If you are new to Instagram or want to learn more about best practices when using the platform as a dental marketing tool, this guide will help get you started.

When it comes to using photos and videos to market your dental practice, Instagram can’t be beat.

The hugely popular mobile app allows you to show a more personal side of your practice, connect with the patients locally, and network with industry leaders worldwide.

While many dentists might hesitate to add the platform to their marketing plan, there are plenty reasons why getting your practice on Instagram could mean major growth for your practice.

The social media platform has steadily increased in popularity since its start in 2010 (second only to Facebook).

Instagram’s 800 million users turn to the mobile app to browse photos from friends, Insta “influencers,” celebrities, brands, and businesses — like dental practices!

This is all thanks to their highly-refined search function, which makes it easy for people to find small and large brands. Studies show that over 200 million users visit at least one business profile daily.

Because the platform has become so brand-friendly, there has never been a better time for practices to start integrating Instagram into their dental marketing strategy.

Also, it’s hard to say no to visually-stunning and completely free advertising.

Key elements of Instagram

Here are a few things you need to know about the platform before getting started.

Instagram is a mobile app that allows you to share photos and videos from your smartphone. You can capture these photos/videos directly through the app or upload them from your mobile device.

Like Facebook, each user has a profile and a feed. All posts are stored in your profile, and the feed is a constant flow of images and videos shared by the accounts you follow.

While posting, Instagram gives the option to edit photos, add filters, write captions, add hashtags, and tag followers.

Hashtags

Hashtags are words or trending phrases preceded by the pound sign (#) that group Instagram posts together.

So, if a patient searches for #dentist, any photos or videos with this hashtag will appear in the search results.

Tagging

Tagging is a more direct way to connect with a follower while posting.

You can tag someone by using the ampersand (@) followed by their name. This will send them a notification when you post.

Two other important elements of Instagram communication are direct messaging and Instagram stories.

Direct Message

A direct message is a private photo sent to up to 15 individual users.

You can send direct messages by clicking the paper airplane symbol on the top right of your feed, then searching for a follower to message.

This can be a great way to communicate with patients or answer questions in a more personal way.

Instagram Stories

Instagram stories are the most recent phenomena to sweep the social media platform.

Stories are located at the top of the feed and work just like Snapchat stories. They are images or videos you can post that will disappear in 24 hours.

Stories works incredibly well for quick updates, tours around the office, short tutorials, or promotional announcements (giveaways, discounts, etc.).

To see how all all of these elements work together, follow these steps to create your practice’s Instagram Business account.

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How to set up an account

1. Download the app to create an account

You can create an account using your contact info or by connecting your Instagram to your Facebook profile.

After you have downloaded the app, follow the steps and be sure to completely fill out your profile with a photo, short bio, and link to your website.

2. Set up your business profile

Switching to a free business account allows you to add more info like business hours, address, and phone number. It also gives you insight to your audience and the ability to set up ads.

In the app, go to your profile and select settings (the wheel icon to the right of the “Edit Profile” button). Scroll down to choose “Switch to Business Profile.”

Follow the prompts to connect to your Facebook Page, choose categories and subcategories for your profile, and add your basic info.

3. Follow users

Instagram makes it easy to find people to follow through your Facebook page or contacts. You can find this option in the settings tab.

Following other related accounts and dental professionals is a great way to gain followers and also become more familiar with popular industry hashtags.

Encourage staff members to follow and get involved with your practice’s Instagram.

It takes time to build your audience, but if you make it a team effort, you will get more value and followers out of your posts.

4. Start posting

Once your profile is complete and you’ve started building a following, it’s time to share your first photo!

Before posting, remember that each and every post should add value to your followers’ feeds. Opt for high-quality images with lots color and smiles that reflect your practice’s brand.

Sharing staff pictures, branded images with quotes, patient pictures (with their permission), pictures of events, and high-quality videos is a great place to start.

Best Practices

Set your practice up for Insta-success

Instagram can be a highly-effective social media platform for dentists, but only if done well. As the app has become more popular, the quality of photos and standard for brands has become increasingly high.

So as you integrate Instagram into your dental marketing strategy, these are a few steps to take that will help take you in the right direction.

Define your visual style

Setting a few guidelines for your Instagram account will make your profile more cohesive. They also make it easier to generate content quickly.

Are you going to use filters?

Do you want to repost all content to Facebook?

Brainstorm different types of posts that you can repeat like patient/hygienist of the month, images of your office, or branded quotes.

Create a consistent posting schedule

To keep followers engaged, it is important to post on a regular schedule.

When starting out, try to post once a day or at least every other day to establish your practice and start gaining followers.

For more on how often you should be posting on social media, check out this handy guideline!

Use hashtags strategically but sparingly

Hashtags are a huge part of posting on Instagram, but it is easy to overdo them.

Shoot for anywhere between 3-10 hashtags per post to boost engagement. Focus on local hashtags to attract patients in your area.

For example, if you are a pediatric dentist in Austin, you could use hashtags like #dentist, #austindentist, #texasdentist, #happysmiles, #kidsdentist.

Get familiar with Instagram stories

Instagram stories have taken over in the past year. With more users posting daily to Insta-Stories than SnapChat, it is a feature to be reckoned with.

Stories are a great place to explore what your followers are posting, experiment with new content, and definitely a feature to take advantage of after you are up and running.

Because dental marketing is such a visual medium, Instagram can be a great platform to grow your practice.

And beyond the ROI opportunities, Instagram can also help connect your staff.

Think of it like a curated photo album for your practice. While Instagram Business is definitely meant to be used for marketing, it also helps foster a sense of community with your patients and staff.

With these tips as your guide, you will be able to get started today, using the app to integrate more smiles into your social media marketing strategy.

 

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