With more than 300 million users Instagram is one of the fastest growing and most popular social networks for brands and businesses.
According to a new study by research firm L2, more businesses are posting to Instagram than to Facebook. When Facebook changed their algorithm, many companies found they had to pay to be seen on the giant social network. Company posts were no longer showing up in people’s News Feeds, making it tougher for businesses to grow organically through Facebook.
This is not the case on Instagram, and this is why it is a much more appealing site for brands and companies. Instagram does not have a special algorithm, so everyone who follows you will see every post you publish. And as of today, there are no competing paid ads on this platform either. Instagram is basically a free-for-all website.
Why Do Patients Care if Their Dentist Is on Instagram?
As with all social media, Instagram is another way to connect with your patients and potential patients—in this case through visually appealing posts. Because this website only shows pictures and videos, it gives businesses more creative outlet to interact with their audience and build a strong rapport with them. You are building trust with people so they will come to you for their dental health needs.
Besides the clinical and cosmetic services your practice provides, Instagram also is a great way to promote charity events, local events, provide fun contests and giveaways, and inform your patients.
How to Create Your Instagram Profile
Setting up an Instagram account is very easy and simple. However, you should know that Instagram is used only through a mobile application on your Smartphone. You can’t manage or post through your computer or laptop. But you can use your computer to ‘like’ and comment on Instagram.
Now it’s time to create your profile:
- First, decide who is going to be in charge of the account, managing and posting to it. Then this team member can download the app to their phone and install it.
- Register with an email address. Because this is for a business, the person managing the account could use their work email or any other appropriate email address that you check periodically. This address will be used to verify the account.
- Choose a username that best fits your practice. You can use identical or variations of your practice name, website URL or the dentist’s name. You want something that is easy to identify your dental business.
- Add a name to the profile. This can be the same as your username (with spaces) or it can be different. You can use the practice’s or the dentist’s name.
- Include your website URL. This will be shown on your profile where people can click on it and be taken directly to your practice’s online home.
- Upload a picture. This could be a picture of the dentist, the office, or your logo. Choose something that identifies your dental practice because you want people to recognize this image and think of your practice.
- Add a description. This is just a short one to two sentences describing the practice or dentist.
Now you can start adding pictures and videos to your profile.
7 Best Practices to Use on Your Instagram Profile
To get the most from your Instagram account, acquire more followers that could lead to new patients, and build your presence and brand through the platform, follow these seven best practices:
Post a variety of pictures Patients want to get to know the dentist(s), your practice and see your work. Take pictures of the dentist(s), the dentist working on a patient (with permission of the patient, of course), the office, “behind the scenes” shots, staff members, smiling patients and families, your local community, before and after pictures, and products you offer. This is a great time to get creative with your photography skills and show normal objects in a new, unusual way. Research what other dentists are doing to get more ideas.
Always use hashtags Instagram is known for their hashtag use. Hashtags start with the “#” symbol followed by a word or phrase (but always with no spaces between words). Basically they are keywords that will pop up on search results when people are looking for specific words or terms. It is highly recommended to always include at least one hashtag with each post, but it’s not unusual to see six or more being used. Just remember that the more keywords you use, the more chances you get of people finding you.
Tag people in your photos This will give you a wider audience because people in that person’s network will now see your post. To tag a person, use the “@” symbol followed by their Instagram username. As long as they have an Instagram account, you can tag other dentists, employees, patients, friends, family members, etc. If someone tags you, it is a good idea to respond to get people’s attention.
Respond to comments People want to see that you’re engaged with your audience, listening to them and that you care enough to interact. Social media is a two-way street and you must be engaged with your followers. You want to let them know you are there and taking them seriously as you create a bond with your patients.
Post videos periodically Pictures do get more ‘likes’ than videos on Instagram; however, videos seem to get more comments. People like to watch and engage with videos, especially on Instagram because they are only 15-seconds long. This is another way to be creative in order to increase your following.
Create a schedule Try not to overrun people’s feeds with tons of pictures and videos. Find out how often your audience likes to see you pop up in their feed. It may just be once a day or three times a day. Then you can create a schedule of how often you need to post.
Promote your Instagram profile through other marketing efforts.
Once you’re on Instagram, you’ll want to let everyone know you are there. You can send out a special email message, share on other social media, tell patients in-person at the office, or make a small flyer for the front desk. Don’t forget to add the Instagram social icon to your website, email signature, brochures, and any other pertinent marketing materials so people can find you and follow you there.
Instagram is a fun, creative and unique way to stay connected to your patients and attract new patients. This social platform is a great addition to your current social media marketing efforts and can help increase your online presence. Remember to use the best practice methods and you should see much success with this popular social platform.
written by Kelly Matsudaira