OT Private Pay Practice: Top Social Media Myths

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Don't fall into the trap of wasting tie with social media when trying to build your occupational therapy private pay practice without first understanding the top myths about using social media to grow your clientele.


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Social media can be a powerful tool for growing your OT private pay practice when its used the right way. Used the wrong way for your OT business and you will have just given yourself another job without additional pay.

In this video I give you all the myths around using social media to grow your occupational therapy private pay practice so that you can approach social media with the end in mind: reaching more of your ideal clients and moving them to action by booking with you.

This video is not intended as professional or legal advice. Be sure to seek the services of a professional and understand the risks you are undertaking.

Transcript of Video:

How do you feel about social media? So really just sit down. What does it do to your body? If you're the type of person who has a humongous amount of anxiety around the thought of doing social media, if you just want to crawl into a ball and do Netflix all day and eat ice cream or whatever your, your comfort is, then I would say, skip social media for now.

So if you don't know me, my name is Doug Vestal and I help OTs just like you start and grow thriving, private paid practices. And I make these videos so that you can learn from some of the mistakes and successes that we've had in owning our own private pay practice so that you can have success more quickly. And today I'm going to be talking all about the myths around social media and owning an OT private pay practice.

And so before we get into that though, let's just talk about social media a little bit in general, because many times when we talk to fellow OTs about social media, it can bring up a lot of anxiety of like, oh God, do I even have to do this?

And so the first thing that we want to say is, let's just ask yourself a question, like, how do you feel about social media? So really just sit down, what does it do to your body? If you're the type of person who has a humongous amount of anxiety around the thought of doing social media, if you just want to crawl into a ball and do Netflix all day and eat ice cream or whatever your, your comfort is, then I would say, skip social media for now. You can always come back to it.

 And the reason for it is if it gives you that much anxiety, you have permission not to do it. You can still grow a thriving, private pay practice without social media. It's just one component. And if it gives you that much anxiety, then what's going to happen is it's going to prevent you from doing some of the other critical things that would actually help grow your OT practice. So if you're the type of person who just the thought of it, you know, makes you clam up and makes you want to retreat to your bedroom, skip it for them.

But if you're the type of person who, when you think about it, you go, you know what, like, yeah, I'm nervous about it. It kind of, you know, gives me butterflies in my stomach. I'm not too sure if I could do it. But I think if with practice, I could, then I'm really going to challenge you to put yourself out there and actually embrace that nervousness and use it as a source of strength to become better at it.

Because at the end of the day we are anti-fragile. So, you know, anti-fragile is this concept that doing hard things makes you stronger. So when you go to the gym, it's hard, but you do that to become more, more fit. And it's through those exercises that you become that way.

And social media can be the same thing. So I'm not the best on video. I trip over my words. I can talk too fast, but I want to get better at it. And the only way for me to get better at it is to do it more. I can't wait until I feel like I'm better at it to do it because it's only through the act of doing it, that you're actually going to get better at it.

So first ask yourself that question. So if you're just being nervous about it, push yourself to do it. And the last thing I would say before getting into the myths is be really intentional about which medium you choose. So if you really nervous about being on video, but you don't mind recording your voice, then a podcast is for you. If you hate your voice and you would rather write than blogging this for you, you have choices.

You can pick the one that plays to your strength, and that's actually better because if it's planned to your strength, more likely to be excited about it, which means you're more likely to do it, which is something we talk about all the time in our online course, private pay MBA, which is that, you know, the action creates the momentum. So anything to get yourself into that action states will create that momentum, which creates the success, which creates the confidence. So with that said up front, let's get into some of the top myths around doing social media for your OT private pay practice.

The first myth that we're going to talk about relates to the fact that you doing social media for your OT business is very different than a lot of the social media that you see. And so the first myth is your social media is not about the likes.

I know everybody gets obsessed with the vanity metrics. How many subscribers people have, how many comments, how many likes, but your intention is different. So you don't want to become this huge influencer. You want engagement, you want feedback.

It's much better for you to have a hundred true friends on social media. Those who know, like, and trust the things that you're putting out and are going to refer to you or book themselves then for you to have 10,000 followers. So I think we've all heard the story of an IG influencer who has, you know, a hundred thousand followers. And that person goes to try to sell something to their subscribers and they make zero money because not all likes and not all attention is good likes and good attention. So you want people to be engaged with you, because you're an actual human and you are providing in person services.

So you need to create that engagement. So don't focus on the likes, focus on the engagement.

Now the next thing is you are not trying to become the next, you know global influencer. Your business is local. So don't think about social media in terms of the world. Don't even think about it in terms of the country. Don't think about it in terms of the state, think about it in terms of the city, the region, the neighborhoods in which you operate. So go really hyper local. That's your path to success in using social media. So what does that mean in practice? So when we were operating our business in New York city, my wife couldn't see everybody in New York City. She couldn't see people in the Bronx. She couldn't see people in Queens, people in Brooklyn when she first started out.  It was people below 14th street.

And more specifically it was the neighborhood we were living in at the time, which was Battery Park City. So she joined Facebook groups around Battery Park City Moms. There were newsletters that were being sent out for Battery Park City Moms. And so she was very active in there trying to get hyperlocal because the more you become the star in your community, the more effective your social media is going to be. So remember, it's not about the global stuff. It's about the local. So use local hashtags in your region. Join the groups that are specific to your OT niche in the region where your ideal clients are hanging out and you'll have a lot more success in using social media.

The third thing, and this may come as a surprise is social media really isn't about the sales. So I, I know that may sound a little bit counterintuitive, but a lot of people don't like to be sold things on social media.

They go to social media to be educated. They go to social media to be entertained. They go to social media to have a connection with a community or their friends. And so if you are constantly trying to pitch on social media it's going to do a disservice to your business. The purpose of social media for you is to create awareness, to educate them, to motivate them, to eventually book with you so that you can establish that know, like, and trust factor with them. 

Your post should be all around creating that engagement, which leads us to the fourth myth, which is that you don't have to have a ton of content. When we talk about social media with people, they see other examples of people putting out post four times a day, every single day. And they start doing the math and they're like, wow, how am I going to come up with 1500 different things to say.  What we recommend is that you only really start with about three months worth of content and you can decide the schedule to do.

And the reason we say three months of content is you have to know a little bit about how social media works and that is that they're not showing every single thing you do to your audience. Only about 2 to 6% of your audience is seeing what you're posting at any one time. So what does that mean? It means the vast majority of people did not see the post that you wrote a month ago, two months ago, three months ago. So give yourself permission to create a core stable, like your wheelhouse of things that you teach. And then recycle them. You could put a new thumbnail on it. You could put a new caption, a new image, but the core content can be the same. So don't get overwhelmed thinking that, oh my God, I have to do something different every single day. You'd run out of things to say after the first month.

So everybody repeats themselves and you have permission to do the same thing. So teach the core things that you're really, really good at and keep putting it out there because new people are seeing that.

Now the fifth thing is it's not really a myth, but it's something to be aware of. And it's kind of a word of caution, which is that in social media, you don't actually own those contacts. So if you are doing it on any of the very popular platforms, IG, Facebook, et cetera, those are companies, those companies decide whether or not you have access to their audience or not. And so you have to ask yourself if you're doing so much social media, and the only way you can get in touch with your true fans is through that social media platform, what would happen if that platform disappeared overnight?

What would happen to your business? What would happen if your account got hacked, which happens, what would happen if that platform just decided to kick you off for some reason? What would happen to your business? And so we found that people who are over overly reliant on their business are running a really big risk because they don't realize that they don't actually own the contact information. And so you want to be able to own the contact information with your ideal clients so that you can get in touch with them so that you can promote your workshop, so that you can promote your in person services, so that you can promote a training that you're offering without having to go through a third party.

So this, this may sound a little bit crazy, but just remember back, I think it was October 2021 and Facebook and IG went down there.

They had some sort of, I think it was an issue in the cloud or storage and their services went down for a couple of days. So it can and, and does happen from time to time. So that's why you want to be able to be focusing on other things, in person things, which is something that we're going to talk about next.

All right. So now that you know some of the top myths for social media and your OT business, let's go into just very quickly a couple of tips for you. So the best thing you can do is begin with the end in mind.

So begin with the end in mind and approach social media with a lot of intention. So like we said, in one of the myths your intention of using social media for your business is not to become a huge online influencer. You have an in person business.

 So you need to get those people from social media off of social media, into your clinic, or have a relationship with them. And so this is very different than just posting, you know, random things and using social media the way you maybe see other people doing it.

You want to create engagement. You want to ask something of your audience and those things that you ask can, can vary. You can ask them to post a comment, to reply to questions, anything, to get the conversation going because the more frequently you can get the conversation going the more quickly and easily, you can take it into an offline relationship. And remember you have an offline business. So you make money through people booking and showing up at your practice.

So the faster and more easily you can get them off of social media into either email or your in person workshop or a community event that you're hosting, or a potluck that you have, or the race that you're sponsoring, the better.

So always begin with the end in mind, which is that you want to create that engagement to eventually move them into an in-person service. And one of the best ways to get them to move to the in person service is through email.

So we talked about social media and how maybe only two to 6% of your followers are seeing what you're posting. Whereas with email up to 50% of people on your list will be open. And email is a much better means of communicating with your ideal clients than social media. So we always teach, capture their information from online into emails and then use email to create stories, to create offers, to engage with them in a more personalized relationship, because more people open their email than they see what you posted online. And that's going to accelerate that know, like, and trust factor so that you are seen as the expert for the issue that they're dealing with.

And so when it comes to time for them to book and to take action, they're going to go, oh, this person seems really thoughtful, really engaging. I really like the stuff that he or she is putting out. And so let me call them.

The next thing is that social media can be a black hole. We all know that people can get sucked into social media and it can lead to a lot of problems. So it can lead to anxiety and depression as people are scrolling through and seeing what other people are doing. And so I would just caution you around doing too much social media, or if you are doing a lot of social media to constantly check in with yourself. So how's your mental state? Is it causing you a lot of anxiety or is it causing a lot of imposter syndrome?

We had one OT student who was active on social media and she eventually stopped following some of her professional colleagues because in her words, they were just exacerbating the imposter syndrome that she had.

They were maybe three years ahead of her or five years ahead of her. And she would see what they were posting. And she was like, ah, I'm not there yet. So maybe I shouldn't be doing what I'm doing. Absolutely don't let that happen.

And that leads us to a question that you should always ask yourself, which is, are you consuming social media? Are you a content consumer? Or are you a content creator? And as an OT business owner, you should be in the category of content creation, not content consumption. So look at your week, look at your days, look at your month, not only ask yourself, how are you feeling about the things that you're doing, the things that you're seeing, but ask yourself, are you more in the bucket of content consumption or are you more in the bucket of content creation and make sure that you're constantly in that bucket of content creation, but don't do content creation at the expense of old school in person marketing.

So you have an in person business, never forget that. So the relationships that you are establishing in person are gold. So relationships are gold when it comes to your in person business. So have social media be part of just a small part of your marketing efforts, but really dive into the, in person marketing. So meet with referral sources, developing partnerships doing community workshops, sponsoring local events, anything that you can do to get yourself in front of your clients and referring parties on a continual basis is going to pay dividends way above what you can do on social media.

Still keep the social media going because many people use it as a credibility marker. Once they hear about you, they'll go, oh, let me go check out and see what I can find. So you want to have stuff there. That's the three months worth of content that you're recycling, but you want to make sure that that's not done at the expense of the in person, because the in person is absolutely gold for your OT business.