What is Twitter?
Twitter is a popular social media platform where users can send short updates that are up to 140 characters long. Twitter is basically the equivalent of a Facebook status update newsfeed. If you have no idea what a "newsfeed" or "status update" is, then you may want to stop reading here and start by setting up a Facebook account.
Facebook is THE social network site and is the most effective way to build your practice through social media because of it's high number of daily users. Here's an article on how to set up a Facebook Page for your practice. If you want to know how to use Twitter, here are a few suggestions on how to effectively tweet to build your practice.
How can Twitter help you build your practice?
Twitter, like all social media platforms, is a forum for conversation and connecting with other people online. It is also a great way to spread the word about your practice, to educate the public about issues you care about, and to share your areas of expertise. The point of social networking sites like Twitter is...uh...the social networking. If your Twitter followers find value in your tweets they will share them by retweeting your information their Twitter followers. Over time you can grow a network of people who are sharing your tweets which helps you get the word out about your private therapy practice.
Ways to Build Your Therapy Practice Through Twitter
1) Follow local businesses and professionals
Following potential referral sources on Twitter can help you build referral sources. If you specialize in helping clients with chronic pain, then you may want to search for pain clinics, chiropractors, and other health professionals in your geographic area and start a conversation with them about your services.
Don't limit who you follow to only mental health or other psychotherapists. Referrals can come from any kind of social networking relationship. Let your definition of an ideal client help guide who you follow on Twitter so you can attract the kind of client you want to work with. Twitter can also be used a search engine to find other businesses or people in your area and see what they talking about.
2) Don't just tweet, have conversations
Don't just send out information or tweets into the social network universe. Take a few minutes each day to respond to others who mention you or who retweet your tweets. "Mention" other users by using the "@" sign followed by their twitter handle and it will show up on their Twitter page. This builds rapport and relationships. For example, my user name is @julie_hanks. If someone posts a tweet and mentions me, I will be notified of it and it gives me a chance to respond to them. I've found Twitter to be a source of professional support too, meeting therapists all over the world and sharing ideas. I've found some therapists in private practice featured in recent articles on Twitter.
3) Tweet links to your practice website
Increase traffic to your therapy website by tweeting links to your website. If you have a website blog, you can automate your site to tweet every new blog post. Here's a screenshot of my Twitter page. The yellow text are links that mostly go to on of my websites or blogs to increase visitors and provide helpful information.
4) Use hashtags to attract followers interested in your expertise
A hashtag is a "#" followed by a topic. For example, if you're specialty area is parenting, you can use #parenting on tweets about anything related to parenting to make it easier for others interesting in parenting to find you. When you click on a hashtag it will bring up other tweets mentioning the same topic. Hashtags make it easy to find, follow, and converse with others who have similar interest or expertise.
Do you use Twitter as a mental health professional? What are your suggestions for using Twitter to build your practice?