Erin Parks, Nina Walsh (guest blogger)
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Building Your Practice’s Brand on Instagram: Part Two
In Building Your Practice’s Brand on Instagram: Part One, we focused on the creation of a strong digital brand. Here, in part two, you’ll learn how to strategically use Instagram’s features to see the biggest return on your invested time.
Understanding Instagram’s Algorithm
Instagram uses an algorithm — or a set of rules and calculations — to determine what your audience sees first. Your content is ranked by several factors, including your timing, the type of content you’re sharing, and the extent to which your page drives audience engagement.
The best way to make Instagram work for you is to understand its features and use them strategically to rank higher with the algorithm (see below).
Use of these features drives the algorithm, so take advantage of them by creating informative, educational, interactive, and fun content for your audience!
While Instagram tells us that all posts eventually show up in your audience’s feed, newer posts are ranked higher and will appear first. This means one of the easiest ways to improve your practice’s Instagram reach is to simply post when your audience is online. According to Hootsuite, Instagram users are most likely to engage with content in the middle of the day and during the middle of the week.
Maximizing Your Content
Understanding Instagram’s features and timing your posts is a great jumping-off point. Pairing this knowledge with the following strategies can further boost your ranking and improve your reach.
Utilize stories. Instagram stories offer a variety of features that can be used to elevate your content. They include:
- Real-time feedback. Use stories to obtain real-time feedback on procedures or offerings.
- Mixed media. Share a combination of photos and videos to help bring your story to life.
- 24-hour timeframe. Since stories only last for 24 hours, you can use them to run flash sales, share sneak peeks, or offer limited-time deals.
- Sound. A recent Hootsuite blog post reported that 60 percent of stories are viewed with sound on, so take advantage of this by letting your followers hear what you have to say.
Use hashtags. To help users find your page more quickly under the “Explore” tab, you must use hashtags strategically. Below are some considerations and best practices.
- Create a branded hashtag and include it in your bio to familiarize your followers (i.e., #yourpracticename).
- Include hashtags that relate to the content you are posting to help your audience easily find posts relevant to them.
- Incorporate hashtags you see other practices using on their pages to gain more visibility on your posts.
- Search for keywords using Instagram’s related hashtag feature. Look for inspiration on relevant and trending hashtags and see examples of top performing posts.
- Under this feature, you can also click on the “Tags” results to view a list of related hashtags and the total number of posts in which they are used. Use these hashtags to boost your practice’s visibility for people searching for those specific keywords.
- Avoid unrelated or overly specific hashtags to minimize confusion.
Create themes. In addition to regular posts, having themed days can help to provide a sense of consistency and give your followers something to look forward to on a weekly and/or monthly basis. An example of this could be hosting a monthly Instagram Live chat, where a provider answers questions about a certain procedure, treatment, or product. Themed posts can give your followers something to anticipate and are a great way to engage your audience — another key aspect of how the algorithm ranks your content.
Creating and Maintaining Engagement
On Instagram, engagement refers to both how you engage with other users and how they engage with you. This is evaluated by a range of metrics, including comments, shares, likes, saves, followers, growth, mentions (tagged or untagged), branded hashtags, click-throughs, and direct messages (DM’s). See the tips below to increase engagement on your Instagram page.
Be proactive. To build momentum, you should proactively engage with your audience by:
- Greeting new followers. Message new followers or leave a genuine comment on a recent post to show that you value them as part of your community.
- Liking other individual and practices’ posts. Garner more followers by proactively looking for users who post content using the same hashtags as you. Liking their posts and following their page(s) will encourage them to do the same.
- Growing partnerships. Co-promote/partner with other experts, businesses, and/or resources in your community to provide value to your readers and community — and tap into a whole new audience.
- Asking questions. While your first few attempts may not garner many responses, have no fear! You can train your followers to interact with you over time by continuously asking questions in your stories or posts. Questions that prompt a short one- or two-word response are more likely to be answered.
Be responsive. A great habit to get into is to react (heart emoji) and reply to every comment as quickly as possible. On top of showing Instagram you’re responsive, it is also very motivating to your followers to see how well your practice engages. Below are some tips for maintaining good responses.
- Respond to all DMs and comments (positive or negative), as the algorithm really likes this!
- In addition to replying to comments, react to posts. This makes your fans and followers more likely to comment again in the future!
- Assign a champion who is responsible for replying to comments/DMs/inquiries to ensure a quick response time.
- Determine if there should be a set response time (i.e., 24 hours), so you can have a benchmark to measure against.
- Consider using templates. For example:
- “Hi, Sue! Thank you so much for reaching out. We would love to connect and review our available appointment times to find a slot that best fits your schedule. Please give us a call at (000)-000-0000 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We look forward to hearing from you! – Jane, Patient Concierge”
Use call-to-actions (CTAs). CTAs are a great way to keep your audience engaged and your algorithm ranking high. Some examples of CTAs include:
- Posting polls or a question box on your stories can help you gauge what content your audience would like to see more of (or has questions about). Use their responses to help frame future content.
- Providing your practice’s contact information in your posts, captions, or stories to direct people where to go if they want more information.
- Telling your followers what you want them to do with statements like “Head to the link in our bio to learn more about this treatment and current promotions we are offering” or “Save this post, comment, or DM us.”
Putting it all together
As a business, you must actively participate on Instagram to reach your intended audience with your valuable content. By investing time — both in the content you post and your audience engagement — you can maximize exposure to your current and potential patient base and see the biggest return on your investment.
NEED ADDITIONAL SOCIAL MEDIA GUIDANCE? BSM Connection members have access to our “Social Media Communication Strategies” eLearning course by digital consultant Ryan Miller. To access the course, simply login to BSM Connection!