With its focus on photos and video, the social media giant Instagram is particularly well suited for the aesthetics field, and many practices have been using the platform to effectively engage with followers and attract new interest in their work.
After some testing, Instagram recently decided to roll out a major change to the platform — no longer will the amount of post likes or video views be visible to viewers. This change caused some concern among influencers — users with large amounts of followers who are paid to promote wares or services — as well as some of the brands that employ them. With the change, however, Instagram is hoping the change will help reduce anxiety that can arise from “social comparison.”
Brands shouldn’t worry much about the change. Early studies are showing that most people don’t care much about the change, and there are still plenty of other engaging ways to interact with followers that aren’t affected at all by this update.
In this post, we’ll focus a bit on the “Stories” functionality within the Instagram platform. Stories give users the ability to interact more frequently and more casually with followers, as well as adding a slew of interactive, entertaining, and informative options.
Here are some tips when considering how to best incorporate Instagram Stories into your practice’s digital marketing mix.
Instagram Stories differ from posts in that they are typically visible for 24 hours before they disappear. Stories are meant in part to be a more casual interaction, an ongoing way to engage with followers aside from the more “permanent” feed posts or IGTV recordings.
There is, however, the ability for users to keep stories for a longer period of time through the use of “Highlights.” Users are able to create categories in which individual Stories can be assigned. This keeps the Story visible — under its associated Highlights section — for as long as the account holder wants. This will allow you practice to group stories by subject, giving viewers the opportunity to take a deep dive into one particular area you’d like them to know about.
To get a good idea how to use Story Highlights, check out RealSelf’s IG account. Categories include “News,” “Ask RealSelf,” “Treatments,” and “RealStories, where the aesthetics journey of actual clients are chronicled.
One way that RealSelf and other practices can use Stories and Highlights is with a “Takeover.” In this scenario, a certain person is assigned to “take over” the account, posting a series of Stories themselves, rather than from the account’s general voice or typical Story participants.
RealSelf does this by inviting RealSelf-verified aesthetics professional to take over their Stories feed. This tactic can be used to take viewers through “a life in the the day of,” or, in conjunction with the “Questions” feature below, an engaging “Ask me anything!” session.
Stickers are a fun way to dress up your Instagram Stories. While emojis, location tags, and gifs are extremely popular ways to add personality to your posts, some of the functionality can really boost interaction. Used by itself or in conjunction with a “Takeover,” consider using the Questions stickers to your followers about anything — as specific or as general as you’d like. Adding a Question sticker to an Instagram Story encourages folks to respond, which allows your practice to then respond to that question on another Story. It’s a great way to kick a Story feed into gear.
One tip to consider is using Questions as a way to call attention to something in particular. In one case, open-ended questions (“Ask us anything!”) can call attention to some concerns that your current clients or those “just browsing” might have that you hadn’t considered in the past, giving you new insight as to how to better market your practice.
Another approach, however, could be to ask questions about something specific you’d like to highlight. By fishing for questions about, say, Procedure X and then answering them on your feed, you’ll be “advertising” without it being overtly salesy.
The “Swipe up” feature is a coveted one. Business accounts must have 10,000 followers before this feature is available, but once it’s available, it allows the account to attach an individual link to any Story — no more having to send people to your one, generic “link in bio!” Using the Swipe Up feature adds the ability of your practice to send viewers to a location specific to the content of that particular Story. This functionality itself should provide plenty of incentive to grow Instagrams followers, if only to be able to access this powerful tool.