Overcoming the Creepy Feeling about Social Media
© 2012 Deah Curry PhD | All Rights Reserved | updated Sept 2019
Counselors, coaches and NDs are making their way into social media mostly to promote their practices. The first impulse is to use Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest and others as classified ads or micro-billboards with the hope of capturing clients.
Unfortunately, that approach doesn’t work well – largely because it misunderstands the culture of social media. Businesses can be successful users of social media, but we have to understand that client attraction and promoting business is not the primary reason most people visit these venues.
Social media culture is all about networking and developing relationship – that is, striking up conversations with strangers, disclosing personal information (up to a point), sharing resources, contributing supportive comments. If you aren’t engaging in this way, it’s not likely that social media will be a successful marketing method for you.
Being highly trained in the importance of privacy and confidentiality, counselors, coaches and NDs have perhaps a different relationship to the free-wheeling atmosphere of engaging in both frivolously fun and meaningfully helpful conversations with strangers. I often hear my colleagues talk about it being creepy that strangers comment on their posts.
I feel the need to point out that every client and word of mouth referral and professional ally starts out as a stranger.
Every tweet, post, like, repin, question and comment is a chance to introduce yourself as someone it would be of benefit to know. My thought is: why squander that opportunity?
As a professional who (in every stream of income I have) specializes in helping others navigate insecurity and discomfort – as most of you are as well — I’ve had to take some of my own advice when it comes to getting “friend” requests and people I’ve never heard of claiming to be a co-worker of mine in my private practice.
The creep factor can be overcome by reality checking, such as:
1. Most people don’t have our hang ups about being contacted – it may be useful to examine whether you are suffering from a bit of stranger danger paranoia, like I was for a while.
2. If we disallow connections, we leave the door open for business owners who are less knowledgeable and less ethical to spread erroneous info, and deny ourselves the chance to be a credible authority.
3. More often than not out of the blue requests to connect are golden opportunities to have a positive influence on creating a global climate of health and achievement.
4. It’s time to let go of the obsessive-possessive mindset that gets offended when someone shares something we’ve written or created without prior permission – this mindset contributes to the me / mine versus we / ours thinking that is destroying sanity and peace in the world.
Since a good part of my income is derived from creating and selling my intellectual property, that last reality check is one I still struggle with. But it’s possible to have a both / and solution – we can pass along helpful tips via social media while keeping the most instructional materials and personalized assistance for our clients.
Try this shift in perspective for yourself and see if it helps you overcome the creep factor in using social media.