Why Instagram is a Great Marketing Platform for Eye Care Practices
By Practice Growth May 29, 2020
According to Instagram, more than 200 million Instagrammers visit at least one business profile each day. Instagram is a free, easy-to-use, quick-to-set-up social media platform. You can choose to promote posts on Instagram, which is a relatively low-cost way to reach a lot of people, or you can choose to grow your following using free (but more labor-intensive) techniques.
All the big social media platforms - Facebook, Twitter, TikTok - have hundreds of millions of users, so what sets Instagram apart? Let’s take a look at why Instagram is a great marketing platform for eye care practices:
Instagram Is a Platform With Massive Reach
200 million users make for a massive pool of potential patients. The great thing about Instagram is that it allows you to connect with people who don’t have a connection to your practice.
Helping people find your practice on Instagram is easy - if you use hashtags strategically. Hashtags can be specific, like #eyecare, or broad, like #giveback (which you can use to highlight your charitable actions).
In addition to the far reach of tagged content on the platform, Instagram is also very public. If you tap “heart” or leave a comment on someone’s photo, all their connections can see that interaction. Every time you engage on a follower’s page, you improve your exposure and reach more potential patients.
It’s Relatively Low-Effort
Social media professionals may disagree, but hear me out. No type of marketing is “low-effort” - if a low-effort marketing platform existed, everyone would use that platform exclusively. Compared to text-heavy platforms like Facebook and Twitter, though, Instagram requires a little less effort. It’s not exactly the most effective use of Instagram, but you can get by if you just snap a quick photo each day and apply a few trendy and relevant hashtags.
That said, mastering Instagram is no small feat. To maximize its potential, you’ll need to dig a little deeper, learn the ins and outs, or perhaps hire a professional.
It’s Visual and Engaging
Instagram is user-friendly and fun to use. Scrolling through Instagram is an interesting way to pass the time between classes, during work breaks, on long public transit commutes, and so on. It’s a visual platform, so it’s engaging and doesn’t demand too much attention. Imagine having a whole new reel of photos to look at every time you pick up your phone - that’s Instagram! With its very visual nature, Instagram is a great platform for highlighting the fashion side of eye care, like fun frames and colored contact lenses.
People love getting an inside look at what goes on behind-the-scenes. Engaging is easy - a tap of the heart or an emoji comment is all it takes to connect with someone. Instagram is a fantastic platform for connecting with your patients on a deeper level - you can show them what’s going on at your practice when they’re not there, keep them informed between visits, and encourage them to come back.
It’s Popular Among 20- and 30-Somethings
20- and 30-somethings are great patients. They’re loyal - if you maintain a good rapport and stay connected with a young patient (long-term), you’ll likely have a patient for life. Younger patients are tech-savvy and constantly connected. They have big followings on social media. A person’s reach online is virtually infinite. Many Instagrammers label themselves as casual or professional influencers. Influencers are Instagrammers who promote products and surfaces - Influencer marketing is a type of evangelism marketing. Influencers generally have thousands (or tens of thousands) of followers, and their online presence centers primarily around promoting. Through Instagram, one happy patient can produce countless leads.
You Can Learn What Your Patients Like
Instagram can offer insights about what your patients (and target audience) want to see. On a basic level, you can post different types of content, and keep track of which types result in more likes and comments.
If you want to take it a step further, you can use Instagram’s analytics tool - Instagram Insights. Instagram Insights is only available if you have a business profile, so be sure to select that option when you create your account. Instagram Insights provides details on your audience - where they’re located, when they’re online, what they’re clicking on within your profile, how they’re finding you, and what they like. You can use Instagram Insights to produce more content that appeals to your patients or target audience and boosts engagement.
Harnessing the Power of Instagram
Here are a few tips for making the most of your practice’s Instagram activities:
Hashtags are like roads leading to your page. The more you use, the more roads there are. The more roads there are, the more likely it becomes that people will “travel” to your page.
Use Instagram Insights to find out when your audience is most active, and plan your posts around that. If you’re typically unavailable during peak hours, use a scheduling tool. Instagram moves quickly, and if you post during off-hours, you’ll risk low visibility and engagement.
Follow Similar Pages
Just like real-world connections, virtual connections are powerful. Connecting with relevant, reputable pages will help potential patients find you, and it’ll help boost confidence in your practice
Create Quality Content
Selfies and food pictures are popular on Instagram, but your professional page isn’t a place for fluff content. There are exceptions: If a patient posts a selfie on Instagram and tags you in it, you should definitely ask them if you can repost their photo on your page - be sure to use the tag #repost - one of the top 25 most popular hashtags on Instagram. If your team gets together for a staff dinner during the holidays, food and fun photos are acceptable, but keep content respectable.
Engage, Engage, Engage
Instagram is interactive, and engagement isn’t a one-way street. You’ll need to actively communicate with your followers. Engaging with people on Instagram doesn’t require a major time commitment. You can like dozens of photos per-minute while scrolling through your feed. Be especially attentive to patients who are tagging your practice in their posts - show them you’re listening. If a patient snaps a photo in the parking lot after a great appointment, let them know you enjoyed seeing them and look forward to seeing them again. Some people tend to post questionable photos - do your best to avoid liking those as it can cause awkwardness. Keep it professional.
Grow your local audience using geo-tags. When you post a photo, tag it in your neighborhood or city. Many Instagrammers browse their location for posts, and you may help new patients stumble upon your practice if you use geo-tags appropriately.
A Final Note …
Gaining followers is an essential step toward growing your practice with Instagram, but you’ll have to put in the work to grow your following organically. Don’t fall victim to scams that promise real followers in exchange for money or advertising. These gimmicks will always result in low engagement and will do more harm than good. Instagram tracks these scams and purges followers that are acquired this way. Paid followers usually bring spam-filled comments and tags, which may alienate real followers.
The key to maximizing the marketing value of a platform like Instagram is consistency. With consistent effort, dedication, and determination, your practice will reap the rewards of Instagram marketing; a steady inflow of new leads, and a satisfied, engaged, and devoted patient base.