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What Makes Social Media Marketing Work?

October 24, 2019

In preparation for my workshop on the use of social media in marketing I posted the following to my Facebook page and received some 45 comments in less than 24 hours. Here is the original post and comments:


My social media is pretty much my only marketing tool for my counseling practice.

Interestingly, I concentrate less on marketing than I do on just providing helpful content.

My colleagues feel that with my approach, basically helping folks for free, they wonder why anyone would actually pay to meet with me.

Meanwhile, all their posts are only about their services, with little information that reveals who they are.

Meanwhile they also say that their use of social media does little for their business. Meanwhile I receive calls regularly seeking service.

They have a difficult time appreciating we all want to feel comfortable or at least informed as to who we are choosing as our service provider.

Saturday, I am speaking to a group of 57 family law lawyers, mediators, counselors and financial professionals at an international conference. I will be talking on using social media to market their practice.

I would love to bring your comments.

Is there anything you would like them to know about marketing their services to you through social media?

Please share your thoughts here…




I feel that you present your authentic self, as a professional, as a parent, as a grandfather. Your advice and videos make social connections without all the clinical jargon terminology. Your advice is easy to digest and incorporate into daily living. Thank you. Keep on being you!

I agree – your authenticity is your biggest marketing tool. By leveling the playing field, you are approachable and by connecting with your content, people do indeed reach out to you for more individual guidance bc they have come to value/trust your opinion as they have gotten insight into your approaches to certain topics

I love all your posts. They are helpful in some of my own life situations. If I was need of service you would be the first I would contact. You never know when life throws you a curveball.

You present tidbits of professional advice for free. For example, the “Shaping your child’s behaviour” video where you leave people thinking “I need more of this”.

Be honest, consistent, respectful and having in mind that money is not the most important or doing everything or anything to get it… just with that people will look for your services 😉 on any business or profession

I agree with you, Gary, that your social media should be used for more than what you would put on a sandwich board about the services you provide. You and I have never met or spoken yet I have passed along your name to quite a few folks in my circles. Because of the words of wisdom you post regularly I feel like I know you and what you stand for and what I can expect if I accessed your services. You have the magic formula. Go forth and tell it to the others! 🤝💗

I read all your posts, or at least all I see in my news feed. I love them because I see your actual work. Direct no nonsense approach to people’s problems. I am very thankful to not require your services, but if I did, I can’t think of anybody else I’d rather use. If it was just an add I would never look at it, because I don’t need it, so I would have no idea who you are.

I have no idea how I stumbled upon you one day, but you are now set as a favorite of mine. I read every post with intention and hope to do better with my family and people in my life.

As a marketing professional, I find what you have done with your practice, downright genius. It allows those of us who cannot sit across from you the ability to get snippets of great advice, while establishing you as household name.

Thank you, for what you have done. It has been truly helpful.

Genuine, helpful content is the best marketing tool. It gives people an understanding of who you are and how you work. This way you will always get the clients who are a “right fit” for you which I think is incredibly important for both sides.

I love your posts. They show commitment and character. The information you share shows you genuinely care and not just a platform to build your business. I admire it and respect it. If I needed support, I would seek your services and definitely recommend you to others.

If I find your small bits of free advice helpful, I would be mindful to approach you with wallet in hand when I need help. Being a bit vulnerable and opening up really encourages the general population to relate. I want to work with someone I can relate to.

Your thoughtful posts make you seem approachable and heartfelt. I don’t live near you but know a few people who do. I am pleased to hear that your posts grow your business because I would be sad if they stopped and we would all lose a useful resource! A thriving business alongside helping complete strangers should make you feel good!!

Gary Direnfeld, MSW, RSW Thank you for that. Just to let you know, I see folks near and far using video conferencing.

Good to know!!

I watched you on tv (Slice Newlywed nearly dead) and loved your style used with the couples. Your posts are very helpful and a great way to start working on solutions until a professional can be seen. As a parent I find your info helpful and I wish lawyers and FRO especially would post helpful information to make those trying times easier on everyone. Thank you for sharing 😊

You provide value added service by giving good content, and it’s obvious from your posts you are wise and provide common sense advice that works. I followed your example with my own business Facebook posts. I also repost your posts because you and other professionals give good content to my clients. I believe they’re radically better for clients than a placeholder type post with what amounts to a photo and business card. I’m sure you get business from far and wide because of your approach. I promote you every chance I get.

You get it!

I am drawn to your honest authenticity and all of the “aha” moments I have received while reading your wisdom and insight. I work as a social media assistant for a private organization. I do most of the research and writing for the posts with the assistance of my colleague. Our goal is to put out into the world something if value, while also softly sharing our services and expertise. We always aim to share 3 to 5 times a week. – Videos (upload to FB), photos/images, then links – in that order tend to get the best placement in the FB algorithm (and unfortunate part of social media marketing). But above all, when we connect with our clients in any authentic way that matters to them (and us), we are able to have a much greater reach. I think this is key.. but that is just from my little experience and IMHO. 😉

LOVE that your choice is to HELP by sharing insight. Charged services dig in to more personal and detailed discussions. Your insights and posts sure useful general information to work on.

I too am not sure how you appeared on my feed, but I too started following your post after reading your post one time it suddenly appeared. I think you have the right idea in how you are presenting your practice – providing people with snippets of the type of work you do and when the need presents, they’ll hopefully call you. People who follow your posts will likely develop a trust in you as your perspective is very insightful and interesting. In today’s world, I’m sure you have clients near and far- FaceTiming provides you the opportunity to connect with clients all over the world. You can deliver the same message because of the face to face component.

Businesses have to stay on top of becoming creative and using social media to gain trust and sell their product/service to perspective clients otherwise, you’ll miss out.

Agreed and you’re right. I meet with people all over the world using video conferencing. I love it. It is so neat to be helpful anywhere. The biggest challenge though at times is the time difference. It can be confusing!

Gary Direnfeld, MSW, RSW oh that’s good to know as I am not based anywhere near you!

Your informative and helpful posts make me want to do an in-office visit with you. If you were closer, I would.

I’m very grateful for your posts in my feed. I started following you because someone shared one of your posts and it struck home with me – so I checked out the rest of your profile and found so many helpful and useful things you’ve posted. So, I followed. And I look forward to reading all of your posts.

FYI, Half the folks I see are through video conferencing. This week the furthest away was the southern US. In my experience it really is like being in the same room. The only difference, I can’t offer you a cup of tea or coffee!

Gary, I didn’t realize this was a service you offer. Stay tuned. 🙂

I find your posts amazing! I feel like I am really getting to know you through your site. Because of this I would come to you for help or refer family and friends.

Thank you so much!

I think you create a presence and comfort level when you share information and your personality. Sometimes it’s difficult for people to take the first step to contact someone. Why you show up on my feed is a mystery, but I appreciate your posts. Do you ask people how they found you when you have an initial appointment? Regardless – you are not wasting your time.

I routinely ask folk haw they learned about me. It almost always comes back to social media or a previous client.

Gary Direnfeld, MSW, RSW Or Newlywed/Nearly Dead 🙂. That is why I reached out to you years and years later because I saw your approach and loved it. I think you have been leading edge in giving yourself exposure to people and your approach in such a way that when people need you even years later, they have stayed connected to you and or know how to find you.

I would come to speak with you as a counselor. I have read many of your posts…I feel that you would be someone I could talk to. So, before we even meet….I feel comfortable.

I feel like since I follow you on here and regularly read your posts that I feel like you are already familiar to me. I read your posts and it allows me an insight into how your approach would be and that would help me reach out to you for paid services when they are needed. I think it’s kind of like company that send out samples lol if that makes sense. Only this would be much more personal and I think people that are looking for the type of resources you provide are already feeling intimidated, desperate and emotionally weak so having some background knowledge of the person you are seeking out help from makes a person feel more relaxed.

I love your posts because your warmth shines through them. I gain some interesting information…but realize that it’s not a substitute for face to face counseling where feedback is essential. No wonder your practice is thriving, the warmth and understanding will naturally draw people to you.

I love all your advice and approach and I’m so thankful to have come across your page and that you allow us to have access to the experience you have. I’m so appreciative so Thank you from this mama of one rambunctious son 🙏

I’m from Norfolk, VA, USA. I stumbled upon your page through a friend who knew I was dealing with behavioral issues with my child. I can’t tell you how many times I have come across your posts in the recent year that has helped me guide my day. I am not local to you, or else I would seek your professional help. You have continued to help me develop a strong understanding relationship with my son. You are so refreshing.

Gary Direnfeld, MSW, RSW Thanks for that. Pleased to know. FYI – I regularly see folks in my practice from the US. I use an easy program for video conferencing called ZOOM. I just send you a link and we are connected.

Social media marketing is extremely powerful, but it has to be done right. Kudos to you. You are doing it right! For example, your colleagues, sound like they have missed the mark with their efforts -though it likely seems odd to not just market “what” they do the audience wants the connection. They want the “why” behind the story, not just a sales pitch. Another example, I run a dental office we hardly ever show pictures of teeth or even many teeth tips people know what their dentist does, it’s the photos of us as a team and with our patients that always prove most popular.

I was just telling someone about being human is the best way to connect. Some prefer to be stoic.

My best mediations are where parties actually cry, some together.

Professional social media accounts aren’t about the hard details of your business (hours, fees, etc.) but rather creating the impression of subject expertise. You are growing your brand not your business’.

I also don’t know how you ended up on my feed, but I now read EVERY SINGLE POST. I think your approach is honest and open, and your advice is relatable. I think when someone thinks about going to therapy, they have to bare their soul to a stranger essentially. Getting to know you and your approach on social media makes you feel less like a stranger and more like someone you already know you can trust. I suspect it allows people to open up to you faster than with other therapists, which means you can get to the issues faster.

Hi Gary, That’s Great. Family Law has become a very Volatile and Pathogenic Practice where the Focus is to make Maximum Money out of each CaseI would say it needs a Complete Reformation with a Focus on Children. Best Interest of Children to be the First Focus with least Conflict between Parents. The Lawyers should Focus more on Children having access to both Parents rather than separating One Parent leading to years of Parental Alienation. Integrity and Ethics to be the Most important concept in Divorce Cases. When Lawyers, Therapists and Psychologists, Psychiatrists have a Family Welfare approach then Divorce will become less conflicting and more Children oriented.

I was involved with many of the services that you are speaking to, and reading your page brings back all the help I received for my kids. I ask one question of lawyers in family law; please listen carefully to your clients and their needs and be an advocate for them when it is possible. I knew more of family law than both the lawyers on my case did and would not sign a document until it was changed to my satisfaction and it was finally, but a lot of people do not speak up, and need the help.

Sometimes I need a different perspective on an issue; if I see a quick useful tip, I’ll probably remember who “helped” in a time of need and return for more if needed.

There is a lot of trust needed for people to open up to a therapist, the use of social media allows people to see the care and gentleness you put out into the world. Admitting you need help, asking for help is a vulnerable thing and I think if a person can pre-build some of that trust through social media posts it makes it easier to reach out.

People like information and sharing tidbits. It helps us get to know you more, therefore allow us to trust you more. I guarantee, if they did the same, their business would be positively impacted

For lawyers please don’t advertise services one way but offer them differently once a client calls. Example pieces out services such as just filing paperwork, or just attending court etc. In your context you are very upfront with generalities and what your services consist of as well as an inability to answer anything of detail via DM or social media.

What you are doing is so fundamental to social media marketing that there are reams of books written on it. Gary Vaynerchuk’s “Jab Jab Jab, Right Hook” . The idea being that you provide value, prove that you are an authority, and after you’ve created plenty of value, you “hook” with your value proposition (we do it with a really simple “contact us” button on our Facebook page). I have built my entire business with this method. We provide ludicrous value for free, because someone will have a specific challenge that we don’t address in our free information, but it’s pretty obvious that we’re a leader in the space based off the other information we’ve provided. By providing that valuable information, people who are “self servers” will be able to serve themselves, which leaves us to deal with the more interesting requests that have unique challenges which we couldn’t write to. It also gets changes the conversation from “Do you ****insert thing that you may or may not do***” to “I know you ***do the thing you specialize in***.” That alone is worth it for me.

You are the equivalent of the samples at grocery stores – no one stands there and consumes it all free

Gary Direnfeld, MSW, RSW Love the analogy!

Mmmmm thought provoking. Your third paragraph is the key to how you and they view your approach to business I guess because within that paragraph your words show the difference between the way you think and they think. Personally, I related immediately to you because you hit the nail on the head in regards to my personal life experiences. It peaked my interest in who you are…are you really genuine etc etc.. to me your an open book…albeit an informed one. For me you appear to genuinely care about others … have shown your a real person with a real wife, dog ,food …by allowing a peak into who you are it builds trust .ie this person genuinely gets it….I could chat to him about ????For me I relate to an open, frank, honest person ..If I was going thru a turmoil life experience..none of what you have written would of helped..during those times I would of needed much more one on one support over a period of time to get me thru….so!!…NO!! I don’t believe you give of yourself freely …for me’s a peek into who you are and how you think…a verbal rapport building up trust.

I had heard about you before and read something you wrote in a paper (can’t remember which one). You can let your colleagues know that reading advice in a column is not enough for many people. We need to meet with someone, tell our story, hear what they have to say and then plan solutions for coping.

Furthermore, I would hire you if I didn’t live so far away (Hamilton) and didn’t have two professionals I was using.

I don’t know how I found this feed but I am happy I did.

Gary Direnfeld, MSW, RSW FYI – I was the family life, parenting, relationship columnist for the Hamilton Spectator for 13 years and wrote about 650 columns during my time with the paper. I was also a regular on CHTV Sqaure Off with Mark Hebsher and Donna Skelly and later, Liz West.

Yes that’s where I read you regularly. I thought so! Those columns helped me with my teaching and then parenting concerns. We also talked about your columns in our staff room. They gave us some clarity.

Gary Direnfeld, MSW, RSW Pleased to know. Thanks.

What is so wrong with helping folks for free either. Their singular focus on making a living may interfere with their genuineness, warmth, empathy

Many would never know about services that are available to them if not for social media.

I like your website and FB posts.

Have you ever considered a podcast

Gary Direnfeld, MSW, RSW I have toyed with the idea of a podcast….. not sure how I would carry it off…

Each week cover a new topic and maybe guest speakers ? Or ask people what they want to learn about ?

Gary Direnfeld, MSW, RSW FYI, I took a peek at your Facebook page and see you are in Winnipeg. My mother was born and raised there. I have been there countless times growing up, to visit family.

Gary Direnfeld, MSW, RSW I like the idea of asking people what they would like to hear in terms of content. At least that way I would have some sense of what may be of value.

Yes born and raised here… it’s an interesting place which it the topics of many conversations like 1. Being the winters 2. Mosquitoes 3. Violence.

Do you ever do speaking engagements here at the University? Hospital?

Gary Direnfeld, MSW, RSW I haven’t been invited to speak there yet. I go where invited and always love the opportunity.

FYI, My mom was raised in the north end. It was a different time and place back then. My dad came from Poland as a child and his branch of the family settled in Wynyard Sask. When a Jewish fellow wanted to date a Jewish woman, they came to Winnipeg where my parent met. There were other Direnfelds in Winnipeg back then and my dad would stay with an uncle.

Oh wow. Yes – we have a large Jewish population here as well as Polish/Ukrainian. I love history facts and know all about the North End of town. There were a few good restaurants (most closed down now) in the North End of the city. Lots of older homes and a few character homes in that area. Winnipeg is also known for its architectural designs in the Exchange District (not far from Portage and Main) Go Jets !! Haha

Gary Direnfeld, MSW, RSW Although I never ate there, I remember all the talk about a place people would go for hot dogs in the North End… Kelekis.

Be real.

People who can’t imagine seeking and paying for professional help need to be able to see it’s real world application. You do that by giving general advice about often universal issues. That doesn’t knock out their need for help applying it personally, rather, it points to it. ..if counselors can’t sort this out, it does not really highlight their insight, does it? 😉

I enjoy reading your content. Even though I’m not in your area and looking for services, I still find your posts thought provoking and useful. Also, I dropped my chiropractor a few years ago when I realized through social media that we had very different values.

Gary Direnfeld, MSW, RSW Interesting that you mention values…. Because of my transparency around politics, I think I lost some followers and aggravated a few others. They likely would never see me. I don’t think that is a bad thing as there should be a goodness of fit, at least to some extent, with our service providers in addition to their skills. Just to add, half of the people I see is through video conferencing, literally around the world. Unlike chiropractor, which is hands on, for counseling I have found that this works great.

Please share with the attendees that sharing advice and content in the manner in which you do establishes your credibility as an expert in your particular field. Posting about what services you offer does not, in my opinion.

For anyone who is wondering, meeting with Gary via Zoom is fantastic. It is very convenient and like being there face to face.

Hopefully that helps explain what makes social media marketing work!

Follow me on Facebook!

I am Gary Direnfeld and I am a social worker. Check out all my services and then call me if you need help with a personal issue, mental health concern, child behavior or relationship, divorce or separation issue or even help growing your practice. I am available in person and by video conferencing.

Gary Direnfeld, MSW, RSW for counseling and support – to build your successful practice


Gary Direnfeld is a social worker. Courts in Ontario, Canada, consider him an expert in social work, marital and family therapy, child development, parent-child relations and custody and access matters. Gary is the host of the TV reality show, Newlywed, Nearly Dead, former parenting columnist for the Hamilton Spectator and author of Marriage Rescue: Overcoming the ten deadly sins in failing relationships. Gary maintains a private practice in Georgina Ontario, providing a range of services for people in distress. He speaks at conferences and workshops throughout North America. He consults to mental health professionals as well as to mediators and collaborative law professionals about good practice as well as building their practice.

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