The number of ways we as practitioners can reach people is growing everyday. New digital marketing tools and strategies provide professionals more opportunities to address mental health concerns before they even show up in your office. Plus, it helps promote a healthier societal narrative around mental health online.
Most clinicians got into this career hoping to change lives for the better. Now we have an incredible array of online platforms to extend that mission. As an added bonus, our digital marketing efforts give our potential clients a chance to get to know us before they ever end up in our office.
Historically, helping professionals have been slow to adopt technological advancements, like creating websites or having professional social media accounts. Although this slow adoption came from a desire to protect the sanctity of face-to-face interactions, it has actually limited our field’s efforts to be understood and valued as professionals.
It has limited our ability to have an even greater impact on the world. But thankfully, the level of comfort with digital marketing and a carefully curated online presence is growing. And more practitioners are understanding just how impactful the digital content we create can be for our clients.
Use Digital Marketing to Validate Experiences
As clinicians, we need to use the ways we show up online to demonstrate our deeper understanding of what our clients are going through. We’re typically adept at feeling immense empathy with others—and this is a trait that we can harness when we create digital content.
We should be asking ourselves, “What are our clients motivated by? What forms of content do they engage with the most, and why? What can we create that shows them that we understand their experience and have something to offer them—like encouragement, self-reflection, or an alternative perspective?”
Most importantly, how can we as clinicians and content creators show up as our most authentic selves to connect with them at that level? These questions should inform all of the digital marketing efforts you embark on. Your clients will be able to tell when you’ve created content with them in mind.
No matter what kind of content we create, we need to make sure it’s clear, succinct, and relatable. Prospective clients won’t be able to tell that we understand them if we’re creating content that speaks to our own needs and experiences rather than theirs. A great way to do that is to choose language your clients will understand—rather than clinical or academic jargon. It means showing up in tangible and digestible ways that can make an impact in their lives in the present moment.
Help Your Clients Feel Seen
Our clients often show up in our practices when they’re in the most amount of pain. But what if we meet them earlier than that moment—to show them how our services can be used in more proactive ways, without pain being the great motivator?
If you’ve identified your ideal client niche, you probably have a strong understanding of your clients’ most common concerns. Without getting too specific or using too much therapy jargon, you can create content about those concerns. In doing so, you can help them name what they’re feeling, and offer them some relief that they’re not alone in experiencing it.
For example, I’ve focused my recent Instagram posts to describe concepts like cognitive dissonance, self-compassion, coping strategies, and trauma responses. I talk about all of these things in ways that are designed to be practical, understandable, and reflective of our common humanity.
Since clients often love organized lists and steps, I’ve used these structures and graphic organizers for guidance. These posts aren’t meant to replace my clients coming to therapy, but they’re a good way to let clients know that we can dive deeper into these topics in our sessions together.
Develop Holistic Content
While some digital marketing strategies recommend speaking to our clients’ pain and offering solutions, there’s value in creating more holistic content that goes beyond this. We can highlight common misconceptions that use “all or nothing” ways of thinking. We can use the wisdom of our own experience to relate to our clients. We can inspire and evoke their imagination.
We know our clients, even the ones that are still just avatars on the internet, are three-dimensional humans capable of a lot of complexity and human emotion. And we can provide content that acknowledges this.
One way to do that is by providing a list of questions to encourage self-reflection. Another is integrating content that acknowledges our seemingly opposing thoughts, feelings, or behaviors. When we address the multitudes that our clients contain, we open them up to a world that’s a lot more colorful and free—even if it takes time to adjust to this new paradigm.
Create a Digital Community
Social media is, at its core, just a platform to connect with others, hopefully in life-enhancing kind of ways. While we all have either experienced or heard how social media can be used in destructive ways, it also has immense possibilities to help us connect—and can even lead to connecting in real life. It’s how we use it, as opposed to it using us, that determines the benefits we receive.
I see far too many business posting on social media platforms without interacting with their own audience. We should be liking, commenting on, and sharing the content that other people in our communities are creating. It does take some time and energy to engage in this way, but I’ve seen first-hand how focusing some time on engagement can yield great rewards, like finding potential clients and colleagues we can collaborate with and support.
Find a Network of Your Peers
Your digital marketing efforts on social media aren’t just good for your business—they can be good for you personally as well. Professional relationships, a community for support, and various other opportunities can arise when you’re active online. These can include news interviews, television-related work, radio interviews, workshops and training opportunities, live-streaming conversations, and writing articles for various publications.
Digital marketing is an ongoing process of learning and growing. Things like social media algorithms and search engine optimization change all the time, so we need to be nimble and open to learning something new.
At the end of the day, we just need to start somewhere and then consistently take one small step forward at a time. Start with what you’re passionate about, what sparks a sense of aliveness in you, and speak to your audience from this place. The world needs us more than ever—let’s make sure they can find us.
Pollen Magazine examines the health and wellness industry through the lens of the professionals that are redefining private practice. Find inspiration, learn from others, and discover insights on how to build the best version of your practice.
Get the latest stories from your peers right to your inbox.