Shaz Memon explains how to create a successful Instagram account that will work for your practice.
The strength of a brand lies in the passion and consistency of the voice that promotes it, ensuring familiarity and long-lasting appeal.
And, whilst delegation and team work are core principles of the business of dentistry – think scope of practice and clinical skills – when it comes to developing an Instagram profile, this is often best left in the hands of someone who best understands you and your business. Most likely, this is going to be you or someone within the four walls of your practice.
Only you will know what you want to say, the image you wish to project and how to appeal to your target audience.
How do you communicate? What language do you use? What are your interests and core skills? What area of your profession are you passionate about? And, who knows the answer to these better than you and your internal team?
A successful Instagram account
The nurturing of an online personality, or indeed the marketing of any brand, plays an essential supporting role in the promotion of dental services – and success lies in the authenticity of all communication, both online as well as face-to-face.
In dentistry, a culture of honesty and openness lies at the heart of your practice and the same should apply to your digital marketing. Indeed, you run the risk of losing trust should a patient recognise a disparity between the online version of you and the real deal when in your chair.
I’ve met many dental professionals who often seem confused about how to use Instagram to their advantage – and, whilst my area of expertise is dental marketing, I believe outsourcing the job to an agency is not always the best option if the practice is looking to achieve and nurture on-going and fruitful relationships with patients.
A successful Instagram account is reliant on instant engagement, which means responding to followers, acknowledging mentions and ‘regramming’ posts as and when this needs to happen.
Frequent activity plays a considerable role in building a successful Instagram presence, and outsourcing your account might impact this negatively due to a lengthy process of approval that goes against the ‘in the moment’ principles of online interactions.
So, if you are already outsourcing your Instagram account, how might your brand be at risk? Ask yourself these questions:
- Can they replicate your authentic voice on treatments and procedures?
- Do they have authority – or, more importantly, the clinical knowledge – to answer queries from potential patients?
- Do they understand how to evaluate a negative incident?
- Have you the time to monitor their conversations?
Quite simply, is outsourcing this task helping or hindering your profile?
As a dentist, it is important to maintain control of your own storytelling. You have experienced your career pathway, you understand your areas of expertise and you know your patients. With your voice – and branding – ingrained in each and every post, followers get to know you and understand what to expect and are more likely to interact.
Indeed, dentists often see an uptick in engagement when posting in-clinic images and candid photos rather than the generic posts agencies can deliver. Your audience want to see real images – stock photography and made-up images by a third party will simply not get you the engagement you are looking for.
And, even if you do provide the agency with content to promote, does this then add an unnecessary layer of communication, work and time on your part.
Another option is to consider delegating this role within your team. When time is of the essence, internal management may prove a better option.
Connecting with your audience
In essence, Instagram builds followers for individuals and businesses based on a single idea – the capturing and sharing of personal stories illustrated by engaging in-the-moment images.
Instagram gives people an easy way to connect with you via images and without the added pressure of complex social relations. Often, the most engagement comes from live posts that capture real moments in real time.
And it is in the authentic content you post that you will find best connects with your followers – particularly so if it offers insight to your practice culture. Genuine photos of your day-to-day life, that captures you at work and play, make for an easy introduction to you and your business ethos.
The 111k followers of Lord Sugar’s Instagram account are forgiving of the entrepreneur’s consistently misspelt captions that evidence his input with every post. They know what to expect, the voice is familiar and people follow because it is a genuine account that is handled by him. Do not underestimate the power of authenticity.
People buying into your practice and treatments consider your online profile to be representative of the experience they will enjoy in your surgery illustrated in what you say and how you say it.
Do the litmus test and take time to assess other dentists’ accounts. Does the competition lack personality due to an outsourced team handling the account? Is their profile just one of a long list of clients vying for attention?
Don’t let the issue of time influence your decision. The management of a successful Instagram account requires just 30 minutes a week from yourself or a team member.
Remember, nobody understands your brand better than you and your team.
Shaz Memon’s book Instagram for Dentists, publishing later this year, will walk you or your chosen team member through all the key principles of engagement and empower you with the skills to manage a successful Instagram account. Packed with advice and top tips from key dental influencers, it offers insider marketing knowledge to power practice growth. The book covers all the essential information to help you start building a successful Instagram brand.
The book is available later this year and dental professionals can register their interest here – www.instagramfordentists.co.uk.
All proceeds will go to the Wells on Wheels fundraiser to aid India’s women water carriers.