Thoughts on the world, homeopathy, mindfulness and food...
A collection of blog posts - feel free to respond with your thoughts and comments - I love to have feedback - thank you!
There’s lots out there and whilst this isn’t exhaustive I’ve hoped to provide a brief overview on several of the available options as well as some more detailed information around twitter in particular.
I think with all social media (or interactions generally), it’s important to remember that you’re a person with a personality that people are drawn to. Sometimes it’s easy to get into quoting lots of facts, firing out information and whilst I think this is great and there’s a time and a place for it, sometimes too people want to see a little bit of who you are. Maybe not what you had for tea (unless you’re promoting healthy food as part of your business), that you’ve just hit your thumb with a hammer (or maybe so if you’re combining it with an arnica mention) – I’m sure you get the drift though – pertinent, relevant posts, coming from you as a person not as an automaton. That said, facts are great and if you’re starting out for the first time on social media, sharing facts on homeopathy can be a brilliant way to gain confidence as you find your way through it.
My main social media presence is through blogging, alongside facebook and twitter for my homeopathy business, although I do have a LinkedIn page, pinterest page and Google+ account. I also use Instagram (which is largely general health/outdoors/exercise/wellbeing based) and YouTube (for the foodie side of my business). I have experimented with various managing tools so hope to share some of my thoughts here. There are no hard and fast rules and I think the best way is often to jump in and find your feet, but hopefully some guidance may help with the jumping in process!
You don’t need to use all of these mentioned (and the other hundreds out there I’ve not mentioned or even discovered) – I think it’s probably worth picking 2-3 that you like the feel of and getting used to them. Personally my favourites are using the blog on my website, facebook and twitter. The website and facebook definitely work well in terms of attracting new business for me, and twitter I see as a different tool – more about sharing information in the homeopathy world. The more people who know about us and what we do then the more business we’ll attract in the long run.
Blogging – using a webpage as an online journal – as an example I tend to post mindfulness /nutrition/homeopathy thoughts. Keep it relevant(ish) to your business, but here I think you can really let your personality shine. You’re not bound by space, you can make it as pretty as you like by adding pictures/diagrams, and you can be you. You may have an ability to add a blog within your website, or you may wish to set up an external blog site if not. I used to use blogger for this, and likewise wordpress is very popular. If you do have the facility built into your website this is great to use as traffic directed to posts may well then check out the rest of your site and lead to business generated from here. Blog posts can be shared using the other social media tools.
Facebook – I use as a personal page (although I do maintain a more work-based persona on this too) and do interact with friends/allow photos to be shared - I am cautious though who I allow to be my ‘friend’. I set the settings to ‘friends only’ and share the information with the people in my group there only. I do have clients who are my ‘friends’ on facebook and this is a decision everyone has to make for themselves – but would say I have gained business this way and it works well for me. However just to note, on a friend’s pages (not a therapist) I’ve seen negative comments about their work/clients which did make me think – you never know who’s friends with who and if you’re out there on a public forum I think it’s important to be friendly, approachable and not moan about your work.
Facebook business page – if you’re a facebook user then this is really great to have. It can be ‘liked’ by others outside your circle of friends and allows more people to find you. Also if you’re posting more work stuff then you’re not driving your friends mad – who may just love you but not homeopathy. It’s easy to set up a business page – just go to another business page and on the top right hand side you’ll see ‘create page’. Follow the instructions and you’re away. I try to post healthy living/nutrition/homeopathy articles, information and links and tend to aim for 1-2 posts a day. What you want to post depends on what you do – but the theme – to be informative and approachable whilst sharing and to do it in a friendly, not lecturing way is a good start I feel.
Twitter – works in real time, so whilst facebook posts hang around on people’s ‘newsfeeds’, on twitter someone will only see the last 20 minutes or so of tweets in their twitter feed. I think you can share more posts a day if you like to do so here without overwhelming people. Twitter can be a brilliant tool – to share information from others, to share your own information and to connect with other homeopaths and local businesses.
In order to build up a presence it’s worth posting some relevant posts (tweets) first and ensuring you’ve completed your profile (I tend not to follow anyone who doesn’t have their profile information on). Then look at other twitter users similar to yourself as well as local businesses/people to you, and follow the ones that you’re interested in. Often people follow back so follow lots of people to start to build up your following.
Twitter is very transparent – everyone can see who you follow and see your tweets. However this has a great benefit in terms of joining in conversations – I know of people who’ve gained business from something as simple as tweeting over the program they’re watching and there’s been a connection with some of their followers. The point though does also come with a degree of caution. Do be aware you’re ‘out there’ and behave in the relevant manner that you’d like to show to clients/others.
Tweet regularly – I aim to spend around 5-10 minutes a day retweeting/tweeting posts. I really like retweets – I think it’s a great way to get behind each other, supporting each other and the information is there already – we don’t need to reinvent the wheel. Thank people for re-tweeting your posts – it’s great to be polite but also means you’re doing more on twitter and get noticed more – your following will grow. I am very passionate about homeopaths supporting each other – especially on twitter which is such a public forum for us. There’s lots we can do to increase the sharing of knowledge and I think retweeting posts by other homeopaths is a great way to do this. For example if I share a post with my 1500 followers, one of them shares it with their 2000 followers and one of them shares with their 500 or so followers, it’s suddenly reached far more than I ever thought of initially. The skeptic posts seem to be the top retweeted #homeopathy (adding hashtags mean the posts comes up in a search of that word) posts and we could easily change this if we work together a little more.
There are of course, skeptics present on twitter and I would say not to be concerned generally about skeptic activity. There may sometimes be the odd negative response. My action is generally always the same. I never interact – ultimately they are unlikely to be wanting an intelligent conversation, or to be wanting to be convinced that homeopathy works. I also block that person, which means that I don’t see their tweets and neither do my followers. There are a multitude of ways to deal with it but that’s my tried and tested formula. Personally I have other things I’d prefer to do than to get into a debate (which also just raises their profile views to your followers) and want to be able to use the tool then move on.
Be aware – of who you’re following. There are certain accounts that I’m unsure who is operating them and I prefer to stay away from them. I won’t follow accounts generally who haven’t completed their profile, if they are obviously skeptic run, or if I’m just a little unsure. Again, everyone can see who you follow so I prefer not to promote who I don’t trust.
Tweets are short – at just 140 characters it can sometimes be a challenge to make sure you get your full message across. Be concise. You can share longer links on your tweets and twitter automatically shortens this for you.
TweetDeck, Social Oomph, Hoot Suite, Buffer all provide assistance with managing your twitter account. You can schedule tweets so that twitter users (some also work with facebook/LinkedIn/others too) don’t get bombarded with tweets if you’re on a retweeting/posting mission. My personal preference is to use social media without an external tool but I really think it depends on your preference – others like to spend time ‘loading up’ posts so they know they’ll be heading out over the next day/week/month without them having to think about it. So check out the options, have a play and see what makes life easiest for you. If you’re away for a while it can be great to have activity occurring on your account without you having to do anything. You can use multiple posts across the forums which is an option if you’re really busy. On the whole though, I believe the various forums attract different styles of use and I don’t generally post the same content.
Tweet Deck – works with just twitter whereas the others work with several of the other social media platforms.
Paper.li enables you to create a newspaper like format, based around the news from other people’s tweets. You can create a ‘daily’ from your account or can custom make your newspaper using your Twitter Lists (collections of tweeters), choose the title of the ‘paper’ and it does the rest, generating a newsletter at the frequency of your choosing. It’s a great way to be posting a regular tweet and good to increase traffic to yours and others’ sites too.
Linked In - This is perceived by many as a more business-focussed social media. I haven’t worked out whether I’ve had any personal benefit from it, although I do use it less significantly than facebook and twitter. Here, similarly to facebook, you can join groups, interact and network. My decision is to have a profile and relevant information here so that people can find me and be directed to my website and contact information, but not to use it very regularly. There are forum groups which can be interesting, and also can be worthwhile posting in some of these to raise awareness that you’re here.
Google+ - was cited at one point as the ‘grown-up face book’. It does have some great features – you can group people together and have different circles of friends/acquaintances so only sharing information with the selected groups. Similarly to Linked In, I have an account with some basic information but have yet to get my head around using it more constructively for work.
Pinterest - is a more visual form of social media. Used largely by women and creates online pinboards which you can attach (‘pin’) sites/pictures of interest. Again I have an account and some basic information but don’t currently use it often. I see it as largely a more craft/design based social media but there are definitely some homeopaths using it well and sharing videos as well as relevant links.
Instagram – For me is more about personal use – I’m a sucker for the effects available to play with on your photos! And it makes it easier for me to get nicely framed shots for the blog posts. I do tend to have an outdoors/health related/healthy food slant on most of the posts on there. And it’s another place to mention your website and give a short bio relating to yourself. In terms of business use I don’t consider it as a part of what I do to promote myself but I feel that it’s important for me to have a fairly professional persona on there.
YouTube – I use it more for the food side of my business than anything else. At the moment I feel that there’s been so much done in terms of media training and getting a great message out there through the 4Homeopathy guys I’m not in a place I wish to go forth and chat on YouTube about homeopathy. That said I may do at some point. It can be a great place to have a chat about your views on life and share them should this be your cup of tea. It took a while for me to get going but I do like it as a forum and find it directs some web traffic my way too.
I hope you can see that whatever your style there may well be a social media platform to suit you. You don’t have to use them all. And if you don’t use any? That’s perfectly fine too. However if your practice could be busier then it’s worth remembering that some of these ways can be great to attract new people, remind clients that you’re still there and help to spread the word generally about this wonderful business that we’re all involved in.
If I can be of any assistance I’m on firstname.lastname@example.org
Best wishes, Em J
Facebook: Emma Colley Wellbeing and Homeopathy
LinkedIn: Emma Colley
YouTube: Em Colley
Just my final thoughts on the matter:
Come and play out – enjoy it, connect with other homeopaths and health care professionals, find out about something new. I think what 4 Homeopathy are doing is fantastic and having the organisations to working together from the top down is fabulous – let’s get out there, support them and help out from the bottom up too.
I'm a Homeopath working in the Skipton (North Yorkshire) area. I am also able to offer food intolerance testing using Kinesiology and advice around diet and lifestyle.
Em Colley MARH, Practitioner of Classical Homeopathy
BSc(Hons) Psychology and Neuroscience
Laughter Yoga Leader
Focussed Mindfulness Practitioner
Dip (SNHS) Kinesiology
Dip (SNHS) Holistic Nutrition
Certificate in Whole Food, Plant Based Nutrition