Online Influence interviews Melissa Ferrari

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Trish Fehon: Welcome everybody. We’re here today with Melissa Ferrari from Love, Life, Relationships and Transformation. We’re doing a series on interviewing people who are having some success in Facebook on their Facebook pages. So I’ve invited Melissa to join us today just to chat about her success and how she deals with that. So welcome Melissa.

Melissa Ferrari: Hi. Thanks for having me.

Trish: So do you want to tell us a little bit about your business?

Melissa: I’m a relationship specialist, counsellor and a psychotherapist. I’ve done a lot of training to work with people with problems, stress management, relationship problems, depression, anxiety and the list goes on.

Trish: Wow, OK. So traditionally, how would a psychotherapist get clients?

Melissa: Well, I’ve been practicing for 15 years and probably until mid last year, my way was just sort of relying on referrals and also maybe advertise online on the occasional therapy pages where you put your name on and people go for a search and which we’re doing good enough for me. But it wasn’t enough as far as I was concerned. I wanted to do a little bit more.

Trish: Yeah. Then tell me a little bit about – we talked before about how you – that was the traditional road and you were kind of encouraged not to change that. So tell us a little bit about that.

Melissa: Well, to do something publicly when you are a psychotherapist, we need to be really mindful about things like ethics and that we’re not there to deliver therapy to people through online ways. It’s like people need to come to us. We sit in a room. We do an assessment. We talk to people about what they’re needing. We work around a direction of the treatment plan and all of that kind of stuff.

So it was more that ethically we need to be careful in how we present ourselves and we’re not doing therapy with people.

Trish: Right. So there is a legal line I guess you would like to be careful not to pass.

Melissa: That’s right.

Trish: Or step over.

Melissa: And it’s really important to be mindful of that all the time. So it’s not like your traditional business where you just sort of say this is what we do and all – well, I do say what I do but it’s more a different approach is required. I guess that’s what I would like to say. Yeah.

Trish: OK. So tell us a little bit about this success that you’ve had on Facebook.

Melissa: Well, how it happened was I was sort of really realizing how much people engage with online and particularly Facebook, sometimes Instagram, and all of those kinds of platforms. I really started to think about how I want to deliver more messages to people around the importance of relationships, connection and how healthy relationships is really the foundation to a lot of things like health, our mind being healthy, ourselves being healthy, our thinking being healthy, who we are, being important, how we present ourselves, relationships, are the underbelly to a lot of who we are.

I really wanted to put that word out to people. So it was a real dilemma for me on how I was going to do it. I knew that I didn’t want to write a book because it wasn’t something that I had room for in my life.

I really loved Facebook. I loved engaging with my friends on Facebook and we had chats about things and I thought, “How am I going to do this?” How am I going to say what I want to say about – to help people who are busy and many of us are busy. It’s a society thing now and I wanted to deliver some really clear messages.

So I woke up one Sunday morning and I said, “I’m going to start my page.” That’s how it came to be.

Trish: Yeah. So tell us – you’ve got quite a few fans now. Tell us a bit about how long you’ve been going and …

Melissa: It has been exactly a year and I’ve got 4600 fans. I think that’s what I’m close to now …

Trish: Yeah. That’s excellent. That is really good. You should be really proud of that.

Melissa: Thank you, thank you.

Trish: So tell us a little bit about how you did that.

Melissa: Well, I started to like other pages as well that had a lot to do with relationships. So I started to sort of form exchanges with them and which was great because they liked my page back or they would post some of the things that I had on there and all of that.

Then I also did a little bit of Facebook advertising where it comes down the side of Facebook and my page would come up and it was Love, Life, Relationships which of course is interesting to people. So they click and then they would like my page.

So in the beginning, I did have to spend a little bit of money to get it going but in comparison to what it has created for me, it was not much, not much at all.

Trish: Yeah, yeah, because Facebook advertising can be very reasonable, can’t it?

Melissa: It was, yes, and still is. I think it still is. You do reach a lot of people.

Trish: Yeah. I do think there are as you said – that is a topic that is of interest in Facebook and so Facebook doesn’t work for every single business. You need to be mindful of that when you’re deciding what platform you’re going to go on.

So let me cut this bit down. We will go to the next question. OK. So Melissa, tell us a little bit about how often you post to Facebook and the sorts of things that you post.

Melissa: I put out about two or three posts a day.

Trish: A day.

Melissa: A day.

Trish: So you heard that, a day. Yes.

Melissa: And I stayed really consistent with that. I don’t think I’ve ever missed putting out with the scheduling on Facebook. You can do it the night before. So if I’ve got a full day the next day, Facebook just happens for me without me having to sit in front of it. I rarely sit in front of it actually. I will just post a few things and what was great was that when I first did my page, I sent it out to all my own friends on Facebook.

So they reposted my page onto their private pages. So I got people like that but my friends supported me a lot in the beginning with liking my posts and all of that and I still do.

So they would really – that was really, really helpful to have people there that were engaging already and therefore their friends are watching and that’s how the page – it was quite organic in that way. But yeah, I put things on there like information about relationships. As I said, I talk a lot about the importance of relationships. I will put posts on there about – from great therapists around the world, particularly really good couple therapists who really have thought about couple therapy based on a lot of research.

So they will have quotes. So I will take their quotes and I liaise with them and ask, “Is it OK if I use your quotes?” and I have an assistant now, not before, that makes up little cards for me, that get posted on the page.

Trish: Great, yeah. I think that is really the key to it, if you can – many people just take other people’s content and repost it or even download it and then repost it, but you’ve done the right thing and contact with the person or created your own. That I think is people don’t realize how easy it is to create your own content.

Melissa: It’s very easy. You go on to the websites where you do have to put – I put just like my pictures that I use and I will take a quote. Some of them might be a quote from somebody that’s not even with us anymore. So I will use that because it has profound stuff said about relationships over the years. So I will draw on that as well.

It is important to think about that and in the beginning I did repost a lot of other people’s stuff, particularly if it’s good and what has happened is, is I formed really great relationships with them now. So it has worked out really well.

But yeah, that is all something very important to be mindful of and I also have a little disclaimer actually on my page in the about section that says if your name is here, it’s because I really like your work and if I haven’t credited you in the way that you need me to, please let me know.

Trish: Oh, that’s great.

Melissa: So that’s really clear as a disclaimer.

Trish: In terms of sharing, no page would object to anybody sharing their content. What I’m talking about is if you download that image and claim it as your own, that is likely to get the other page owner upset. But what Melissa is saying is she purchased her own photos and then just found quotes and put them on it and that is the best way to do it. You’re not infringing any copyright. You don’t have to worry about other people being upset with you. So yeah, that’s …

Melissa: It’s a really important consideration

Trish: Yeah.B

Melissa: I think it’s easy to make a mistake with it too.

Trish: Yeah.

Melissa: You probably can make a mistake with it but you need to really be mindful that that can happen.

Trish: Yeah.

Melissa: And the picture found someone else’s …

Trish: Yes, but like we said, it’s very easy to create your own content.

Melissa: Yes, very easy.

Trish: If you’ve got an iPhone, there are apps that you can write over photos all the time. Sometimes I will just take a beautiful photo and write something over it.

Melissa: Lovely. I’ve done that.

Trish: And post that.

Melissa: I’ve done that.

Trish: It’s completely your content.

Melissa: It is.

Trish: And the readers will love that.

Melissa: Yes, yes. And speaking of people that are creating and you’re not creating yourself, talk to people that are and that people really, really came to help you out with stuff like that, I have found.

Trish: Yeah, and there’s lots of free online tools that you can use too that will help you create posts and Facebook banners and things like that.

Melissa: Yeah.

Trish: All right. Let’s go to the next question. So we’re talking a little bit about the interaction with fans and that’s fun. So Melissa, tell me a little bit about if you – do you interact with your fans on your Facebook page?

Melissa: I do things like I will like something that someone has said or I will make a comment like a “thanks,” particularly if it’s something about how they’re enjoying the page. But I make it really clear that my page is to lift awareness. But people do read and have a think about the thought that I might have posted for that day or the article that I might have posted for that day and I’m limited. I don’t get into conversation with my fans because it’s not a therapy page and I’m a psychotherapist.

But I do interact at a minimal level that feels enough to feel like I’m there and I’m present and I’m with them and I’m watching and a couple of times I will even write a post that will say, “Although I don’t comment or like everything, I want everybody to know that I’m reading absolutely every single post that you put,” and I do.

Trish: Yeah.

Melissa: There isn’t a post that goes by that I don’t read.

Trish: And I’m thinking in your industry, if you’re in retail or an industry that’s servicing a lot of clients, you would have to interact particularly if somebody complained. I mean it’s a big mistake when you go on a page and write a complaint and then the person never responds. It looks so bad for them and everyone that reads that.

Melissa: Yes, exactly.

Trish: But yes, in your case, it’s – people aren’t looking for you to give them advice.

Melissa: Oh, no.

Trish: On their Facebook page.

Melissa: No. I like the way my fans use it. It really is just for them to wake up in the morning, have something there, for them to have a think about. Maybe think about again in their day or something and that’s all I’m really looking for.

Trish: Yeah.

Melissa: Yeah, just planting the seed.

Trish: But having said that, you had actually had success with converting some of those fans to clients, haven’t you?

Melissa: Yes.

Trish: So tell us a little bit about that.

Melissa: Well, I have my inbox where people can email me and they might just write to me and ask a few questions. I have liked your page or something like that and I liaise with them or talk to them for a little bit and then they may decide to make an appointment. So it’s still a very contactful kind of exchange and it’s not often that someone just says, “Oh, I would like to make an appointment.” They might write to me about something and if I think it’s something that I can help them with, yes, they are …

Trish: So it sounds like you’re a giving person and that’s the trade on your Facebook page and even when people message you, you’re quite happy to just give back without the expectation of it becoming their psychotherapist.

Melissa: Exactly, exactly. I think there’s something about that authenticity in how you present yourself. I didn’t expect it to probably do what it has done for me. That wasn’t the plan. The plan was some – lifting some awareness. I had had the privilege of being educated on a lot of things to do with relationships and I thought I want to really share that. So it has really happened quite organically.

Trish: Yeah. I think that that’s the common thread that I’m finding. You can go out with a purpose and I have seen that work, a strategic purpose to increase your fans and then to bring them onboard as clients and I have seen that work. But more often, it’s exactly what you’re doing. It’s that social, personable relationship-building to a level.

Melissa: Yes.

Trish: Without it getting too personal.

Melissa: Yes.

Trish: And that’s how it would be in your business.

Melissa: And I think how it helps is if people Googled me or Google “counsellor” or “couple therapists” in my area, because of the traffic that’s going to the Facebook page, it gets pushed up in Google.

Trish: Definitely.

Melissa: And that has just been something that has just happened. It has happened as well.

Trish: Because Google are using social media in their algorithm. They won’t tell us exactly how and what they’re looking for but we know it’s engagement and we know it’s constant posting and it’s emailing fans that you have, are all key parameters. But it’s also how often it gets shared, the posts that you make, reviews and things like that. So yeah, you’re on the right path.

Melissa: Yes, it has been great. And of course the added bonus is when people do Google, looking for a therapist and they find me, they go to my website and then that links to the Facebook page. Immediately they’re able to see …

Trish: And vice versa.

Melissa: That’s right. It goes back and forward.

Trish: Details in on your website which is critical, yeah. Now the other quick thing that I wanted to talk to Melissa about is LinkedIn. I know you do a little bit on LinkedIn. Do you want to tell us about that?

Melissa: I love LinkedIn. I really find that it helps me keep in contact with other therapists and so I learn a lot and what’s really good with that is that we’re consistently doing referrals and exchanging back and forward. Somebody might need something that I don’t specialize in and so I will refer them on to the right people and LinkedIn with what people are posting has allowed me to be able to watch what that therapist might be like. It helps me to engage a little bit more and understand what they’re like.

So it’s building a picture in my mind and I may think well, next time, somebody is looking for that particular therapist, that’s the person I can [0:19:18] [Inaudible].

Trish: So there, that’s a great tip because many people say to me, “I can’t see how LinkedIn is going to help my business,” and you’ve just said it in a nutshell. It’s more about building relationships with your peers, who we all referred business to each other.

Melissa: Yeah, and it’s beautiful because if they post something, they’ve gone to the trouble to post something, put an article that they’ve written or something. I read the article and I go back and I will make a little comment or I will put a like. I am busy so sometimes it is only a like, but it creates that relationship.

So it’s always coming back to creating relationship with people online and having the mindfulness that it’s a person there and they’ve gone to the trouble to post something and they would like you to notice. So I try as best I can to notice what people are doing.

Trish: Yeah. OK. So LinkedIn you use more of a P to P and referral source for you and Facebook is more the – I guess the B to C and you’re building relationships that – and you’ve only been doing this in Facebook for a year.

Melissa: One year, yeah.

Trish: So over a long period of time that’s going to just grow and grow and grow and I know just in a very short time – just a few weeks ago you said to me, “Oh, we’re about to kick over to 4000 fans,” and now you’ve passed 4600.

Melissa: Yes, yes.

Trish: So it can just roll, like snowball like that.

Melissa: Yeah, and I don’t pay for any Facebook advertising now.

Trish: No.

Melissa: No, no, no. It’s just shares and it just goes up, goes up, goes up everyday.

Trish: Yeah. Well, I think – I would like to ask you about some tips in general for people but I think we can already see that the reason you’ve done so well is because you’re very personable and that portrays on to your Facebook page.

Melissa: Thank you Trish.

Trish: You’re welcome. But if you – have you got any tips that you would like to give to any new people starting out in Facebook in general or in the therapy arena?

Melissa: I think if I was talking to therapists, just stay mindful of not sharing anything to do with the client or even any groups, anything that you do that’s not something to probably put on there or not to not put on there and to people that are starting out, just stay with that feeling of disappointment sometimes. Just write it out and keep putting your posts up there.

You do start to learn what people like. It’s like you just have to watch in and think, “Well, they’ve responded well to that or they haven’t responded well to that,” and stay consistent with what you’re doing.  If it’s like – when I look at my page, I can see the involvement in where there have been some slight changes where I’ve gone, “OK, I’ve got to go this way or that way a little bit,” and listen to what people are responding to.

Trish: Yeah.

Melissa: And that takes a little bit of time to really get that. I would say months before you really get that and thank your friends. Thank your friends who reposted your page that first day when you asked them to on your private list because my friends have been fantastic in that way and it has really, really helped a lot.

Trish: Well, that’s great.

Melissa: Yeah.

Trish: That’s great. Now just in general in business, what sort of tips – I’m guessing that what you do just – you do the same thing in your normal business I’m guessing. So yeah do you want to just give us a little bit about that?

Melissa: How do I say it without sounding too much like a psychotherapist? But I’m thinking see people. See others.

Trish: You mean really see them.

Melissa: See them. See when somebody is telling you a story and that they’ve put some effort into something. They want someone to notice.

Trish: Yes.

Melissa: They want someone to respond to it and say, “I think that’s great,” or anything that you are engaging with them because essentially it’s what we all want.

Trish: Yeah, we all want that.

Melissa: We do and I think it comes back to business too and we like to be recognized for what we do well.

Trish: And I think that’s one of the reasons that women in business are doing so well now and more and more women are going into business because we do handle business more from that personable level. We’re not – like when I’m talking to a man about Facebook, they want to know about stats. They want to know the insights. They want to see the graphs and they want to know the numbers on how many people interacted with this and that and obviously, if that’s what they need, then that’s great.

But women, we tend to just go with our gut instinct and try and take it back to a personal level rather than a statistical level which I think is a great thing.

Melissa: That’s right and I think a lot of men are noticing that too. I think they are noticing that and taking it onboard more, which is lovely.

So thanks Melissa. That was great.

Melissa: Thank you.

Trish: And thank you so much for those tips and I hope you’ve found something great. Melissa, do you want to just tell us what is your Facebook page name again?

Melissa: My page is

Trish: And your website is …


Trish: Great. OK.

Melissa: Thank you.

Trish: Thanks Melissa.

Melissa: Thanks so much. Thanks Trish.

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