Oh, Hello Branding Group
Instagram is an extremely useful tool to grow your private practice's online presence in your local community and engage with potential and existing patients. However, using Instagram to market your practice needs to be done correctly, as patients are actively looking to you for expertise and placing their trust in you. Here are some of the best practices for using Instagram as a marketing tool:
Before we dive into the detailed tips, make sure your Instagram profile is optimized for your business. If you haven't already created your profile, create it and make sure your logo, business address, business phone number, and website are uploaded. You will also want to make sure you make a Business Profile, instead of a personal profile. To do this, go to your account, click "Edit Profile" and you will see a blue button that says "Switch to Professional Account". Once you click that, it will allow you to specify what type of business you are so Instagram knows how to categorize your profile. Business profiles have access to analytics, paid ads, and sponsored swipe up links.
Once you have your profile setup, it's time to start creating content. When you create a brand new profile, it can be tempting to start posting anything and everything you take a photo of. While we know it can be exciting, we caution you to avoid doing this because often times, you end up going back to old photos and deleting them anyway. Instead, start thinking about what you want your feed to look like. It's ideal to have a cohesive feed that reflects your company's branding and colors.
1. Identify Types of Content
You will likely end up posting types of content that fall into a few "buckets". For example, you may post educational content, community content, and promotional content. This doesn't mean you need to repeat the exact photos you already posted, but these are loose guidelines to help you generate new content ideas. For example, if you have a dermatology office, your educational content could be skincare tips, facts about different cosmetic procedures, and before and after photos. Going with the same example, community content could be photos of your office, photos of your staff, and testimonials from your patients. And lastly, your promotional content would be anything you are directly pushing to your followers, such as a new 50% off lip filler deal or a $100 off gift card when you get a laser treatment. One thing to note is that a good rule of thumb is to keep your promotional content to about 1/5 of all of your content. No one enjoys constantly seeing ads or commercials, so for every 4 pieces of non-promotional content you post, you can post 1 promo.
2. Do Hashtag Research and Make Your Plan
Hashtags can help new people find your posts and engage with them. However, you need to do some research about what hastags are trending in your industry and area, and make sure you have a strategy around them. Many users make the mistake of using the same 5-10 hashtags on every single post, and Instagram actually doesn't like that, so they stop pushing your content to new users, which lowers your reach. Instead, identify 20 hashtags and split them up into a few groups, and then rotate them out on your photos. It's also important to choose hashtags that are not too broad, yet not too specific. Hashtags that are incredibly common such as #happy #summer are used by so many people on the app that the chances of your photo being pushed under that hashtag are slim to none. On the other hand, if you choose a hashtag that is so niche that there are only 7 photos ever tagged with it, no one will be searching for it, again, lowering your reach. There's a nice sweet spot in the middle of hashtags that are semi-popular, relevant, and what your potential patients are searching for. With our dermatology example, some good hashtags would be:
#lipfiller #lasertreatment #clearskin #renewyourskin #cosmetictreatment
3. Create Content
While it's understandable that you or your staff may not have amazing graphic design skills because you're busy enough being a physician, outdated and messy content can really turn potential patients away. No matter what type of content you're creating, make sure it's professional and clean. And if you don't have the capabilities or even capacity to create content yourself, consider hiring a marketing agency to do it for you.
4. Be Consistent
On Instagram, consistency is key. The algorithm rewards users that consistently create high quality content and create legitimate engagement with their followers. The frequency of posting varies for each individual, but for most businesses, 3 posts per week is a great place to start. It's frequent enough that your practice will stay at the top of your follower's mind, but you won't be spamming their feeds. However, lots of businesses even struggle with posting 3 times per month. It's totally understandable, when you're providing excellent patient care social media is the last thing on your mind, but it is very important to keep your online profiles updated, so your followers are kept in the know about your practice.
The best course of action for achieving consistency and frequency is to create a posting schedule for yourself. You may need to do some observing to see when your content performs best, (this is where having those Business Profile analytics comes in handy) and create your schedule from there. For a physician, your content may do best during regular working hours, M-F 9am-5pm, as that's when people are thinking about your business. Maybe a M,W,F schedule works best, or a M, T, F schedule. Once you start posting content, you'll be able to find the schedule that works for you and your followers.
5. Get Started by Following People
To get followers, you need to follow people. Whatever you do, do not buy Instagram followers. It will ruin your engagement and your profile could even be banned by the platform altogether. Start by following people you know, your friends, family, and staff. You can also follow professional contacts or people you meet at networking events. To find new people to follow, search a hashtag local to you and find people that way. It's much more likely that a person Grand Rapids searching for a doctor would be interested in following a doctor in Grand Rapids, rather than a doctor in Detroit.
6. Engage with Your Followers and Patients
Engagement is the most important thing to do on Instagram. Everyone appreciates a user who posts high-quality content, but if they never respond to comments or engage with other accounts, the relationships is only one-sided. To start fostering engagement, like photos that come up on your feed, comment, and watch other people's stories. This will create a sense of familiarity with your practice when your photo shows up on other people's feed, they've seen you comment before! So they will be more likely to engage back. Then, when you post content, try your best to reply to any comments. You can also make your content engaging by posing questions and creating thought-provoking conversations. Instead of posting a photo of your staff and saying, "Look how amazing our staff is!" you could say, "Look how amazing our staff is! If you've been in to see us at the office and had a great experience with one of our staff, please share a comment below." to really get the conversation going. The more you engage with other people's content, the more they will engage with you.
7. Give Your Followers a First-hand Look
Many doctors and physicians that have had great success on Instagram have had a very strategic approach - bring your patients into the office through the app. Post content showing your office, your staff, your waiting room, etc. If you can make your followers feel like they've been to your office before they even step foot in it, they will feel like they know you better and be more likely to book an appointment with you because they already know what to expect. You can also show off your procedures and before and after photos of your patients (if they consent). People love the gross stuff!
8. Run Contests and Promotions
These are a great way to grow your following and engage with new people in your community. You could plan a giveaway of some of your product or service offerings or run a promotion of a certain % off if they come in for a specific procedure. You don't necessarily have to do these all the time, but people will always be excited for a promotion or giveaway.
9. Pair Up with An Influencer
When you are just starting your Instagram account, it can be difficult to gain a following and build a community. However, once you have, for example, 1,000 followers, other people are less reluctant to follow. Because of this, it's very beneficial to utilize influencer marketing if it makes sense for your practice. In short, influencer marketing is when you find a user on Instagram with a significant following that could be interested in your products or services. For example, going along with our dermatology example, it would make sense for you to seek out a lifestyle influencer that posts content about skincare or cosmetic procedures. Influencer marketing can be extremely beneficial for both parties, as the business gains followers and reach, and the influencer receives free or discounted products.
10. Show Off Your Before & After Photos
Potential patients want to see the results of the types of procedures you offer, and the best way to showcase them is before & after photos. Some doctors use other doctor's before & after photos or stock photos, and while they get the job done, it's best to take your own. Ask patients that enjoyed their experience with you if they would be open to taking before & after photos and if you can share them on social media. When your followers and potential patients see real people with real results, it will be much more effective than stock photos. You can even go a step further and protect your own photos so other doctors cannot use them, and create a unique style of before & after photos either by using a graphic designer or watermark.
If you need help with utilizing Instagram to market your private practice, contact us by clicking the button below and we can help you grow your practice online!