Welcome to part 2 of our Marketing your Dental Practice on Instagram series. If you missed Part 1, go back and read it to learn about the benefits of having a business Instagram account, what it looks like, and how to set one up.

Today we’re leaving behind the nuts and bolts and getting into the more creative side of Instagram. What stories about your practice do people actually want to see? What feelings can you create about your practice? I’ll cover:

  • what hashtags are and how to use them ‒ properly!
  • ideas for what you can actually post about (the meat and potatoes of your Instagram account, if you will)
  • dental Instagram accounts that you can use as inspiration to build your own profile
  • some ground rules to follow to ensure you don’t have any well-publicized social media mishaps

You’ll also find some advanced tips interspersed throughout ‒ feel free to take or leave them. They’re not necessary but can help give you a slightly more professional look.

I’ll also feature some Instagram inspiration ‒ dental Instagram accounts that get it right.

Let’s dive right in!

#HashtagHeaven

What the heck’s a hashtag? You may know them as pound symbols or sharps (where are my former band kids at?) but Internet-wise, hashtags are a way to tag your post so they appear in search results. For example, if you write #dentist in your post caption, your post will come up anytime someone searches “dentist” on Instagram.

There’s definitely a fine balance when it comes to tagging your posts. Put too few, and you’re not going to get noticed. Put too many, and you just come off as annoying and salesy. As a rule of thumb, anywhere between 3-10 hashtags is a good number.

Pro tip: Instead of putting all or any of your hashtags in the post caption, you can put some or all in a comment on your own post. They’re still searchable, but they don’t clutter up the caption because they’re hidden in a comment (which people would have to click to see). It’s an extra step, but it can make your profile look a bit tidier.

Focus on hashtags related to your local area, like your city and neighborhood. For instance, a dentist in Manhattan might use #nyc #nycdentist #dentistnyc #nycdental #kidsdentist #manhattandentist… you get the gist.

There’s a long-standing trend where people put very specific hashtags ‒ think something like #GottaloveMondays #butnotreally. These can be funny and clever, but they’re not very useful when it comes to tagging your post. They’re not tags that people ever actually search. Limit these to one or two per post (if you put any at all).

Pro tip: Just as important as a hashtag is a location tag. Set the location for your posts as your dental office or whatever the location of your picture is. Anyone who searches that location will see your pictures. Just make sure you have your location set on Google and Facebook to ensure you can find yourself!

What on earth should I share?

The key to a great Instagram account is consistency, but it can be hard to decide what you can post. What will people actually care to see about your practice?

Here are some ideas:

  • Office life: Showing off a great office culture can make patients and prospective patients feel right at home in your practice. In your stories, share the baked treats that someone brought in to share, a thank you gift from a patient, light-hearted pranks, or just a nice shot of a coffee mug next to a window to show off your #esthetic. Just make sure you come off as warm, welcoming, and fun  not cliquey.
  • Promotions: Share a special deal as a post at the beginning and then near the end of the promotional period. You can also share them on Instagram stories just about every day.
  • Staff profile: Share a personal side of your business by showing off your fantastic staff! You can post about a different staff member and some fun details about them (background, hobbies, secret talents) with a monthly Meet our Team post. It’s like an employee of the month but way more fun!

Dr Jennifer Plotnick of @grandstreetdental is clearly so proud of all her staff.

Pro tip: An extension of this could be an Instagram takeover. Let whoever is featured that month take over the Instagram story for a day-in-the-life or week-in-the-life at the office.

  • Patient profile: Share patient success stories. Instagram is all about aspiration, so show happy families (with parents’ permission, of course), successful professionals, and lots and lots of beautiful smiles showing off those pearly whites.

@drjamesmalouf proudly shows off his best work — and his patients’ best smiles.

  • Community pride ‒ Chances are that most of your patients live near your practice. Why not show some community spirit and share cool landmarks and other features of your local area? These work really well as posts, but you can always throw a nice sunrise or a quick pan of a big crowd in the neighborhood into your stories.

You don‘t have to be an amazing photographer to share beautiful pictures of your city or neighborhood; use an app like Repost for Instagram to showcase pro or amateur photographers in your local area!

Pro tip: If you have a good relationship with other businesses nearby, why not promote their business on your Instagram in exchange for a good word about them on your profile?

  • Good deeds & fun feats: If you or anyone on your team volunteers in the community or hosts special events, definitely share these on your Instagram account. You can share stories throughout the day or event, and then put up a post recapping the day.
  • Inspirational quotes & fun facts: Everyone loves a good motivational quote, a cool piece of trivia, or a friendly reminder to floss… just make sure you’re posting mostly pictures ‒ people don’t go on Instagram to see walls of text!

The good folks at @sunnyfamilydental help their followers by sharing cool facts, cute reminders, and lots of educational content.

  • Expertise: Above all, patients want to know they’re in good hands when they come to you. Share any PD you or your staff partake in and fancy new tech that helps you do your job (just not any sharp pointy things!). You can also share fun facts and tidbits about dental health ‒ anything that shows off what a pro you are.

No matter what you post about, a regular posting schedule is key. Try to post at least a few times a week and aim to put something on your story every day. Most importantly, keep things varied. Nobody wants to follow an account that’s only promotion or just the same five oral care tips on rotation.

Pro tip: Do you find that you can’t keep up with a regular posting schedule? No problem! Use a tool like Hootsuite to schedule posts in advance. Lots of posts ‒ like staff profiles, promotions, and community love ‒ lend themselves really well to being prepared and scheduled well in advance.

Instagram Inspiration

All the ideas in the world aren’t much good without some good ol’ examples. We searched far and wide to find dental practices that are killing it on Instagram, and we want to share two of our favorites:

@dameronandteam

Brett Dameron and his Phoenix-based team post gorgeous, professional photos celebrating Arizona’s natural beauty. Notice how all of these pictures have at least a touch of yellow or orange and how that gives the grid a nice, unified feel? The account exudes a sense of calm and joy.

Pro tip: If it feels like too much commitment to have all your posts match, an easy hack that achieves a similar look is to have the same color scheme or look for three pictures at a time. Since a grid is always three photos wide, you can make sure each row looks clean and uniform.

@norwooddentalcentre

This practice based in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada is family-based and community-oriented, and they show off their values in a fun, professional way. They also have a seemingly never-ending supply of funny dental shirts. Check them out!

Ground Rules

Instagram is all about trying out different things and showing off your creativity, but there are some important ground rules you need to follow to make sure you’re successful. Share the list below with your staff so everyone’s on the same page about the dos and don’ts.

  1. Do not, I repeat, DO NOT share pictures of the insides of people’s mouths, pointy dental instruments, or anything that might quease people out. Before and after shots are not recommended. This might work for businesses like physiotherapy offices or hair salons, and other dentists might appreciate a great veneer or crown, but trust me, your patients don’t want to see that on their feed.

    This before & after from @dentistinsider is as graphic as you ever want to get on your Instagram.

  2. Stay positive! Sure, you can put up the occasional #Mondayssuck post, but always find a way to turn it around. You want to show your practice off as a place that people love to come to, so #goodvibesonly, ok?
  3. Make your office look welcoming. That means limited snaps of after-work drinks, and no inside jokes or making fun of patients (no matter how annoying they may be). Nobody wants to walk into a space where there’s an in-crowd that they’re not a part of.
  4. Limit yourself to 3-10 dental and local hashtags. You can throw in one or two very specific ones once in a while, but stick to searchable tags for the most part.
  5. Before posting to Instagram, ask someone else to take a look at the post. They can catch any glaring grammatical errors and make sure it looks professional.

And that’s it! Five simple rules that will help you run a beautiful Instagram account that will help you reach new clients and create a feeling of community around your practice.

This was a pretty basic introduction to marketing your dental clinic on Instagram, and we hope it helps you get started. If you want to learn more about making Instagram work for your practice, or you feel we missed something, let us know! Ask your questions in the comments below or schedule a call with us to let us know how we can help you market your dental practice. We look forward to hearing from you!