It should be of no surprise to you that the majority of people in today’s digital world engage with at least one type of social media. As a counselor, it might seem counterintuitive to encourage this type of usage, but in reality, social media can have numerous positive effects on your business. It is significantly likely that your patients use social media, and introducing these pages within your business will allow you to reach a wider clientele. You can also use social media for marketing reasons, to promote your practice, or improve your communication. The functions of social media are often broader than you might realize; they can be used to create counseling treatment plans, manage telehealth guides and establish a better rapport with clients. In this guide, we’re going to highlight the various uses of social media for counseling practices and outline exactly why it is so beneficial. There can also be certain ethical concerns when it comes to using social media professionally, so we’ll discuss methods and resources you can employ to ensure you are remaining compliant at all times!
Regardless of your personal experience using social media, it is guaranteed to have various advantages for your business. Some of these different benefits include:
The majority of prospective clients looking for a counseling business will search online. If you use social media, there is a much higher chance that your practice will pop up during these searches, allowing you to attract new patients and broaden your clientele.
Forming positive relationships with clients is one of the most important aspects of working as a counselor, and this can be facilitated by using social media. You should be using these sites to publish regular updates, with content that is informative and helpful. A good social media presence will attract new clients whilst simultaneously keeping them informed and updated.
Once you have established your online presence, you also need to monitor it. This means analyzing your data and determining exactly what patients like about your service and the areas that attract the most interest. Identifying these facts will reveal areas for improvement, allowing you to continuously bolster your online presence and connect with your patients.
Social media is the main cause of referrals to your website. Publishing regular content, including blogs, updates, testimonials, marketing strategies, or direct information regarding your practice (e.g. billing guides, scheduling processes, and payment plans) will lead to a greater number of prospective clients checking out your website and hopefully booking an appointment.
As I’m sure you know, one of the biggest reasons for using social media is marketing, yet often businesses don’t know where to start. There are different social media sites that are more effective in certain areas, and we’ve compiled a list of some of the most effective marketing tools.
Facebook is the most commonly used form of social media. Your business should create its own page, and use this to regularly publish content and engage with potential clients. Your Facebook page should have a link to your website, and it can additionally be used as an advertising service.
Twitter is used by people who want to receive condensed forms of content, and you should respond to this appropriately. An effective Twitter page will ‘retweet’ relevant quotes, experiences, and articles, facilitating engagement from your audience. Although Twitter is a good way to connect with potential clients, it is important that you remain professional and don’t share any personal details.
Instagram is a photo-based form of social media, and although it isn’t the site that patients will access to find a counseling business, it can be used to build your brand. With Instagram, you should focus on selling your niche, or the aspects of your practice that differentiate you from competitors.
LinkedIn is a necessary social media tool for any business. It will allow you to grow your network with other counseling businesses and healthcare practices, leading to potential referrals. Publishing information relevant to your field will grow your credibility and link you to other experts in your location or industry.
Just like with every other aspect of counseling, using social media requires an in-depth understanding of ethics. Fortunately, there are different strategies you can employ to ensure you remain ethical, including the following:
Friend requests: Unlike a personal social media account, a business page should not accept friend requests. It is important to build rapport with your audience and establish yourself as a credible practice, but this shouldn’t entail compromising your professionalism.
Followers: Whilst it is okay for your patients to “follow” your Instagram, Twitter, or LinkedIn pages, this shouldn’t be a requirement. Many patients prefer to keep their counseling treatment private from their friends or family, so their confidentiality and privacy are of utmost importance.
Messaging: Sending private messages to clients over social media is a violation of HIPAA guidelines. You must also never talk about a client to anyone on these sites; because they aren’t HIPAA compliant, the patient’s privacy cannot be guaranteed.
If you decide to set up social media pages for your business, it is a good idea to discuss certain guidelines with your clients. One of the key components of preparing clients for their first counseling session is to inform them of your protocols. Additionally, these ethical guidelines must be adhered to, even if you are looking to terminate counseling sessions.
So how exactly can you use social media to improve your marketing and attract new clients? Fortunately, because many businesses have already experimented with the functions of social media, you can partially base your marketing strategies on their successes (and possible failures).
Your content is the basis of your social media presence. Everything that you post should contribute to your brand image and business goals. Sharing interesting and important information will encourage greater engagement with your posts, and your content can be promoted by using teasers.
Engagement with your content is reliant upon how interested clients are in what you have to say. The information you post should be based on current and up-to-date topics. This may include recent promotional strategies, pricing updates, or new developments in the industry.
Creating a network with other therapists is one of the best features of using social media, but you should be careful with these interactions. If you are concerned about a therapist breaching ethical guidelines, it is a good idea to reach out to them privately to discuss these matters or remove yourself from their network.
Whilst this may seem like an obvious point, it is critical that you maintain distance from posts that could be unprofessional. If you think a post made by another counselor or business is more personal than professional, it is best to ignore it and consider unfollowing that page.
Facebook allows the option to prevent incoming messages, which can stop your clients from attempting to DM you. Whilst this may seem like a dramatic gesture, it is essential that you maintain HIPAA compliance at all times, and preventing direct messages with patients can help protect their privacy.
Although privacy settings can be altered, often likes and comments are public. Everything you do on social media should be done with adherence to your business brand, so you should only engage with posts that are relevant to your industry or practices.
Because social media plays such a large role in today’s world, it may be a good idea to seek professional help to assist with your social media marketing. Outsourcing this to experts will allow you to use social media effectively, improving your online presence, widening your clientele, and leading to better patient reviews for your counseling practice.
Using social media as a counseling business is essential if you want to remain competitive. In addition to finding new clients, social media can help you share interesting information, engage with other counseling businesses and expand your professional network. Continuous developments in social media technology mean that there are endless amounts of potential opportunities. Supported by the right information and resources, your counseling business should be able to boost its online presence and engage with a much bigger number of potential clients!