Instagram is quickly becoming the most-used social media platform, with the number of active users skyrocketing to over 800 million. With so many people actively using Instagram, there is more opportunity than ever to reach new patients! Plus, with Instagram being such a visual platform it helps you share a personal connection with your current and prospective customers.
Getting started on a new social media platform can feel overwhelming, but it’s actually really easy to get started. We have created a simple guide that will walk you through the basics of setting up your account, what content you should be posting, and how to start engaging with your community. In no time, you’ll be using Instagram like a pro.
How to Set Up an Instagram Profile
If you’re not already set up on Instagram, don’t worry, it is quick and easy to get going. To start, open up Instagram on your computer. Or download the app to your phone. A page will appear with a form to fill out the required information:
- Mobile phone number
- Email address
A few tips:
For the email address, we recommend using one that would be easily accessible for multiple staff members such as a general practice email. For example, [email protected]. Refrain from using personal email addresses of employees as they may leave the practice, this will save some potential confusion down the road. You’ll thank us later.
For the username, we recommend using one that is as close to your practice name as possible. However, because Instagram only allows for unique usernames you may need to try a few different combinations. In order to get your Instagram username as close to your current practice name as possible, try experimenting with numbers, underscores, or including your city or town name.
Let’s say for example your practice name is Visualize Eyecare. If the name @visualizeeyecare is taken, here are a few examples of how you can tweak your name to still represent your practice.
Once you have filled out all the information, simply click the blue “sign-up” button to finish creating your account.
You are now on Instagram. Wahoo!
What to Write in the Bio
Your practice’s Instagram bio is the first thing your audience will see when they visit your page. Hitting the right note with your bio is important for establishing your brand, and attracting your target audience. People who visit your page will be making the decision to “follow” you based on what’s included in your bio.
The best bios capture people by offering them all the valuable information they need right away.
Ideas for what your bio can include:
- Practice name
- Practice tagline
- Short description of your specialty
- Emojis (think: eyes, glasses, phone emoji next to the phone number)
- Contact information (phone number, email)
- Link to your website
Just remember that you do have a limit of 150 characters for your bio. So you may have to tweak a few things and prioritize what is most important.
You’re all set with an excellent bio!
How to Set Up a Content Strategy
Now that you have an account set up, it’s time to create a strategy for what you will be posting each week. Having a clear idea of the content will allow you to plan ahead and keep your brand voice consistent.
To really get the most out of Instagram we recommend posting at least 3 times per week. Since the Instagram grid is a formation of 9. Posting at least 3 times per week will give your followers a full row of new content every week.
To effectively plan out content and keep your “grid” visually consistent we recommend creating what we call content pillars. Content pillars are themes or topics that create the foundation of your content strategy. Each pillar represents a type of content that is relevant to your target audience.
An example would be:
- Pillar 1: Education Focused
- Pillar 2: Staff/Practice Feature
- Pillar 3: Product Post (eyeglasses, contacts etc.)
We will walk you through an example using these pillars as they are widely applicable to many eye care practices.
Pillar 1: Eye Care Tips
This is a great opportunity to use your expertise to help followers! You can provide a variety of different tips people can implement at home to improve their eye health.
Like this one which talks about digital eye strain:
Pillar 2: Staff/Practice Feature
Showcase your staff and unique practice culture. This pillar serves to deepen the connection with your followers and show some personality.
A great option for this would be to create a meet our team post similar to below:
Pillar 3: Product Post
Having a content pillar on your products is an easy way to give people an idea of what you sell. You can talk about contact lenses, dry eye therapies, frames, sunglasses, or anything else you want to promote. Plus, it might inspire someone to visit you to get a new pair of frames!
Just like this post talking about all the frames this practice offers:
You don’t need to stick to these exact content pillars. Choose whatever pillars you think will suit the practice best. If there is something really unique to showcase from your practice, go for it!
Once you have established the pillars, you can simply create content that fits into them each week. This allows followers to know what to expect and makes your life easier by having a formula to stick to.
How to Start Engaging with your Community
Engaging with people in your local community on Instagram is a great way to build your following and get new patients. But, where do you start?
To engage with your current patients, try simply asking them to follow you on Instagram. You can do this in-person while they are waiting for an appointment or by having a small sign at the front desk with the Instagram (username) handle on it.
You can ask people to follow the practice on Instagram by including it within your current digital marketing. Try including the Instagram information at the bottom of any emails you send to your patient base. Or if you already have a following on Facebook let them know to follow you on Instagram as well.
Also, don’t forget to follow back the patients that currently follow the practice page. You can occasionally “like” or comment on one of their recent photos. This will foster good relationships with patients and keep the practice top of mind, even when they’re not due for an eye exam. Be sure to respond when people comment on your posts or tag your practice.
Getting New Followers
To gain new followers try following local businesses, doctors, artists, and restaurants. Then to take it a step further, follow some of their followers as they will likely be located within your community and could be a future patient! When people see that you have followed them they will get a notification and check out your page. If they like what they see they will follow you back.
Use the right hashtags! Hashtags are pound signs (#) followed by a word or a phrase like #eyecare or #dryeye. These help categorize content on the internet to make it easier for users to find. Another thing to keep in mind is that you can’t use punctuation or spaces in hashtags.
We recommend using hashtags specific to your area (#yyc or #ottawa) and hashtags targeted to the audience you want to attract (#eyeexam or #visisontherapy). This will gain more user engagement on your Instagram posts. Using the right hashtags helps place content in front of the right eyes.
Be aware that building a following on Instagram takes time! But setting up your account right and implementing some strategy will save you a lot of time and energy down the road. It’s also important to keep in mind that a successful social media presence doesn’t mean getting the most likes or gaining followers the quickest, it’s about providing your audience with the information that is valuable to them.
If you need help with setting up a social media strategy or simply would like to outsource social media to the experts, reach out to us!
Last tip: If you are struggling to get your Instagram posts to look professional and polished try using Canva. This website has amazing free templates and graphics that will really kick your posts up a notch!