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Enjoy instant Instagram success

The third most popular social media site is a great way to interact with clients.

Enjoy instant Instagram success

The most popular social media sites of 2017 aren’t just getting millions of views, they’re receiving billions of them. That’s right, as of May, Facebook was averaging almost 2 billion visitors a month. The exact figure, according to the online source Statista, was 1.94 billion.

When I first started using the platform as a focal point in my presentations, Facebook had just broken 500 million users. That was in 2010. Since then, the social media giant has catapulted to the top of the index of heavy-hitting social networking platforms, achieving an almost unfathomably large user base in the process.

YouTube comes in second with about 1 billion monthly visitors, but guess which social media site is third? If you guessed Instagram, you’d be right. It has 700 million monthly users.

Here is the key difference between Instagram, which centers around posting, liking and commenting on pictures and short videos, and other social platforms like Facebook and YouTube: Instagram may already extensively showcase your veterinary practice, even if you’ve never set up an account.

In fact, there is a very good chance your practice is on Instagram — known as Insta for short — because of geolocation tagging. This feature allows Instagram users to share and post their location, wherever they are.

Check it out for yourself by visiting www.Instagram.com or downloading the Instagram app. To easily look up your location page, simply type in the name of your practice. You’ll see a listing come up like this one:

This listing, with the little pin and your address, is the location that Instagram has already created for you. Few practices know that the location listing exists. It’s like Google and Yelp, where the listing is created from a database of businesses. The biggest difference with Instagram location tagging is that you can’t leave reviews and you can’t claim your listing (at this time).

Join the Crowd

People are social by nature, so when pet owners are in the waiting room, right after the veterinarian leaves the exam room, they might take out their phone and start posting. In fact, they probably are. This is how the conversations about your practice start on Instagram. After all, who can resist a selfie with their beloved pet?

What this ultimately means for you is that if you haven’t started using Instagram to interact and engage with pet owners who are posting about your veterinary practice, you’re missing a major opportunity.

Your veterinary practice can immediately tap into its existing user base by liking and commenting on photos and by posting your own. This can serve as the perfect opportunity to offer pet care tips, send a quick thank you, offer condolences for a pet whose final moments were posted to Instagram by the owner, or note anything else that lets the client know she is appreciated.

Recently, close to 7 million Instagram posts used the hashtag #dogsofinsta and almost 900,000 carried the hashtag #catsofinsta. A hashtag, by the way, is a way to tag your photos. Hashtags categorize or describe the picture or details at hand. So, when I post a picture of Elvis and Penny, tagging #dogsofinsta is an easy way to reach more viewers and gain more likes.

As Easy as 1, 2, 3

It’s not too late to set up an account. To get started, you need a practice-owned smartphone or iPod Touch. Then follow these steps:

  1. Download the Instagram app. Even though you can browse photos on the Instagram website, you need the app downloaded and logged in to post photos or short videos to your account.
  2. Pick a user handle. Your handle is your social media short name and should contain the keywords of your veterinary practice name. My handle is @EricGarciaFL. I use it consistently across social media channels to make sure veterinary practices and pet owners can find me easily.
  3. Switch your account to a business profile by following the instructions listed at http://bit.ly/2sedzC3. This step is important because it will unlock a range of advertising and analytics options that are otherwise unavailable. Don’t forget to include a bio, your website address, your practice phone number and a nice high-resolution logo.
  4. Download the free Perch App at www.perchapp.com. The app will alert you via email or push notification when a pet owner or client tags your location on Instagram. Since you can’t control whether your veterinary practice is listed or what people post with their location tag, the Perch app keeps you a step ahead by notifying you instantly when a post is made.
  5. Start posting. Look at Instagram as your opportunity to share exclusive, behind-the-scenes access to your veterinary practice. Post compelling pictures of your hard-working team and the occasional selfie to let pet owners know who’s behind the camera. As long as clients sign a photo-release form, you can post pictures of them and their pets. In general, have fun with it and don’t look too surprised when you see new “likes” flooding in almost instantly. One of the most fun parts of Instagram is the immediate feedback after a great post.
  6. Add a finishing touch to a great post by including hashtags that appropriately describe your local area, theme or mood. For example, #Happy #TampaBay #DogsofInsta — emojis optional — may be the perfect addition to a post showing you and your dog outside on a sunny day.

Free Marketing

By creating an Instagram account, converting to a business profile and using Instagram just like pet owners do, you’ll tap into something very special. People share photos of their pets and themselves not because they must, but because of the incredible joy these pets bring and the fun of it all.

The more you tap into this feeling and share the bond with those coming to your practice, tagging pictures and commenting along the way, the more you’ll see that your pet family is even bigger than you first thought.

Now that’s something worth posting about.

Socially Acceptable columnist Eric Garcia is an IT and digital marketing consultant who works exclusively with veterinary practices. Learn more at www.simplydonetechsolutions.