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Building Your Practice’s Brand on Instagram: Part One
In today’s digitally driven society, your business must build a strong online brand to regularly connect with your patient base. While you may not typically think of a medical practice as needing to create a strong digital presence via Instagram, a recent Hootsuite blog reported that 81 percent of people use the platform to research products and services. Since the online landscape is changing how people research businesses, your practice’s marketing strategy must include Instagram if you want to stay relevant in patients' minds.
Whether your facility is new to Instagram, or you simply need to jumpstart your approach, it’s an investment that will allow you to build the next generation of patients while deepening current clients' loyalty. Although results are not instantaneous, by committing just a few hours a week, you can grow your customer base and engage with existing patients across all age groups. Follow the tips below to get started.
1. Properly set up your account
Before you can begin seeing a return on your Instagram efforts, it’s important to ensure your practice’s account is set up properly. Doing so will allow you to maximize the platform’s functionality and see the best results from your marketing efforts.
Create or switch to a business account. Unlike a personal account, a business account allows you to access insights such as engagement and follower demographics. These insights can help refine your Instagram strategy by showing you what content performs well and your areas of opportunity.
Build your audience. Another perk of the business account is the ability to add contacts. Use your practice’s patient or marketing lists to find and follow clients on the platform. Further build out your audience by following other practices/providers in your specialty, along with their followers. This will help you build or strengthen your audience and ultimately gain more visibility for your page and traction on your posts/stories.
Create an intuitive username/hashtag. It’s important that the username clearly reflects your practice’s name (i.e., @yourpracticename). This will ensure your account is easily identifiable to patients who want to follow you. You can also create a unique hashtag that’s the same as, or similar to, your username (i.e., #yourpracticename). Use the hashtag to label your content and encourage patients who post any pictures related to your practice to do the same. Finally, consider using your logo as the profile picture to further strengthen your brand recognition.
2. Define and differentiate your brand
Chances are there are other practices that provide the same or similar services in your area. Think of your Instagram page as being like speed dating — you have a short amount of time to show people visiting your profile who you are and why they should choose you over your competitors. Paint a clear image of your practice and win over clients by answering the questions below when building your digital brand.
What is your brand? How you answer this question is the largest — and most crucial — piece of the puzzle when starting or revamping your practice’s Instagram account. If you’re unsure how to respond, a good follow-up question to ask yourself is, “If I were a potential patient, what would I look for when researching a practice on social media?” Write down how you want patients to feel when they look at your page and consider how this feeling will guide their perception of your practice. Once you have a clear image of your brand, you can use it to guide your content creation.
What is your aesthetic? Using the same colors, presets, quality images/logos, and so on will give a cohesive look and feel to your page and posts as well as help keep your brand identity consistent. Some practices choose to create post templates to ensure a cohesive look and message and to save time. What’s more, consistent branding allows your audience to easily recognize your posts when they scroll through their feed, which may make them more likely to engage. Consider creating a branding guide to serve as a resource for staff posting to your practice’s Instagram account.
What differentiates your practice? Regardless of your practice’s size, location, and services, the answer to this question is always the same — your people define your practice! So, if your Instagram feed is full of promotional and stock imagery — versus your staff and patient outcomes — you may be missing an opportunity to credential your practice and providers. Meanwhile, the more relatable and personable your content is, the more of an impact it can have on new and existing patients by providing indirect emotional reassurance that they are choosing the right practice/provider for their medical or aesthetic needs. Knowing this, use your amazing staff to showcase how they separate your practice from others in the area. A great way to do this is to obtain buy-in from your team and providers to be active participants in creating content. This can come in the form of Q&A sessions, how-to videos, patient testimonials, before and after photos, and staff/provider highlights.
3. Find your cadence
Once you have begun to build your practice’s brand on Instagram, it is important that you keep your momentum moving forward. The more you post, the more likely your followers will see your content on their feed. Consider how the tips below can help you accomplish a reliable posting schedule with valuable content.
Create a content library. Posting relevant content multiple times per day/week on your Instagram may seem like a daunting task, but it does not have to be. Once you have defined your online brand, you can create a bank of photos and posts that can easily be accessed for content on slower days. This library is also a great resource to update and maintain, as there will be days when creating content to post does not fit into your packed patient schedule.
Don’t overcommit. I cannot stress this enough! While posting often is crucial to keep your content top-of-mind for your audience, you should not sacrifice quality for quantity. One of the biggest mistakes you can make is overcommitting to a posting schedule that is not realistic for your personnel and staff capacity. To organize and plan out your Instagram posts without burdening staff, you may want to establish a key point person responsible for posting and replying to patient comments and messages. Your point person can also create and execute a realistic monthly content calendar. While it may take a few months to find a rhythm, finding a cadence that works well is important.
Post relevant content. More than anything, your content guides the first impression you give to potential patients. The general rule of thumb is that 80% of your content should offer some value to your audience, while the remaining 20% should be promotional. Work this ratio into both your content library and posting schedule to ensure your followers continually find your posts relevant.
Putting it all Together
Nowadays, your online presence is often the first impression a potential patient forms of your practice. By creating a strong brand for your practice on Instagram, you establish credibility and accessibility for your current and potential client base. Use the information laid out above to establish a robust online presence that generates new leads and positively influences how your practice is perceived.
NEED HELP GETTING STARTED? This free, customizable Instagram post template can be used by ophthalmology practices looking to spread glaucoma awareness. BSM Connection practice admin members have access to more than 30 similar templates under the Resources tab by selecting "Marketing & Online Presence" and then clicking “External Marketing” when they login.