How to Use Instagram, It Might Not Be What You’re Doing

How to Use Instagram, It Might Not Be What You’re Doing

1920 1280 Vince Schwellenbach

How to use Instagram? You’ve probably asked yourself this more than a few times. Additionally, you’ve probably already realized you may have an Instagram problem. Practices ask why they can’t get followers or likes on their photos and videos.

I’m guessing that you’ve already setup an account and have run a few posts unsuccessfully. You have seriously considered never going back, but let’s talk why you shouldn’t (and can’t) do that now.

Number don’t lie. Instagram has more than 300 million users a day. 20% come from the United States. So that means roughly 60 million U.S. users a day. The U.S. has 3,035 cities. Doing the math, that means 19,769 probably came from your city today. Additionally, 500 million people use Instagram each month. Same math as above, that means roughly 33,000 people in your city use Instagram at least once a month.

It’s no wonder why Facebook purchased Instagram in 2012 for just over $1 billion dollars. But what about you? Where does your practice fit into the mix.

How to Use Instagram

Your first order of business is separate your personal life and professional practice. Make sure you switch the account over to a “business account” so you’re able to receive analytics of your posts. You’ll need to connect the account with your business Facebook page.

Now it’s time to start amassing some content and followers to help spread your message and brand. We’ll publish a post next week about in-depth content for Instagram (photos, videos, Instagram stories). This week I’ll assume your basics are covered.

How to Use Instagram – Develop a Strategy

Your content strategy is the basis of your Instagram marketing strategy. The punchline: your posts aren’t engaging or relevant. Instagram is an uphill climb with an 18-wheeler strapped to your waist if you don’t do the work. The other takeaway here is you need a mix when using Instagram. Instagram is still hugely an emotional, human social platform. Landscapes, infographics that everyone else is using, or office shots aren’t going to cut it alone. Neither is the constant parade of smiling patients holding up the exact same sign as the practice down the street. There is a middle ground.

If a marketing company is selling you signs as props, you need to rethink your marketing vendor.

Developing a strategy is harder than it sounds. As I write, today is World No Tobacco Day. Did you frantically search the web for overused graphics once it started popping up in your feed? Could you have planned and created content if you had an editorial calendar for 16 week periods?

Suggestion: Use a social planning calendar to identify fun facts / dates that are relevant to work into your social strategy.


How to Use Instagram – Content

The most common pitfall that practices find when developing content is that it’s forced. Tell your story authentically. The easiest way to do that is to document what’s already happening. Your patients (remember HIPAA and my article from last week), your staff, your practice, your neighborhood – they are all right there, all of the time. We try so hard to check the boxes instead of looking what is around us and share it.

From your CE course to when your kids threw on your lab coat, opportunity is everywhere. If you want to stand out, you’ve got to give value and humanize your practice.

How to Use Instagram - Humanize

Dr. Sophia Milito does an outstanding job of incorporating family, staff, and her Park Slope, Brooklyn neighborhood. @parkdentistry

Go behind the scenes of your practice. Include your staff. Ask patients to tag you in their photos. Exclusive deals for Instagram users.

How to Use Instagram – Understanding Hashtags #

Your kids may have already given you some advice, but #heybro isn’t going to find you new patients. Using hashtags is the single biggest way to help others find your content. # is a hashtag. Hashtags include letters and/or numbers.

If you’re just starting on Instagram, you should be using 5, 10, 15, or 20 hashtags in every post.

Hashtags can be confusing and we see most healthcare practices make their biggest mistakes here. Hashtags like #nofilter, #selfie and #tbt or #throwbackthursday are very popular on Instagram. But they also have the shortest shelf life in feeds. Buried – instantly.

So what is a good hashtag strategy that you should follow? You need to use a mix of hashtags to attract, convert, and engage.

1.) Popular hashtags have the best chance of getting searched (#love, #smile, #tbt). By using popular tags, more users will be exposed to your content.

2.) Use less popular, highly-relevant hashtags. This will drive less traffic, but more highly targeted and more likely to convert. Park Dentistry does a great job of doing this with tags above. Dr. Milito used #brooklynmom, #brooklyn, #parkslope. She engaged with her local patients on a human level. As a parent I connect with this photo. She’s no longer just a “dentist” but a mom going through many of the same life experiences.


To get the most out of your Instagram account, keep these tips in mind:

When should I post to Instagram? Below is a graphic from our friends at Co-Schedule regarding the best times to post to Instagram.

How to Use Instagram - Best Times to Post

Infographic by CoSchedule

Links don’t work in Instagram captions. The only link that functions is in your profile. Links don’t work in captions or photo comments. If you’re trying to direct people to a specific web page, you can change the default link in your bio to that particular page and note in the caption that the link is in your profile.

Run giveaways and promotions. Post an image advertising your giveaway, sale or contest and asking users to repost that image with a specific, custom hashtag in order to enter. You can then search that hashtag to see who has reposted it and pick a winner. Promotions like this allow your customers and followers to market your brand for you by talking about your promotion on their personal pages, and it will drive more people to visit your profile.

Respond to users’ comments. When people comment on your photos, reply to them. Before you respond, be aware of any HIPAA requirements and read our article about HIPAA and social media.

Link to your Instagram posts from your website. Drive engagement from everywhere you can. It’s easy to link to your social sites from your website. If you need help, contact our support team.


Need us to reach out?

Best of luck to your practice on social!



Vince Schwellenbach

Vince Schwellenbach is the managing partner and chief creative at Macbach. Macbach has served the healthcare community since 2007 and has been a nationally recognized provider of web, SEO, and social engagement for dental and medical practices.

All stories by : Vince Schwellenbach

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