By Maria Higgins, OD
June 7, 2017
Many practices have Facebook pages, but if your practice doesn’t also have an Instagram page for your office, you are missing out on a platform favored by many Millennials and teens.
Instagram is generally known to be the Facebook of the younger generation, the teens and twenty-somethings. If you want to reach this population, which cares about fashion, name brands and appearance, and has money to spend on these things (like the eyewear you sell), you want to be where they are.
Instagram is more visually driven than Facebook or Twitter. It’s so visual that, unlike Facebook or Twitter, you need a photo to create a post. You can use Instagram to post pictures of frames, or patients in frames (with their written consent), or your optical displays. You can post pictures of your practice, your exam room, or your staff. People get to know your personality more in-depth on Instagram, as it is a more intimate venue than Facebook. Be clever and artsy. Instagram users expect more design and quality in photographs. If that sounds hard, don’t worry–it doesn’t have to be.
Here are five simple, low-cost Instagram posts that you can use as a model to market your practice. All of these ideas were successfully implemented at my former practice, Unique Optique, in Frederick, Md. I sold the practice over a year ago, and now own a marketing consultancy company, The Unique Technique, helping other small businesses achieve marketing success, including helping them create Instagram posts that draw attention and new customers.
Goal: This post was for humor alone, and as a little boost for women optometrists. It achieved that goal by poking fun at ourselves, while reaching out to prospective patients.
Cost in time and money: A few minutes of my time to snap a photo and upload to Instagram.
How did you do it? This was a Barbie ad in a magazine. I took the picture with my phone.
Response: A mark of success was in the amount of multilingual interaction, showing cross-cultural impact, and the number of times people tagged others in their comments. One of the strengths of Instagram is it’s non-verbal, meaning you can reach all facets of the population, even those for whom English is not a first language.
Goal: This post intended to show that Unique Optique’s doctor kept up on research, attends conferences and keeps up on the latest fashions in glasses. I tagged the optometrist friend, who is in the photo with me (on the left in the white jacket), and who is active on Instagram, for maximal exposure.
Cost in time and money: Minimal aside from the cost to attend the conference, which I was planning to attend regardless of Instagram-worthy photo-ops.
How did you do it? The conference had a social media center with the props. They took the picture, and didn’t charge us anything for it. It took a few minutes.
Response: A high number of likes, with patients seeing that I take my ongoing education seriously, and that I’m a member of the larger optical profession and industry.
Goal: This post was shared before one of the releases of a Harry Potter book, and it was meant to be timely and funny–and to reach out to young fans of the books and movies, who might not realize the extent of our optical merchandise.
Cost in time and money: Minimal, but the cost of the frame, and the few minutes it took to take and post the photo.
How did you do it? I took the picture in the office and searched online for a Harry Potter photo, and made the layout using the PicStitch app, which enables you to combine different photos into one photo.
Response: A high number of likes and comments, resulting in current, and prospective, patients learning about a facet of our optical merchandise they may not have been familiar with.
Goal: We were making a “My Bloody Valentine” window display for Valentine’s Day, memorializing the old slasher movies with “love” or “Valentine” in the title. This was the order for the supplies. The goal was humor and to show a bit of our twisted personality. We hoped people would be intrigued by the supply order enough to stop by and see what we used the supplies for.
Cost in time and money: Minimal, just the time to take the photo and post it.
How did you do it? Screen shot of the order on my phone.
Response: Many people mentioned it to me in venues other than Instagram, like when I met them in the street, or when a patient visited the office. It seemed to have piqued the curiosity of many, drawing interest in our office.
Goal: The photo provided humor and a good shot of the outside of the office, the lovely flowers provided by a downtown organization, our window displays and our bike rack. We were able to show off the front of our office, while sharing an entertaining photo with a tie to the optical world.
Cost in time and money: Minimal, just the time–under 10 minutes–to take the photo and post it.
How did you do it? I walked into the street, saw the car with eyelash headlights, which just happened to be parked in front of our office, and took the photo with my phone.
Response: This was early on in our Instagram career. It showed our early social media followers that we had entertaining images and information to share, while making locals aware of the location of our office. The car is the main focus of the photo, but there also is a nice street shot of our office alongside it.