These are interesting times we’re living in. Many of us do more shopping from the comfort of our own homes than in actual stores. We spend hours and hours each day on tiny little computers that we carry around in our pockets. Words like “Googling”, “Facebooking”, “tweeting”, and “blogging” are vocabulary staples in the modern zeitgeist. If you haven’t noticed, the dominant theme here is technology.
In years past, consumer technology was more a pastime, but today it’s a fixture in our daily lives. We spend most of our days connecting or reconnecting with other people – family members, friends, acquaintances, past colleagues, business owners, public figures, celebrities, and so on – looking at pictures of what they had for lunch yesterday and other social media updates. In fact, social media has become one of the principal means of communication today. On the one hand, a person might find this to be sad since it means less face-to-face interaction, but the flip side is that people can connect with a much vaster number of people from all walks of life. Sure, maybe the quality of social media communications are lesser in quality, but it’s offset by the fact that we have the means of connecting with exponentially more people than we ever could’ve before.
It was inevitable that the genesis of social media as a communication tool would lead to social media as a crucial marketing tool. Business owners and entrepreneurs can find quick success by incorporating social media outreach into their marketing campaigns. But what about addiction treatment providers? Is there a right way – or, for that matter, a wrong way? – to use social media as a way of marketing addiction treatment services? Let’s find out.
Anyone who’s using social media as a marketing tool should know that before you ever post your first tweet or draft your first blog post, you have to get certain details ironed out first. In particular, you need to have a message.
Understand that social media networks, whether you’re using Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, or another, they’re about building a community of followers. For those of us in the addiction treatment industry, it’s important to have a bigger picture instead of posting advertisements for a treatment center. You need to have a clear idea about the brand behind your services. Think about the experience you have to offer and figure out a way to capture that in a message.
What kinds of followers are you looking for? Are you planning to target potential patients? Or the family members of people who suffer from addiction? Or people who have already received treatment and are looking for aftercare resources? Knowing your target audience is another important piece of the puzzle that will be exponentially helpful with crafting your message. Once you’ve figured out what it is you want to say, it’s important to be consistent, more or less, as those who follow your social media accounts chose to follow you because of your existing message; changing that message will make your social media communications unclear.
Treatment providers have an opportunity to use social media to maintain lines of communication with their former patients, or members of their alumni programs. Not only does having a strong alumni family make for a great feature to separate your treatment facility from the many others, but people who are in recovery will learn they can refer to your social media accounts for tips that will help them with maintaining their sobriety. Social media is an ideal forum for inviting your program graduates to special events or social gatherings for alumni. It’s also a great way to continue reminding them of any resources you might offer that they can continue taking advantage of as they continue progressing in sobriety.
Here’s a benefit you may not have thought about: Public interactions with your alumni on your social media pages is an incredibly effective marketing tool. People who are currently in need of treatment and people who have addicted loved ones will see your communications with alumni as evidence that there are numerous people for whom your treatment programs have been effective. In a sense, this is a lot like word-of-mouth advertising, which remains the most effective form of advertising that exists.
The most obvious purpose for a social media account is for marketing products and services, so to avoid being redundant we’re not going to go into too much detail about that right now. But there are other ways of making your social media account stand out and which don’t involve repetitive ads for your treatment programs. For instance, you might consider being a resource by offering links to relevant addiction-related articles and research. It’s different than a person doing a Google search for a topic because the information you post has been curated by a professional; to a potential follower, it’s like having a professional suggest some additional reading and is just another way of having a personal connection with your followers.
Similarly, the best social media strategies are engaging. Don’t just post on social media; actually interact with others. When people tag you, post on your page, or ask you questions, make sure that you respond whenever you can or whenever it’s appropriate. If your social media accounts gain a reputation for not acknowledging people who reach out, you’re going to be very limited in your audience. Sometimes a little personal attention can make all the difference and could be what separates you from the various others who offer addiction treatment solutions.
Social media is an incredibly powerful tool that can be instrumental in the growth of your addiction treatment facility when used correctly. People on social media are constantly looking for the next person they’d like to follow, but most of them want to find someone who has something to offer them. Whether it’s information, inspiration, or personal attention, it’s important to be aware of what your potential audience is looking for and to have a consistent message that will unify all the content you post to your social media accounts.
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