By Arian Fartash, OD
June 6, 2018
Instagram is hard to ignore when thinking of ways to market your practice. According to Instagram, it now has about 700 million active users, and from that, about 80 percent follow a business or brand. The site also is more popular with many Millennials and Generation Z than Facebook, which many younger people joke they only go on to communicate with their parents and grandparents.
That is a huge market of potential patients that practice owners should be tapping into to create a sense of community, engage with current and prospective patients and showcase their brand story. Everywhere you turn, people are constantly looking down at their phones engaging on social media. Why not be a part of that engagement, and capture your target audience before they have a chance to find your competitors for their next yearly exam and eyewear purchase?
You can use a site like Sprout Social to measure the number of patients who come to you through social media sites like Instagram. You also can use Google Analytics to analyze from your web site how many clicks are from your social media accounts, including Instagram.
In addition, you can have a phone number for your office that is posted only on your social media accounts to determine the number of calls that are driven from your social media. And when patients come in, on your patient intake form, have a place where they can check “social media” for how they heard from you. You could also have a place for them to check off, or tell you, which social media site they found you on.
Here are three types of Instagram posts that can remind current patients of your practice, while also attracting new ones.
Call to Action
What is it?: Posting a photo and asking a question, such as whether your Instagram followers like a pair of glasses you are wearing. This prompts the audience to get more involved in your posts.
Cost: No money, just the time it takes for you to take the photo and ask the question. Could be as little as 5-10 minutes.
Potential response: I love to ask these type of questions because the engagement is so much higher than other types of posts. There’s no better way to get to know your marketing audience than to hear their opinion. For example, I will usually post a picture of a pair of frames, along with the caption “yay or nay?” And then I will wait for the comments to roll in. Not only is this a good way to get to know your patients, but it also lets you know if the pair of glasses you’re asking about would sell in your optical. If there are more nays than yays, then it can be a clue not to keep the frame in your inventory.
If your followers like the frame, or like the connection they make with your Instagram page, they are more likely to come in next time they have an eyecare and/or eyewear need.
Be sure to comment back after you get a good collection of responses. It shows you took time to respond, which shows your Instagram followers (patients included) that they are important to you.
Post a Video
Instagram allows you to post a video to your feed of up to one minute.
Cost: No monetary cost unless you pay someone to shoot and edit your video, which usually is not necessary. In fact, there is something to be said on social media for home-made, self-shot videos, which can be more personable, relatable and genuine than posting a slick production. Keep in mind that Millennials and Generation Z greatly value authenticity.
Potential response: “The average engagements for video posts have increased by 53 percent, showing that engagement growth for video is outpacing photos,” according to statistics from summer 2017.
Posting a video can enhance your page by giving your followers a different taste of what you have to offer. For example: I post short educational videos for my followers. By doing this, I allow people to hear my voice, connect with me in a more personal manner, and learn something at the same time.
Having a follower get to know you, or your office, through a video will further enhance their connection with you and your brand. After all, Instagram is digital story telling, and the more ways you have to let your story be heard, the more likely people will want to know more, and also trust you more. Before they walk into your optical they will have a sense of what you offer and a sense of familiarity.
What is it?: An Instastory is separate from an actual photo or video post on your Instagram page. It is a tool set up by Instagram that you can use to post things for 24 hours only, which can be viewed by all (not just your followers). You can post a video, photo, there’s a polling option, music option, face filters and other tools. The functionality is much like the social media site Snapchat, but located within the Instagram platform.
Cost: No monetary cost, but the cost of the time it takes to put your Instastory together. Could do it in 20 minutes or less, once you get the hang of it.
Potential response: I love this feature because it allows you to communicate with people in short periods of time. Each video is only 15 seconds long. It’s a great way to show the day-to-day life of your office, such as your opticians putting the finishing touches on a unique window display, or a glimpse of a community event your practice is participating in.
Also you can use it to show off a frame a day. So many options. I use my Instastories to talk to my followers about what I am doing that day. For example, at Vision Expo East, I enabled Instagram followers to “follow” my experience through photos and videos I posted on an Instastory throughout the day. People told me they felt like they were there with me, and I got countless responses loving it.
This is a way to enhance your patients’ online experience with your practice and brand. Encouraging your Instagram followers to develop a deeper relationship with you makes it more likely they will think of you when it comes time to book their next eye doctor appointment.
Here is the Instastory I shot during Vision Expo East:
Arian Fartash, OD, is a freelance optometrist in California, who has also gained expertise in social media marketing, and heads an optometric social media company, helping offices connect to their existing and future patients online. You can learn more about what she does at www.glamoptometry.com. To contact: firstname.lastname@example.org