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Instagram 101: Practice marketing tips for healthcare providers

Marketing your private practice on Instagram is easy — once you’ve mastered the basics.

Like most social media sites nowadays, Instagram is flush with businesses trying to sell their products and services, or achieve other marketing and sales goals. About 71 percent of businesses use Instagram to market their services, and the site boasts more than 25 million active businesses.

We know users are engaging with businesses on Instagram, too. More than 80 percent of accounts on Instagram following at least one business, and 30 percent of users have made a purchase from an Instagram discovery.

Stats like these could be all it takes to convince you to begin marketing your private practice on Instagram. But before you can pull in new patients via “The Gram,” you need to master the basics. Here, we share a few must-follow Instagram practice marketing tips for healthcare providers.

Create a profile that informs and reflects your business

To get started with Instagram, set up a business profile. It’s important to set up (or convert your current profile) to a business profile, since it allows you to access great features to measure the success of your marketing efforts, and drive patients to contact your office directly from your profile.

Next, choose a username (@yourusername) — but don’t just pick any name. You want something that identifies you, your practice, and your specialty, if possible.

Add a profile image that’s high quality and reflects your business. We recommend using either a professional headshot or a company logo, depending on your branding.

Finally, add information to your biography. Your profile bio should tell the basics: name, specialty, location. Don’t forget to include a link to your website, so prospective patients can click directly from the app to your site.

It’s also great to add other highlights that set you apart as a provider, such as services you focus on, awards or certifications that distinguish you in your field, and maybe an interesting fact or two.

And don’t shy away from using hashtags (branded or specialty) and emojis to reflect your personality. Make your profile a combination of you and your practice to give followers and potential patients an idea of what working with you is like.

Create engaging content

Your profile is set up. Now it’s time to build a plan to create high-quality, consistent posts that help in marketing your private practice.

Make a calendar
Spend some time planning your content at least one month in advance, and think about three things you want to try and accomplish with each post: speak to a specific audience; offer them something that informs, entertains or inspires; and highlight a service you offer. A good practice marketing rule of thumb is to focus 80 percent of your content on providing value for your followers, while 20 percent focuses on self-promotion.

Select great images
Choose high-quality images, whether they’re stock images or original. Focus on the types of content that help showcase healthcare providers, such as: before-and-after photos of patient results, patient testimonial quotes or videos, behind-the-scenes content, and products or services. Images are important, because posts with photos generate 36 percent more likes.

Write creative captions
Instagram captions showcase your creativity and personality, so make them snappy and quippy. Add a location so your images will be automatically incorporated into a photomap.

Link related users
Unlike other social media platforms, Instagram doesn’t want you to stray. Not only is Instagram designed for the mobile user — your account can be accessed from a computer, but you can only share pictures, videos and stories via the app — you’re also only able to share one live link on your profile and zero live links in your posts. You can, however, link through profiles, such as @mayoclinic, and include URLs that aren’t clickable links.

Look: 5 doctors who are killing it on social media right now

Include relevant hashtags

Hashtags — the # symbol followed by a relevant keyword — make it easy for other users to find you when they search for a word or phrase. For instance, if you add #zoomteethwhitening to a before-and-after post of your patient’s smile, someone clicking around Instagram for [Zoom teeth whitening results] could come across it and become both a follower and a patient.

Don’t forego the hashtags, because posts with at least one hashtag gain more engagement. You can add up to 30 hashtags to your caption, but research has shown that engagement is highest when you use about 11 hashtags per post.

Although using hashtags that are specific to your industry and popular with your audience are important for users to discover your content, you should also consider creating your own branded hashtag. This could be the name of your practice, or something that users could use as a community hashtag to engage your user base. These hashtags are a way to distinguish your brand for ultimate practice marketing success.

Expand and engage your following

Spending time to increase and engage your followers will be crucial in building out your Instagram marketing strategy. You can start with simple tactics, such as following colleagues and referring local providers or other area business owners or influencers.

Featuring patients in an image or video — with written consent, of course — can be a great way to showcase patient results and engage potential new patients. Just know you should never tag or share any information that could identify specific patients without their written consent. Patients can self-identify on social media channels, but providers should never divulge protected health information or offer medical advice specific to the patient.

Read: How to engage on social media with HIPAA in mind

Track your success

You’ve set up your profile, and you’re creating great content to represent your business. Now you’ll want to monitor what your audience is responding to, and use that to inform how you should make content for marketing your private practice in the future.

Using Instagram Insights, you can track a number of different engagement activities related to posts, stories, and your overall account. You don’t need to focus on all these metrics; rather, it’s best to focus on two or three that support your business goals, and measure growth in these areas.

For example, if you want a super-engaged following, consider tracking the likes and comments from your posts. If you’re looking to increase your following, tracking profile visits and followers would be your best strategy for success.

Take note of which types of posts and topics get the best results. If you find a before-and-after video of Botox injections is your best performing post, consider creating more original videos featuring patients — with their consent, of course.

With a little planning, Instagram can quickly become a powerful marketing tool for marketing your private practice. Just remember to focus on content that is going to be valuable or inspiring to potential patients, while highlighting what makes you special as a healthcare provider.

For more tips on marketing your private practice on social media, check out the blog post “Facebook 101 for healthcare providers.”

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