Have you started using Instagram for your practice? If not, do you need some tips on how to do it well? Can you streamline potential clients and possible collaborations into your practice through only 30 minutes of interaction a day?
We are sharing the Killin’It Camp speakers series. In this podcast episode, Whitney Goodman speaks about Instagram for Therapists.
While there may still be a lot of uncertainty about what this year will have in store, there’s one thing we know for sure – your services as a therapist have never been more essential, making it the perfect time to ensure that your private practice website attracts your best-fit clients and gets them to call you.
Whether you’re a seasoned clinician with a website in need of a refresh, or you’re fresh out of school needing your very first therapist website, Brighter Vision is the perfect solution. During the month of January, they’re running their biggest sale of the year!
From now, until the end of the month, they’re completely waiving all setup fees and only charging $39/month for your entire first year of a new website! Head on over to brightervision.com/joe to learn more.
Meet Whitney Goodman
Whitney Goodman is the radically honest psychotherapist behind the popular Instagram account @sitwithwhit and the owner of The Collaborative, a co-working space and community for therapists online and in Miami, FL.
Whitney is on a quest to make mental health information accessible and easy to understand. She rejects the idea that a therapist should be a blank slate and believes that authenticity and emotional expression are the keys to living a full life. Whitney allows her clients and followers to see her successes, humanity, and struggles and strives for authenticity in everything she does.
In This Podcast
- How can you be successful as a therapist on Instagram?
- Whitney’s guide to Instagram
- About your account: how to get followers
How can you be successful as a therapist on Instagram?
The number one way to get traction for your practice on Instagram is to talk like a real person.
I think the number one thing you need to do in order to be successful on social media is to speak like a normal human. What I mean by that is eliminate any psycho-babble, don’t talk about things like you’re writing or research or academic paper. You really have to learn to talk human to human. (Whitney Goodman)
You do not need to feel like you must sound smart, because people will resonate with you when they feel that you are really speaking to and connecting with them.
Whitney’s guide to Instagram
- Start with your brand. How do you want people to feel when they see your page, or what do you want people to say when they think of your account? Consider who you are targeting, who is your ideal follower on Instagram, and are they even on Instagram?
- What can you offer people? Write down all the training you have done, who do you tend to work with, what are the specialties that you can explain in plain English. Consider; what do people want to learn from you?
- Think about how you are different. Every therapist on Instagram is talking about the same topics but they all display their content in unique ways. Think about what the purpose of your account is.
- Ask yourself, why would a client prefer to follow and work with me? What do you have to offer them that can benefit them while helping to connect over social media?
- Lastly, be human. Develop your own social media voice that sounds like your own. Try to make your written voice match your personal speaking.
About your account: how to get followers
Show your personality, because Instagram is not therapy. You can share pieces of your life to connect with your followers. Be yourself.
- When you are building your account and encouraging traction, spend some time every day answering comments, liking, and commenting on fellow therapists’ posts and interacting with your followers. It is better to have a few of the right followers rather than having lots of the wrong ones.
- Utilize your Instagram stories; you can use your followers as focus groups when you are considering to offer new content or if you are unsure whether to release a product or not. Instagram stories are also generally more relaxed and causal, so do not be afraid of posting a picture of your dog there if that is something you would like to do.
- Make a separate Instagram page for your business: do not use your personal page and revamp it into your business one.
- Give clear directions on where your followers can make an appointment with you on your page.
- Eric Malzone on How to Make Big Scary Business Decisions | PoP 521
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Meet Joe Sanok
Joe Sanok helps counselors to create thriving practices that are the envy of other counselors. He has helped counselors to grow their businesses by 50-500% and is proud of all the private practice owners that are growing their income, influence, and impact on the world. Click here to explore consulting with Joe.
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Well, we did it. 2020 has finally come to an end. And we have made it out on the other side. And while there still might be a lot of uncertainty about what this year will have in store, there’s one thing we know for sure, your services as a therapist have never been more essential, making it the perfect time to ensure your private practice website attracts your best fit clients and gets them to call you. Whether you’re a seasoned clinician with a website in need of a refresh, or you’re fresh out of school needing your very first therapist website, Brighter Vision is the perfect solution. And during the entire month of January, they’re running their biggest sale of the year. From now until the end of the month, they’re completely waiving all setup fees, and only charging $39 a month for the entire first year of a new website. That’s a savings of $240 for your first year of website service with Brighter Vision. All you have to do is go to www.brightervision.com/joe to learn more and take advantage of this great deal. That’s www.brightervision.com/joe.
This is the Practice of the Practice podcast with Joe Sanok, session number 522.
Well, over the next four sessions, I am so excited to bring you four different talks from Killin’It Camp. These are speakers that rocked it out, got great audiences, connections, and, you know, honestly are just kind of top tier people. And I’m really excited. It was so hard because we have over 30 speakers, we have over 20 hours of content, so many amazing speakers. These were some that seemed to represent a few of the biggest questions that we get. And so in this first session, we’re having Whitney, she’s going to be talking all about Instagram for therapists. Then in the next one, we’re going to have Jessica Tapanna talking all about SEO. And those are each 25 minutes sessions aimed at just kind of quick hit things. Then after that, we’re gonna have Carrie Haynes, who is talking about adding groups to your practice, specifically online groups, how do you add groups. Not a group practice, but actual groups, she has The Art of Groups podcast. So that’s coming up the third one. And then the fourth one is this awesome group practice discussion. We have Alison, Whitney, Susan, and Dawn that are all going to be talking about group practice.
And so, I mean, we only have four episodes to do this. And so if you want to get the full access to all 30 speakers, all the 20 hours of content that we have, this was such a large three day event, with just tons of great content, head on over to killinitcamp.com, you can grab that for only $197. Now we’re gonna probably be raising our prices for this soon. So you’re gonna want to grab that, you get lifetime access. Again, that’s killinitcamp.com. Without any further ado, here we go.
I’m Whitney Goodman, I am a licensed therapist. And I’m going to be talking about using Instagram to grow your practice. So the first thing I want to talk about is just my results from using Instagram over the last two years with zero paid advertising. I think that this can give you some insight into how powerful this platform is. I’ve been able to get consistent monthly referrals for my group practice and for myself. I recently signed a book deal with Penguin Random House, which is really exciting. I’ve been on hundreds of podcasts and recently at the start of the pandemic, I started an online store and I’ve had over $70k in revenue, just in this past year with that store, and 8000 new email newsletter subscribers. So you can see how powerful Instagram has been, especially for me.
I think when we think about using social media, it can be a little bit overwhelming. And I want to go over some of the benefits of using Instagram, or really any social media platform. So you can reach people all around the world. If you’re looking to expand your practice past just a fee for service or client model, then this is the best way to do it. You can provide quality education. What I noticed when I got on the platform was that there’s a lot of people on there already talking about all this stuff that don’t necessarily have your credentials. So it’s really important that we show up there and talk about it from an informed research based perspective. It’s free, which is awesome, especially if you’re just starting a practice and money is tight, and you maybe have more time. It’s also really fun. It’s become such a big part of my life. And I’ve met a lot of really wonderful people. It’s part of the reason I’m here today. And also the internet is really just here to stay. I think a lot of you have probably heard like, you have to have a website. I think social media is right in line with that, that most clients that come to me are saying, I looked you up on Instagram, I looked you up on Facebook, especially clients under 30 are definitely using social media.
So the biggest reason that I see people struggle with using social media or Instagram is because our training as healthcare professionals is in complete conflict with what you need to show up on this platform. And I think the number one thing that you need to do in order to be successful on social media is to speak like a normal human. And what I mean by that is eliminate any psychobabble, don’t talk about things like you’re writing a research paper or an academic paper, you really have to learn how to talk human to human. And you don’t have to sound smart, people already know that you’re qualified and you have the credentials, you really need to speak to them in a way that’s like I’m meeting you where you’re at. And that comes from a harm reduction perspective as well. I think it’s important that we speak about things in really clear, understandable terms, so that people who are reading our content, don’t self diagnose or extrapolate from what you’re writing. So trying to create content that speaks to them from a perspective of like, if you don’t know anything, you’ll still be able to understand this. And also, if you’re a really vulnerable person, or somebody who’s in a vulnerable population, that you’ll be able to see what in this content is for you.
So the first step, whenever you are going to get on Instagram is really to start with your brand. And the first question I like to ask is, what is your vibe going to be? And that’s really just how do you want people to feel when they see your page? When people think of your account, what do you want them to say? And so for me, that was really like, I want people to say that I’m honest, I’m authentic, that they know who I am. And then also that my content is reliable, and well informed by research and things like that. And then also thinking about who are you targeting? So asking yourself, who is your ideal follower on Instagram? Where do they live? What are their demographics? Asking yourself, are they even on Instagram? So my typical demographic is people like 25 to 40, and a lot of those people are on Instagram. Now if you have a population that is more like in their late 50s to 70s, a lot of them might hang out on Facebook more. Or if you’re working with teenagers, they might be on Tiktok more than Instagram. So thinking about like, is Instagram the right place for my population?
And then what can I offer people, this is the biggest one. So thinking about your areas of expertise. I encourage you to like, write down all the trainings you’ve done, who do you tend to work with? What do you really know, like super well, that you can speak about and teach in a plain English type of way? And then also, what do people want to learn from you? So I’ve met a lot of therapists that are like, I just want to get on Instagram and share my writing, because it makes me happy to share and I like to do it. And that’s great. But if you’re doing it from a business perspective, and you’re using this as a strategy to grow your business, it’s also important that you learn what your followers and what potential clients want from you, not just what you think is interesting, or what you want to give them. So finding that balance in between the two.
And then thinking about how am I different? So when I got on Instagram about two years ago, there were really not a lot of therapists on Instagram. I was actually like, really discouraged from using it by other clinicians. And now the space is super flooded. So everybody’s talking about the same stuff. We’re all talking about boundaries and family relationships and whatever. But all of us are doing it in a different way. So thinking about like, how can I differentiate myself? How can I display my content in a new way? I’ve seen clinicians who have made their content look really similar to other like bigger creators, people with a big platform. And when you’re scrolling through, it’s like whose is that and you want to make your stuff really stand out so that when people see your posts, they know that it’s you.
And then asking yourself, what is the purpose of this account? So for some of you, it might be that you just want to have fun and share. You might want to raise awareness or combat mental health stigma, maybe you want to market your practice, provide education, get media exposure. I know for me, these four were really important to me. I’ve seen clinicians get on and they don’t want to market their practice at all. They’re really there just to raise awareness, provide education, and maybe get some media exposure. So all of these goals are great and they’ll help direct you with where you want to take your account.
The other question is asking yourself, why would a client work with me over anyone else? So what makes me unique? What do I have to offer? And then the last one I think is the most important is be human, develop a unique voice that sounds like you, what I tried to do is make sure that anybody that followed me and knew me on Instagram, that came to my office as a client, knew exactly what they were getting. So I’m a little bit more of a strong personality therapist, not very sweet and calm. And so if a client were to walk in, and get somebody like that, after reading my content, I think they might have been really confused, and been like, who the heck is this? So trying to make your written voice really match the type of feel that you give in this session.
Some other things to consider that you can really have fun with is colors, font, your bio line, your link, this is the first thing that people see when they go to your account, especially when you don’t have a lot of followers. And so you really have, gosh, I would say five seconds to capture somebody’s attention. And you want to make sure that that bio line, how it looks is really clear and organized for people so that they know exactly what they’re getting from your page.
All right, everybody asks me how to get followers. You need to be original, I see a lot of therapists posting quotes from other people all the time. And a lot of therapists will share my posts on their feed. And I’m like, thanks, that’s so generous. I love the free marketing. But people have to have a reason to follow you, instead of just following me or following Brene Brown. So thinking about how you can put your own unique spin on things, especially if you’re going to share a lot of quotes from other people. Show your personality. Instagram is not therapy. So it’s okay to show more of yourself, like I show pictures of my dogs or what I ate for lunch. Like, it’s okay to share these things that’s not really like self disclosure, the way we think about it in therapy.
And then be social. Instagram is an investment. This is not a platform that you can kind of just create and leave it, you have to invest time in it or it will not grow. These are some ways to be social. This is literally the exact thing I did to grow my platform to 10,000 followers at the beginning, I would set a timer on my phone for 15 minutes every morning when I got up, and 15 minutes when I went to bed at night. My thought was like I’m already on here so I might as well be doing something good with it. Like photos of similar accounts, or of your ideal client, you can click on hashtags to find other accounts like anxiety, depression, things like that. Answer all comments on your posts. So except for like the spam ones, but if somebody writes, I love this post, you know, thank them, act like you would if somebody said it to you in person. And then comment on other posts. This is the way that I notice people the most is through comments. And not just like emojis or I love this post. But really getting thoughtful about the other person’s content and trying to engage with them and interact is super, super helpful. I also want to say it’s better to have a few of the right followers than a lot of the wrong ones. So just remember that.
These are some tips for post inspiration. So learning, you’re already doing that. Try to use that for your posts. Think about what your ideal client needs. Try to translate dense concepts like triangulation or what is CBT and put that into everyday use and tell a story. That’s where I might do more self disclosure is like talking about my own anxiety or how I used a coping skill. These are examples of sad Instagram posts. I like to show these. I see these a lot, people like take them from Pinterest, copy and paste them and they’re not original, you can tell, they’ve kind of been around the block a little bit.
Instagram Stories is also a great thing that you can use. This is a breakdown of what I think is appropriate to use on each. So for posts, I would do your own original content. There are things that you want people to share and save. And they should be really in line with your mission and goals. Instagram Stories is more fun, personal, like you might post a selfie or what you ate for lunch, a picture of your dog. It’s also a great place to share events, other people’s posts, things like that. You can also use these to do Q&A’s, ask questions. I don’t really create any paid offerings without knowing that my audience wants it. So I might ask a question like, would you guys like a workbook on boundaries, and depending on how my audience votes, I’ll create the offering. So you really have like a focus group in front of you at all times, which is very cool.
This is a big one for people that I want to touch on. So a lot of people ask me, what if I get a message from somebody that’s suicidal? Or how do I handle those types of situations? I want to remind you that Instagram is not therapy and people know this. It’s really the same as somebody reaching out to you via email or calling you, you don’t know who they are, you don’t know where they live. I’ve certainly gotten calls at my office from somebody that was in a difficult situation. So I recommend coming up with a policy that you’re going to handle on social media, in your office, you have one for emails, like just knowing that wherever these types of messages come in, you’re prepared for that. I will say, I have, like 270,000 followers on Instagram, I’ve been on there for a couple of years, I think I’ve had one person comment one time on a post about past suicidal ideation. I have never had someone reach out to me in a message in an emergency situation. Not saying that it won’t happen and I’m prepared for if it does. But just know that this is not like a crisis line where you’re going to be getting this all the time.
It’s also important to share what you’re comfortable with. I see therapists that are comfortable sharing their children on Instagram or sharing about their relationships. And then there are others that share nothing. I think this has a lot to do with your level of comfort on social media, as well as your theoretical orientation, what types of clients you work with. I certainly don’t put any judgment out there to anybody, you get to decide how you want to do it. I think for me, I tend to share things that I’m okay with my clients seeing and that I find to be rooted in therapy and that have value there.
Some guidelines to consider. Display your title clearly, especially if we have any, like registered interns here, unlicensed clinicians. You definitely need to display your title clearly and not call yourself a therapist or whatever your licensing board says. Develop clear policies for how you’ll handle comments, direct messages. I have a social media policy that I have all my clients sign that basically just tells them you know, if you comment on my posts, you are breaking confidentiality, I never respond to comments from clients, things like that. I also recommend completing or making a completely separate professional Instagram page. Do not use your personal one as your professional Instagram. Make a brand new one just for this.
And this is a question that I always ask myself when I’m sharing something is am I okay with a client or stranger knowing this about me, if it’s going to be a self disclosure? And is there therapeutic value to this share? Or am I just sharing because I want to? Also telling potential clients how to contact you for appointments is really important. I get a lot of DMs, can I book a therapy appointment for you? And I do not schedule any appointments through there. I just pass on my email and tell them how they can contact my office manager. It’s also important to create disclaimers that this is not therapy or a substitute for therapy. I have a highlight on my page that says boundaries that you guys can all absolutely look at and a lot of therapists have used that to copy it as well. I don’t mind.
Alright, so these are the next steps, if you don’t have an Instagram, that I would take. I am more than happy to answer any questions. It looks like a couple of them came through. How do you juggle being social and sharing personal information if you’re trying to get clients and have that boundary? So I am mostly social with other clinicians. And I’ll respond to people’s comments, just saying like, thank you so much for sharing, it really doesn’t take a lot from me, and I don’t find that I’m necessarily sharing when I’m being social.
And then somebody was asking, what do you sell in your store? I do a lot of workbooks. I’ve done like two courses. And this has become a huge part of my practice and I actually find that and I like it more than working with clients. So it’s definitely up to you how you want to structure that.
How many minutes or hours a week of quality time on Instagram do you need to put in to make it worth it? So people all do this differently, I would say you definitely need at the beginning at least 30 minutes of that engagement part to make it worth it. And then, as far as the content creation, I make all my content on the fly. But a lot of other therapists will sit down and schedule their content, maybe do like one month at a time or a week at a time, I would definitely find what works for you and stick to that. I’m all about making it easy and having it flow for you.
The social media policy I bought from somewhere, somebody’s asking if I can share it. I have to remember where I bought it but I would Google like therapist Instagram social media policy, because there’s definitely one online.
And then someone’s asking, do you respond to all comments except for comments from current clients? Honestly, I’ve never had a client comment on my Instagram post, so I’m okay with responding to everybody. But if I did have a client, I probably wouldn’t respond. Now I get hundreds of comments. So I definitely don’t respond to all of them. But at the beginning, I did.
Okay, how much time do you spend managing your social media? Did you hire someone to manage it for you? I am the only person that touches my Instagram. I have a virtual assistant. that helps me with my other social media accounts so that really helps. But I would say I probably spend 45 minutes a day on it. And I like it. So that really helps. And yes, by 30 minutes of engagement, I do mean, like responding to comments, posting stories, talking, etc. Not creating content, sometimes that takes me longer.
And then how would you use Instagram for group practice? This is such a great question. I really recommend making accounts for each of your therapists. When you have an account for a practice, it’s really hard to get followers because there’s not a person. And there’s not really someone to relate to. So I think when you make an account, like The Collaborative Counseling Center, people don’t want to follow it as much. I would encourage all your therapists to make their own accounts. And you can, I share about my other therapists on my personal account all the time.
And then someone said, would you suggest a cute handle rather than just your name or the counseling group name? I would make it something that is short, easy to say, and without a lot of like, dots, periods, underscores, those are a lot harder to search for. So my name, I didn’t come up with, but it’s catchy and it’s easy for people to find. I would not use the name of your counseling practice. I find that, again, those are really hard to grow.
And how can you find me on Instagram? So my Instagram handle is @sitwithwhit and you can find me there. And that’s also where you can find like my website, everything else. And I do have a course also that goes over all these other things. If anybody’s interested, you can again find that through my Instagram when you click on my store. It’s there. Any other questions I can answer? Oh, you’re already following me. Thank you. I appreciate that.[JOE]:
Whitney, I was taking so many pictures of your slides. I’m like, I need to be doing this better. You are amazing. It’s so cool to see. The big thing that I took away is the idea of taking something complex and making it simple. I think that’s something that especially when you’re farther down the road with certain anything, you know, whether it’s CBT or EMDR, or marketing, you don’t have that beginner’s brain as much and so that was my big takeaway from it. Any things that you’ve discovered, kind of in the process of kind of continuing to develop an audience? I know that you covered a lot of that but any other tips around development of an audience? [WHITNEY]:
Yeah, I think learning to have an audience can be kind of challenging. It’s something I’m not used to and so having a lot of people listening to you and able to comment on everything you say can be kind of hard, that I would say like, you have to have kind of thick skin and also want that, you know, it comes with the territory. If you want to write a book, you’re gonna have to get criticism. And if you want to put content out there, you’re going to get criticized. So that’s been my biggest learning curve, I think. [JOE]:
No, that’s really, that’s good advice. I know that anytime we have a consultant join the team there’s kind of certain benchmarks where it’s like, oh, you had a client that got really mad at you, like, welcome to consulting. Or you put something on social media and people disagree with you. It’s like, welcome to consulting. [WHITNEY]:
[Unclear] things fall apart [unclear]. Cool. A couple more questions coming in the last couple minutes. Ideally, you know, doing it from your phone, like any tips on just the kind of design element of it? [WHITNEY]:
Yeah, totally. I use Canva, which is an app that you can use on your computer or on your phone, I find it’s much easier to create content on your computer, save it and then drag it into the Notes app if you have an iPhone, you can save those all to your phone, and then you just upload it there through Instagram, because you can’t upload to Instagram from your computer. [JOE]:
Gotcha. Cool. Awesome. Well, I think we’re pretty close to our time. Any final tips in your last minute, [WHITNEY]:
I would say just get started. Like, Joe, I think a lot of it is fear. And like just getting on there and like trying to be yourself. It’s cheesy, but it works.
I’m so excited that you got a sneak peek into Killin’It Camp. We had, I think 150 people that signed up for Killin’It Camp this year. In 2019, when we had our live event we had 123 people. It is such a fun community of people that think differently about private practice, that they want that community, they want that connection, they want that learning, they want to push the envelope. And so if that sounds like you, I would love for you to sign up for the Killin’It Camp course where you get full access to those 25 minute sessions on pillars of practice, those 55 minute sessions on scaling your practice, and then those 55 minute sessions that are all about multiple streams of income. It is such important work that we do and if we don’t understand the business side of it, how’s it gonna help us? So make sure that you head on over to killinitcamp.com.
And today’s sponsor is Brighter Vision. Brighter Vision has amazing, amazing websites. So head on over to brightervision.com/Joe so that you can get that deal today.
Special thanks to the band Silence is Sexy for your intro music; we really like it. This podcast is designed to provide accurate, authoritative information in regard to the subject matter covered. It is given with the understanding that neither the host, the publisher, or the guests are rendering legal, accounting, clinical or other professional information. If you want a professional, you should find one.