You work hard in massage school, focusing on mastering bodywork and demonstrating your knowledge on tests and quizzes. Graduation and licensing are right around the corner. Even if you are still in school, you don't have to wait to start handling the business side of becoming a massage therapist. An excellent first step is to get your social media house in order.
A recent study by Edison Media indicates that 67 percent of Americans use social media. You have probably posted hundreds of pieces of information from when you were in high school, from other jobs, about your friends, or just funny videos. You are about to step into a world where not only your friends and family will see these things, but potential and current clients will, too. That could be, well ... awkward.
It pays to do a little preparation for your work life now. Here are some quick things to do to help ensure you put your best professional image front-and-center in your new career, and take advantage of opportunities to build interest among potential clients.
Clean It Up
Most of us have been posting on social media sites for a while. That means there is a lot of history there. It also might mean there are a few things posted that seemed like a good idea at the time, but probably aren't appropriate for future clients—or employers—to see or know. That's why your first task should be to clean up your social media pages.
These three tasks will give you a good start:
1. Check your privacy settings on all platforms, particularly Facebook, and make sure anything that's the least bit unprofessional is set to "Friends only" or restricted further to a specific group of friends.
2. Make sure your profiles are work-ready. That means posting a professional picture, and getting important information, like work history, education or groups you follow, up-to-date. Visit each site where you have a public profile and clean things up—or delete profiles altogether if you don't use them anymore. Prospective employers will search for you on the web. Make sure their first impressions are good.
3. Conduct a Google search for your name and see if there are any photos or info on other people's sites that don't convey the image you want. Try contacting the account or site owners to get them to hide or remove the sketchy stuff; alternatively, paid services, such as InternetReputation.com, can handle cleaning up your online presence for you. Don't forget to check for tagged photos, too.
If you find unwanted items you cannot hide, the best strategy is to start publishing more current, positive things that will show up higher in Google search results and push negative stuff further down—and eventually off—that first search results page. Some of the tips below will give you ideas for what to post.
Keep Your Work Life Separate
Social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are powerful tools for getting the word out about your progress in massage school and will be a big help in advertising and marketing your services once you graduate. Take some time to look at the pages of others who have already graduated and learn best (or worst) practices from them.
If you're going out on your own as a solo massage therapist, you must create completely different social media accounts with your business name, or your own name with your credentials attached. This will help you keep things sorted out when you send messages about your work, versus those updates on what you did this weekend with your friends.
Post Often and Well
Once you are a massage therapist, you will quickly discover that social media is an important way to grow your client list. It is an excellent way to communicate with and educate clients and potential clients.
Prepare your social network for your debut in the business by beginning to establish yourself as someone knowledgeable about bodywork. Create short, educational posts based on things you're learning in school, such as how a massage therapist might deal with tennis elbow, or the benefits of aromatherapy. Repost or retweet interesting posts from other trusted sources, such as the American Massage Therapy Association or the Massage Therapy Foundation. You can also create and post videos.
In every case, make sure what you put out there is professional, thoughtful and represents you well. That means triple-checking for grammar and spelling errors, and posting things that are relevant and not too crazy.
Create a Wow Experience
Now that you have searched for and refreshed all your profiles, looked at other sites that work and gathered some content, it's time to think about offering people who search for you a surprising and delightful experience when they visit your social media site. That means selecting a powerful image for your background or cover photos.
Choose photos that represent you and how you feel about the profession. They might be inspirational, Zen-like, energetic or technical. Make sure you use royalty-free images that are not copyrighted or protected. You can have fun shooting your own images, too. Simple photo-editing services such as Canva or Pablo let you add artistic effects and text elements to photos, so you can create custom banners for pages or infographics to share.
Each social media site has different photo size requirements, so be sure to search the Web for dimensions as you prepare your graphics.
Keep Your Image Polished
Well-spent time creating and curating your social media presence now will pay off in the future. A carefully prepared social media presence is your professional image, your virtual business card, and often your first impression for clients and potential clients. It's worth the time and effort.