Many of my consulting clients ask me if they need to be on Instagram.
I always tell them, "no, you don't have to be if you don't want to." But before you make that decision, I want to break down Instagram for therapists for you.
In this post, I'll explain the benefits and negatives of Instagram for therapists. I'll also touch on mindset issues you may encounter and how Instagram and SEO interlap.
Let's dive in!
Benefits of Instagram for therapists
Instagram is a fantastic platform.
Although I do SEO, the majority of my clients found me on Instagram.
So before you swear off Instagram, be aware of some of the benefits.
Even if you don't post on Instagram, I still recommend that you have an account.
There is so much free information on Instagram for privately practicing therapists. You don't want to miss out on all the value that people offer at no cost to you.
You can build an audience
In content marketing, building a loyal audience is the ultimate goal. It's something that no amount of money can buy, which means that when it's done right, it's life-changing. Although I'm not a fan of the Holistic Psychologist (I encourage you to research her brand if you follow her—it's way worse than you think), she has amassed an impressive following and has monetized them. Lots of therapists dream of alternate income streams, and a following on Instagram can get you there.
You can help people outside of the state in which you're licensed
This likely won't come in the form of therapy, though. Podcasts, digital products, communities, and coaching are a few ways you can help your followers and break out of state lines (also, when are they going to make nationwide licensing already??).
You can build your brand and authority
Brand marketing is an elusive form of marketing, and it's often discredited because its effects can be indirect. But Instagram is a great place to build your brand in terms of aesthetic, voice, and specialty. If you can nail a particular niche and be the "go-to person" for that niche, that will have a powerful effect over time. Speaking engagements, podcasts, books, conferences... the list goes on. Instagram is a great equalizer for building authority—there is no barrier to entry to get found.
Negatives of Instagram for therapists
In my opinion, these are the top negative things about Instagram.
Instagram requires more emotional labor
Instagram requires more emotional labor than other forms of marketing.
Whether that's keeping up with new features like reels, responding to comments and DMs, or showing up consistently on stories and your feed, it can be tiring. I have noticed that most therapists that are successful on Instagram share more graphics than in other industries, which takes away some of this "showing up," but it can still be a lot.
Instagram is finicky
We don't own our Instagram profiles, and we certainly don't have control over the algorithm. Although the algorithm boils down to meaningful social interaction (MSI), it's easy to fall off the wagon and easier to lose traction on people's feeds when you do so.
It's another thing to do
When getting clients is a constant concern in the back of their minds, I've noticed that therapists cope by doing "all the things." But half-heartedly throwing up a post on Instagram in a fit of anxiety isn't going to get you clients. To succeed on Instagram, your content needs to be spot-on and you need to show up consistently. Like all other forms of marketing, Instagram is a commitment. Is it a commitment you want to make right now?
How SEO and Instagram overlap
Point blank, there is no direct correlation between Instagram and SEO.
However, Instagram can indirectly boost your performance on Google.
Like I mentioned, you can build your brand and authority on Instagram.
By building your brand, you can increase branded search (i.e., people searching for your name or your practice's name on Google). Brand awareness leads to more PR and more people simply talking about your practice. PLUS, your name mentioned throughout the web is indirectly contributing to branded search or people searching for your name or practice.
TLDR, brand building always helps SEO.
By building your authority on Instagram, you carve out a niche for yourself. Becoming the go-to expert on a specific topic leads to podcast guest spots, speaking engagements, guest blog posts, and more. Most of these opportunities lead to a backlink, which boosts the authority of your domain. More links to your website = more authority in Google's eyes = better rankings = more clients from Google.
When you should (or shouldn't) use Instagram for your therapy practice
When I tell my consulting clients that they don't have to be on Instagram, they often feel relief.
But before they make their final decision, I first press them on their mindset around Instagram and social media in general.
Before swearing off Instagram, take a hard look at yourself and ask, am I afraid of posting on social media? Putting yourself out there is scary, especially when you're building something new (your private practice) and need extra support and validation.
Many times, we bring our personal baggage with social media to our business accounts. But let me tell you—social media for business is far different from social media in your personal life.
In my personal life, I'm not a big poster. I love a good TikTok binge, but I never really understood social media in the personal world, and I'm not a fan of putting myself out there to friends and family. Over the years, I had periodically shut down my accounts because of how it affected me emotionally.
Know that there is a difference between disliking posting and being afraid of "rejection" after putting yourself out there (i.e., people not engaging with your content). If the latter is you, I want you to know that putting yourself out there gets easier over time. If you are inclined to post and are willing to try despite your fear, I say go for it.
If you're not afraid of posting and are still questioning whether or not to market on Instagram, ask yourself these questions:
- Do you enjoy it?
- Do your ideal clients hang out there?
- Do you know how to use it (or are willing to learn)?
- Is it the best use of your time (in the start-up phase of your practice)?
If you answered yes to these four questions, I say go for it!
If you want more guidance on Instagram marketing, private practice consulting might be a good fit for you. Contact me to learn more about this service!