When you’re looking to get attention for your practice and engage millennials, Instagram’s the place to do it. Four hundred million users prove its popularity and longevity, and Instagram allows people and businesses to show their personalities and offers glimpses into what their lives are like. Ninety percent of its users are age 35 or under, and this visually based social media platform is used all over the world and engages followers like no other.
One of the things that makes Instagram stand out from competition such as Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, and other social sharing networks is that it is designed for the mobile user. While your account can be accessed from a computer, you can only share pictures and videos via the app.
To get started with Instagram, you’ll need to pick a username — @yourusername — just like Twitter. But don’t just pick any name. You want something that identifies you and your practice. Instead of @drjohnsmith, consider something a little more descriptive, such as @drsmithpediatrics.
Now it’s time to build your profile. While it should describe who you are and what you do, including location and specialities, you should keep it lighthearted and fun by including interesting facts. For example, do you ride the rodeo circuit on weekends? You can also include things like emoticons and hashtags. Make your profile a combination of you and your practice to give followers and potential patients an idea of who you are and what working with you is like. Doctor.Mike does a great job by saying, “Just a man and his dog against the world.”
Filters and Effects
Instagram provides users with a variety of filters and image-enhancing options that can also be used on videos. You can straighten an image along a specific line, crop it, tilt it, apply borders, blur it, brighten it, darken it, change the exposure, make it black and white, and more. Tap into your creative side, or if you prefer to let your images and videos go au naturel, use the hashtag #nofilter to let people know.
Instagram captions showcase your creativity and personality, so make them snappy, quippy, and even a bit irreverent if it’s appropriate. Tag other users if they’re in the photo. If they aren’t, but you know that they’ll love it, tag them anyway. This increases engagement and lets others know you’re thinking about them. Add a location, and your images will be automatically incorporated into a photomap.
Hashtags — the # symbol followed by a relevant keyword — make it easy for other Instagrammers to find you when they search for that 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. While it’s best not to exceed two or three hashtags in Twitter, you can pile them up on Instagram.
Popular hashtags in the medical field include #HCIT (healthcare IT), #healthtech, #digitalhealth, #hcsm (healthcare social media), #MedEd, #healthtalk, and #patientengagement. Don’t forego the hashtags. Posts with at least one hashtag gain a minimum of 12.6 percent more engagement.
Unlike other social media platforms, Instagram doesn’t want you to stray. You’re only allowed 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.
If you’d like to streamline your social media, Instagram makes it easy. With its photo-enhancing capabilities, you can use it to create an image and automatically share it to Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Flickr, and Foursquare when you post it to Instagram. Since the image is already optimized in size and shape and has hashtags, social media becomes quick and efficient.
Using Instagram for Your Practice
Instagram is all about images, so it’s an opportunity to showcase beautiful visuals and get creative in how you market your practice.
Behind the Scenes
Some of the most popular images shared by doctors and dentists on Instagram show what it’s like behind the scenes. Where do meetings take place? What does your desk look like? What’s it like to clean tools? To be in an operating room? To look at X-rays? Share videos of things that patients typically don’t see, such as the back halls of the hospital, a pre-surgery scrub, or a tooth drilling.
On the Road
Instagram is great for when you’re on the road or attending networking events. If you’re headed to an out-of-town conference, highlight your trip. Post images of roadside stops, hotel rooms, views from the plane, and doctors who are lined up outside of the convention. Include shots of banners and tag speakers or colleagues who are at the event. This engages your followers and, if you’re using the right hashtags, opens up the opportunity to meet people and network in new ways.
New Products and Services
Another great way for doctors and dentists to share information on Instagram is to showcase new products or services. If you have a new cryotherapy machine, share it on Instagram. If you’re offering a new teeth whitening service, share it on Instagram.
Engage with Your Followers
To be successful on any social media outlet, you have to interact and engage with your followers. Follow others, like other people’s posts, and comment on their images. When someone comments on your image or asks a question, respond. When you respond, be sure to tag them so they see it by using their @username. For optimal engagement, post regularly, anywhere from one to four times a day. You’ll notice that you get more engagement on Instagram than Twitter (3.31% vs. 0.07%) because people are drawn to visuals and are more likely to click on them.
If you want to take your Instagram account to the next level, the platform offers sponsored posts. Instagram will feature your account in an ad space that is specifically targeted to a user demographic that would find it relevant. Use ads to raise awareness (STD prevention and testing), offer a discount (10% off dental cleanings with college ID), or create a call to action (visit our new office). The ad, which looks like any other Instagram post, will appear in people’s feeds demarcated with a “Sponsored” tag. It’s a subtle and effective way to get in front of non-followers who are perfect potential patients.
Some brands create their own hashtags to use with sponsored ads to engage followers and encourage people to share and spread the message. This gets people talking and builds brand recognition.
Rocking Doctors’ Instagrams
If you still aren’t sure whether Instagram will work for your office, check out the profiles of these doctors and dentists who are successfully marketing their practice — and themselves — on Instagram.
The best thing about Dr. Mike’s account is that it shows he’s human. And handsome. His images and videos are compelling and show scenes from work, speaking engagements, and his personal life. While not every doctor out there will want to bare his chest to the world like Dr. Mike does, he gives a good example of how Instagram can build a name.
A former footballer-turned-doctor, Myron Rolle’s Instagram shows people who he is, from the charity he founded to fight childhood obesity to his journey of becoming a pediatric neurosurgeon. Dr. Rolle’s images show him with patients, in the surgical room, on the red carpet, and even with his mom.
Dr. Andrea Tooley is an ophthalmology resident at the Mayo Clinic who shares healthy eating options, family pictures, and how she studies for tests. She easily combines her passion for health and fitness, images that reveal her personality, and snapshots of everyday life to depict what her world is like.
Dr. David Greuner has over 149,000 followers on Instagram. His posts include everything from what’s on his desk to pictures of his son and dogs. He also links his profile to NYC Surgical, where he works.
Dr. Sandra Lee is popular because of her obsession with pimple popping, and her fame has spread to Instagram. She has over 202,000 followers on this account and over one million on her @drpimplepopper account. She shares pictures of her cats, what she’s eating, her vacation, and quite a few pimple-popping videos.