioner type? A certain condition you specialize in? All of the above? Look at your name, your profile and hashtags you use to make sure people out there looking (prime potential patients) can actually find you.
8. KNOW THE NEXT STEP
The reason social media doesn’t work for so many people is because they haven’t created any type of conversion strategy. They don’t have a next step to move their audience beyond social media. That means you’ll just be giving away killer content and getting nothing in return. You must know your end goal (this comes from a strategy); what action you want people to take and then TELL them to do it. Because if you don’t tell your audience to do something, they won’t. They’re not mind readers. They’re coming to you for direction with their health (you’re the expert) so consider what is the next best step for them to take whether it’s downloading a free guide, giving you a call, reading a new resource you offer, etc.
9. BE CONSISTENT
Consistency is SO key online. That means consistency in your messaging (HOW you show up) and also consistency in WHEN you show up. Create a schedule and stick to it. Plan your posts in advance and get them done. Because when people know what to expect from you they trust you. And when they trust you, you build a relationship. When you build a relationship (you probably get where I’m going with this) you create a truly loyal community of people who love you and what you do.
10. LET PEOPLE GET TO KNOW YOU
This is one of the most influential parts of your success on social media. How YOU are you being? How much YOU are people seeing? People work with people they like. Often times they’ll stick with a practitioner JUST because they like them. So yes, you need to build trust, and respect and provide kick-ass value as a practitioner but if people don’t know you as a genuine person, it’s harder to connect on that deeper human level. That doesn’t mean you have to pull back the curtain to your entire life (unless that’s part of your brand) but little snippets let people see the real, awesome you. Bits of humour and personality in your copy, behind-the-scenes, sharing your story (key key key) – these allow people to feel a part of your journey and will make them more comfortable having you be part of theirs.
11. (WO)MAN UP
Yes, putting yourself out there can be scary. Yes, the first time (ok the 10th time too) you go live it feels like the world could end. It’s natural to worry what others think; fear being judged or rejected. But just because things feel scary, doesn’t mean we don’t do them! If we didn’t do things anytime they were scary where the f*ck would we be right now? If you hang on to that fear it is going to keep you from making the exact impact you got into this field to make.
When I’m letting those voices of “what will they think of me” “is this too much” get in my head, I find it helpful to stop and consider – what will help my audience? Making it less about me and more about all you (almost always) gives me the boost I need to hit “post”.
12. DO WHAT FEELS GOOD TO YOU
And finally, if posting selfies makes you cringe or simply being on Instagram feels totally misaligned with your values then DON’T do it. You are in control of the practice you build and if you do all this work to build something you hate, it’s never going to make you happy (no matter how much money or prestige you gain from it). Just really be honest with yourself that you’re saying “NO” to something because it’s not right for you and not out of a place of fear (#11) or simply because it’s hard. All good things lie outside your comfort zone.