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Instagram for your dental practice: Time to get on board

Aug. 23, 2021
Get the 'gram! Instagram, that is. It's popular and easy to use, will help lots of potential patients find your business, and will keep current patients engaged.

Calling all 'gram lovers! One of the most important tools a dental practice should have in their marketing toolbox today is Instagram. The Facebook-owned app can help your practice get discovered, attract new patients, and grow relationships with existing patients. What’s not to love about that? 

The popularity of Instagram has skyrocketed in the last few years. Along with Facebook and Google My Business, Instagram is a must-have marketing tool for dental practices, including specialty practices.

Let’s take a look at Instagram’s current user base. According to Pew Research Center’s April 2021 Social Media Research, the percentage of US adults who currently use Instagram are:

  • Ages 18-29: 71%
  • 30-49: 48%
  • 50-64: 29%
  • 65-plus: 13%  

If we look specifically at the 30 to 49 age group, they don’t use Instagram (48%) as widely as Facebook (77%), yet Instagram is significantly more popular than TikTok (22%). If you’re wondering whether TikTok is a good idea for dentists, check out my recommendations here. And if you’re wondering if Facebook is still relevant for dental practices, it absolutely is. 

For those who are not familiar with Instagram, it is a visual platform, where words will not be noticed unless you have a great visual to capture people’s attention. If you love to take photos or video, congratulations—Instagram content generation will be easy for you! You can use any of the multitude of editing apps available to make almost any image look fabulous. There are also stickers and doodles that can be added for practice brands that want to appear more fun and whimsical. And there is always the option of hiring a photographer to visit the office and take a variety of photos and video to share down the road.

Once your practice is set up on Instagram, there are a variety of tactics you can use to expand your visibility, grow followers, and attract patients.

Invite patients to join you

  • You can let your patients know your practice is on Instagram in a variety of ways:
  • Invite Facebook followers to join you on Instagram.
  • Include the Instagram logo and link on your practice website and other online profiles. 
  • Announce your Instagram presence in your patient newsletters.
  • Offer patients a gift, such as a personalized lip balm, when they tag your practice on Instagram.
  • Initiate a patient appreciation giveaway, and be sure to follow Instagram rules for promotions.

Network business-to-business

Instagram is a great place to network business-to-business. You can follow local businesses and comment on their activities. These actions will show up to your patients or other business owners as a message (notification), such as, “Dr. Smith’s dental practice liked or commented on so-and-so’s Instagram post.”  This virtual door knocking and handshaking costs only a bit of time, effort, and energy, plus it’s fun and extremely effective in getting the word out about your practice and helping people find you.

Leverage location hashtags

This is a big tip and one many team members forget. Use location hashtags in your posts, Stories, and Reels (more on Stories and Reels below). Using location-specific hashtags will help local people find your content. This means you’re targeting people who actually have the potential to become your patients. When thinking of your location, also think of any nicknames your city has, or specific neighborhood names, and use those hashtags, too.

Include Stories and Reels

Like Facebook, Instagram offers Stories. These are photo and video posts that vanish after 24 hours. Stories are a great way to share the fun, unscripted, human side of your practice. You still want to make sure you stay on brand, but you have some wiggle room for imperfections. Reels are short, entertaining videos. Think TikTok but a bit more mainstream. Similar to Stories, Reels are light and fun 15- to 60-second videos and can include multiple video clips, filters, captions, stickers, and. And did I mention they’re fun?

Now that we’ve discussed Instagram tips, it’s time to get marketing. If you’re excited about this but you’re short on time or content ideas or would like some mentoring, consider joining a social media community such as Connect90. You’ll get access to everything you need to save time and continue to build your marketing savvy. I’d love to hear your feedback, questions, and successes! Learn more at Connect90.com or find me on social @RitaZamora.

Rita Zamora is a former dental treatment coordinator. She is author of the book, Get Found, Get Liked, Get Patients - Making the Most of Social Media, and is the founder of Connect90, a social media marketing community. Zamora and her team have helped hundreds of dental professionals across the US and internationally with their social media needs. Learn more at Connect90.com and @RitaZamora.