Digital marketing consultant Gina Hutchings explains the benefits of incorporating Instagram into your clinic’s marketing
Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Snapchat, Vine, YouTube – these are just a handful of the social media platforms available to businesses worldwide. We are awash with social media apps; we even have apps to manage our apps.1 With more than 1 billion individuals logging on to social media every day, it is a marketing channel that your clinical business needs to nurture.2
Once predominantly a means of making friends and keeping in touch, social media is now also a platform for businesses to market their products and services worldwide and I believe it can provide one of the most cost-effective means of marketing if done correctly.
However, using social media for your brand is not simply a numbers game. You need to ensure that your choice of social media platform maximises your brand message and reaches the correct audience. One medium that fits with the aesthetic treatment demographic is Instagram and this article will explain how to utilise this platform effectively within your clinic marketing plan.
Instagram was launched in 2010 as a photo-sharing platform. Although you can access it from a computer desktop, it is designed to be primarily used from a mobile app, making it unique from other platforms such as Twitter and Facebook. Instagram was an instant hit with the ‘hipster generation’ because images were edited to be square in the form of an old-fashioned photograph, and a range of photo ‘filters’ could be applied.3
The platform has grown since its launch and the latest statistics indicate that Instagram has more than 600 million monthly users.4 In 2012, the social media giant Facebook, with more than 1 billion monthly users, acquired Instagram and the platforms merged in the ability to share content.5 Posts can now be shared to multiple platforms in one click instead of logging into different apps.
Instagram has increased in users every year since its creation, with 100 million users joining the service in the last seven months
Although a late-comer in the world of social media, Instagram has increased in users every year since its creation, with 100 million users joining the service in the last seven months alone.6 Why? Perhaps because of its target demographic. Instagram attracts a younger audience most likely between the ages of 16 and 24, with the majority, over 56%, being female.7
It is this generation that are setting the trends for the future and could also be your prospective patients. They will be looking for the latest treatments to enhance their looks, to maintain their youth (in several years’ time) and follow in the footsteps of the celebrities they admire.
With a growing amount of users, Instagram should be a staple part of your marketing plan. A survey of 12,000 UK and US consumers, by customer experience management company Market Force, suggested that 78% of consumers make a purchasing decision based on a brand’s social media presence.8 Plus, a study by Instagram in 2015 indicated that 70% of Instagram users search for their favourite brands on social media.9
Instagram only began offering business profiles in 2016.10 One major addition was the ability to analyse your users, something that was not previously possible – the business profile allows you to log where your views are coming from in terms of location, age of user and gender.
By launching business profiles, the idea was that Instagram would follow Facebook in providing sponsored content or advertisements directed to targeted audiences.11 Sponsored adverts are priced dependant on the competition and audience size but may be something for you to consider. Researching your audience to see which followers are likely to convert to booking treatments can help you target your campaign for the highest ROI.
Unlike Twitter, Instagram won’t limit your character count, this means you can add as many hashtags to your posts as you like, but remember to keep them focused
For example, if your audience is mainly overseas, then advertisements are unlikely to attract conversions but instead build your brand. If your followers are local businesses, people in the area or within reasonable travelling distance, sponsored social ads will be more effective.
Whether you use Instagram for your business already and are looking to increase your followers, or would like to begin to use the platform, here are some top tips to using it most effectively.
Adding an embedded code to your website that showcases your Instagram account can be of benefit – this can be on your homepage as a direct feed that displays your Instagram page. Be seeing this, visitors will be encouraged to follow your Instagram page to keep up to date, rather than log on to your website every now and again. You can also increase your visibility at the click of a button as you can cross-promote across different channels; Instagram allows you to post the same content on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Flickr instantly.
Another trick is to ‘piggy-back’ on other brands. Find a compatible brand that does not offer the same service or product as you but is related. An aesthetic clinic might find it useful to partner with a hairdressing chain for example: share posts and build a partnership and benefit from utilising two sets of followers.
When looking for local or related brands and businesses to partner with, check their social media following; are the followers in your demographic and target audience? Approach the company and offer to co-promote by sharing posts each week and special offers. It acts like a special club, those who get their hair cut at a certain high-class salons can also have 20% of your treatments with proof of salon booking etc.
Post consistently and frequently. This can be two or three times a day as it’s important to ensure that you communicate regularly with your audience. Set how many times you will post a week and ensure you stick to this. Whatever you decide, make sure it is consistent. Posting in random bursts is of little benefit as it won’t help to build brand recognition.
You can also learn about your audience and optimum posting times, for instance you may find you have more engagement after 4pm or on weekends. This can help you tailor your campaigns to the most popular and profitable times, when your audience is likely to view and respond to your posts, as the aim is to increase your conversion rates.
Instagram is seen as an authentic source; it is not packed with advertisements
Some see it as lazy marketing, but in essence, user generated content (UGC) is the way forward. UGC is the images, videos and comments that are provided by regular users not business profiles.12 To ‘regram’ is one way of sharing UGC on Instagram, which is when a user posts a photo from someone else’s account to their own.13 For example, when a patient posts a photo of their lips before and after treatment and then tags the clinic in the post. You can ‘re-gram’ the post and then ask your ‘Instacommunity’ to re-gram it too.
UGC is what makes Instagram appear a more reliable and authentic source. Many of us like to see what our peers are doing, what they recommend, buy, use and places they go; never before as much as incurrent times where many of us follow celebrity culture online.
For the cosmetic and aesthetic industry, it is not always easy to get case studies and imagery that your patients will feel happy to share online. Encourage your followers to submit a favourite image which shows their treatment results, perhaps a photo that portrays their new-found confidence. Post it on Instagram and include a tag to your business page and add tailored hashtags.
Sharing of your followers’ images can show your appreciation – give a shout out to the best follower selfies of treatment results, or most creative images, as well as encouraging your followers to include hashtags for your brand. Expect images to be filtered so the subject looks their best. When you regram, note that the image is the patient’s own, so it is important to direct readers to see your own portfolio of images on your social media or website.
A hashtag – a word beginning with a # symbol e.g. #aesthetics – is used to index keywords or topics. This function was created on Twitter and allows people to easily follow topics that they are interested in by clicking the tags to reveal other posts that have used the same hashtags.14
Unlike Twitter, Instagram won’t limit your character count, this means you can add as many hashtags to your posts as you like, but remember to keep them focused. A simple rule is to include a brand name hashtag, which could be your business name or a specific procedure you offer, as these are what people will search for. Ask your followers to utilise your hashtags in their posts, such as your clinic name. Hashtags can include general terms too such as #antiageingtreatments as well as specific treatments like #marionettelinefiller.
One way to broaden your user base is to encourage your current followers to engage with your brand by launching an Instagram hashtag contest. Simply ask followers to upload an image with a unique hashtag and tag your profile, with the offer of a free consultation or skincare product.
For example, you could ask followers to post an image of their treatment results with the hashtag #NewMeClinicName (putting the name of your clinic after ‘NewMe’). The follower with the most likes on their image in 24 hours is the winner. By followers posting and sharing with their community, who are likely to be in a similar demographic, you will be reaching your target audience.
Much like Twitter, Instagram has created trending posts and themes
Take some time to monitor your hashtags, not just for your brand but also for terms associated with your business. Set aside an hour a week to see what is trending, the latest hashtags people are using, including your followers and your competitors to stay up-to-date.
Whether you are a clinic or mobile practitioner you can utilise geotagging on Instagram by adding your location to your posts which is plotted on a map. It can benefit your brand in more ways than one. Some users might be drawn to visiting a clinic in their location, once they know where you are and it gives a physical element to your business. By adding your location you will be searchable on Instagram when users use the search button to look for aesthetic clinics in your area.
For instance, if they search ‘aesthetic clinic, Brighton’ and you have tagged your location as Brighton, you will show up in the search results. In addition, there’s the benefit that if you travel widely you can demonstrate the areas you cover. Obviously you will need to take care to ensure that you don’t reveal any private details if you share posts from your home address.
Much like Twitter, Instagram has created trending posts and themes. Some of the biggest trends on Instagram include the ‘Throwback Thursday’ #TBT tag. This is where users upload an image of themselves from childhood or past years. Couple this trend with the ‘Selfie’ craze – a self-portrait taken on a mobile phone – and you have a trend perfect for the aesthetic industry. Encourage your patients to upload selfies, tag your brand and utilise the #TBT hashtag by showing a before and after treatment. Then you can share and promote your work directly via your audience.
As with most social media, you can find a variety of tools online that integrate with the software and can be used to enhance your profile; it is worth researching these and using some of them on your own Instagram. One in particular is Linkin.Bio. a product from Later.com.5 This is not a free tool, but for those clinics offering products and bookable treatments online via their website, it could prove to have good returns.
Currently – although I predict this will change – you cannot add clickable links to your images online. If you have seen the well-used hashtag #linkinbio you will understand why. Instagram only allows one clickable URL on your profile and most businesses set this as their homepage. You can showcase your work via the imagery but you cannot add a link to your site or contact information, direct from the post.
Review your posts and see what is or isn’t working
Linkin.bio allows you to create a ‘shoppable’ feed: you can simply upload an image and create a custom URL to the relevant page on your website if the viewer double taps the image and then clicks on the link. Why it is important? Because you can divert your followers directly to the right pages whether they are blog posts, special offer landing pages or contact forms.
You are able to add a URL to posts in the comments section but these are not clickable. Not only is this not user friendly but it also means that you cannot accurately track where your audience and website hits are coming from. Tools like Linkin.Bio allow users to open pages on your website directly in the browser window. You are able to track clicks and drive traffic to the pages with the highest conversion rates.
As with all marketing, monitoring and reviewing is vital. Check which of your posts has had the best response rate and engagement, and contributed to an increased following. Use these as a template for future posts.
Instagram is seen as an authentic source; it is not packed with advertisements and the ones it does show are highlighted clearly as ‘sponsored’ and there is the option to hide from your feed.15,16 Therefore, don’t make it too promotional heavy. Review your posts and see what is or isn’t working. Increase your shares and likes by showing your followers something interesting, exciting or different; it could be a behind the scenes video before a product launch, an interview with a representative, or a live posting of a treatment.
A great means of building content is to include your staff in the profile image. It makes the company more personable and welcoming. Followers can see the people who will be treating them and talking to them and become more familiar.
Whether you’re a small independent clinic, or a large-scale business, I’m sure you will have at least considered including social media in your marketing portfolio. With the number of Instagram users rapidly growing and its strong influence on its users, Instagram is a useful tool and should be integral to your marketing programme.