Should therapists tweet?

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We’re often asked whether Twitter, and social media in general, is a good idea for therapists. After all, they need to be careful about their reputation. They have to consider issues of client confidentiality, and risk.
Despite all that, our answer is always ‘yes’.
Social media (also called social networking), when approached correctly, is a useful platform for connecting with fellow practitioners AND with potential clients. It’s a way to network, share ideas, and publicise your services.
In this article we’ll talk about Twitter and how to get started. It’s quick, it’s easy, and with just a little bit of effort you’ll soon reap the rewards.
We won’t attempt to explain all there is to know, but that’s what the comments section is for – so if you’ve got any queries, ask away and we’ll do our best to help.
Twitter – what’s it all about?
Twitter is a social networking site whose number of users has exploded over the past few years. It’s used by individuals, groups and businesses to post short, real-time updates to their followers.
How does it work?
Each update that you submit is known as a ‘Tweet’, and must be 140 characters or less. You can simply tell your followers what you are doing, e.g. ‘I am just about to launch a new therapy service’. You could share useful therapy tips. You can include a link to an interesting article you’ve read, or a photo that you’ve taken. And, if you’ve written something online, such as a blog post, you can post a Tweet linking to your own work. You can also reply to people’s Tweets, starting a conversation. And, if you particularly like what someone else has posted, you can share it to your own followers – it’s called a Retweet.
What’s the point again?
Twitter enables a business to reach out instantly to their followers – for free. Businesses use Twitter to post important news updates, links to info about new products or services, links to competitions, special offers and online adverts.
As a therapist, Twitter can be a lifeline – especially if you work from home. Not only can you reach out to potential clients, but by connecting with like-minded people such as fellow therapists or local businesspeople, you’ll raise your profile and encourage referrals. An active Twitter profile can also help you to be found online by potential clients, either directly (through Twitter) or simply with a Google search.
To follow or not to follow?
You can follow whoever you choose from millions of other users. By following someone, you’ll see their updates on your ‘feed’ – on your computer screen when you log in, or on your phone. So, your feed contains the updates of everyone you follow.
You can also be followed by any other user, who will see your updates. Often, but not always, if you follow someone, they will automatically follow you back. But, they don’t have to. Likewise, if someone follows you, you can follow them back – but you’re under absolutely no obligation.
But…who should you follow?
It’s up to you. Why don’t you start by following the Private Practice Hub? You can then have a look at who we follow, or who follows us, for inspiration. There are all sorts of therapists and organisations on Twitter with whom you can share ideas. As you start to use Twitter, you’ll soon get the hang of finding people to follow.
 
Okay – you’ve persuaded me to give it a try. What are the first steps?
Visit www.twitter.com.
You’ll see a box that says ‘New to Twitter? Sign up’.
Fill in your name, email, and choose a password.
Twitter will suggest a username for you, which you can overwrite – it’s best to use your own name or a short version of your company name.
Click ‘Create my Account’.
You’ll be taken through a quick ‘set up’. You don’t have to follow the people Twitter suggests (they’re usually celebrities!) and you should only follow a handful at this stage. Wait until you’ve added some interesting updates of your own before you start following more than a handful of people, as the first thing they’ll do is look at your profile and if you haven’t posted any updates they won’t follow you back.
Start by following ‘practicehub’ (that’s us!) and you can go from there. You can use this step to enter the names of fellow therapists, or perhaps organisations, to find out if they’re on Twitter.
You’ll then get the opportunity to upload a photo, or perhaps your logo, and give yourself a short ‘bio’. Use this to tell people what you do and where you’re based, for example ‘psychologist in Bath specialising in CBT’.
And you’re done! You’ll be taken to a page where you can see your ‘feed’ – this contains the recent updates of anyone you follow.
 
We hope you’ve found this blog post useful. If you’re already feeling overwhelmed by the jargon, we’ve written a useful glossary for those new to social media.
If you’ve got any queries, suggestions for people to follow, or would like to share your experiences of Twitter (good or bad), let us know below.