Hello there, and welcome back to the Mountain Practice Journeys podcast!
I’m your host, Cindy Norton.
Here in Episode 20 I answer the question: Does your social media account really get you therapy clients?
Let’s get started.
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See below for the episode show notes links and transcript…
Episode 20 Show Notes Links
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Episode 20 Transcript
Hello there, and welcome back to the Mountain Practice Journeys podcast! I’m your host, Cindy Norton. Here in Episode 20 I’m going to answer the question: Does your social media account really get you therapy clients?
Let’s get started.
Have you been wanting to start your private practice, but you can’t seem to take that first step? Maybe you’re afraid of failure or lack confidence, or maybe the idea of running your own practice is overwhelming. I’m Cindy Norton, owner of Mountain Practice Journeys and I help therapists and counselors to love the business side of private practice. I’ll share with you practical skills and advice along with a healthy dose of inspiration so that you can be on your way to the practice of your dreams. Put on your hiking boots, and let’s get going.
If you haven’t yet listened to Episode 19, I urge you to do that. In that episode I talk about how to save time and grow your social media following with automation.
Now let’s get on to today’s episode.
I’m going to be honest here. For the majority of private practices, social media isn’t going to get you a lot of direct client referrals.
If you’re only choosing social media as one of your main marketing strategies because you think it’s going to be a large source of referrals, you may want to think again.
In my opinion, a great website along with genuine and intentional networking is one of the best combinations to get client referrals. And as your practice becomes established referrals from current and past clients begin to grow, especially when you are doing a great job.
I want to insert a caveat here: As with every topic that I talk about on this podcast, there are going to be outliers. There may be therapists out there that fill their entire practice via social media, but at this time social media isn’t a huge source of referrals for your average therapist.
I’ve been active on social media for many years and hardly ever receive direct referrals from my social media accounts. But don’t discount social media all together because it truly does give your referrals a boost.
Let me give you an example of how this can work. Imagine you are a client and your individual therapist gave you three referrals for couples therapy. You’re likely going to go online and research the referrals to find out more about these therapists.
The first therapist you look up only has a general profile on a directory that talks about working with anxiety, depression, and trauma – but they do have the couples therapy box checked on their profile listing. You may be doubting their ability to help you because you have no information about their work with couples.
You quickly move on to the next referral and find that they have a beautiful website that features a page about couples therapy and you are able to get a sense of how they can help you. You like what they have to say, so this therapist is definitely a possibility.
You move on to the third referral and find that they too have a really great website and you could see yourself working with them. You also notice that they have an instagram account so you decide to check it out. They have some really great content. They share helpful relationship information, funny relationship memes, and they have videos of themselves talking about their work with couples. You get a sense of their personality and you love the information they share.
Now imagine that you are the couples therapist that has this awesome website and instagram account. You are contacted by this new client and when you ask “How did you find out about me?” they answer “my therapist” or “your website.” When, in fact, it was your instagram account that was the deciding factor in this client wanting to work with you.
I give this example to show that although you may not be getting many direct referrals from your social media accounts, they can give an added boost to your referrals without you even knowing about it.
During the 5 years I have been in practice I have had one couple check the social media box on my intake paperwork when asked how they found about about me. It was a premarital couple who found me on instagram. The bulk of my referrals come from three places: my website (aka Google search), a colleague referral, or a past client referral.
Even though the bulk of my clients do not come from social media, I still spend some time there simply because I enjoy sharing helpful relationship tips and funny memes about couples. I could stop social media all together and it would not significantly impact my referrals. And the same is likely true for you. As I stated in Episode 17, you should only have a social media account for your practice if you enjoy it.
Although social media is not likely to be a huge referral source, it can be beneficial in many ways to add boosts to your practice, such as increasing visibility, likability, credibility, and SEO.
And I do believe that more and more clients will be finding us therapists through social media. One positive that came out of 2020 is that mental health is now a topic discussed more deeply and widely. More people than ever are seeking out mental health support, and they are finding that support in new ways – including on social media.
During each episode I’ll be giving you one small take away, action step, or mindset shift. I call these acorns. Listen to Episode 0 to get the scoop on what the acorns are all about.
The acorn from this episode is to track your referrals. When you begin your practice you don’t always know what is going to work marketing wise. Many things will be trial and error, but you want to be tracking how clients are finding you nonetheless. After a period of 6 months to a year you will have helpful data to let you know what is working. But, remember, you have to give your marketing strategies time to work.
An easy way to do this is to create a question on your client intake form to track referral sources. For example, I created a question on my intake form that says something like “How did you find out about Cindy Norton, LMFT and AVL Couples Therapy?” and has checkboxes such as internet search, AVL Couples Therapy website, directory listing, social media, referral, and other.
I use SimplePractice to manage my electronic health records and it is super easy to create custom intake forms. If you’d like to get started with a free 30 day trial and a $50 credit, visit the show notes at mountainpracticejourneys.com/episode20 and use my SimplePractice referral link.
As you review your clients intake information, you’ll know exactly how they found you. And after several months you will have reliable data work with. This is how you will know what you should double down on and what you should let go of. For example, if you see that 10 of your last 80 referrals came from a certain colleague, you will know that you need to continue nurturing that relationship. If you see that 70% of your referrals are coming from a google search or from your website, you’ll want to focus on keeping your website current and continue to focus on your SEO.
When I began my practice, I noticed that a large portion of my referrals came from my website because I had worked hard on my SEO and had been blogging for over a year. And that stayed true for quite a while. And as my practice grew and I became more established, I noticed that I was getting more referrals from colleagues and previous clients. This was a result of the networking that I had done months, and even years, earlier and I was beginning to see it pay off. And referrals from previous clients are the most exciting because it means that my clients enjoyed their work with me so much that they recommended me to people that they care about.
So don’t be shy about asking your clients how they found out about you, and get specifics. It really will help you to tailor your marketing efforts and stop spending time on the things that aren’t working. But, remember, you’ll need to give some breathing room to your strategies and give them time to show you if they’re going to work or not.
As I outlined in Episode 0, I’ll be alternating between a fun fact and ‘what I’m digging’ segment with each new episode.
The fun fact for this episode is that I love playing D&D (otherwise known as Dungeons & Dragons). And yes, it is like the kids in Stranger Things make it out to be. Except we’re not playing in a basement. My partner and I are so into games that we turned our living room into a gaming room with a large table and comfy office chairs, so we call it The Board Room. Get it? Because it looks like a board room, but we play board games among other things.
I have a D&D group that I have been playing with for years, and we meet most every Monday night with small breaks in between campaigns. I absolutely love getting to play a character in a magical universe. It’s a fun and creative outlet.
Thank you so much for joining me today on your private practice journey.
This episode concludes Season 2 of the Mountain Practice Journeys podcast. I’ll be taking a 3 week break and will be back before you know it with a wonderful Season 3 filled with helpful topics and inspiring guests.
And for continued inspiration for your private practice during this seasonal break, join me over on instagram @mountainpracticejourneys
There’s no way you can know how much it means to me that you choose to join me here as I share all things related to private practice. Please subscribe so you don’t miss a step. For more information about this episode, please visit the show notes page at mountainpracticejourneys.com/podcast I truly appreciate you Trailblazers. Your mountain is within reach. Journey on.
I Want You To Be Successful In Private Practice!
Happy Climbing, Cindy