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4 Reasons Why Your Therapist Social Media Marketing Isn’t Working

So you dipped your toe into the social media marketing pool and feel like you got bit…

Well, you’re definitely not alone.

We know social media marketing can be super effective; 92% of marketers who used social media marketing reported seeing increased brand exposure as a result, as well as other benefits such as increased traffic to their businesses and advanced customer insight. Despite these facts, therapists like you still struggle all the time to hit the nail on head when it comes to the nuances of social media marketing.

Social media is a complex beast that can behave differently from other kinds of marketing, and if you’re not sure what you’re doing wrong, it can get frustrating!

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Your personal social media accounts are popular with your friends – why don’t the same techniques work for your practice’s business account? And even if you’re experienced and successful with other marketing or advertising methods, you could fall flat if you try the same techniques with social media based marketing.

The great news is that the difference between your social media marketing and success can be as simple as a change in mindset.

Why Your Therapist Social Media Marketing Isn’t Working

1. You don’t have realistic expectations about the timeline.

I know, I sound a little bit like a scolding parent, but kids aren’t the only ones who sometimes expect too much of the world around them. From time to time, we’re all guilty of wishing things would just happen more quickly for us.

However, successful social media marketing relies heavily on you building an audience for your brand and your social media content over time.

You can’t expect to tap into a “community” you think may exist among your potential clients. Unfortunately, people aren’t looking to make friends or social connections through your brand or their mutual interest in you. (Consider this: when was the last time you decided to visit the Facebook page of one of your favorite brands of soda, cars, pens, etc. with the intent to socialize with the “community” there?)

As a therapist, your potential clients are looking for illuminating information, guidance, or varying levels of help. You’re going to have to go beyond proving that your therapy services are full of value – to see success with your social media accounts, you have to prove your social media content is valuable, too.

Assuming you don’t win the lottery and one of your social media posts goes viral overnight, even the biggest businesses & brands have to build a social media audience bit-by-bit. It’s going to take longer than a week or two for you to accumulate a satisfying number of followers, and that’s totally normal. 

Just like with search engine optimization (SEO), growing your social media audience takes time, like growing a garden.

To grow a successful garden, you have to plant your “seeds” (your business’s social media accounts). However, if you ignore those seeds they’ll never sprout. You have to water and tend to your garden overtime by continually updating your business’s social media accounts with free content that your potential clients will find really valuable.

Let me say that again: free content that your potential clients will find VALUABLE. 

You can even add powerful fertilizer to your garden by paying for social media ads that can precisely target your ideal clients!

Before you know it, your garden is flourishing like you never dreamed! Sometimes you just have to persist a little longer in order to succeed.

2. You’re emulating the wrong kind of marketing.

This one is difficult because in general, emulating the successful marketing campaigns of other brands or businesses that you like can be a great way to get started. Learning from the greats is one of the best places to learn, after all!

However, what people expect (or will accept) on social media from different industries and businesses can vary wildly. It’s important to keep your eyes and ears on your particular audience and figure out what makes them tick.

As a therapist or practice trying to attract an audience of potential clients, you probably want to make your clients feel welcomed, understood, and safe. While you may also like to tell a joke or promote a service every now and then, how you market your private practice on social media will be different than other industries because of what it prioritizes – the feeling of being welcomed, understood, and safe.

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For example, let’s look at a company on Twitter that does very well in their social media marketing, but whose social media techniques will be very different from yours: Pop-Tarts.

Cannibalism is wrong but Pumpkin Pop-Tarts are so right pic.twitter.com/7RK5NtUySs

— Pop-Tarts (@PopTartsUS) October 22, 2018

This quirky Halloween-themed post from last month is a great example of social media marketing in general. The text is pithy, has a distinct voice (it doesn’t sound like a robot wrote it), and the imagery is original and engaging. These are all good tweet qualities that are worth admiring and will work well with marketing your private practice on social media.

However, I’m sure you can see qualities you would probably not want to use in posts representing you or your practice. While the imagery and the tone of the tweet clearly paint the mood as “playful,” you wouldn’t want to make such a casual reference to cannibalism in your own tweets, even just for fun.

In addition, while the visual is fun to look at, you won’t want to push your paid products or services as explicitly as this too often. Pop-Tarts doesn’t have the luxury of being able to give out actual samples of what they’re selling over Twitter or other social media platforms– but as a therapist, you can.

Here’s the secret to getting new clients through social media: 

Instead of advertising your services directly (ex: “Feel anxious all the time? Try anxiety therapy services with me!”), offer your audience free content such as life advice, tips, and personalized guidance. Giving out “pocket therapy” like this is a wonderful way to demonstrate your expertise and prove your usefulness to your potential clients.

Now let’s look at a social media marketing example more appropriate for your industry from a therapist herself, Ms. Stacy.

Role play to help build social skills. #autism#parenttips#parentinghttps://t.co/4lc8ntz5T3

— Ms. Stacy (@abawithstacy) October 17, 2018

Ms. Stacy uses a lot of the same techniques that Pop-Tarts used in their own admirable tweet: Ms. Stacy’s tweet is short & sweet, and the link she is using provides a fun and attractive thumbnail photo. She’s even used a few hashtags (the “#” symbol) to help categorize her post in people’s Twitter searches, which improves the SEO of her tweet.

Best of all, the content she’s linking isn’t a direct promotion – it’s a dime-sized blog post with advice on role playing social situations with autistic children, and it’s totally free. Ms. Stacy is using great content like this to build trust and therapeutic authority with her audience over time.

The only recommendation we would make right now that could make a tweet like this better is if she’d written it with a little more voice so it sounded like a person was saying something instead of just describing something.

For example, changing “Role play to help build social skills,” to “Let’s role-play to help build social skills!” could’ve made a huge difference.

(If you’re looking for more tips on how to market your practice on Twitter, I’d really recommend our . Check it out!)

3. You’re only using either paid content or unpaid content – but not both.

This is a common sticking point for small business owners & entrepreneurs (like you!) first experimenting with social media marketing. They don’t want to over-invest their time or money in a new marketing method that they’re unsure about, so they pick one side of the fence or the other – only using paid (“sponsored”) content or paid ads, or only using unpaid social media content (also called “organic” content).

Here are the facts: to really succeed, you need to use both paid and organic content in your social media marketing. Among companies who market on social media, 86% already use both paid and organic content.

While organic content is the heartbeat of any business’s social media presence, we know that a single organic social media post simply doesn’t reach as many people as it would have five years ago. This is largely due to social media becoming competitively crowded by advertisers, and it makes it more important than ever for you to keep up a regular posting schedule of organic content to foster an interested and trusting audience.

Paid social media content has also been evolving over the past few years and it’s more powerful than ever. A decade ago, paying to boost an organic post or paying to post an ad on a social media site seemed silly when you could easily get your message out for free. Yet nowadays the field of social media marketing has become so crowded that paid content has become more important than ever, allowing you to cut through the crowd and target the exact eyeballs you want viewing your content.

Paid strategies on social media platforms work with organic content better than they ever have, allowing you to pay to use advertising tools like precise audience targeting and enhanced post promotion for your organic content, while also supplementing your organic traffic by paying for ads to directly promote your page or business.

A combination strategy like this is going to be your best bet to get the edge on your competition.

Speaking of paid content versus organic content…

4. You’re writing your organic posts like paid ads, or vice versa.

If you have experience on social media with personal accounts, you’ve probably noticed that you communicate differently depending on what social media platform you’re using. You know that in creating a post on Instagram, you would use different content or language than you would on Twitter.

In a similar way, it’s important to distinguish the stylistic differences between to make sure you’re using them as effectively as possible.

For example, when it comes to sponsored content or paid ads, the best tone is one that’s more straight forward and (dare we say it) even a little “sales-y.” This is obviously different than the kind of content we’re used to posting on social media as individuals, which typically shares something personal or timely about ourselves and our lives.

Despite how weird it might feel to advertise your services so directly, the reason that you should use that “sales-y” tone in paid content is because of people’s existing expectations. If you’re posting an ad on a website, people see it in the spot that ads appear on the website or see the “Sponsored” tag, and they’ll know right away that you’re trying to sell them something (figuratively or literally) – and that’s okay.

In a paid social media ad, you don’t have to hide the fact that you’re trying to get them to be interested in your business or services, or that you want them to take further action. Today’s consumers particularly value that sort of transparency and mutual-respect.

On the other hand, your organic content can and should use a similar friendly, casual, and work-friendly writer’s voice to the one you’re used to employing on your personal social media accounts.

Organic content is a great place to share more about your business, your values, and your latest news without any immediate pressure on the viewer to become a customer. Your comment & “like” numbers may be lower with your organic content than with your paid content, but it’s still doing a lot of heavy lifting for your brand and your relationship with your potential clients.

To see the different in these two tones, let’s look at the Facebook account of a company called Airtable.

This post is organic content from Airtable’s business Facebook page, and it’s a great example for us to break down. It’s not trying to push a product or service in your face; it’s an offer for free, helpful content, and a chance to connect live with Airtable staff. It’s still driving interest in the company and the product, but in a more passive way that feels rather friendly.

They also included an attractive, no-text image to their post, which is a great way to spice up a post that doesn’t have an otherwise obvious photo or image to go with it.

This paid content (a sponsored post) from Airtable has a lot to love about it. They do a great job of promoting their product without becoming too pushy, using a beautiful photo to show you exactly what they’re offering (this would be a great place to put a professional photo of yourself or your office). At the same time, it’s a nice, brief length so we can take it in at a glance.

The purpose of the post is clear and it represents Airtable’s product in an attractive way; I get exactly what I expect when I click on their ad.


I know this article is supposed to only be “Reasons,” but here’s a fifth – on the house.

5. You’re trying to do everything yourself.

Another possible reason why you’re struggling to see the results you were imagining from your social media or other therapist marketing is because you’re spreading yourself too thin. The fact of the matter is that the modern therapy industry asks a lot of therapists, especially when it comes to marketing and managing your practice. Unless you’re one of the lucky ones, it can feel nearly impossible to do it all yourself.

But you don’t have to.

Brighter Vision is the ultimate marketing package for therapists, centered around the best therapist website you’ve ever had. Fill out the form below to learn more about our team of professionals who can’t wait to help your practice grow like never before. 🙂

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