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Best practices for using Stories for healthcare social media

Use Stories to connect with patients and make your social media marketing stand out from the rest.

Instagram introduced Stories — full-screen photos and videos that disappear after 24 hours — in August 2016. Since that introduction, the use of Stories has exploded. According to Instagram, more than 500 million accounts use Instagram Stories every day, which presents a large social media marketing opportunity for all businesses, including your healthcare practice. In fact, one-third of the most-viewed Stories come from business accounts, according to the social media platform.

Facebook, which owns Instagram, has more than 150 million daily active users on Facebook Stories, according to TechCrunch. Because the two social media channels are connected, it’s easy to post the same content to both channels, expanding the reach of your healthcare social media.

Because Stories are only available for a limited amount of time, they create a sense of urgency among audiences, helping increase both reach and engagement. In the PatientPop webinar “5 ideas to make your healthcare practice stand out on social media,” 67 percent of healthcare providers in attendance said they would try using Facebook or Instagram Stories as part of their healthcare marketing strategy.

To maximize your healthcare social media success, keep the following best practices for using Instagram and Facebook Stories in mind.

Social media in healthcare: 7 tips for using Stories

1. Share behind-the-scenes content

Wherein your Instagram page acts as a landing page with carefully curated posts featuring high-quality images, Stories is the perfect place to share behind-the-scenes content. Although you are able to curate Stories, the format lends itself to sharing real-time events. You could give audience members a tour of your healthcare practice, feature any tools or services you offer, or show off your personal workspace. Just make sure no patients or patient information are viewable in the background.

Similarly, if you attend a conference or seminar with other healthcare professionals, use Stories to show your followers where you are and what you’re doing.

Instagram 101: Practice marketing tips for healthcare providers

2. Explain procedures

You can also use Instagram and Facebook Stories to explain your field or specialty. For example, if you’re an orthodontist offering a new way to straighten your teeth, upload a video to your Stories explaining the treatment, the types of patients who are the best candidates for the treatment, and maybe even showcase before and after results.

Even though Stories are kept to 15-second increments, you can upload longer videos and the platform will automatically cut it into sequential 15-second videos.

Podcast: Social media best practices for doctors

3. Partner with patients (with their consent)

Stories offers a unique way to share patient testimonials. As long as you have written consent from the patient beforehand, you can use Instagram Stories to show a patient visit from their perspective. This could be especially helpful to specialties with aesthetic services, but could also apply to others such as orthopedic surgeons, chiropractors, and dentists.

You might even think to pair up with an influential patient with a large following to document their patient experience with you. This will showcase your bedside manner while increasing your exposure.

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

4. Use location and hashtag stickers

Instagram offers a series of stickers that you can place on your pictures and videos, including location and hashtag stickers. The location sticker allows you to identify where you are and can be a specific place — such as your practice — or it can be a city or neighborhood — such as Chicago. Adding a location sticker will sometimes add your story to a curated story attached to the location. This can help more people see your content.

Similarly, adding a hashtag will add your story to a larger story associated with the hashtag.

Learn more: How to reach new patients using social media

5. Host a Q&A

Stories also offers a “questions” sticker that allows you to field questions from your followers. This allows you to host a chat right on your story. Allow your followers to ask you anything or set a specific topic related to your specialty. The sticker simply collects questions, and then you can decide which ones to answer. This allows you to curate your story to the most relevant content for your users.

Remember to keep your answers general and not to offer specific medical advice when hosting a chat. You can also use stickers to run a poll or mark an important date.

6. Archive your Stories

Although one of the main characteristics of Stories is that they will only appear on your profile for 24 hours, Instagram offers a way to archive your Stories by event or by topic. This is called “highlights,” which are accessible on your Instagram profile.

You can organize highlights by the services you offer or organize them to match the sections of your healthcare website. Use highlights to archive photos of your practice, or make a highlight dedicated to promotions or offers. Think of highlights as a place to provide new followers with helpful information about you and your practice using the content you’ve shared in the past.

Try these out: 15 ideas to increase healthcare social media reach

7. Include links if possible

It can be challenging to drive traffic to your website using Instagram. Unlike Facebook, posts in the feed do not support links, and there is only room for one link in your profile’s bio. However, select users can place links in their stories. This feature is currently only available to accounts with more than 10,000 followers.

If you have a large following, you’ll be able to direct people to specific web pages via your Stories.

Using both Instagram and Facebook Stories helps healthcare social media accounts get in front of more people. Stories appears at the top of user feeds, and thus, users don’t have to scroll to see them, which can increase the visibility of your content. Plus, just like with posts, Stories can be sponsored to reach a bigger and specific target audience.

Looking for more healthcare social media help? Check out the blog post “Intro to social media sponsored content for healthcare practices.”

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