Taken from an article I wrote for the British Acupuncture Council, Acu magazine in June 2021. To download the full copy please go to the end of this blog post.
As with everything I write. It comes from a moment of passion and motivation. This is not an exhaustive list. I am definitely not an expert. Social media may never be your passion. But I hope you might have found something within this brain dump that might be helpful. And if you ever need someone to chat more about it, you can find me on Instagram @thechannelproject.
I hope you enjoy it.
Love your fave (Letchworth) acupuncturist
I started an Instagram account quite by accident. I mean it wasn’t an accident, but I certainly didn’t have any clue or intention of what I was doing. I created @thechannelproject because, after twenty years of being out of school, I realised I was a visual learner; and well the picture based app Instagram allowed me to indulge in it and have that learning readily to hand. I mean I couldn’t carry Maciocia around with me everywhere!
So I started posting what I was learning. I started chatting with wonderful peers from around the world. I started following amazing accounts that were teaching acupuncture through their posts. I learnt from those people.
Social media is like learning acupuncture (bear with me). You start off with no clue. You follow along. You pick up a few bits. You think “I will never get the hang of this”. But you spend more time on it. I spent money with people who are experts to help me (a bit like I have spent lots of money on acupuncture books). You refine your practice. Get more accurate. Get more results. It takes time and energy. It will not happen overnight And in the same way that I will never be a master of acupuncture, I will never be a master of Instagram.
But these are things that I have learnt. I am sharing them with you. Because I like sharing and I like helping people succeed and that is what is great about social media. Sharing and supporting.
A is for amazing content. This is what social media platforms want. This is what your clients want. Look at people’s content that you admire. It doesn’t need to be an acupuncturist. Make a note of the things you love. What you don’t love. The aesthetic? Their manner? The content? How they share? What makes you click ‘like’ on a post, or watch a video. I suspect it’s something that resonates with you or is useful or interesting information, or someone you like or trust. Make your content something you’d like to like.
C is for Canva. I couldn’t create the content I do without it. I use the paid-for version because it is such a useful tool but there is a free version that you can go and practice with. It took me three years to find a style that suited me. I had many iterations during that time. I have finally found a style I am happy with. I am not a designer so cannot offer any specific advice but some general rules of thumb:
Think about accessibility: text in different colours can make it hard for people to read.
Fonts: same with fonts. Squirly fonts look lovely, but are they easy to read?
Visuals: depending on the social media platform depends on the picture to text ratio. Instagram is a very visual platform. Use visuals
U is for useful people. These are truly useful people you should follow.
@_helen_perry_ Helen isn’t an acupuncturist but she is an Instagram expert. Her content is relatable, informative and interesting.
@wildysocialmedia Sarah is a must contact if you want information on Facebook ads.
@michellegrasek Michelle is the marketing acupuncturist. She understands the industry and specialises in marketing.
@acutribemedia our own wonderful Trish sells wonderful templates for social media. So if you don’t have the time or inclination that might be an option.
P is for preparation. Block out time to work on social media. Map out what you are going to do. What is happening each week. Look at international events (there are quite a few calendars out there) that you can tie your content into for example #endometriosisawarness was in March. Create your content in a bundle. Don’t do it piecemeal. I will be honest, some of my content takes me a couple of hours per post. I won’t (I hope) have that luxury when I am practising. So be realistic about your time and what you can create.
U is for understanding. Where are your clients coming from? Do you ever ask them how they found you? Because if it isn’t social media and it is always word of mouth, you might not need to spend so much time on this stuff! But if social media is a way people find you, please make sure you have a business or creator account on Instagram. Having one of these allows you to look at all your statistics. What posts are doing well? When is your audience online? This information is fantastic and you need it.
N is NOT necessary. You don’t need to join the round-robin calls to follow twenty-five other accounts and they follow you back etc. Refuse to buy followers. Instagram is watching. When you start to get a quick influx of new followers there is a very real chance that they will stop showing your content. It is called a shadow ban. You become even more lost to the wilderness. And the other thing with these is that they are almost certainly not your future client. What is the point of having 7,000 followers but none of them like your posts? Or are going to make an appointment with you?
C is for clapping (or not). Social media has its great and bad points. The great is the community, the learning, the support. I have found businesses in my local area that I may never have come across. I have spoken to other acupuncture students in Australia. There is also the bad. Not everyone is clapping for you. Sometimes there will be people who unfollow you and it stings. There may, occasionally, be people who write harmful comments or DM’s. I don’t particularly have a remedy for this but know that they are not the people who are going to buy your services. It is ok if they leave. They are not for you.
T is for trying again and again and again. Keep going. This is not a quick win. This is about practising and being consistent. You have to be ready to be put in the long haul if you want social media to work for you.
U is for utilising. Utilise what you already have. Reuse anything. Blog content you have created. An article you might have written (note to self). An essay you wrote. Something else that someone else has created (although always credit). You can connect accounts (Facebook and Instagram) so that when you post to one, you post directly to the other.
R is for research. Look at your local community, your clients. Who are the people that use acupuncture? Write content for them. Reach out to other businesses in your area, follow them. Chat, collaborate. Their audiences might be similar to your own. Or that business owner may decide they’d like acupuncture. Personally, I think the local business community is one of the most important you can nurture. Support them and they may support you in return.
There are some amazing publications looking at who the users of acupuncture are. The amazing Hugh MacPherson wrote one. I have added links to a couple of others.
Other brilliant resources are Public Health England and the Office of National Statistics. Find out the demographics of your local area. What are the health concerns in your area. In my own area, diabetes is significantly higher than the national average. What does this mean for your content?
Answer The Public is also interesting. It analyses what people type into Google. So you can search ‘acupuncture’ and you can see all the questions people are asking!
Hashtags are also a huge piece of your research. Use all 30 of them on your posts. Hashtags are the signposts to your content. You definitely need them, they definitely need to be relevant and they definitely to be related to your content.
E is for enjoy it. It may sometimes seem unenjoyable. But like anything, if you don’t enjoy it, you won’t do it. Or you will do it and it will be half-hearted. I think you have to dig deep and find the elements of social media that you enjoy. For me, I love making content and supporting other people. So it is easy for me to enjoy social media. But I think you know that if you cannot love it, it will not love you back. You will find it hard and ultimately it won’t happen.
To download a copy of my article, please click below.