Common social media mistakes that can damage your client list
August 30, 2022 By Staff - mindZplay Solutions
Social media is not a magical place free from real-world consequences. What you post online could cost you your reputation, your clients, even your ability to practice. You must take the same care when speaking on social media that you do when speaking in any other public forum. Your posts have the potential to be seen and shared by a lot of people, and your business page is not anonymous. If you don’t have time to take social media seriously, you would be wise to stay away from it until you do. Clients and potential clients are going to take your words seriously, whether they are in print, in person, or online – and deleting a post may not be enough to undo the very real damage you can do to your business online. In this article, we’d like to discuss common social media mistakes and some of the basic best practices to protect you and your business when using social media.
Let’s start with the basics. On the internet, being formal is not the same thing as being professional. Whether you are formal on social media means a lot less than whether you are polite.
You can break most Internet etiquette down into three fundamental rules: be respectful, be considerate, and don’t overshare. It is important to keep these ideas in mind when you are breaking up your routine with things like humour or personal anecdotes. While variety can be good, not all humour is universal, and your business page is not a diary. You have to be more careful about what you post as a business than you do as an individual. Remember that you are the single biggest threat to your reputation online. When a commercial enterprise goes down in flames over something posted on social media, most often the match was lit by not by a negative review but by something the organization itself posted online.
Twitter and Facebook are not podiums from which you can just shout into the void. Social media is not about presentations, it’s about conversations.
If you do not take a moment to check your blind spots before posting, be prepared for people to start pointing them out to you in the comments. Avoiding controversy is about more than ditching divisive statements on things like religion or politics. For example, if you are a woman, you may feel safe starting a post with “Hey Ladies!” After all, neither word is particularly offensive by itself – but inoffensive terms can still carry implications. One word can exclude potentially interested men from a conversation and leave it unclear whether those who do not strictly identify as female should consider your message relevant to them. There are far more risks than benefits when it comes to calling out specific groups of people in your content. It leaves money on the table, and opens the door for things like stereotypes and clichés to creep into your content – and those clichés don’t have to be offensive to hurt your business.
Consider how many advertisements you’ve seen box themselves in with something like: “Being supermom is hard! This holiday season, treat yourself to a (insert product or service.) You deserve it.”
If that copy sounds familiar, it’s because marketers have been beating that particular dead horse for over a decade. There are dated assumptions about the gender and lifestyle of the target audience literally spelled out for you right in the first sentence, and that stereotype weakens the more valuable underlying message. You could have a bigger impact on more people with something like: “Being a superhero is hard! Whether you’re a worker bee or stay-at-home parent, the holidays are a great time to treat yourself. Everyone deserves a massage!”
Remember that the content you post is going to reach people whose background, experiences, and opinions may be very different from yours. The line between empowering your audience and telling them who and what they are supposed to be is often thinner than we anticipate. Steering clear of assumptions based on age, race, and gender is not that hard. You just have to remember to look. Removing references to specific groups may not double your income over night, but if it helps you earn (or avoid losing) even one client, it’s probably worth two minutes of your time to put in a little extra thought.
Of course, we are all human. No matter how much thought you put in, there is a good chance of missing something that can be taken to mean much more than you intended it to. When something like this is brought to your attention, proceed with caution. It’s natural to want to defend yourself, but leading with: “Actually, what I meant was –” rarely benefits you. People have no respect for blame-shifting tactics, and will find this type of response condescending regardless of any apology it is paired with. A better response would be “I’m sorry, that was a mistake. What I should have said was…” or “Thank you for bringing this to my attention! I hadn’t considered that. I have made (insert changes) to this post and will try to be more mindful of that in future.”
Keep in mind that there are many ways for social media content to reach people who don’t follow you directly. If you delete a post and put up a separate apology, not everyone who saw the original post will see that apology, and having a “content deleted” message appear any place your content has been shared will look like you have tried to shut down the conversation. If your platform allows you to edit the original post, this is your best form of damage control. Correct your mistake, and include an apology at the bottom. It also helps to respond directly to as many comments as you can. People will respect a practitioner who is willing to take responsibility and own their mistakes much more than one who tries to point fingers elsewhere.
These principles also apply to handling bad reviews.
While not every complaint requires you to bend over backwards, it is important to remain positive and always thank the reviewer for their feedback and indicate what steps have been taken to address their concerns. For example, you might offer a free treatment if you had to reschedule someone at the last minute for personal reasons. With accessibility complaints, on the other hand, you can probably just thank them for the feedback and ask for further information on their needs so that you can better accommodate them in future. Remember, if you did make a mistake, it is better to be seen taking responsibility than to react defensively.
Of course, some people will be unhappy no matter what you do. The point is to ensure that potential clients checking your reviews are impressed by how you handled the problem. This is why responding promptly should never be an excuse to rush your responses. Consider having someone else read through your response to be sure that your intended tone is coming through.
You need to remain positive even with people who have unwarranted objections to clinic policy. For example, if someone doesn’t like your cancellation policy and has decided to get rudely vocal about it, that is not an excuse to get personal with them. Stick to the facts. Indicate what your policy is, and where it can be found. (List each place that you mention it on your website, as well as whether it is stated on your voicemail or in your appointment related notifications.) If your overall review history is good, and you can be seen to accept and take responsibility for your mistakes when someone has a justifiable complaint, potential clients are much more likely to give you the benefit of the doubt when it comes to reviews from people who are being obviously irrational.
While clients don’t expect you to be formal on social media, they do expect that as a healthcare professional, you will take the time to ensure that any information you share on your clinic page is reliable. Posting false or misleading information damages your credibility as a practitioner even if clients trust that you believed it to be true. Being fooled by something a client can debunk with a quick google search won’t reflect well on you as a professional. When you find an interesting article, consider saving it for later review if you can’t do a quick fact-check on the information right away.
Remember that as a healthcare professional it is also important to never, ever communicate sensitive client information over social media – even if you are communicating directly with a client. These platforms are designed for public conversations, and even their direct messaging functions are unlikely to be fully secure. If you need to discuss anything related to a client treatment or booking, stick to traditional direct communication methods such as phone or in-person communication. Even if you manage to escape any legal consequences, when it comes to bad reviews, a breach of privacy is much less likely to be overlooked than someone complaining that you didn’t return their voicemail messages.
Consider that if you want to reap the rewards of being on social media, you must first accept the time and effort involved in building a great social presence. Avoiding these issues may not be rocket science, but you can go down in flames if you fail to take what you are doing seriously. If you learn only one thing today, it should be to always treat your clinic’s social media account with the same respect you do your clients.
mindZplay Solutions Inc., a provider of massage therapy websites and practice management solutions. To learn more, visit massagemanedger.com.
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