Create a Social Media Marketing Strategy for Your Private Practice
By Jim Peacock
Your goal is to drive people to your business website and one way of doing that is through social media. If you have a private practice, I believe you must be on social media somewhere.
Posting What and Where
Social media is huge. There are many social media sites in the world but you have to find the places your customers/clients are “hanging out.” For me, I have chosen to focus on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, (see Twitter 101: Terminology Tips), Pinterest, and only recently added Google+ because my business focused on providing online and F2F training for career practitioners.
My goal is to provide content that my clients are interested in. Sometimes it is my own content in a blog, article, or newsletter, but often it is sharing other people’s content. Or it might be simply adding my thoughts to a discussion that gives ‘added value’ to the topic. The key is to not only be present in social media, but also to know that you can not be in ALL social media sites, so choose wisely grasshopper. :-)
The content I share is very similar across all my social media sites but I might reword my posts/comments to fit each site. Here are my thoughts on the five sites I focus on.
1. LinkedIn: This is a great professional community made up of people who want to help each other...like you do at professional conferences (for example NCDA), when you meet others and offer help or seek help. LI has been around for awhile and besides the ability to present yourself in a professional light on your profile, there are numerous groups you can join and participate in to advance your learning. And more importantly, create your online presence.
2. Facebook: I have a personal page and a Peak-Careers business page where I can share a post or article. I try to share content on my business page that career practitioners would like to see. Facebook can be a little more playful than LinkedIn and I also tend to post more in the late afternoon or evening here. With FB’s new tool I can schedule and boost posts on my business page, https://www.facebook.com/help/389849807718635.
3. Twitter: Hard to believe you can share content in 140 characters, with the help of an URL Shortener, AND network with others on this platform. Someone once told me it is not about ‘how many’ people you follow but more about finding the people who are aggregating the information you are looking for and then follow them. Because you can follow anyone and they can follow you, it is much more playful than LI, but still a great place to share content, learn, and network. This is a great area for me as I am looking for career practitioners who are comfortable online to consider my online seminars.
4. Pinterest: My virtual assistant is on Pinterest personally, and she suggested a business presence for Peak-Careers. This is still a work in progress since we just this summer started pinning and sharing, but I have already seen some traction. I also use Pins to support my blogs and newsletters so there is a visual aspect to what I am writing about.
5. Google +: I have had a G+ account for years because Google creates one for you if you use any of their products like Gmail or Google Chrome, but only recently have I explored this for professional reasons. I posted a survey in August to see where people were “hanging out” online and was surprised at the number of career practitioners who were using G+. So I am now in a couple groups and posting content, adding to discussions, and reading the content of others.
The key to using social media strategically is to find out where YOUR clients are hanging out and then have a presence there.
Setting a Strategy
I strongly suggest having a strategy for each of your social media sites and to be in it for the long run. I started LI in 2007 and decided to go slow and add people I knew or who added-value to my business. I added Facebook next, then Twitter, then Pinterest, and G+ and each time went slow and made time on a regular basis to explore, watch, participate and add people to that network. I know other private practitioners who will add anyone and everyone and are surprised with my approach. Both are right. My advice is to have a strategy and be willing to change as needed.
How much time to devote to this is entirely up to you. I try to spend 15-20 minutes in the morning and about the same later in the day. Sometimes more, sometimes less, but my goal is to have a presence online daily. I have a couple of tools that help me accomplish this.
1. Feedly: Feedly.com allows me to track other bloggers and websites and to categorize them in a daily feed. I can log into Feedly in the morning and peruse all the career bloggers I am following. Then I skim the news feeds I follow and quickly see if there is any content I want to share with my followers on any (or all) of my social media sites.
2. Hootsuite.com: The free version of Hootsuite allows me to schedule posts in four social media sites. I can literally find content on Feedly (or my own) and schedule out the week on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn in about 20 minutes.
Organizing a Marketing Calendar
Getting organized is a lot of work for an ENFP like me. So I created a second Google calendar that has my monthly marketing schedule in it. For example, my blog and newsletter come out on the second Tuesday of every month and I post the blog on my LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and G+ the same day. Wednesday it is posted in one LI group, Thursday in another group, and so forth. I also publish an article on LI Published the 4th Tuesday each month.
Promoting My Business
The marketing plan and social media strategies have definitely helped me promote my business. When I have a lot of activity on LinkedIn, like posting a blog, and "liking" or sharing others blogs, the hits on my website go up.
Jim Peacock, EdM is the Principal of Peak-Careers Consulting offering online seminars for career professionals, face-to-face workshops/trainings, and individual career coaching. For over 11 years he was Director of the Advising & Career Center at a community college, has over a decade as a high school counselor, and since February 2012, has been full time with Peak-Careers. He is a nationally certified Career Development Facilitator Instructor and a two-time President of Maine Career Development Association. In 2007 he received the Outstanding Career Practitioner Award from NCDA. He can be reached at JimPeacock@Peak-Careers.com. Learn more at www.Peak-Careers.com.