October 31, 2019
by Irene Iancu BSc, RDH, CTDP
Instagram is the place to go to ﬁnd beautifully curated feeds, thoughtfully created captions and systematically planned hashtags. It’s the place we lose hours to, deep diving into people’s accounts and getting to the abyss of their pages. Creeping, exploring and sometimes wishing real life looked a fraction of how it does on our mobile devices.
Is it reality? Or is it created this way to make you want to be an “influencer”?
What does that term mean?
Ironically, that word has been used since the mid-1600s, though of course back then it wasn’t a job title. Recently, the term has become a dream job for some aspiring to have a speciﬁc career track in mind and if done successfully, it can be just that.
Of recent, influencers are shifting away from the term “influencer” as it has become something of an empty term, and often people fail to even understand why the person is famous after all.
Within two years, I’ve managed to grow over four accounts to a following of just over 32 thousand followers from all over the world. However, just to put it into perspective, I don’t feel like I’m an “influencer” compared to the Kois’s and Spear’s of the dental world. I like to think I’m an RDH with a cool and unique story to share and I choose to share that story on Instagram.
So, you ask, how does one become an “influencer”? Is it something you work towards or does it just happen?
You’ve graduated and now it’s your turn! Few dental students have much time for the work required to gain a large social media following organically, and some have planted the influencer seed and are slowly awaiting their launch into full blown professional inﬂuencerdom. That’s a good place to start.
Here are six elements to consider when launching or rebranding your social media platform to help you grow into the influencer you aspire to be:
Your branding is a direct representation of the content you create and share which is why it is extremely important to ﬁgure out what your brand is, what you’re trying to say in your posting and how that translates to your followers.
You should always be proud of who you are and the content you share. This will build credibility to your brand and the social channels you promote them to. Stay on brand as much as you can. People tend to follow accounts that are predictable, so if you’re branding yourself as toothpaste expert, stick to that as much as you can. Friday night photos at the local bar might be a tad off brand. Consider having a separate personal account for less professional posting. Working with companies that support posts often look to a page branding as well, future sponsors like to feel conﬁdent in the person AND the brand built on the platform.
Know your people and speak to those people.
I’m guilty of forgetting this at times. I forget who my demographic is and I post something that personally I like, but then soon realize when engagement is low that my followers are here to see dental related things, not videos of my dog learning to sit for the ﬁrst time.
Instagram proﬁles give you some great audience analytics which is a good place to start. Locations your followers are from, the age range and gender help you curate content to focus to those demographics.
There are great online resources that are free that help creators make strategic choices for their posts. Neil Patel, a popular media and marketing blogger created a series of charts identifying how men and women perceive colours. “Blue is the most popular color for both men and women, brown being the most unpopular among men and orange among women”.
Molar of the story: Know your demographic and test which colours work for them. Use your post engagement as the metrics. More likes could mean they prefer a colour and use apps like Lightroom with custom presets to edit photos so they all have similar colour tones on your feed.
This is the same photo but ﬁltered with two different presets. At a quick glance, which of these two do you think are the most appealing to you? Which would you “like” if it came up on your feed? The cleaner looking image with popping red and purple was a winner on my page. Over 14 days, this video gained 98k views. I doubt the darker image would have been as successful.
There are two main ways inﬂuencers create content for a page: bulk shooting and story telling. Bulk shooting means that you might set aside time during the week to take a wide variety of photos and videos, edit them and preplan how you will release the content to your page. Social media platforms and tools that are helpful are aplenty. UNUM is a free app with a paid extension that allows posters to view their feed in a grid, preplanning photos so that when combined, it appeals to the aesthetic of the page.
Aside from the grid, which gives prospective followers a glimpse into the page, it also means you need to create the content before you actually post it.
Before you go ahead and load your photos, ask yourself these three questions:
This will help you build your content and stay true to your branding. Story telling is a day-by-day content release. It becomes difﬁcult to story tell and stay on brand at times. I tend to use story telling in my Instagram story and use bulk shooting for my main feed. With time and experience, you can become great at story telling in the main feed as you use apps to help create and edit on the fly.
Simple rule of thumb for how often to post: post often but not too often. Instagram has some great features built into the app. “Activity and Audience” in the “insights” tab at the top of your app gives you a window of time your followers are online and have the highest engagement rates. Using this is a great way to know when to post based on the day of the week your followers are online and engaging with your account.
It calculates based on your followers when they are online and what time is best for posting. If you want a more detailed metric of these times, there are great apps like WhenToPost that can send you a notiﬁcation 15-30 minutes before your ideal time.
A couple of unwritten rules to remember:
To avoid the flood of posts, use the Instagram story feature to tell the story of your day, and engage with your viewers by sending them personalized messages and videos. Keep your feed for the main message or takeaway for the day.
Prospective followers need to ﬁnd you just as much as you need to ﬁnd them. Use hashtags strategically to ﬁnd new followers and give them a place to ﬁnd you.
By targeting your hashtags to speak to the post, you’ll give them an easy way to ﬁnd your proﬁle and the speciﬁc content they are searching for. If you’re branding your account as a product specialist in various toothpastes, for example, consider using #Toothpaste #oralhealth #Oralhealthproducts as a constant in your posts.
Instagram restricts 30 hashtags in the main post, so make them really focus on the content you’re sharing.
You can use online hashtag generators like All-HASHTAG.com to help you search the most used hashtags in your category. Copy them to your phone as a custom keyboard entry to avoid having to memorize and type them all out every time you make a post.
Users will also follow a speciﬁc hashtag if they want to see content created on that messaging. If you’re consistently posting content that ﬁts within that messaging, use the same hashtag often so you pop up in that discovery feed every time. The more users are exposed to those posts, the more likely you’ll get new followers from those hashtags.
Women and men interact differently on social media, which naturally reflects how they use social media. Knowing the percentage of followers speciﬁc to gender can signiﬁcantly help in the content you create. Women often connect with people, prefer visual platforms, relate to personal issues, use more emoticons and prefer portrait photos. Men look for information, prefer text platforms and forums, read more words and prefer full body imagery.
Spell check and autocorrect aren’t always friends. I’ve posted in the past intending to write a dental term and because “Mesial Line Angle” isn’t really a term, my iPhone corrected it to “Media line and go”, which made no sense in my post on how to insert an instrument. Moments later a flood of comments came in asking for clariﬁcation. Take a few moments to re-read your text before pressing POST.
Your captions should be short and sweet.
According to Hootsuite, “1 billion people use Instagram every month”. However, the average person spends 3.2 seconds on a post. If you’re using the maximum characters on a post, which is 2,200 characters (about 300 words on average), you might be missing the target or goal for the post if you’re leaving that messaging to the very end. Create your caption to speak to the audience within three seconds and the chances of you getting a “like” increases signiﬁcantly.
Your post will also only show the ﬁrst three sentences in the discovery feed, so get those important words in right away by telling the audience what they will see in that post.
She said: “OMG!”, he said: “Yeah”
Academics from John Hopkins University analyzed the language of Twitter users and found that women use more emoticons and put increased emphasis on punctuation, included ellipses, repeated exclamations (!!!) and puzzled punctuation (?!). The expressions “OMG” and “lol” are also predominantly used by females, while the afﬁrmation “yeah” is more strongly associated with men.
Captions created to be gender speciﬁc are an important factor. Women tend to use more gender speciﬁc pronouns (e.g. “you”, “me”), use of non-standard spelling of words (e.g. “Nooooooo waaaay”), and more hesitant words (“hmmmm”, “umm”).
Creating a social media account that speaks to your audience isn’t easy. It takes time, thought and strategy. Being unique is hard to do starting off at this stage in the social media game, as accounts that appeared early back in 2014/2015 have had a head start learning how to engage with followers and grow their accounts.
By following some of the previously mentioned strategies, you may ﬁnd it a little easier to navigate the rough waters of social media and ﬁght against the Instagram algorithm that is working against us – not for us. Instagram is making it very difﬁcult for new accounts to grow, so putting a strategy in place will help you stay ahead of the ever-changing platform matrix.
Build online relationships with followers and other accounts around the same target, by sharing each other’s content (always giving credit) and help one another grow. This is a great modality to incorporate into your plan. Practice organic promotion and spread positivity; there is enough negativity in the world that we don’t need to promote it on social media. If you see good content out there – praise it, give credit and be gracious when positivity comes your way. Create a community of like-minded people and try an F-2-F approach.
Avoid using bots and paid companies for growth; often those services can backﬁre and really interfere with engagement. Not to mention, you risk getting locked out of your account or banned by Instagram. Slow and steady often wins the race with social media growth.
Always be yourself, have fun and be professional. After all, we are healthcare providers and need to maintain a high level of professionalism in all aspects of our lives.
About The Author
Irene Iancu has worked in various specialties including Paedo, Perio, General Practice and Orthodontics. Her goal in her current holistic practice is prevention and maintaining an optimal mind, mouth and body. Irene connects the systemic effects of oral conditions to her clients, while making a change for overall health and wellness. As a Peer and Quality Assurance Mentor contracted by the CDHO, a Clinical and Theoretical Dental Hygiene instructor at Oxford College, and a practicing dental hygienist in Toronto; Irene shares her passion for education with us today in the hopes we can change the lives of our clients and their loved ones.
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