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Archive for the ‘Social Media’ Category

Myths, Lies, and Videotape

A lot of things in the land of marketing are a lot more nuanced, obviously, than marketing experts let on.  In no particular order, these are some things you should think about!

Video buzz

Yes, video is hot.  There is no denying it.  And yet let me be a little Debbie Downer here for a minute.  Video is hot when you have the right audience,  the right topic, and the right person talking.  Look at your website stats (or hire me to help teach you) to determine when people are visiting your site.  I’ll bet you anything, as I run several therapy websites, your biggest traffic is daytime, weekday, peaking at lunchtime.  What does this mean?  People are at work seeking therapy and especially on their lunch breaks.   A lot of folks may not be able to watch a video of you unless they email themselves your website and check at home…away from loud TV’s, kids, spouses.  Make sure your content is also written out if the video content would be useful to non-video watchers.  And for the love of God, people, do not have anything automatically run an audio (song, video) on your therapy website.  There is nothing more off putting than Enya blaring out of speakers when seeking a therapist or a video starting to stream, freezing up ones computer.

The other buzz kill for you is that unless you have GREAT lighting, a great script, and great energy, your video may backfire on you.  It’s VERY hard to be bubbly on video, mixing the right level of gravitas and joy as you want to do as a therapist.  The thing about video is you look heavier, paler (or darker, depending on your skin tone), and flat when talking normally.  It’s also really easy to come across as preachy instead of conversational.

Learn what you can to make it really good! Death by dull therapy videos is not what you want for your prospective clients.  And video experts agree: a bad video is worse than no video.  So DO a video… but learn everything you can to make it awesome.

 

Positioning of  Website or Blog Elements

This is a general vent about statistics taken from websites that get millions of visitors a day, week, or month.  The N has to be high enough for statistical differences!  Every year “they” decide it’s best to have your newsletter on the right hand side, or left hand side, or have this or that positioned here or there.  These are usually e-commerce websites and very high traffic.  Most therapists, I’m going to guess, average 100 visitors a month – some a lot more, many a lot less.  That is just not enough people to say that paying your webmaster $75 to move something to the other side of the web page is really going to make a difference.

Obviously if you’re starting out, or can edit your own site, it’s fine to listen to what “they” say to do.  But my point is pay attention to the industry’s in the analysis and realize you’re in a low-traffic world with a niche audience.  You aren’t a pair of Ugg boots that is sold on 100,000 websites, trying to figure out how to maximize sales for your particular website.  You are a relationship and long term investment compared to shoes, music downloads, or e-books!

Myth: You have 30 seconds to make an impression

This is only sort of true.  If you take a web surfer trying to find a general answer, yes, they’re scanning really fast and will bounce quickly to different websites.  But if your web visitor has done the work to find your website, is pre-screened to want what you offer, they are going to give you more than a few second impression!  You’re not Target or Best Buy where they expect perfection on a website.  They know you’re a low budget therapist.  Unless your website is really awful, or your content is impossible to read, they are going to give you more time than thirty seconds.  This is especially true the more niched you are or the fewer competitors you have.  People only jump off your website if they know there is something better a few clicks away.  (Hint: if you’re in California, land of abundance of therapists, you really have to have a more top notch website because you may have 50 other therapists in your same zip code!)

Lie: You HAVE to be on Social Media

I was very pleased when I went to a book tour event for my favorite marketer, a hyper social media guru, because he came to visit my table and he affirmed my belief.  Not everyone needs to, or should be, on social media.  He used to say everyone should be, but he’s realized it just ain’t so!!  And this guy makes his living off social media, so you know he’s come to see the light when he can say that.

Why is this a lie?  Because social media at its core is about engagement and thinking outside a purely self-promotional box.  You can’t throw out a few tweets every day and succeed, unless you’re super famous offline.  And then I’d argue you’re still not doing social media, really.  You’re one-way preaching to your followers in the latest format they’re using.

I see more therapists spending wasted effort on social media when that precious time and energy can be spent elsewhere.  I’m 100% supportive of those therapists who want to learn and try it, but I’m also 100% supportive for those (like my husband) who say no way.  The world is not going to end.  Clients will still come to you (because they are not going to Twitter to engage with therapists anyway!)

Myth: Heavy Website Traffic Websites Guarantee Success

Trust me, I know it’s hard to not believe this one.  To show you how hard it is to not believe it, I was an ACTIVE user of a website that I then chose to advertise on.  My gut knew the facts, but my greed wanted the sales pitch to be true.  So, $125/month times six months later, guess what?  Total failure.  And because the real point of the website was about community and message boards, I literally had more hits to my website just being myself, a true member of the community, than advertising!

A lot of website traffic seems hot until you break it down.  Any website with a message board is going to have repeat visitors, sometimes 2-3 or 4 different times a day on different IP Addresses.  (IP address is like stamping that you’ve visited a website and is used, among other numbers, to tell advertisers how many web visitors you have.)  So the more forums and message boards, the more visitors you’ll have, but these aren’t the visitors who trust ads.  They are on because they trust their peers!

The second main issue with heavy website traffic is branding and conversion.  Do people love the overall website and don’t really pay attention to who is writing what article?  Do the web visitors visit to get general education or are they actually seeking ways to spend their money to solve their problems?  That’s a big difference!  (An example, my father wrote a blog post on a big therapy website that got about 30,000 visitors – a TON!)  But those people were not going to visit him and his website.  They only wanted to hear what he said on that exact topic.

I am a firm believer in experimenting and trying new things.  But just go in with eyes wide open and be sure you can get out of any paid contract easily!  We were stuck in an expensive experiment for six months.

Myth: Ranking High is Vital

First of all, what does ranking high mean?  There are many, many ways people find websites, not just one word or phrase.  In fact Google generally has a full50% of it’s hundreds of millions of daily web visitors type in something unique… meaning Google has to instantly match quirky questions with every website that exists!  This means you can get web traffic from a lot of different phrases that tie into what you do.

Secondly, if your website sucks you can rank high and people will bounce right off to the next website that shows up on their search results!!  And on that note, please don’t have Google Adwords running if your website sucks.  It’s the same problem.  Sure, you can guarantee web visitors, but if you’re really bad, nobody will “convert” to an actual client.

Second point on ranking high is you may be better off paying to advertise on high ranking directories and then putting your effort elsewhere to attract other types of web visitors beyond those who are searching on Google.  This is where Twitter shines – you can build relationships with other website owners and, without spending a dime, expand your audience by sharing your expertise with their web traffic.

 

What other things have you discovered are myths or lies?  Every therapist seems to have been schnookered into something that just turned out not to be true or didn’t quite fit their business model.  Share in comments below!

Unfriending Friends and Friending Strangers on Facebook

This is the goofy new world we live in, folks. One where I unfriend friends and friend request people I don’t know on Facebook.

Facebook is quite the catchall for 500 million people (though a great majority of those are non-USA citizens of other countries.)  Finally, there is a place to see your old high school and college friends, get to know your religious community members in a better way, see what family and relatives are up to, and generally hang out online with people you know from any aspect of your life.  For some it’s basically a list of “who would come to my funeral.”  For others, especially famous folks, there is no boundary around who they will friend.  Most of us are in the middle somewhere.  The great thing is Facebook is locked down (if you know what you’re doing), and you’re able to manage exactly who you want to see.  This post today is NOT an attempt to convince anyone of anything, but rather to share the goofy world of social media and how the journey for some of us makes Facebook less intimate, but more interesting and rewarding.

I’ve already written about purging Facebook friends, which was an interesting experience that wasted 2 hours of my time, but removed 70 friends and businesses I was following.  I was lighter and have never regretted the experience.  Exactly 3 friends re-friend requested me, and I accepted (though one breaks a rule below so that person may be unfriended again.)  From the time I wrote that, I think I’m back up to 40 or so friends!  What gives?

What I have found great about Facebook, the way I use it, is that it allows budding professional friendships to grow in a more organic way.  There is nothing worse than a stiff email, “so great to meet you!  We should get together for coffee.”  “Yes, that sounds great, I’m busy until [insert future month].”  And then nothing happens.  Twitter solves a lot of these problems because you can sort of “hang out” online without having to necessarily personally talk to everyone all the time.  I liken it to knowing they hang out at the local coffee shop so if you’re in the mood you can chat with them on the fly.  But Twitter is still limited to 140 characters of friendship building (sometimes in 10+ direct messages, oof!)  So what do you do when you find a kindred spirit on Twitter and want to be able to contact them less awkwardly than the stiff email, but more intimately than Twitter?

Facebook!

But lest you think Facebook is just another way to annoy colleagues with your latest ebooks, coaching programs, and awesomeness, I actually have a rule about professional friends that runs counter to common sense.  The rule?  If your Friend account only talks business (and specifically, really self-promotiony stuff and little to no personal disclosure about your life), then I will unfriend you.  If I wanted your awesomeness, I’d sign up for your newsletter, blog, or otherwise hire you, buy your stuff, sign up for your business Facebook page, etc.

Organic, holistic, baby step friendships…

What I’ve found moving people from Twitter to Facebook is that it allows me to get to know them in a different way than Twitter.  I even live chat with folks, which is great fun.  And best of all, I feel in my “intimate” circle of Facebook that I have more people rowing the same professional boat as me.  So when they occasionally post something work-related, I’m happy to read it and share it with my non-work friends.  And sometimes I have struck up friendships with friends of friends, based on sharing comments to status updates or shared links.  And seriously, who wouldn’t want a dilemma they’re willing to be semi-public about and have great mental health professional friends weigh in?  Private practice is simply too isolating and doesn’t have to be.

My final rule: if I get a friend request and I have no clue who the person is, I expect a personal message on where they have heard of me or what we have in common.  I am not interested in collecting Facebook friends, but in connecting with like-minded individuals (even if it’s just ONE small similar interest.)

Remember, there is no such thing as privacy, as any celebrity, politician, or journalist will tell you, except those very conversations that happen in real life, live, on the phone, or in person.  True intimacy exists offline, not on Facebook, even if it is just your list of people who would go to your funeral.  But for all the non-intimate things in our lives, Facebook is a fantastic place to hang with your kindergarten best friend and professional colleague you’ve never met!

And the best part of Facebook?  I can decide it’s TOO MUCH and do another purge. Or decide I am more open, and blast my Facebook friend link everywhere to find more people.

How do you use Facebook and do you feel yourself moving towards expansion or contraction?

Awesome News for Therapists and Social Media

I just spent the morning listening to a panel of five companies discussing social media.  I learned almost nothing, but that’s what is so “awesome.”  Yes, there are a LOT of things to learn about social media and specifically for mental health professionals…….. BUT, truly, really, positively I can say without a doubt that social media is still the WILD, WILD WEST for even multi-billion dollar businesses.  There is no one answer to all the complicated questions and issues that arise with social media.

All the tools in the world, all the analytics in the world, and it still comes down to YOUR industry, YOUR goals, YOUR capacities, and YOUR innovation-level on how you will use social media.  And the great thing is solo-businesses like therapists have maximum flexibility and innovation-potential over a lot of companies who are big and sluggish and are dealing with millions of customers.

I came away feeling more secure and confident that I’ve got some amazing things to share and unique perspectives over the world I follow – crazy geek social media marketer folks.  Those folks stress you out, overload you with data, and ultimately for nothing.  It comes back, as always, to the chatterbugs with the podium who may not actually be able to translate the noise to the “bottom rung” user,  like you and me.  I see this with executives who don’t really have a clue what’s going on at the ground level and miss hundreds of opportunities.  I see it with marketers who profess what they sell applies to EVERYONE even though it can’t, and I see giant marketing and PR firms still working to figure out social media.

As a panelist said well, “social media is the most expensive free tool we’ve ever seen.”

I say this is great news for therapists because as late adopters to technology, many are actually doing an awesome job jumping on board.  It’s also great news because there is no one way to use social media and it’s NOT too late by a long shot, to join in.  So, for any of you who go to the Psychotherapy Networker Conference  in March (or read the magazine), I’m doing my third article on Twitter and will be working with the conference in some capacity to help therapists move forward with Twitter, or maybe even just a “Tweetup”, which is a fun word to describe meeting people in real life that you befriend on Twitter.  (My two cents on Facebook is the walls are a bit higher and as a private community a lot of therapists aren’t getting large fan bases because people don’t want to tell everyone in their life that they’re interested in therapy.  There are a few big exceptions….but mostly Facebook has its own unique issues separate from Twitter.  I think of them as separate animals in the world of social media)

Marketing as a Relational Journey

I love therapists. I help them connect to their ideal clients online. I try to demonstrate through this blog how I wish to be in relation to you (ie, not hiding behind a one page sales website page that offers no interaction, no thoughts beyond My Products.) There is a lot going on in my life, almost all VERY good things that I can’t wait to share. Tonight I get to meet the author of the most impactful marketing book I’ve read. I will write a formal book review blog post soon enough but for now I’ll just say it has validated everything I’ve felt along this five year journey from launching the Marriage Friendly Therapists website to now. And that message is to get in relation with people. Stop telling them to hire you or read your book or your blog or sign up for your class. Start engaging them, giving them what they really want (and they don’t want YOU, they want what THEY want.)

When you view marketing in terms of your wallet, you probably get a slightly icky taste in your mouth. At least I do. My father and a colleague had a dream to help couples in marital distress find competent, trained and “marriage friendly” therapists. A fantastic dream not filled with a huge amount of drama on the professional side of things. But we moved forward, put thousands into a website, spent enough hours that to reimburse the co-founders for their time would probably average about two pennies an hour.

A year later my father and I had another dream. This dream was to stop being condescending to engaged couples, stop poo-pooing the wedding and start engaging them where they are developmentally: bringing two family clans and cultures together to celebrate one of the biggest life stages a person will ever experience. Avoiding all the standard negativity towards how much weddings cost, how trivial they are, how “silly” it is to stress about one day, we build a class format and a book to share the wisdom we acquired from my engagement journey and the stories of hundreds of others. We are now the most robust national website for premarital counselors and just received our second corporate sponsorship without effort on our end at all. They found US.

In that wild time period of two or three years, I had one, then two babies, a serious crash course on Business 101, a wild array of vendors I had to connect with, marketing I had to learn, failures I had to experience, greed and all the other emotions that go with sharing a dream and hoping to make a social change and pad the wallet a little bit. It’s been five years now and there is absolutely no way I could have predicted where I am today. WHAT? I’m teaching others about marketing? I’m writing in national magazines? I gave a keynote to 1,500 people? I authored a book? I’m living proof of something, but not sure what. Maybe being crazy?

Where I sit now, I am almost back at the beginning, wiser, more exhausted, more engaged and excited. I’m relaunching the therapy website with so much that I’ve learned and teach others to do. There will be so much more engagement on the website for couples needing help and for the unbelievable therapists whose life work includes saving marriages and families. There is a lot of low hanging fruit as I consider the exciting future of The First Dance, which has continued to grow without my trying (thanks to great content, SEO, and relationships we’ve built.) My likely goal is to get myself more inside The First Dance (beyond that I wrote everything) as I become an MFT. I’ve been building great relationships to add more exciting book offers to couples and may add more mini e-books to help with specific wedding stressors.

From all the skills I’ve learned and passion I’ve built, I am able to translate all this wisdom into any adventure I want. THAT is what excites me, not the nuts and bolts of any particular techie skill. It’s being able to think more globally at any dream you have and applying marketing principles to your future that should get and keep you engaged with the shocking amount of information there is to learn. I did a brief consult with a therapist recently and had his innocent book built into a huge empire (in my head) because I can see the potential and ways of growing like I couldn’t a few years ago when I was exclusively focused on SELL THIS BOOK OF MINE. Buy, buy, buy.

This is what I want you to do as well. I work more with seasoned professionals who may be bored “just” doing therapy, or who simply need help getting online, whether or not they need clients from their web presence. I myself am looking down the barrel of being a therapist in a few years, entering graduate school next fall. What I want therapists and educators to realize is the more you listen and engage, the more you will grow and expand. I was about to give up a few years ago when a friend told me about this crazy thing called search engine optimization. We’d spent thousands to no avail and I figured it was worth trying. Instead of gobbling up the learning to market AT people, I learned how even a robot like Google will reward you for being in relationship with others. It’s what I do naturally anyway so I simply applied a lot of life lessons into SEO and teach those to you, therapists who “get” relationships.

So my dear blog readers, stick around. The reason this “marketing” stuff is so exciting is because you can LEARN new things every day and make connections with amazing people every day. And I hope you do the same but if you’re not, I’m here to help. Because when you stop focusing on your wallet and returning to your passion, the wallet will fill up. It’s just a matter of getting from THERE to HERE. And that’s what I’m here for.

Therapists Keeping Up with the Internet

I received a great question from a fantastic therapist friend,Lesli Doares.  She asks, “how does a therapist keep up with all the information available to their clients on line?”

I’d like to say I have a thorough answer at the moment.  Instead of delaying, I will attempt to answer.  In fact, the original pitch to Rich Simon at the Networker was on the idea of “cultural competency” as it relates to this brand new, unabridged look into humanity via the web.  Therapists do not get the entire picture from clients, who hide as much as they wish from their therapist.  For the first time ever therapists have access to fascinating information, without filters, AND with the cultural responses to anyone’s particular issue.  In other words, the most raw form of your clients are online and you can see the most raw responses they get from society at large.  Anonymity can be brutal but insanely fascinating from a mental health perspective.

Rather than be bogged down by every possible nook and cranny a client hangs out at, it’s more important to figure out if and how they’re engaging their online space.  For many people the most community they have is online.  In person may be going to work and then coming home.  I credit the web message boards for dramatically improving my engagement wedding planning experience (I am NOT a girl who dreamed of her wedding her whole life and had literally only been to three before planning my own.)  I also found the message board world very educational, empowering, and uplifting during the pre-pregnancy, pregnancy, and new baby experience.  I was also heavily on a message board for a very dramatic surgery and credit the site for hugely calming my fears and helping me get a window into a wild world (plastic surgery… I’ll write more on that in the future including a great potential niche market I may try to enter when I get my license.)

So let’s say you have an intake form today that asks something like, “what are your support systems?”  It’s important to get the lay of the land, right?  What if you tweaked your intact form to normalize the fact that many of your clients may be ONLINE.  Perhaps you can simply ask, “do you seek blogs, message boards, Facebook, Twitter, or other online mediums for guidance and support?”  It’s not asking them which ones (they may be a little weirded out about you invading their personal online space.)  As you go about your normal intake session you can ask more about that in person.  You’d want to simply allow THAT world to enter therapy, whether it’s a great source of comfort and community for them, or it’s a source of facts and information (aka psychoeducation), or whether it’s impacted their relationships (positive OR negative.)

I say for your current clients, it wouldn’t hurt to say something like, “so I just read a therapy magazine article about the online world and I am just wondering if you hang out online and find it a place for support for [insert presenting issue.]”  If they say “no”, then that’s fine.  But if they say yes, then you can engage them!  Ask what they get out of it, if and how it has helped them, and whether they think you’d benefit from checking out the website they visit.  Let them be your teacher!  They’ll love it.

The online world can be horribly toxic.  One of the last, what they call “national boards”, I visited included a post that made me so angry I was shaking.  This is an example of NEGATIVELY being impacted by the online world.  This woman was posting because she was finishing up law school, her husband was unemployed, having been fired from his job, staying home with their baby in the meantime, and struggling with depression while resistant to therapy.  Her question was simply whether she should take a job offer to relocate and start earning income, though it was not where she/they wanted wanted to live.  A valid question, right?  You know what happened to this poor woman?  She was attacked.  Her husband was attacked.  Her marriage was attacked.  It came down to him being a Supreme A-hole for not working and not being able to “suck it up and be a man” and it included the fact that she ought to just ditch him and move on with her life.  Absolutely no acknowledgment was made that she LOVED her husband, that she had NO marital challenges requiring separation or divorce, and that she did not feel he was less of a man for not working or for having depression.  Her original issues were ignored as people went on a rampage, with full ignorance and male-hatred.  (This is a female message board.)

I’ve been online for 15 years now, back when it was mostly white super geeky guys in their 20’s.  Things have dramatically changed and now anyone, anywhere, can get online and ask a sincere question.  The response may be brutal, soul-crushing, and send a person in a tailspin of insecurity, depression, self-doubt, or in extreme cases, often made national, can lead to suicide.  The online world was responsible for a whopper of a fight with my parents because I threw out a wedding idea that triggered emotions on all sides…resulting in an argument that would NOT have happened if I wasn’t online getting ideas from other brides.

It’s important that therapists realize these worlds exist and to help their clients manage those worlds as they would help a client deal with a challenging mother or difficult child.  And since mental health still has a stigma, the online world is the safest place anyone can go to. For better and worse.

Therapists on Socal Media

I’m going to be bold.  I may be wrong.   “They” always say the best way to build your online empire is to be controversial.  Here goes, though you may just breathe a sigh of relief and thank me for relieving your anxiety or validating your gut instinct on this topic:

I don’t see therapists succeeding with social media.

I don’t see real people following therapists.

I see a lot of therapists talking at each other, sharing brilliant quotes, getting friendly with each other

The “social media” experts have a vested interest in you PAYING THEM to learn about social media.  They DO succeed because they CAN be on social media due to zero issues of confidentiality or mental health stigma issues that therapists face.  It’s the difference between finding people desperate for help on marketing vs finding people who need your HELP (therapy help.)  Social media folks need to be on social media and can impress you by their following and ways they use it.  But that’s their entire job….use their tool to sell their tool.  You have to use a tool to sell a DIFFERENT tool (therapy isn’t really a tool, but you know what I mean.)

I think there are many reasons social media and therapy don’t mix well.  Here are some reasons why I don’t think therapists need to be on social media at this point.  The world changes fast so I make no promises for a radical change of opinion in weeks or months from now.

For one, social media is about fun, about connecting, about getting freebies and coupons, and about gathering news.  Therapists aren’t in that “game.”  Clients aren’t your friends.  Prospective clients aren’t your friends.  And “fun” is edgy and potentially offensive depending on who you work with…one has to be careful outside the therapy room with “fun.”

Secondly, social media is very public.  Anyone I “friend” on Facebook or any group I join shows up to ALL my friends.  Fortunately I can and do follow anything related to mental health and my friends know it’s my professional life.  But if I were “just me”, there is no way I would follow any therapist – even someone I wasn’t seeing.  I for sure wouldn’t be following the sexperts that I can follow since sex is part of marriage and I’m a marriage junkie.

Third, therapy is a personalized, one-time process.  You go.  You terminate.  You move on.  There are thousands of outlets to getting interesting mental health information.  You don’t “need” your therapist the way someone twenty years ago may have needed a therapist for any/all mental health help.

Fourth, most therapists are just not that interesting.  Sorry.  And I love my therapist friends on Twitter and Facebook.  This is NOT an insult, nor do I think I’d be doing anything real different if I were on as a therapist.  Nor do I consider myself an amazing Twitter person and I don’t even, as of today, have a Facebook fan page.  But beyond quotes and little “tips” and statements, really, is it that interesting that I need to follow you along side my real friends, my local businesses who impact my bottom line by offering coupons, and my local newspaper where I catch up on what’s going on in my community?  I follow therapists to see what they do and stay up on trends and read interesting information as a mental health advocate.  “Regular people” don’t do that.

Fifth, I have no interest in knowing much about my therapist.  I certainly don’t need to see tweets about husband, or kids, or her personal life.  There are few pure relationships anymore and many clients wish to keep the purity of the therapy relationship the way it is.  “TMI”, too much information, can ruin the experience.  Or, for people like me who are rather, well, curious and nosey, the extra information can detract from the therapy experience and healing.  So if clients often don’t even want to follow their therapist, who are you social media connecting for?   That’s the issue.  Real people are not going to Twitter to find a therapist.  And Facebook?  I’m doing a Facebook therapy ad for my husband so I’ll let you know how THAT goes, but a Facebook ad is very different than a “fan page.”

Finally, social media is about interacting.  Ignoring the issues with your own clients being your followers and interacting…Do I really feel a need to interact with you and all YOUR followers who I may not know and who may attack my viewpoint on your Facebook status?  Do I need to be that visible to all YOUR “fans” by responding?  Most therapy social media groups and even educational groups rarely get comments.  People just don’t want to interact with strangers on what are often very personal issues.

All of this is not to say some therapists don’t do really well with social media.  But most admit they make great colleague connections, sometimes hook up with journalists, but rarely do they actually get a real client out of the work.  They have fun, which can not be undersold as a perk to social media.  But unfortunately, I think it’s still too early and still to unproven that the time therapists spend on social media may not be better spent elsewhere IF the goal is to get new clients.

In a future blog post I will talk about ways I think therapists SHOULD or COULD use social media.  Though I’ll fully admit it would be testing new waters, not any proven way of succeeding.  As I enter the therapy world in a few years I am giving a lot of thought to these issues and will not be swayed into jumping on the social media bandwagon without a real purpose.  Even though I already have two Twitter accounts, neither of those are “me as a therapist” writing for prospective clients.

Who are you for social media?

I just thought I’d share my dilemma in case any of you may learn from my story.

I learned about Twitter enough to create an account at an Association of Bridal Consultants meeting.  The message was clear: if you want to attract brides, you must go where they are.  And they are on Twitter.

So I created an account and the brides didn’t come.  Well, some came.  But a lot of spam and a lot of vendors came.  I was confused, but pressed on.  I then learned, as everyone eventually does in social media, that Twitter is NOT a platform to shout and share yourself but a place to engage and respond.  Once I started doing that, I met some great people!  Those friendships moved to email, to Facebook, and some of them moved into cool business relationships.  As they gave a shout out to me, I gave a shout out to them, and I grew.  Without much effort I have just over 2,000 followers.  I know some people have a lot more followers, but if you look, a lot of their followers are spammers.  I believe more of mine are “real people” than not.  Quality  matters more than quantity in real life AND in social media.

My Twitter list of followers and who I follow (because those lists don’t usually completely match) has brought me to a moment of reflection.  At this point my poor followers have to listen to drivel about weddings, or marriages, or therapy, or even “worse”, therapy marketing.  (I am honored by anyone reading this blog because I know exactly how many marketers salivate over getting your wallet open!)  Then consider my journey towards becoming a therapist (and a new desire to create a local community of real therapists creating real community – separate from this entire blog and marketing stuff) and I’m in a bit of a pickle.  This doesn’t even include my OWN future of becoming a therapist and what I will do AS a therapist to engage in clients.  I’ve got engaged couples, wedding vendors, marriage educators, therapists, mental health advocates, lay people who just want to follow along on my readership list.  I always worry I’m annoying someone even though I try to follow the simple rules of not sending a ton of Tweets at once, or more than 1-2 a day.

On the one hand, what I should really now do is split off my wedding folks from everyone else.  On the other hand, doing that will diminish my followership and engagement.  It will also mean more work to log into separate accounts and “think” more walled off than I currently have to do.  Right now I can brain dump anything and my followers are pretty patient if it doesn’t apply to them.

My point here is that nobody has The Answer.  Any “move” I make has ramifications.  For example, if I split off just the therapists, I may find zero inspiration to write anything, or may find that I become one of those awful marketing spammers because all I do is “talk marketing.”  Or if I’m good about only talking therapy, the occasional marketing Tweet may turn off followers who think I have an alternative motive for being on Twitter.

Some day I’ll make a decision.  For now I’m going to keep with my nutty status quo!

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