If you’d like to create a strong social media presence for your dental practice, don’t overlook Instagram. Instagram is like Facebook’s younger sister. It’s popular in its own right and can be a powerful tool for marketing your dental practice.
Because Instagram now has over a billion users worldwide, you can be sure that at least some of your target audience actively uses this platform.
According to research, 71% of Americans between the ages of 18 to 29 use Instagram. Are you targeting patients in that age group? What about the next group up (which consists of 30 to 49 year olds)? 48% of people in that age group use Instagram. And if you offer family dentistry or pediatric care, it makes sense to target both of these age groups because they include parents and family decision-makers.
Use Instagram’s impressive set of advertising tools to build awareness for your dental practice. Introduce yourself and your dental services to a local audience through ads.
But Instagram isn’t just for generating new leads for your dental practice. You can also use Instagram to build a community and continue to stay at the top of your patients’ minds.
Let’s discuss how to take advantage of Instagram as a dental practice.
Set Up a Business Account
To unlock the power of Instagram for your dental practice, you need to set up a business account. With a business account, you can set up Instagram ads that extend the reach of your posts. A business account also provides access to your account analytics. This helps you learn more about your followers and how your posts are performing with your target audience.
Setting up an Instagram business account is completely free. Follow these steps:
Download the app from your app store. (Or you can also sign up via your desktop here.)
You can log in with Facebook if you already have an account. If not, you can sign up with an email address and phone number. Be sure to use your business contact information.
Set your username and password and you’re done with the basics.
And if you already have a personal account on Instagram, you can easily switch it over to a professional account. To that, go to your Settings, click Account, and then select the option “Switch to a Professional Account.”
Optimize Your Instagram Bio
To truly get the most out of Instagram, you need to start with a solid foundation. That comes from optimizing your Instagram bio. Your bio is where you introduce yourself, echo your brand message, and connect with your Instagram audience.
However, Instagram gives you a budget of 150 characters (not words) to quickly define yourself, so you must make every character count.
Fortunately, you don’t need to be wordy to get across your point. Check out this example of an optimized Instagram bio from Harmony Dental Wellness:
Instagram is a visual platform so make use of emojis in your bio to quickly convey your message.
Be sure to include the following in your Instagram bio:
- The name of your practice
- The name(s) of your dentist(s)
- Keywords that quickly describe what you do (i.e. dentist) and who you are (i.e. compassionate)
- Link to your website (you can link to the main homepage or some other page, such as Appointments or Frequently Asked Questions)
For your image, you have options. If there’s only one dentist at your practice, you can use their photo as your bio image. However, if you have multiple dentists, it’s best to go with your practice’s logo. The profile images are too small to display more than one face.
In either case, it’s often better to go with a logo. A logo is easier to see.
Be sure to fill out your contact information completely.
Create an Instagram Content Strategy
Now, let’s get to the fun part. It’s time to create an Instagram content strategy to help you accomplish your goals of generating leads and building a community.
Consistency is an essential ingredient to your success on Instagram. Whether you choose to post three times a week or every day, you need to do so consistently. This increases the odds that your followers will anticipate and engage with your content.
If the idea of posting multiple times a week intimidates you, remember that you can automate the process. Set aside an hour each week (or month) to create multiple Instagram posts in one sitting. Then, use a scheduling tool like Hootsuite or Buffer to automatically post your content on set days and times. This allows you to consistently offer new content without it becoming a burden.
When creating your content strategy, determine the following:
- How often you will post
- What times you will post (morning, noon, evening, weekends)
- What types of content you will post (educational, inspirational, memes)
- What style you prefer (filters, moods, colors)
- What hashtags you’ll use
- Your plan to engage your followers (Will you ask questions? When and how will you reply to comments?)
Create a style guide to ensure that your Instagram content ties into your overall brand strategy.
Switch Up Your Content
To keep your Instagram feed interesting, switch up what you post. Don’t just post photos, but also share videos or inspirational quotes. Consider following a template. Choose a theme for each day that you post (i.e. Meme Mondays, Tooth Talk Tuesdays, Transformation Thursdays).
In addition to posts for your feed, you can (and definitely should) post stories.
Use Instagram Stories
Instagram Stories are a special feature that allow you to post posts and videos that automatically disappear after 24 hours. You can continue to add to your story and as content reaches the 24 hour expiration, it vanishes.
Because of its temporary nature, you may be wondering why you should post stories.
Instagram Stories gives your audience a chance to connect with you and your team daily. Story content is meant to be fresh, candid, and dynamic. It’s your opportunity to increase engagement with your audience. You can take polls or quiz your audience on their dental knowledge. Instagram users love quick quizzes.
Here’s another big reason to invest in stories: Instagram Stories appear at the top of the feed. This can improve your visibility because your followers are more likely to see your story.
You can also post ads that display in between other people’s stories.
And don’t worry about the vanishing act. Even though Instagram stories will disappear automatically, you can still save them as highlights to permanently show up under your Instagram bio.
What About Reels?
Another feature to consider is Instagram Reels. Reels is Instagram’s answer to TikTok. It’s a format where you can create 15-second videos and then spice them up with special visual effects.
At first glance, Reels seems similar to Stories, but a key difference is that Reels offers an expanded set of editing tools, including speed controls and transitions. You can add Reels to your Story or post them in your feed.
Stories are meant to be a snapshot of what’s happening “now.” Stories tend to be mini documentaries, highlighting a day in the life of your practice. They’re more candid and unrehearsed.
Reels, on the other hand, are more carefully produced.
Another content option to consider is Instagram Live. With this feature, you can broadcast live videos to your followers.
Going live can be a fun and rewarding experience for both you and your followers. You can host a Q&A where you answer dental questions that your audience asks. Or you can go in-depth explaining a service that you offer. You may even use Instagram Live for interviews (such as a conversation with your hygienist or an oral surgeon).
When you go Live, Instagram immediately notifies all of your followers. They’ll have the option to join you live and take part in the conversation by typing out comments and hitting a reaction button. Just like with Instagram Stories, you can save these live videos and add them to your profile.
Use Lots of Hashtags
Hashtags (i.e. #hashtags) play an essential role in your Instagram strategy. Hashtags are how you get discovered on Instagram.
You categorize your post by adding hashtags to it. This way, when people search for those hashtags, they’ll discover your posts.
Not only are hashtags searchable, but they are also clickable. By clicking on a hashtag, an Instagram user can see all other posts that include that same hashtag. Your audience may discover your practice simply because you’ve used the right hashtag, such as #bostondentists or #emergencydentistnyc.
You can use up to 30 hashtags for a single post (or 10 hashtags for Instagram Stories). The more hashtags you use, the better because you’ll show up in more searches. That’s because each hashtag has its own search page. Your post will show up in the “recent” section which will get more eyeballs on it. This makes the cause for posting regularly and using as many relevant hashtags as you can. The more you post, the more likely you’ll build awareness for your practice with those who are searching that hashtag.
You can hashtag anything, including your location, your practice name, and the services you provide. Some popular hashtags for dentists include:
Instagram is one of the best social platforms for dental practices. You can use Instagram to generate new leads and continue to build a relationship with your current patients. Plus, you can do it for free. Use the above tips to leverage the power of Instagram.
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