January 31, 2020
by Christie Simon
Instagram has over a billion active monthly users. What’s more, over half of Instagram’s users are 34 years old or younger. For anyone looking to grow their practice, these numbers say a lot – if you want to reach new patients, especially young new patients, Instagram is the place to be. The social media juggernaut (now owned by Facebook) has become one of the premier places for businesses to advertise – of the over one billion Instagram accounts, 90% follow at least one business.
Allowing your clients to book through Instagram has a number of different advantages. When your clients are scrolling through their feed, a picture or video you’ve posted might prompt them to click it and when they do, if they see they can book immediately, they are more likely to do so. The other advantage is one that’s found throughout online booking – when your patients can book online, they don’t have to wait for office hours in order to book. That means they won’t have to wait until the next day (and potentially forget) if they see your post late at night. Finally, prospective new patients can learn about your services and book within a few moments. What’s more, instant booking through Instagram is relatively easy to set up.
Instagram has built in call-to-action buttons that you can use to allow your clients to book. These buttons are actually a bit of a weak point in the service because there are only a limited number of booking service providers who can give you access to the buttons. Getting the services of one of these providers is probably the easiest way of setting up your Instagram page for booking, but it’s not always possible. There’s an abundance of different booking services out there and you may or may not want to purchase the ones that are partnered with Instagram (if you want to purchase one at all).
Fortunately, there are a couple of ways you can promote booking through Instagram even if you’re not working with one of Instagram’s partners. The easiest way is to post your booking URL as your website URL for your Instagram profile. That way, when people view your profile they can click the link in order to book. You can also link to the booking page from various posts you make, so no matter what your patients (or prospective patients) click on, it’s easy for them to book an appointment. Here is a step-by-step guide to click on to learn how to book appointments through Instagram using your profile page. (It has cool images, too).
Growing Your Followers
Now that we’ve looked at the mechanics of how patients can book an appointment with you through Instagram, it’s worth taking a look at how to grow your following enough that this process lands you new patients. The first step is to set up an Instagram business page – these pages allow you to gather data about how your posts are performing and give you relevant demographic information. Using this, you can target your posts more efficiently because you’ll know who is interacting with what kind of media at what times of day. Remember that people love images and videos, so plan to post a few on Instagram.
The expression “content is king” gets thrown around a lot but with Instagram, there is no truer statement. The key here is quality, not quantity – spamming your followers with pic after pic is a good way to lose influence, not gain it. For dental clinics, before and after pictures are an excellent way of showing why your work is so important – patients and prospective patients will be able to imagine their smiles looking better. Before and afters are a great place to slide in a booking link. You can also post pictures of your staff. Today, perhaps more than ever, a strong, compassionate patient-practitioner connection is essential in getting repeat business. When your staff look like they’re enjoying themselves in a warm environment, your followers are likely to feel the love.
Posting content daily (no more than once or twice a day) is great for your followers, but on it’s own, it won’t get you new followers. This is where hashtags come in. People search hashtags on Instagram in order to find new content to follow all the time. The trick with hashtags is to find something a lot of people are searching but avoid things everyone is searching for – you don’t want to get drowned out in the noise. You can use up to 30 hashtags on any post so take advantage of this and use a lot of relevant hashtags, from general to more specific.
Obviously, before posting before and afters, it’s important to have a conversation with your patients to make sure they consent. You don’t necessarily have to tag your patients, but you can share the photos with them. This way, if they want to tag you and post the before and after pictures, you will get a measure of organic growth.
You’ll want to develop a posting schedule; once you’ve started posting a lot and using the analytical tools provided by Instagram, you’ll find patterns highlighting the best times to post for maximum engagement. You’ll also start to find the types of content that get the best response and you’ll want to focus on that type of content in the future. There are some campaigns your clinic can engage in where you can monitor how many people who viewed your content clicked on a link to book from that content – use that data to your advantage.
About the Author
Christie Simon is a writer based in Winnipeg, Manitoba. She writes articles with a focus on marketing and social media for a variety of businesses. Some of her dentistry-focused work has been featured on the East Kildonan Dental website.
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