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Practice Marketing With Instagram

Instagram has become wildly popular in recent years. Today it boasts 1 billion active users—30 percent of whom are between 25 and 34 years old. The visual focus of this photo- and video-sharing social networking site is a natural fit for the medical aesthetics industry and offers fertile marketing ground for practices that want to reach out to young adults interested in looking and feeling their best.

Like other social media channels, there are “good” and “better” ways of using Instagram to promote your business. Here are some tips on using Instragram to reach prospective patients and maintain contact with your existing base.

Content That Engages

While many Instagram users enjoy seeing pictures of attractive people, places and things, the posts that generate the most interest—or engagement—involve personal stories. So skip the stock photos (or at least, don’t rely solely on them) and instead post before-and-after photos of your patients’ success stories.

Focus on concerns and outcomes that will speak to this younger age group; before-and-after images of a young woman who has struggled with acne since she was a teenager, for example, and whom you helped achieve a smooth, clear complexion, or a young adult man who was able to smooth his love handles thanks to CoolSculpting.

You can also bring followers inside your practice to meet your staff and providers. Rather than posting generic photos of your empty treatment rooms and reception area, share photos and videos of staff members learning, interacting, trying out new products or treatments, and welcoming patients. You want to tell followers a story about your business culture through pictures and videos, creating a place in their minds that they would like to visit and introducing them to providers who will care for them and deliver beautiful results.

Building Followers

One of the easiest ways to build followers is to “piggyback” off of other popular users. For example, when a celebrity or influencer posts a selfie following a fractional laser treatment, they typically tag or mention the laser technician who performed it, the name of the treatment and the brand of their favorite new post-laser healing balm. If the post includes the hashtag #fractionallaser and you add that hashtag to your own posts, potential followers will see your posts when looking at that particular page.

You can also build followers by finding influencers in your industry and community. Maybe it’s a local business woman who manufactures all-natural cleansers or a popular personal trainer who appears regularly on a local news show. Identify people and businesses with customer—or follower—demographics that are similar to your target patient base. Contact them and ask if they would be willing to post one of your videos or photos on their page or invite them in for a treatment and ask them to share the experience with their followers. Appearing on a popular third-party page does wonders for building followers and getting the word out about your practice.

Similar to Facebook, which owns Instagram, practices also can pay to “boost” their posts. This allows you to reach a broader audience and pushes your posts higher on followers’ feeds. You can also create Instagram ads that will appear in users’ feeds. Through paid advertising, practices can build an audience by precisely targeting followers based on location, age, gender and lifestyle/behaviors.

The Posting Sweet Spot

As with other social media sites, the big questions are: When is the best time to post and how often should I post? If you post too frequently, you risk annoying—and potentially losing—followers. If you don’t post frequently enough, you risk minimizing your presence in other’s feeds and being forgotten.

While there’s no perfect answer regarding frequency, when it comes to digital marketing consistency is key, so determine how often you want to post—I recommend at least once a week—and develop a calendar for posting. It’s all too easy to get caught up in day-to-day activities and suddenly you realize you haven’t posted anything in a month. There are a number of no- and low-cost scheduling dashboards, such as Hootsuite, that allow you to schedule posts in advance, and across multiple social media platforms.

But remember, it’s better to emphasize quality over quantity. Before you hit that button, ask yourself if what you’re posting would grab your attention. Is it visually stunning? Does it convey valuable information? Is it entertaining? Don’t post for the sake of posting. Post because you have something amazing to share.

For my business’ Instagram pages, I have my social media staff review my posts before I post them. I even created a rating system with emojis, ranging from a “1” (the face that shows no emotion) all the way up to a “10” (the face that’s laughing hysterically). If at least 90 percent of my staff rates my post as evoking “little or no emotion,” then it’s back to the drawing board.

As far as optimal posting days and times, you want to post when you know your particular audience is online. If most of your patients are working professionals with older children, they’re probably not going to be checking Instagram at midnight. On the other hand, moms with young children may be up late at night. As you add new posts, you can check your Instagram Insights to determine when your followers are most active. You can also keep track of the posts that had the most engagement. Build on what you learn and never be afraid to try something new.

Encouraging Engagement

Giveaway contests are an excellent way to get followers excited about your posts and increase engagement. The key is to ask a question that requires followers to engage. For example, “It’s our 4th birthday and we’re giving away four laser hair removal packages worth $800 each! Enter to win by sharing your favorite birthday cake flavor.”

Asking questions and soliciting opinions from followers are also fun, low-key ways to generate engagement. You can ask followers to name their favorite celebrity and why, suggest names for new treatments or share their favorite beauty moments.

You might want to experiment with both photos and videos, and then track followers’ engagement. Some social media experts say photos tend to get more likes, while videos get more comments. Play around with both to see which tend to be more popular with your followers.

Instagram can be a powerful marketing tool for aesthetic practices of all sizes. It’s free, it’s visual and all you need is a smartphone camera to create your content. The key is to focus on quality content and your followers’ particular interests—and don’t forget to have fun with it!