5 Fresh Ideas for Creative and Engaging Instagram Posts

5 Fresh Ideas for Creative and Engaging Instagram Posts

555 312 The RealSelf Team

Instagram is a powerful channel for social engagement that is also a favorite digital medium for aesthetic doctors and providers. The ability to show the results of your treatments on Instagram is great for affirming your skills, growing your following, and attracting new potential patients.

Aesthetic providers are smart to invest time posting on Instagram. RealSelf data reveals that social engagement for aesthetics accounts is by far the highest on Instagram versus other social media platform, garnering 11 times the engagement of aesthetics accounts on Facebook and nearly 80 times the engagement that aesthetics accounts receive on Twitter. One of the ways providers are being rewarded for their engagement is follower growth: Instagram follower counts grew four times faster than Facebook and 32 times faster than Twitter for aesthetics accounts.

Instagram is attractive because it is visual-first, but it has not always been the feature-rich app that it is today. In 2017, Instagram began launching new features that gave users many more options for presenting their content in fresh and engaging ways. Add the cottage industry of third-party apps that plug into Instagram and extend its capabilities, and there are now myriad ways to create fresh and engaging content that show off your personality, capabilities, and results. Are you taking advantage of these fresh ideas for using Instagram to promote your practice?

Use Instagram Stories Highlights to post engaging stories that stick

Instagram Stories, a newer feature on the channel, lets users post photos and videos that appear in a top bar across their profile and above their main Instagram feed. The stories disappear 24 hours after they’re posted.

The feature works great for brands that want to get creative with timely behind-the-scenes content, but what if you want to create a more lasting impression using the Instagram Stories format? Enter Instagram Stories Highlights.

This feature lets Instagram users designate certain stories for permanent placement in prime real estate right at the top of their Instagram feed. While you should be aim to post to your Instagram feed every three days–our data reveals that Instagram users that post more than 10 times per month have 10 percent higher engagement per post and 66 percent faster follower growth than those that post less than 10–think of your Instagram Stories Highlights as an opportunity to add to a catalog of topics that will matter to aesthetics consumers.

How to use this feature

Stories Highlights are a great way to feature longer-form content or string together Instagram stories that share a theme. Use this feature to introduce yourself, showcase a series of team introductions, take users on a tour of your office, or post short vignettes of satisfied patients discussing their positive experience with you.

See it in action

We have five RealSelf Stories Highlights on the RealSelf Instagram account: Treatments, Worth It, #RealStories, Quiz, and Ask RealSelf. These highlights employ a mix of images and video and a number of engagement styles. For example, the Treatment, Worth It, and #RealStories highlights are a display experience, while the Quiz and Ask RealSelf highlights are more interactive, inviting Instagram users to ask and answer questions.

Turn audio clips into engaging Instagram moments

Audio storytelling has made a major comeback in the past decade with the advent of podcasting (and the hard work of innovative storytellers who have made the most of the medium). And while a podcast can be a great way to shore up your authority and increase your brand reach, creating a podcast worth listening to takes considerable time, and marketing your podcast so that it achieves reach that matters to your business can take a lot of effort, marketing prowess, and budget.

Enter short-form audio. With Instagram, you can use the audio format in a way that is accessible, scalable, and targeted by creating pithy (specifically: one-minute-or-less) audio clips and then converting them into a video. There are a number of tools that can help you achieve this: one tool we’ve tested is Wavve.co. To use audio clips on Instagram, simply record a minute-or-less clip on a recording device–your phone will do–and select an image you’d like to pair with that audio. You can then use Wavve or a similar tool to add a progress bar and audio waveform. The resulting video will look like a customized audio player.

How to use this feature

The key to short-form audio is to use this format to offer a satisfying or eye-opening thought or recommendation in under 60 seconds. If you economize your words and boil down your thoughts, you’ll find this actually gives you a considerable amount of time to convey something meaningful. You can use this format to discuss a reaction to an aesthetics-related news item answer recurring consumer questions, or even record a willing patient giving a useful review.

See it in action


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Entrepreneur John Henry mixes up his Instagram feed using this format. His version employs a title, subtitles, image, progress bar and waveforms, making this a visually engaging and easy-to-create multimedia format. (One alternative to subtitles: include the gist of your audio in the video caption.)

Short-form audio is also a great way to achieve economies of scale in terms of generating a number of distinct content pieces from a single content creation session. If you’re well-prepared, and factoring in breathers between takes, you can record 10 to 15 posts’ worth of short-form audio content in a half hour. If you answer questions on RealSelf, consider recording yourself reading answers to questions you’ve previously written.

Use slideshows to turn content (including words) into more in-depth posts

Another way to repurpose previous answers to questions, or to make shorter form content feel more substantial, is to use Instagram’s slideshow feature to tell stories using photos, videos, or even text-based images that use nice typography.

How to use this feature

Your answers to RealSelf questions can be another great source for this format. Simply break up your answer into sentences or phrases that can be positioned on a square image, and that create a coherent narrative when users scroll through them.

Patient reviews are another great source for this format. Of course, you’ll want to make sure you receive permission from the patient to use their words, and that you display their name (or anonymize it) according to their wishes.

You can also use this format to display “listicle”-style content. This could be a progression of “Fiction” vs. “Fact” statements about an aesthetics treatment, or a Top 5 list of new treatment types that consumers have requested in the last year.

See it in action


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RealSelf has used typography, images, and video together to create slideshows that are more than the sum of their parts. This slideshow tells a story using text and icon images, but even nicely-styled text could make for an engaging post. No artists on staff? Tools like Canva let users build Instagram-formatted posts featuring attractive typography with no artistic skills required.

Make the Most of Your Micro-influencers

Influencer marketing has taken off with the advent of social media. On Instagram, brands have traditionally leveraged the high follower counts of celebrities to launch and sell their products and services.

But in the past year, some large brands have begun to play the game differently. Instead of selecting influencer Instagram accounts based solely on large numbers, some progressive brands have begun forming influencer relationships with users whose follower counts are much more down-to-earth. Called “the marketing force of the future” in Forbes last year, this trend is all about harnessing the power of small communities, word of mouth, and trust to get out the world about a brand.

How to use this tactic

Aesthetics providers can leverage this principle to transform their own patients into micro-influencers.

If you have patients who are comfortable sharing their journey on their own social media accounts, then arming them with the content they need to spread the word about their great experience with you can be an easy win. Send them before-and-after photos so that they can repurpose their review into a post. Don’t forget to send them the hashtags and Instagram handles they should use in their post so that the content points back to your practice.

Alternatively, your patients’ journeys could also make for compelling content to post to your own Instagram account. Some patients might be more comfortable with a temporary social media presence, in which case traditional Instagram stories could be a great option to share a patient story that disappears within 24 hours. For a more lasting impression, you could share your patients’ stories with an Instagram slideshow, or compile several of them into Instagram Stories Highlights, that live on your feed in perpetuity.

See it in action


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RealSelf posts lots of before-and-after photos on our account featuring the work of practices we partner with. These posts generate considerable engagement, as other potential patients can see how procedures turned out for people they can relate to. One way to take this a step further is to listen out for the stories that inspired your patients to get work done and convey them in your posts–or encourage patients who are comfortable posting on their own accounts to do the same.

Foster engagement with an Instagram poll

Good social media accounts post relevant content consistently. Great social media accounts inspire engagement from their audiences. In their 2017 new feature spree, Instagram enabled a polling feature that works with Instagram stories. The polls run for 24 hours, just like the Instagram stories they accompany, and can pay dividends in terms of enabling content that 1) is engaging , 2) is quick to produce, and 3) yields even more content.

How to use this feature

While social media polls won’t yield statistically significant results, they can be a way to “take the temperature” of your social audience when it comes to their perspectives on treatment types, devices, and attitudes about aesthetic procedures. And if you ask your followers for their perspective on a procedure via a poll, their response will offer an opportunity for you to generate even more content by reporting back the results and /or commenting on what your followers say using Instagram.

Polls can also facilitate your followers getting to know you better. How about running a poll to determine what cuisine you should have for lunch tomorrow, what you should dress as for Halloween, or what the theme of your practice’s upcoming office party should be? If you want to offer a glimpse of your personality on your posts, having these low-stakes decisions be determined by polling can add some levity to your content.

You don’t need to try everything at once. In fact, we advise against it. Select one tactic, give it a try, and see what effect it has on your follower count, engagement, and bookings. From there you can operationalize that tactic before moving to another idea or two.