If your medical practice is looking to get in front of and engage new patients, particularly millennials with decision-making power, Instagram is the place to do it.
Try this on for size: 75% of Instagram users take action, like visiting a website, after seeing an Instagram advertising post — that leaves both Facebook and Twitter in the dust when it comes to user engagement rates. Not only that, but urban-dwelling female millennials (women under 37 years old) making between $50,000 to $74,999 use Instagram more than any other demographic.
You may already be sold on the necessity for your practice to be on Instagram (your competition is already there), but how on earth are you going to make the time? Effective marketing is about determining priorities and focusing on what works rather than on what doesn’t. You can establish a compelling Instagram presence without driving your agenda into a black hole and without breaking the bank.
Below we’ll break down:
- What Instagram is
- Why it matters
- How to get started
- How you can use Instagram to stand out from your competition, increase your search engine ranking, promote best practices, and build trust and authority with your patients
The Origin of Instagram
Like many of the other social media powerhouses, Instagram had humble beginnings. When Instagram first launched, it seemed that its temperamental server had taken a crash course on “crashing.” However, today, the photo-sharing app is a global success story boasting over 800 million active monthly users worldwide.
Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger created Instagram and launched it in October 2010 exclusively on iOS. In April 2012, Facebook acquired the service for roughly US$1 billion in cash and stock and has owned it ever since. Instagram is now valued at over US$100 billion, one hundred times what Facebook originally paid for it!
Instagram is a social networking application designed for sharing photos and videos from your smartphone. Like Facebook and Twitter, all users create an account, a profile, and have a news feed. The process is simple enough: when you post a picture or video to your Instagram profile, people who follow you will be able to see those posts in their own feeds. You can view posts from other users whom you follow, and you can like, comment, and tag different posts and send private messages.
Why Instagram Matters
Why makes Instagram so important?
For starters, it’s where the decision-makers are, from heads of households to heads of companies, from millennials to Gen Xers. Not only are they present on the platform, brand engagement on Instagram is also 10 times higher than Facebook, 54 times higher than Pinterest, and 84 times higher than Twitter.
As Facebook becomes increasingly crowded, Instagram offers potent opportunities to get your voice heard and your message across to current and potential patients. Moreover, it will give you a decisive edge over your competitor down the street.
Since 2010, Instagram users have shared more than 40 billion photos, and 95 million photos and videos are shared every single day. Market analysts report that Instagram grossed more than $1.5 billion in mobile advertising revenue worldwide in 2016 representing almost 8.5 percent of Facebook’s global mobile ad sales.
A Pew research study confirmed that 31% of US women and 24 percent of US men regularly use Instagram to like, share, and post. If you still doubt Instagram’s marketing potential for your medical practice, let’s put them to rest now:
In the U.S., more than half of all 18 to 29-year olds and almost 30% of 30 to 49 years-old use Instagram. 50 to 64 year-olds come in third place at 11% with only 4% of adults over 65 active on the platform.
The Pew research study also showed that Instagram is used across all income demographics including:
- more than a quarter of online adults making less than $30,000 annually
- 27 percent of those making between $30,000 to $49,999
- 30 percent of adults earning between $50,000 and $74,999
- 26 percent of those grossing over $75,000 a year
Perhaps the most striking Instagram fact?
Female millennials make up the platform’s most significant demographic. That gives your practice an edge in reaching younger women making healthcare decisions for themselves and their families. Instagram opens the door for you to communicate with major decision-makers in their virtual backyards.
Even if your services aren’t appropriate for millennials or marketing to a younger audience isn’t part of your overall business strategy, being on Instagram can get your practice in front of the eyes of potential patients, give you additional online credibility, increase your search engine ranking, and build trust and authority with your patients.
Getting Started on Instagram
Hitting the ground running on Instagram is pretty straightforward. However, many medical practice managers make the mistake of setting up a personal account instead of a business profile.
Having an Instagram business account is vital to growing your practice on Instagram. With a business profile, you’ll have access to rolling 7-day stats on impressions, post reach, profile views, and website/call-to-action clicks. Moreover, your business account will allow you to view a breakdown of your followers based on key demographics, and to target local patients effectively.
If you already have an Instagram account and aren’t sure if it is a business account, visit your account page and under “Edit Profile” look for the “Promote” button. If you can see it, it means you’re in business, literally. If not, you can easily switch over to a business account under the “Options” menus by clicking on “Switch to Business Profile.”
To complete your profile, choose a username that accurately reflects you and your practice. Be as descriptive as possible. Instead of @drjones, you might consider using @drjonespediatrics.
Make sure you fill out all the basic information such as who you are and what you do (essential for helping your SEO rankings and making it easy for potential patients to contact you). Including some fun and interesting facts about you or your practice will make you stand out in a crowd. Introduce little anecdotes such as do you drag race on the weekends? Do you and your staff have team-building retreats in the wilderness? Including emoticons and hashtags will also endear you to potential followers.
Instagram and Facebook
Since Facebook owns Instagram, there is a quick and easy way to tie your Instagram account to your Facebook profile or Facebook page (make sure you’re an admin of the page).
To link your Instagram account to a Facebook Page:
- Go to your profile and select “Linked Accounts” from the drop-down menu
- select or tap “Facebook”
- If you haven’t already, enter your Facebook login information
- Tap “Share to” and choose a page that you manage
You can also link your Instagram account directly from your Facebook page. Just click on “Settings,” and then click on “Instagram” on the left-hand side menu. From there, it will be as easy as 1-2-3.
And if you’re wary of going all in on Instagram right away, Facebook Ads give you the option to try a ‘soft launch,’ even if you don’t have an Instagram profile.
To run ads without an Instagram account:
- Go to ad creation
- At the Campaign level, choose an objective for your ad that supports Instagram
- Click Set Audience & Budget
- Complete the Audience and Budget & Schedule sections of ad creation, then click Choose Ad Creative
- In the Creative section, you’ll first need to connect a Facebook Page. Below Instagram Account, you’ll see the Page you connected has automatically been selected to be the voice of your ads on Instagram
- Before you place your order, make sure that there’s a check next to Instagram in the Ad Preview section of ad creation. This will ensure your ad will be eligible to run on Instagram.
Developing an Instagram Strategy
Instagram is a predominantly visual platform, so to make an impact, you’ll need to adhere to some basic visual branding ground rules. Try and keep a consistent look and feel on your wall. Successful practice profiles keep a perspective, and the best Instagram profiles maintain a specific theme and color scheme.
If you’re not quite sure where to begin when it comes to posting on Instagram or how to go about it, we’ll share the most effective ways your medical practice can use the platform to reach new patients, engage with your community, and stand tall among the rest.
What Kind of Content Should I Post?
We often tell our medical practice clients that Facebook is for business and Instagram is for people.
Instagram is a very personal application. You can tell your practice’s story by using the people at the forefront, and you can share with your audience and be a little bit more informal. “Here’s what we’re doing behind the scenes,” or “Look behind the curtain” themes drive benefits, usefulness, and value on Instagram.
Content that is too technical or promotional in nature may be frowned upon by users. Instagrammers have a soft spot for visual and lively content related to events, educational material, patient engagement, and community happenings.
For example, at your practice holiday party, you can post pictures wishing your patients the best for the holidays and thanking them for their ongoing support. If you participate in charity events, your Instagram community will welcome posts about your participation and contribution. Adding a new physician or nurse is an excellent opportunity for a group photo and Instagram post. People also love “behind the scenes” pictures. With patient approval, you can portray a variety of warm, patient-care scenes pre-op, post-op, and in rehab.
Pictures and posts about your examination rooms, medical equipment, and surgical facilities can go a long way toward alleviating patient fears about the unknown. You can include short descriptions of what the rooms and equipment are used for and the benefits they provide.
Posting content related to trending healthcare topics never goes out of style. Your patient community will welcome your insights and viewpoint. Keep your posts in line with your practice values and use appropriate hashtags when posting (more on hashtags below). And most importantly, keep a consistent style and tone in your Instagram posts.
Perhaps most impactful of all will be posts about your patient success stories (with patient approval, of course). Your bulletin board chalk full of smiling patients is where to start. You can post before and after treatment pictures or images of your patients thriving after recovery. Some of your patients may have already posted photos on their own Instagram profiles; you can like, comment, tag, and repost them.
Use Hashtags to Get Noticed
Posting exciting and high-quality content is the first step to succeeding on Instagram. One of the most effective (and easy) ways to ensure as many prospective patients see your posts as possible is to use relevant hashtags.
If you don’t know what a hashtag is, you’re not alone. A hashtag is a phrase or a keyword preceded by the pound sign (#) that helps Instagram users find content. Hashtags are important because they become links, allowing other users to view all posts associated with that hashtag. For example, placing the hashtag “#womenshealth” in your caption will enable any user searching for that hashtag to see your image or content.
The proper hashtag, or combination of hashtags, can help get your practice discovered by a broader patient base, increase your followers, attract more shares, and boost patient engagement.
According to current research, posts with at least one hashtag provide up to 13 percent more engagement than images with no hashtags. Other Instagram hashtag tips include:
- The optimal number of hashtags to use is between 1 and 5
- Use popular hashtags to give your posts a little more oomph
- Note the hashtags your competition uses
- Add location tags to allow potential patients to find you when they search for your practice
Special Tools and Features
Instagram gives you the ability to repurpose great Facebook content without reinventing the wheel. However, scheduling automated posts is a bit tricky, as Instagram blocks direct scheduling. You can use social media post management platforms like HootSuite or Planoly (more below), but you will still need to send yourself notifications and then make the posts manually.
Choosing the right platform is critical for success, so if you’re not sure what would be your best option, we can help.
- HootSuite – you can manage different social media accounts in one dashboard, schedule posts, and get notifications about comments and messages. HootSuite also offers social media training including modules on how to be HIPAA-compliant.
- Buffer – an alternative social media management platform to Hootsuite.
- Planoly – Planoly is designed to craft beautiful, simple, and fresh visual graphics. It is one of the most effective visual social media planners on the market.
Since Instagram is such a highly visual platform, no perspective on it would be complete without highlighting some unique and useful features both within and without the service.
- Instagram TV (IGTV) – one of Instagram’s latest features. It gives you the opportunity to share full-length, high-quality videos and another avenue to reach key decision-makers.
- Boomerang – with this Instagram app, you can snap a handful of photos in quick succession, and then turn them into a GIF-like loop that plays forward and backward.
Outside of Instagram:
- Canva – Canva is 100% free and allows you to create incredible drag and drop graphics without any knowledge of code or Photoshop.
Seize the Instagram Opportunity
Instagram is an incredibly dynamic and robust network when used properly. It gives your practice the power to connect one to one with users and build a loyal following that is actively engaged with your brand. Instagram is the most personal social platform out there. Use it to show your community and fans who you are.
Instagram now boasts more users than Twitter — users that take action and click on advertising posts more than on any other social media platform. It also provides your medical practice with fertile ground to attract and retain new patients while solidifying existing patient relationships, all contributing to boosting your bottom line. What’s more, medical practices as a whole have been slow to capitalize, giving you an advantage right out of the gate.
Effective marketing requires commitment. And establishing a consistent and compelling presence on Instagram, and on all social media, takes diligence and perseverance. Sometimes, it pays to work with a medical marketing partner to save you time, money, and help you achieve your social media revenue goals. If you’d like to discuss how we can help you get there, don’t hesitate to reach out.