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Building awareness using social media

Social networks are a great way to reach out to other practitioners and professionals, as well as potential clients.

They take the core methods and benefits of offline networking into the virtual world. Working as a therapist can be lonely, so social networking can be a good way to connect with other therapists and talk to friends.

Social networks can also be an excellent platform for spreading the word about your private practice (‘social media marketing’).

Of course, you always need to be careful what you say. A good rule of thumb is that you should never publish anything on a social media network that you wouldn’t be prepared to say out loud in a crowded room.

There are currently four main social networks that you can use to connect with other practitioners and potential clients. It’s important to focus on the ones that will be most effective and valuable to your private practice.

LinkedIn

What is it? Social networking and job hunting for business professionals.

How do you use it? Sign up for an account at www.linkedin.com, build your profile page with your career achievements and connect with others. You can also create a company page for your private practice. LinkedIn features a number of business-orientated groups that you can join and participate in to share ideas, discuss issues and chat.

Follow the Private Practice Hub LinkedIn company page to keep updated.

Facebook

What is it? It’s the daddy of social networks - the only one of the four here to spawn a feature film. Facebook is arguably still the best way to connect and keep in touch with friends and to show them what you find interesting using a Like button. 

How do you use it? Sign up for an account at www.facebook.com

Follow the Private Practice Hub on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/PrivatePracticeHub

Unless your Facebook profile is strictly professional, make sure that your account is private. You don’t want to make any personal information accessible/viewable by clients or ex-clients. Profiles on Facebook are based on your real identity but you can then create a separate, public page to promote your business.

Twitter

What is it? Real-time public status updates on a micro-blogging platform that limits posts to 140 characters.

How do you use it? Register a username at http://twitter.com and you can get started right away. You can share anything you like on Twitter - links to your own website, links to interesting articles, free therapy tips... anyone can subscribe or follow what you publish and you can follow anybody else.

There are lots of therapists already tweeting - take a look at http://wefollow.com/twitter/therapist. So Twitter can be a great way to meet new colleagues, reach out to potential clients, share information, find resources, boost your knowledge and find interesting articles related to your therapy business.

Follow the Private Practice Hub on Twitter now to get started! https://twitter.com/PracticeHub

Google+

What is it? Google’s big idea for social networking is a platform that enables you to share certain information with certain groups of people.

How do you use it? Membership of Google+ requires a Google account, which you will already have if you use Google’s Gmail webmail system. If not, you can sign up for one at http://plus.google.com.

Google+ encourages you to organise your Google contacts into circles - a circle for close friends, a circle for family, a circle for acquaintances, and so on. You can have as many circles as you like. Whenever you publish anything on Google+ you get the option to broadcast it publicly (everyone can see it) or restrict it to one of your circles. You can also set up a company page for your private practice.

Follow the Private Practice Hub on Google+

What should you start with first?

We’re torn between LinkedIn and Facebook. LinkedIn is great for making professional connections, but Facebook will help you connect with clients as well as other therapists. You’ll find some more articles about social media on the Private Practice Blog, so why not join the discussion?