Monday, February 2, 2015

Social Media Tips for Birth Pros




My first tip for Birth Professionals is to Use Social Media!

Social media is used by a growing number of men and women of reproductive age, so it very helpful for birth professionals! Social media can only increase your exposure. It helps you provide frequent, updated business information to an audience without having to constantly figure out how to refresh your website. It drives people to your website and contact information. 

My second tip is to use social media wisely. Many professional organizations recommend that you avoid mentioning your clients on social media. You especially want to avoid reflecting on a negative experience, or share a photo of someone without their permission. Get permission from your clients if you'd like to use their images on the internet.

My third tip is to follow other birth professional social media accounts. How are you going to know what is going on in the world of birth/breastfeeding/babies if you don't follow along? This is the best way to find articles and information to share with your own audience. Don't just plan on making an account and only looking at your own page; make sure you are engaging with other birth pros so you can stay up-to-date for your clients!


Here are some site-specific tips:


Facebook

Everyone tries to figure out how to work with the unknown algorithm that Facebook uses to decide whose posts show up on News Feeds and why. It is a fact that not all of your posts will be "served" to all of the people who "Like" you. Here are some of my tips to optimize use of Facebook.
  1. Fill our your Page completely. Make sure you have your logo as your profile photo, and use your cover photo to provide more information through an image, text, or upcoming event. Fill in your contact information and your business information, and make sure you include your website link. 
  2. Do not post more than two posts to a business page per day.  More than two posts per day (or 10 total per week) will result in A) An annoyed/jaded FB fan audience, and/or B) Facebook's algorithm will stop showing your posts to your whole page audience. And when you do post your two posts, make sure they are spread out (to catch morning and afternoon crowds, or lunch and evening crowds). If you discover more than one interesting post at once, you can "schedule" posts for future times to ensure your posts are spread out, and continue to engage an audience even if you decide to disconnect for a day. (note: Scheduling doesn't work through clicking the "share" button on a photo or post from another FB page).
  3. Interact with other Pages as Your Page. Did you know that you can "use Facebook as" your page? I highly recommend that you switch over sometimes and use this feature to Like other local businesses, like other page's posts, and comment on other page's posts. You can't do everything that you can with your individual Facebook page (for instance, join groups or like an individual's posts). 
  4. Engage people in conversation. Ask a question, share your own personal story, take a poll. The more people who are engaged in your posts, the better your Facebook page will do!


Blog

If you are hoping to increase your business, I recommend that you add a blog to your business website. 
  1. Update your blog regularly. Write about content that you are hoping will draw-in business. This can be specific to your business, or can be interesting information related to your business area. For instance, you can blog about the safety of water birth, and anyone interested in that topic may stumble on your blog. Or, you can write specifically about the services you offer. You can even video blog (Vlog) and post those on YouTube!
  2. Use at least one image on every blog post. Photos drive attention and traffic when posts are shared on Facebook and Pinterest, and for some reason make it more likely that your post will be read! Making your own informative text-based image to describe what the post is about is often sufficient.
  3. Post your blog posts on other social media sites. Now that you've written a post, make sure you share it far and wide (and add social media buttons so others can share, too)! Post to your Facebook page, Twitter account, pin it to Pinterest, post an image from it on Instagram.
Any website that refreshes content often will lead to increased exposure in search engines (part of Search Engine Optimization, or SEO, techniques). This is why a blog will drive people to your website, and why a web search will often find a Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest post. 


Twitter

My Facebook Page posts auto-tweet, which makes sharing across platforms really easy. I haven't figured out how to best use Twitter for business, yet, though Twitter offers information on how to make this useful for you. I mainly use twitter for this blog account - to share interesting articles. It makes a great depository for articles that I want to be able to find again later, or just to try to spread information and get conversations moving on certain topics. 
  1. Use hashtags. The best advice I have for using Twitter is to use hashtags. This is the most convenient way to join a conversation with others who are interested in the same things you are. If you write a post or share an article about doulas, use the hashtag #doulas. Then, anyone who is interested in doula stuff, too, can search #doulas and your article will pop up. It helps drive followers to you and gets the info out to a larger audience. 
  2. Make it Re-tweetable. Make sure you write posts in a way that is easy for people to simply click "retweet" and share with their followers. My advice here is just to say to make it relatable, and don't include anything that someone might have to take out if they want to share. 
Sharing on Twitter in addition to Facebook increases your audience - someone might see your post on Twitter but miss it on Facebook (or vice versa). 


Pinterest

Pinterest is great for birth businesses for two reasons: 1) The majority of users are young women, and 2) It is often an indication of things that people want in the future. Women pin merchandise they are interested in or ideas they want to come back to in the future. It is a great place not only for you to save ideas and links on a virtual cork board, but for your clients to save your business' ideas and links! 
  1. Create topic-specific boards. You may love all things birthy, but if you're using Pinterest for business, you want to make what you share easily accessible for your followers who may only be interested in certain topics. For instance, make a "breastfeeding" board, a "labor support" board, a "newborn" board, etc! Users can choose to follow some or all of your boards. 
  2. Auto-share on Twitter. If you have both a Twitter and a Pinterest account, you can set your Pins to automatically tweet (make sure the pin's description is included). This drives those who may be on Twitter to the content you find on Pinterest. 

Instagram

Instagram is a great idea for a business that plans to have a lot of visual items to share. Where twitter is text, Instagram is photos. For a birth business I envision two uses: 

1) To keep your fans, community, clients, etc. interested in what is going on with your life (keeps things personal, which people like, but you have to be willing to be a public sharer). An example might be a picture of you getting coffee after being up all night with a laboring woman, you wearing your own baby, etc. and,
2) For sharing what is going on with your business, for instance, a picture of a newly decorated room in your birth center, childbirth education supplies you have ready for the next class you're going to teach, or (with permission) your clients' newborn photos!

Here are some tips:
  1. Make a business page, not a personal page. And use it like a business. Make all of your posts relate to your business, not your personal life. Your clients probably don't care what you ate for dinner every night last week. 
  2. Use hashtags is my advice, again, for the same reason as above. If your business Instagram account is public, people can find it by searching the hashtags. 


If you get really into using social media for your business, you can analyze your analytics! You can set up analytics on your blog to see where your traffic is coming from, including referral sites or search words. Twitter and Facebook also support analytics (on FB it is called "insights"). You can see what day of the week or what time of day you are getting the most engagement on your posts, and how many new page likes you have this week compared to last week. 


There are other great resources out there for more tips on using social media; I suggest starting with Your Doula Bag's Pinterest Board "Social Media for Doulas"! 

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