It can feel a little strange to use social media to promote yourself and your services, especially if you work in the mental health field. And you’re not the only professional with reservations. Many private practitioners are concerned with maintaining a professional distance from clients.
Social media is not just for friends and family anymore. A professionally curated online presence can strengthen client bonds and expand your reach, which can validate and humanize you as an expert in your field—when done right.” That might mean you have a private, personal profile and a separate, professional one dedicated to your business.
How to Establish Your Business on Social Media
Think about when you’ve hired a service provider yourself. Did you pick that person because you felt like they’d connect well with you? Many business relationships are built on personal connection. While the quality and type of services you provide play a factor in purchase decisions, many clients want to know who you are—not just what you do. Clients in search of medical, mental health, nutrition, and other personal health services want to feel comfortable and supported. They also want to know that you’ll “get” them.
One way to do this is to focus on the “know, like, trust” factor in your marketing messages and activities. This concept has been used for years by marketers to develop personal relationships with customers. Here’s how it works.
- Know: Getting prospective clients to “know” you isn’t just about your brand, services, or credentials. It’s about really knowing you—your values, perspective, and even your opinions.
- Like: It’s all about connection. People will like it when they feel you’re invested in them. This can be communicated through the content you publish, the words you use, and the parts of your personality you share with them.
- Trust: Once people know and like you, it’s time to make sure they trust you. They need to know you’ll support them, listen to them, and help them on a consistent, reliable basis.
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How to Build an Authentic Online Presence
Social media is an excellent medium for prospective and current clients to get to know, like, and trust you. But the question remains—how much should you share, and how do you consistently do this in a way that aligns with your business?
Here are five steps you can take to identify your authentic voice, grow your business, and connect with clients using social media.
1. Know who your customer is and what they want to see.
Understanding your customers is an ongoing process. Consider the challenges your customers may be facing. Then, think about the type of message or content you could share that can be helpful to them. What kind of things are they experiencing on a day-to-day basis? How can you align your message to make them feel seen, heard, and supported?
2. Establish 3 to 5 pillars to guide your content.
What does your business stand for? Who are the clients you serve? What are your personal values and things that bring you joy? Start to find your voice by identifying key “pillars” that will guide the content you create.
For example, if you’re a dietitian who specializes in treating gymnasts with eating disorders, and you’re also a hiking enthusiast, you can share content about how to maintain a healthy relationship with food, your love for the outdoors, and the world of gymnastics. You can even share content that talks about how parents can compassionately support their child who may have an eating disorder.
3. Pick a monthly theme to organize your thoughts and posts.
With steps 1 and 2 in mind, identify a central theme each month to inspire your posts. Using the example above, maybe the theme in November or December would be managing meals and emotions during the holidays. You can also talk about how you keep outdoor activities a part of your routine even during the winter months.
4. Segment posts by content type.
Consider the type of content you’re posting. It can be educational (establishing the like factor), motivational/fun (like), behind the scenes/personal (know), testimonials (trust), and selling/services (trust). As a general rule, make sure the majority of your posts deliver value to your audience. For every three to four posts you make, one of them should focus on your services with a clear call to action to schedule an appointment like “Schedule a consultation today.”
5. Don’t just post—engage.
Once you have a rhythm for posting, try going the extra mile by connecting further with stories, live video, or interactive Q&A sessions. Engage your followers by encouraging comments on your posts, responding to those comments, and even commenting on your followers’ posts.
However you choose to represent yourself on social media, remember that your primary purpose is to support your followers. If you’re ever unsure of what to post, put yourself in their shoes (and maybe even ask a few of them) to identify what they want to see and hear. Coming from a place of a genuine desire to serve and connect can help make the process more enjoyable for you—and more worthwhile for your followers.