So you know you should be using social media to market your work, but if it doesn’t come naturally to you, it’s daunting. After all, you trained in how to be a clinician, not how to be a digital marketing professional.

 I work with mental health professionals all the time who want to start using social media but aren’t sure where to start. These are some of the top tips I give them.

1.     Start small and don’t try to do it all.

 Over the years of coaching clinicians about building their social media platforms, I’ve seen many a therapist bite off more than they could chew by creating accounts on every networking site available and trying to keep up with them all.

 Instead of trying to do everything at once, pick one or two platforms that make the most sense for you to really dig into and build something great. An idle, unused profile or page is often worse than none at all.

One amazing Facebook page is better for your brand than a cluster of barely used or abandoned profiles across platforms.

 All of that aside, if you focus on one or two profiles you’ll start to see results more quickly which makes social media infinitely more fun and motivating.

 2. Make a list of influencers in your field and engage with them regularly.

 At the risk of stating the obvious, social media is meant to be a social experience.

 Just in the same way you (hopefully) wouldn’t walk into a room and start blurting out talking points without taking into account what anyone else had to say, engaging with others on social media platforms is equally important.

 There’s definitely an art to engaging with other accounts on social media and it can take some trial and error, but social media provides the potential for you to connect with people you otherwise might not have access to in real life.

 Start by making a list of ten influencers—whether they be individuals, organizations, associations, media outlets—with whom you’d like to connect. Follow them, share what they post and even mention or chat with from time to time.

 Above all, have fun and be willing to make mistakes.

 3. Think long term.

 Platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram change so often and new platforms emerge every day. This fact is why if you’re building a social media following you want to be sure that you’re also building your e-mail list so that if and when these platforms disappear or become no-longer-cool, you can still communicate with your followers to tell them about your upcoming events, books or new services.

One of the best ways to capture email addresses with social media is by offering a free e-book or guide (available on your website in exchange for newsletter sign-up) writing regular blog posts and posting them to your profiles.

4. If you realize that social media management is not for you and you choose to hire someone, look for someone who’s knowledgeable in your field.

 With more and more professional creatives making a living as freelancers, if you choose to farm out your social media work there is no shortage of social media managers from which to choose.

As mentioned earlier, a big part of social media is being able to engage with other influencers in your field, so hiring someone with fluency in the language and nuances of your line of work can make all the difference.

 A Google search may be a good place to start, but you can also try asking colleagues or connections in your field who have well-managed social media accounts who they work with and whether that person is accepting any new clients.

 5. Post regularly.

 Life is busy and it can be tough to get in the habit of posting content or monitoring accounts regularly. Luckily, there are many excellent and free apps you can use, like Buffer and Hootsuite, which will help you schedule a regular flow of content to your platform.

 I often recommend to clients that they schedule in a couple of hours a week to sit down, write content and pick articles to share for the coming week. Put it all into your scheduling app and voila! You’ve got yourself a regular flow of content to keep your channel active throughout the week while you see clients and do the work you really love.

 6. Blog.

This suggestion takes some legwork but the benefits can’t be understated.

 It’s important to be capturing as many email addresses as you can while you build your social media followings. However, social media platforms may change or disappear entirely, your e-mail list will give you a way to continue to communicate with people who are genuinely interested in what you do.

 I often recommend that people write one blog post per week, even if it’s just 500 words of stream-of-consciousness style writing about a topic related to your work. As you get into the habit, it’ll become easier and maybe even fun!

 Once you’ve written your blog post for the week, be sure to schedule the post to be shared at least twice on your social media accounts. Then, cull your blog posts for little snippets and tidbits of wisdom to share with your followers.

 If you’re using Twitter, these quotes often make great, shareable tweets. If you’re using Facebook or Instagram, try creating a quick graphic with a meaningful quote from your blog with a free design site like Canva.

 It’s common to be completely bewildered or intimidated by social media when you’re just starting out. After all, you’re a mental health professional, not a digital marketing expert. Hopefully, these simple rules will help you build a sustainable, effective social media presence and help you grow your business in the long-run.