10 Ways Therapists Can Step Up Their Social Media Game

Maybe you’re a clinic owner looking for new marketing strategies. Maybe you’re a therapy entrepreneur who is looking to connect with new clients. Or maybe you’re an OT who just wants to create an Instagram to share your creative interventions! Whatever the reason, there are many pros to therapists increasing their presence on social media. However, social media can be intimidating – especially if it isn’t already one of the natural leisure activities you turn to. But as scary as it can be to try something new, incorporating social media into your therapy business strategy can pay off in dividends – and it’s not as hard as you might think. 

General Tips for Therapists on Social Media

  •  Don’t get caught up in trying to learn everything at once.
    • Social media is one of those rabbit-holes that you can dive deep into and never return. My best advice is don’t try to become an expert overnight. Take your time to learn day by day. Yes, Instagram and other apps have an algorithm that decides how often content is seen and who it’s seen by – but I promise you, you will go crazy attempting to master this algorithm – and then it will just change on you!
  • Aim for sustainability from the start. 
    • When you research social media online, you might find tips like “post to Instagram every day at the same time to grow a following.” And while there is some truth to this advice, it doesn’t really matter if you’re not the type of person who has it in them to post every day. Instead, aim for consistency that is achievable for you. If this is only posting once a week on Sunday, then that’s totally okay! Truthfully, it’s more important to post consistently than it is frequently. It’s also best to start with a less frequent posting schedule and then gradually scale up if you have time. It can look very strange to your followers if you start out posting multiple times a week and then go dark for a month when you burn out. 
Planoly screenshot
Batching my posts is key to my sanity
  • Another thing that helps me with sustainability and consistency is using a scheduler for my posts. This allows you to create a post and have it post at a future time of your choosing. I love this because I only have to set aside one chunk of time to have all of my posts batched for the week! There are native tools within Facebook that allow you to do this, and I also use Planoly for Instagram and Meet Edgar for other platforms.
  • Use professional profile pictures.
    • At the end of the day, nobody wants therapy advice from your dog (okay, maybe I do.) As soon as someone comes across your profile, they begin making small judgments. And when people have pictures of their pets, landscapes, or a favorite painting, those judgments usually aren’t good ones! It’s totally okay to not like photographs of yourself, but people want to connect with other people – and having a random profile picture can interfere with that. 
    • At the same time, please don’t feel like you need to rush out and get professional headshots! While you might like to do this for other reasons, if you’re just starting out a homemade headshot will do. 
helping teenagers build healthy sleep routines instagram post
  • Give, give, give…then sell.
    • Again, the primary reason that people use social media is to connect with other people. If all your social media includes is ads for your business, then it’s probably not going to be a very compelling account people want to follow. Instead, try making some posts that just educate or give free information WITHOUT any ask attached to it. For example, if you’re an occupational therapist working in early intervention, you could make a post that included tips for tummy time for new parents. Another one might be on developmental milestones at the 6-month mark. Next, you could have a post that was just sharing a funny anecdote from one of your clients. In this way, you will begin to develop relationships with your followers and earn goodwill with them. THEN you can make a post pitching your teletherapy services – and will likely have a lot more interest!
    • It can help to think of your social media as a magazine – yes, there are ads, but they’re far from the majority of the content! 
  • Provide as much as you can on the app without redirecting somewhere else.
    • This isn’t to say you shouldn’t have a website or a way to connect further with you – you probably should! But it’s important to consider the psychology of how people use social media. Think about it: say you’re on Instagram and come across a picture that says “3 Tips OTs MUST Know About Working with Adults with Cerebral Palsy.” You’re interested enough to pause and briefly skim the post, but then the actual text just says something like “These tips are SO important! Go to my website to learn more!” Do you think you would be motivated enough to go?

      For most people, the answer is no. In general, people using an app want to stay on that app – there’s something about our brains that just makes clicking through to a separate app or website feel that much more difficult. And this is deeply reinforced by the app makers themselves – they’re in the business of keeping people on their app because that’s how they make money. So without any buy-in, people are likely to just scroll on by.
    • Instead, this OT could include those 3 tips in the body of the post itself. Then, if they did still want to redirect people to their website, they could let people know that they could read the full article with 7 more tips on their blog. 
  • Don’t be afraid to experiment with something new.
    • It’s easy to just use the social media platforms that we’re already comfortable with, and I do think that’s definitely the right approach at first. However, social media runs in cycles – as new platforms are introduced, the old ones will become less popular. (Remember MySpace? Friendster?) So once you get comfortable, try something different! Even if it’s not making a completely new platform like TikTok, you could always just test out a feature of your preferred app that you haven’t used as much, like IGTV or Facebook Live

Tips for Instagram

Screenshot of Devon Breithart's Instagram
My Instagram Profile
  • Do hashtag research.
    • One of the first things you might notice about Instagram is the use of hashtags, or keywords that start with the character “#.” These allow users to find related content by all people who have chosen to use that hashtag. Hashtags are a great way to get people to view your posts (make sure your account is public!). 
  • You can always make up hashtags – any word you put after that # will automatically become one – but it’s helpful to find what other hashtags people are using. I usually use a combination of strategies to do this, but one of the easiest ways is just typing “[topic] hashtags” into Google. Many websites aggregate this data to see what hashtags and groups of hashtags are being used. For example, here’s what comes up when you search for occupational therapy.
pediatric occupational therapy hashtags
#OTactivites, #pedsOT, #OTrocks, #etc
  • Another strategy I like to use is looking at the accounts of popular competitors and seeing what hashtags they use. I find it’s really helpful to follow other people who are in a similar niche to you and seeing how they use hashtags.
  • Use a profile link tool.
    • One of the frustrating things about Instagram that you may have already noticed is that links placed in the description of posts are not clickable! There are theories on why Instagram has made this choice, but again, you will drive yourself nuts trying to figure out why they make all the decisions they do. 
    • However, Instagram does give every user one easy place to store a link – in your bio. This is why you might see so many people include “The link is in my bio!” in their posts. This is great if you only need to store one link at a time – but I’m guessing there might be multiple things you’d like your followers to have access to, whether that’s a specific blog post, your mailing list, or your consultation sign-up form. The way to get around this is by using a link that when clicked, redirects to a page where all your links are stored! I personally use Linktree for this, but there are many other free tools online.

Tips for Facebook 

Devon Breithart Facebook Business Profile
My Facebook Business Profile
  • Create a Facebook Business profile.
    • This is a profile that’s separate from your personal profile and has different tools available, such as analytics and the ability to connect more deeply with potential customers. Business profiles are also treated separately than personal profiles – both by the platform and people viewing them. In general, it’s a good idea to have a separate profile for your business – even if you’re just a one-person show at this point.
  • Having a Facebook business profile is also a necessary step to having an Instagram business profile. This allows some small changes right away like adding a line for your business type and giving you access to analytics. I actually have mixed feelings about having my Instagram profile set up as a business profile – I’ve heard anecdotal reports of getting better engagement with personal profiles, (again, don’t go into the rabbit-hole!) but for now, I like it as a business profile.
  • Use Facebook Groups.
    • Facebook has been around a long time – so long that many parts of the platform don’t see as much traffic as they used to as people move to other platforms. However, Groups is one area that is alive and well! There are groups for everything you could think of – not only am I in a group for occupational therapists, I’m in groups for school-based OTs, pediatric OTs, and travel therapists! I also like to branch out into tertiarily-related groups to keep perspective, so I’m in a group for special education teachers as well as school administrators. 
    • Groups can be a great way to connect with other therapists or people who might be interested in your services. Again, the give, give, give rule applies here – make sure your only contributions to a group aren’t just ads for your business.
    • Another thing to keep in mind is staying HIPAA compliant and protecting your license – so if you’re in a group with potential patients, make sure you’re not doing anything that would constitute a therapist/patient relationship.
    • You can also use your Facebook business profile to join groups as a way to direct more traffic to that page.

Social media is extensive and ever-changing, but I hope these tips offered you some easy ideas to deepen your practice! Remember: you will never know everything there is to know about social media, so don’t let that be the mental roadblock that prevents you from getting started. And if you’re already using social media for your therapy business, I would love to hear how it has helped you! And of course, this wouldn’t be an article about social media if I didn’t drop links to my Instagram and Facebook.

Do you need more advice on your social media strategy for your therapy business? I can help! Whether you just need a quick consultation or someone to actually do the work of creating content, I’m happy to offer my expertise in this area. Please contact me now for a free 20-minute consultation!

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