Facebook for Your Practice: Starting to Build Your Community

Facebook isn't Magic. What can you do to maximize your social network marketing efforts to build community and to build your practice?

In our last post about using Facebook for your practice we made a very important point that will be a good place to start our conversation: Facebook isn't magic. Ok, Ok. I realize that this isn't ground-breaking by any means, but it's a good thing to keep in mind as we start to dive into the world of social media a little more.

Let's break this idea down some. First of all, Facebook won't be some magic source of clients. Even when you're able to add a couple of hundred "Likes" to your page, it's not like all of these people will be clamoring for appointments with you. But, Facebook does have value — a lot of value — and it's important to understand where it all fits in.

Secondly, in order to make your Facebook page a viable tool, it's going to require some work. One question that people ask a lot is if they need to start accounts on multiple social media accounts like Twitter and Instagram. My advice has always been that you only need to start the accounts that you have the time and knowledge to manage. Each account is going to require an investment of time and energy so don't get ahead of yourself. Invest time in your Facebook page and add other channels as you have time. We'll be here to help in case you want to spend time learning how to work some of the other social media channels.

How Does Facebook Help Therapists?

Facebook is ultimately about community and connections. It's about building a community of people that are interested in what you do and, more importantly, what you have to share. As you build your community, you'll be building out a potential source of clients, but – more likely – a referral network. As your community and your influence grows, you'll have virtual relationships with an expanding network of people. Each of those individuals are connected to hundreds of others. The items that you share have the opportunity to be seen by more people. The more people that see you posts, the more likely that someone will "Like" your post or "Share" it with others. Any action that they take will only serve to show your updates with more and more people.

Building community takes some work. There are a couple of ways to jumpstart your community building process and some more that will take a combination of money and patience.

Invite Your Friends
When you first set up your page, Facebook will actually walk you through the process of inviting your friends from your personal Facebook account. It might not make a lot of sense to send invites to all your friends. But, go through your friend list and select those who live in your city or that you know would really like to engage with your content.
Share Your Page
After you invite your friends, you might also think about sharing your Facebook page on your personal wall. Explain that you've got a new Facebook page and that it would mean a lot if your friends would sign up. You can even ask them to share the post with their friends too.
Advertise Your Page
After you've started your page and you've created a couple of weeks worth of content, it might be a good idea to test the waters by purchasing some advertising from Facebook. There are specific campaigns designed to help add followers to your page from your local area. This is a great way to start to diversify your audience so it's not just your friends who are getting you updates!

What Do They Want to See?

The goal is to give you audience something compelling — something that they wouldn't necessarily see if they didn't like you page. There are a lot of options for this. Here are just a few ideas:

  • Inspirational Quotes — You can do this by finding memes from Pinterest, or simply type your quotes directly in as a status. People LOVE quotes like this. The bad side? A lot of therapists (and other people) do this already, so you might not stand out that much.
  • Articles & Research — There are lots of places that you can find helpful articles (e.g. Psychology Today or Good Therapy just to name a couple). Sometimes research can be less compelling than a quick image or quote but the people who will read your articles are probably a little more invested in the information too.
  • Videos — Some of the most compelling content that you can share is in the form of videos. Short but interesting videos often grab the attention of people who are quickly scrolling through their newsfeed. In that case, it's much more likely that they'll stop and engage with your content and, hopefully, share you post with their friends.

It takes time to zero in on your style and to find exactly the sort of thing that your community likes to see and respond to. So try a few different ideas. If you get really creative, there are even some sites that will let you create your own memes. You can mix it up and share some serious quotes and some more light-hearted ones too.

Over time, your community will start to grow! Every so often, it you can spend $20 or so on another ad to find even more folks from your area. If you find that you're having good results with your paid efforts, make a plan to do it about once a month or whatever makes sense for you. Either way, be patient and remember that you're not trying to find clients just yet. You're building a team of advocates. When they're having conversations with their friends or loved ones, you want to be the first name that they think of. Facebook — and all social media accounts — are more indirect ways to help people find you.

Just like in the real the world, the virtual world is all about networking in the communities where you live!