Instagram has 1 billion monthly active users ‒ yes, billion with a B. That means that a billion people log into Instagram at least once a month, posting content and scrolling through their feeds to see what’s out there.

That’s a lot of traffic, and a lot of missed potential if you’re not taking advantage of it.

Better yet, it’s owned by Facebook, which boasts 2.25 billion monthly active users, and the integration between the two platforms allows for some really interesting opportunities.

The best part is that it’s easy and free to run an Instagram account. It’s fun, too! In fact, at least one person at your practice is probably dying to run your practice’s Instagram account.

However, there’s a real dearth of great dental Instagram accounts (trust me, I’ve seen ‘em all).

And I want to change that.

This is the first of a two-part series that will take you from the very basics of starting an Instagram business account to the more advanced tips and major pitfalls to avoid.

Today, I’ll take you through:

  • the major benefits of running a business account on Instagram
  • the basics of what an Instagram business account looks like
  • setting up your account

In Part 2, I cover the ins and outs of actually posting on Instagram, with ideas of what you should post about ‒ and what you should avoid like the plague.

Why Instagram?

Simply put, an Instagram account can help you get more patients.

Tell your story

Instagram is first and foremost a visual story-telling platform. People go on Instagram to share stories about themselves, their relationships, their hobbies… you name it. You can share the story of your practice ‒ the people you work with, the patients you serve, and the community you support. It’s a living history of the work you put in every day.

This helps current patients feel more connected to you and your practice, associating your practice with warmth and positivity (which, let’s face it, are not the feelings many people associate with going to the dentist). They’ll be more likely to come back and refer their friends and family to you. (If you want to learn more about the importance of telling your story to grow your practice, check out our last post.)

Present yourself

I bet you put a lot of care into how your practice looks and how you present yourself to the world. Your practice is immaculate, your website well-designed, your staff professionally photographed. Instagram lets you present all that with a wider audience, including future patients. And what better place to share your practice than the epicenter of aesthetic #goals?

Integrate with Facebook

If you’re advertising your practice on Facebook (and you definitely should be), you can get even more bang for your buck using Instagram. Since most people with an Instagram account also have Facebook, you can advertise to your Instagram followers on Facebook or on Instagram itself.

Engage your staff

Another benefit of using Instagram is that at least some of your staff will be eager to become mini Insta celebrities. Hand the account to someone who can’t wait to start posting for you, or share the account with someone different each week and watch their creativity shine! Just make sure you go over some ground rules so you avoid any major social media faux-pas (more on that next week).

What a business account looks like

Just like on any social media site, you have your own profile that people can visit and a feed of accounts that you follow. A feed on Instagram consists of a horizontal collection of stories at the top of your screen and the classic vertical scroll of posts.

 Stories are pictures or short videos that disappear after 24 hours. They’re best used for announcements, reminders, and day-to-day behind the scenes at your office.

 

 

 

Posts are permanent (unless you delete them, of course) and appear on followers’ main feeds. At the top of my feed, I see a post from Dr. Matt Nejad at Helm | Nejad | Stanley Dentistry in Beverly Hills.

 

 

 

 

 

If I click on his profile picture, I can see his full account.

His profile picture has a colorful ring around it, meaning he’s recently posted stories. I can click on it to see them.

 

Below that, I can find basic information about his businesses, I can call or email him directly from his Instagram account, and I can find his practice on a map.

The grey circles in the middle of the page are story highlights. This is where you can keep stories that you want to showcase for longer than 24 hours. Dr. Nejad has the categories Teaching, Fun, Working, Hi-Tech, and Veneers Course. Other collections you might consider include Our Team, Our Community, Our Patients, and Events… or whatever other collections that you think suit your business!

Finally, at the bottom I see the beginning of his Instagram grid ‒ the posts he’s put up most recently.

 

 

 

When I click on the first photo in the grid, I have the option to like, comment, share, or save the post. I can also read his caption (which includes some great hashtags ‒ more on those next week!), and any comments that people have left on his post.

 

 

Setting up Your Instagram Business Account

Now that you’ve seen what an Instagram account looks like, I’ll take you through setting up your account. Note that to take full advantage of a business account, you’ll want to have a Facebook Page for your business in order to do this (and you’ll have to be an admin for the Facebook Page, not just an authorized user).

1. Download the app

If you haven’t already, download the Instagram app from the Apple iOS, Google Play, or Windows app store.

2. Create your account

To create an account, you can choose a username and password ‒ or better yet, just log in using your Facebook credentials. This instantly links your Instagram and Facebook accounts, making it super simple to share posts between the two platforms.

3. Switch to a business account

Now you’ll want to switch your account to a business profile since the default is a personal account. On your account page, click the three horizontal lines in the top right corner.

 

Some options will slide open on the right; select Settings at the bottom right of your screen.

 

Near the end of the options under Account, you’ll see the option to Switch to Business Profile. Continue through the promo slides until it prompts you to enter a category for your business. “Local Business” and “Medical & Health” are probably your best bet.

You’ll then be asked to review your contact information, and finally, to connect to a Facebook Page.

4. Edit your profile

At the top of your account page, select “Edit Profile” to make any changes like adding a profile photo, updating your bio, and anything else that needs tweaking.

5. Follow your contacts

Back in your settings menu, you can select Contacts to help you find people you’re already connected with on Facebook. Follow them ‒ they’ll probably follow you back!

And that’s it! Now you have an Instagram business account ready to share your story.

In the next post in this series, I walk you through filling your account with great content and some ground rules to keep you from committing any social media faux-pas. Stay tuned!