20 Mar

Social Media Rules Every Therapist & Coach Need To Remember

Teaching social media to therapists and life coaches.

Social media is everywhere. Every day there seems to be a new pitch or reason why businesses are called to participate in the social media stratosphere. One of the big reasons has to be the compelling number of visitors who visit sites like Facebook, Pinterest, YouTube or LinkedIn every day. Numbers on that front are higher than 3 billion users worldwide and growing.

The challenge for most professionals is learning how to stay contemporary with what’s working today. Truly, in all the years we have been in the publishing space, we can guarantee that what works today will very likely change tomorrow.

Social sites change. Their algorithms change. The way sites promote or send traffic changes.

Yet, the public remains hungry for the content (things like articles, videos, images etc.) that are published on social media sites.

Regardless of how challenging it may be for businesses to create a meaningful foothold on a social site, the users of social media sites continue to demand that interesting content be delivered to them. It’s estimated that 2/3 of American adults get their news from Facebook. As the Internet has evolved, our habits for finding out even the most crucial information has moved to social media sites.

Perhaps not for everyone, but 2/3 of American adults is an incredible number of people, any way you slice it.

The reality, however, is it’s very hard to create a meaningful presence on one of these sites. As a healing professional, the basic strategies for gaining a following or getting referral traffic don’t always work. Because you also have the additional variable of your ethical framework to consider. Therapists, coaches, and healers must also contend with the relationship (real or in development) with your readers such that your ethical standards are not compromised just to get a thumb up or a click to your website.

Given that it’s incredibly unlikely that social sites like Facebook are going anywhere anytime soon, eventually, you will be asked to consider promoting your business on social media.

Before making any decisions to embark on a social media campaign, here are 4 social media rules therapists and coaches must pay attention to:

  1. Confidentiality – part of any good social media strategy is blogging and storytelling. Often when thinking about topics to write on, a common editorial strategy is to share vignettes or sample stories to illustrate a point or make a case. Often these stories are derived from actual real-life events.

    The trick to sharing example stories is to really work with the example you’re trying to make and be crystal clear that you’re not telling any one person’s story. To get this right without risking breaking a client’s confidentiality, before publishing your blog, make a point to clarify the example you’re trying to raise and ask yourself how much the example you want to use is universal to many clients versus just one.

    If it’s a universal story (which are the best ones to use) ask yourself what three or four clients have shared this same situation. Then, write your sample story from all four stories. Change the genders, ages, race, sexual orientation or even the role of the challenging client. Do your very best to create a vignette that mirrors the content you need to share while removing any identifying information from the tale.

  2. Self-disclosure – lots of people have ideas about how many personal details are “ok” to share.

    The best advice about self-disclosure is this: you can never take it back. When you share intimate, personal details about your life, your history, experiences or feelings, and they are placed on the Internet, they are there forever.

    Websites may grant you the privilege of removing a blog/article after you publish it, but very few are actually obliged to do so. When you choose to share your personal experiences, you also remove the professional barrier between you and your clients.

    The implications here are that you’re human and have experienced the same pain, challenges, and potential growth that your potential clients are hoping to achieve. However, you also put yourself in the role of being “just like your potential clients” and one hard reality is that most of us want to learn from people who know more than we do. Too much self-disclosure and you run the risk of being seen as unhelpful or worse, incapable of helping a client with their challenges.

    If your desire is to be seen online as an authority in healing the issues you’re an expert in solving, for many people the answer is to keep self-disclosure to a minimum.

  3. Online friendships – one real risk with social media is the implication for friendships, even when that’s not the actual intention.

    When you begin developing relationships with future clients on social media sites, the implication is that there is a friendly or servicable angle to the support you’re offering. But the truth is, in many industries, clients are not friends. They may be friendly, but it’s not actual friendship.

    Ask yourself how you would handle seeing that person at Starbucks, or at the zoo with your kids, or when you’re out to dinner on a date? If the answer is it would be uncomfortable, awkward or otherwise difficult to navigate, then chances are your intention is to not be “friends” with this person.

    That simple answer has a deeper meaning when you consider the carrot of friendship that is often extended through sites like Facebook. That may simply mean that in the realm of social media, Facebook isn’t the right place for you.

    Consider that on LinkedIn, the connections are collegial, not personal. Yes, you have friends you’re connected to on LinkedIn, but the site’s business model is around work, and that may be a better place to build relationships. Of course the challenge, in reality, is how often do colleagues become clients? If you’re left to deal with a friendlier social site, ask yourself how to conduct yourself so your being helpful, but not overly personal?

    Often knowing where you stand on that simple issue will support you when it comes to writing blogs or videos so you don’t waste time writing in a style that implies a deeper personal connection than you truly want to offer.

  4. It’s 1000% ok to say no – you do NOT have to build a social media presence that makes you uncomfortable.

    The ideal position on this issue is to find the one or two sites that meet your needs for connection with potential clients that don’t require that you compromise your values. Moral and ethical standards are necessary for the healing fields. They allow clinicians to maintain a distance from the intimate challenges clients face and that perspective, coupled with experience and education creates an environment where clients can learn in the healthiest way.

So, let us state it for the record here: you do not have to be on Facebook to be successful. Your blog will not fail if you choose other options for getting traffic. Yes, Google and other search engines do value social media sharing, but Google reps have said as recently as March 2018 that social media is not a ranking signal. Meaning, you have choices. The most important thing for you is to decide for yourself what you’re going to miss out on if you choose to opt-out of social media and how you can find other sources for that traffic and connection.

Following your own moral and ethical code requires that you show up online with the same standards you wish your colleagues to see you upholding. When you do that, you’re free to make decisions about your brand without feeling the pressure from marketing professionals or other industry leaders who say your business won’t make it if you’re not on Facebook. That simply isn’t true. You just need an alternative plan that works for you.

If you’re in need of support to help decide how to find traffic for your website or how to grow your practice, please subscribe to our newsletter list (located in the upper right hand column on this page) or reach out to us directly to schedule a call and see how we can support the growth of your business.