Social media is overwhelming.

Facebooking, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, LinkedIn – the list is endless.

There are so many platforms, and each one is different. They all require a different strategy, in-depth knowledge and vast amounts of time.

The worst thing is the idea of making a fool of yourself – or putting your foot in your mouth – on such a public platform. It could be embarrassing.

Not only embarrassing but embarrassing in front of the whole world.

Unfortunately, it’s essential to be on social media if you’re in business. So what’s your strategy?

How are you going to handle this overwhelming, potentially embarrassing beast?

It’s tempting to hire an agency to handle it, but who can afford that?

Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered.

Here are my top tips for social media. You’ll be able to harness the power of social media in no time, without losing your mind!

Choose

Pick one or two channels and master them. Once you’ve got a good handle on the initial them, you can consider expanding to more platforms.

To decide which platforms to choose, check out some of the demographics of each social media platform.

Consider these in light of your Ideal Patient Avatar (IPA) so you can show up where they hang out.

Many people start with Facebook as it’s the biggest, broadest audience and allows you the greatest variability in terms of what you post. You can post images, text, and video, so it covers all bases.

Educate

Educate your IPA about your brand, and about your offerings. Let your patients know that you have a social media presence – people are often keen to hang out with you online.

It’s also important that you educate yourself around your IPA. The best way to engage your audience is to demonstrate that you understand them.

That means demonstrating that you understand both their greatest fears (what keeps them awake at night) as well as their goals and desires. If you can do this effectively, you’ll earn their trust and loyalty.

Socialise

It might seem obvious, but it’s called ‘social media’ because it’s about being sociable. So be social and engage your audience – have a little fun and engage your audience

Having said that, you need to respect your brand and always be aware that you’re representing your organisation.

Your personal social media pages are where you can relax and voice personal opinions. But you should be true to your brand on your business pages.

Also to be sure to stick to your editorial guidelines and know what you will and won’t discuss online. Some things should be taken offline and discussed privately.

Strategise

Always have a clear outcome and plan for your social media activities. Know what you want, be strategic and consistent.

Demonstrating consistency in your social media will make people realise that you’re consistent and reliable in your business.

In terms of your content, it’s okay to be controversial (but not offensive). If you have complaints I always recommend acknowledging them online but resolving them offline.

Promote

Promote your online presence by including links to your social media profiles in your email signature and other correspondence. You can also use hashtags to promote your content but use them strategically.

Do a little research and understand which platforms to use them on, and how many to use. You want to use them to make is easy for people to find you, not use so many that you upset your audience (it can be a fine line!).

But don’t forget that part of your overall strategy should always be to direct people back to your website.

Suppress

Suppress the urge to use social media solely for promotion. Sites that do so lack engagement and struggle to grow.

Really, who wants to visit a page that contains nothing but publicity material? No one.

The most effective social media sites GIVE. They give their audience entertainment, amusement or useful information.

They give them a reason to keep coming back.

That doesn’t mean you can’t market on the site, you just need to do so appropriately. One effective marketing strategy for social media is to adopt the 411 plan. That is, 4 entertaining posts, 1 soft promotion, 1 hard promo with a link to your web page.

Leverage

Don’t allow yourself to get overwhelmed. Instead, leverage content across different platforms. If you have a blog, be sure to syndicate it across your social media pages.

If you’re creating shareable images you don’t have to confine yourself to using them on one platform – like Pinterest or Instagram. You can use them on Twitter and Facebook too.

Just be sure to size them appropriately for the platform (you can use this handy resizing tool!)

Assuming you’re writing blog posts that are useful or entertaining to your audience, then they’re a great fit for your social media sites too. Again, it comes back to giving people something useful, informative or entertaining.

Take the Leap

Social media can seem overwhelming in the beginning but the secret is to start small and learn along the way. Create a simple marketing strategy and expand as your confidence and knowledge expands.

It doesn’t matter if you put your foot in your mouth, or make a mistake, in front of people. What matters is that you’re doing your best. That you’re honest and authentic.

People will forgive mistakes if they can see you’re consistent, caring and reliable.

Social media is just old-fashioned word-of-mouth, on a larger scale. If you can make word-of-mouth work for you, you can do this too.

Give your audience the content they need to keep coming back.

Grow your audience – and your practice – by demonstrating you’re authentic, caring and reliable.

Create new customers and loyal admirers by having a consistent brand and being true to your values.

Just like word-of-mouth it can be slow to start, but it can also result in a real boost to your business.

So take the leap, invest the time, and get social!

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