At a recent marketing convention, a keynote speaker addressed the audience. He said, “Everyone I meet wants to have the #1 website on Google, have the biggest and most responsive email list, and have the most followers on Twitter. Today, I have a surprise for you…” The speaker looked out over the crowd—there were 1000 people in attendance.
“I have placed a bright green card under one of your chairs. If you have that card, you will receive all those things today. Take a look, and whoever has the card, come up on stage and tell everyone why you deserve to have all these things.” The speaker then waited a moment as the crowd started to shuffle and reach under their chairs. Then he said, “Ok I lied. There’s no card, but you should have seen your faces! First TERRIFIED it was going to be you, and then smug, as if you were thinking to yourself ‘I can’t wait to hear what that poor sucker with the card is going to say.’”
The persons in the audience were nervous about the reward because, simply, they didn’t deserve it. No one in the room was worthy of the things the “green card” was supposed to bring them. Hence, the number one rule of being online famous: you need to be worthy of that fame.
How to Become Worthy of Online Counseling Fame
How does the story above apply to online therapists? Very well, in fact. Here are a few things to keep in mind as you are promoting your therapy services online.
1) Find a Therapy Niche
Imagine the Internet as a loud, crowded room. As someone who wants to be seen by others, you need to stand out. You need to find a niche. Often I encounter people who think that “online counseling” is their niche. It’s not. Online counseling (or telephone counseling) is simply the portal through which therapists provide their niche services.
Similarly, Christian therapy is too big to be a niche. Maybe if you are providing Christian therapy in an underserved area, you can be known as the town’s local Christian therapist, but online there are thousands of Christian therapists, so you won’t stand out. Need ideas? Here are some examples of niches: Christian Anorexia Specialist, Sports Psychology for X Games Athletes, Broken Heart Recovery Therapist.
Many therapists avoid niches, trying to make their area of focus as broad as possible. The hope: broad offerings will appeal to more people. This is not true online. The question of potential clients is often “why see a therapist by computer, if I can see one in my home city?” Answer: because the X Games athlete specialist is too far away to see in person, and that’s the person who can help them the most.
2) Speak, speak, and speak some more
Once you decide on your niche (hopefully one in which you have a genuine competency), then it’s time to speak on it, and speak on it, and speak on it some more. It’s time to establish yourself as the quintessential professional on the topic.
Often times, a person will have great ambitions, but their enthusiasm wanes before they can see the fruit of their labors. An example of this would be someone who decides on a title for their blog, and then never writes anything; or someone who has a Facebook profile without so much as a personal photo uploaded.
Even if you are time-starved, you can still work toward being an online famous counselor. The general consensus is that a person can grow their online fame with an hour a day of contribution. Micro-blogging (i.e., Twitter.com) has made it easier to post frequently, because every post is limited to 140 characters. One of the great things about this format is that, if you don’t have time to generate new content, it’s completely acceptable to point people to other people’s content on your topic. Matt drudge (Drudge Report) almost exclusively directs readers to content created by others, and he has one of the most visited websites on the web (give Matt Drudge the green card, and he’ll tell you exactly why he deserves it—he broke the Monica Lewinski story in 1998, and now he updates the news on his web site every 3 minutes, 24/7/365. He posts top news stories, written by others, in a no-frills format).
3) Master the Online Tools
If you are serious about becoming famous online, you must become an expert with online social platforms. Buys books on Twitter, Facebook, Myspace, and any Blogging, Vlogging, or Web 2.0 application you might use. Attend seminars, webinars, and adult education classes. Spend time learning these tools and it will pay off.
I tell this to some counseling professionals and they say, “I’m not interested in all that. That’s not what I want to do.” They expect that their web developer can take care of “the technical side”. But when it comes to online social networking, it doesn’t work that way. You can’t be ignorant to how things work, and expect to appear competent—not unless you hire someone to sit next to you and tell you when to post, what to title your post, where to tag it, how to bookmark it, who to syndicate it to, and so on. Just knowing about therapy isn’t enough.
A final word of advice: As you move forward, I promise you will do a lot of things wrong, but you will do more things right. Just being online, communicating and interacting will lead people to your niche; in time, an hour a day will make you worthy of the online fame you’re destined for!