Digital Marketing

Five Instagram Secrets for Health Brands

I don’t need to explain the “awesomeness” that is Instagram, the photo app that essentially blew up overnight and now boasts over 100 million users. The app that first made its journey into the hands of the social media enthusiasts and the artsy photographer wannabes has quickly caught the attention of big brands. In fact, 54 percent of the world’s top brands are now active on Instagram according to a study by Simply Measured.

So what does this have to do with health? As a creative mobile photo app, the misconception is that unless you’re a brand with inspiring products or a visually appealing story to tell, then Instagram isn’t for you. Perhaps you’re a hospital marketer wondering what in the world you could take photos of that people would actually want to see. Maybe you’re a health or nutrition brand wondering how being active on Instagram will actually help you affect one’s health behavior change or grow customers.

If you’re struggling with telling your brand’s story, starting with something as simple as a photo may be exactly what you need to push your limits. Sure, your brand’s visual component may not be staring you in the face like it does for brands like Starbucks or Victoria’s Secret but I challenge you to think outside the box, put your creative photo lense on and try using the app to intrigue and inspire customers.

Here are 5 ways your hospital or health brand can use Instagram to tell your story:

  1. Take photos of your staff or brand ambassadors: In the age of social media, your followers want to see authentic pictures of your people. Build trust and loyalty by sharing photos of your staff at work, your fans participating in events or people using your product or receiving a service. Arnold Palmer Hospital is one example of a hospital brand showing off their fun loving staff hard at work. As a children’s hospital they do a good job of sharing their child friendly staff and environment.
  2. Share a sneak peek photo: Make your followers feel special by rewarding them with a first look at something few have seen yet. This could include a new product, a future ad, a new building or an event.
  3. Behind the scenes shots: When I think behind the scenes, Piedmont Healthcare in Atlanta is the first brand that comes to mind. The hospital decided to raise awareness for living donor transplants by providing minute-by-minute updates on their social media networks, including photos on Instagram. As a follower, I felt like I was given a once in a lifetime opportunity to be a partof something that most people never have the opportunity to, unless they go to medical school.
  4. Photos that embody the lifestyle your brand represents: If you’re a health or healthy lifestyle brand, it’s time for you to start sharing motivational photos and health tips that educate or inspire your followers to live a healthy lifestyle. With 5,009 photos the Institute for Integrative Nutrition is definitely a nutrition and education brand to check out for ideas.
  5. Comical or creative displays of a product or service: Chobani is one nutrition food brand doing just this. From sharingfunny pictures of the dog staring at the yogurt drooling, to the yogurt’s travels to the pool or the city, the successful food brand has made its product cool and fun. They’ve turned being healthy into an adventure, an adventure that begins with Chobani.

Instagram brings your brand to life for fans and enables followers to take part in and share your content. In this digital age of quick snippets of content and short attention spans, sharing images increases the chances that followers will share your content (that is, so long as it’s meaningful). Before sharing a photo, ask yourself: does this photo inspire and excite me? Would I share this with my friends or be motivated to “like” it? If not, put your creative photo lens back on and try again.

How can your hospital, health or healthy lifestyle brand leverage Instagram? What other tips would you add to the list?

Side note: A big shout out to Chobani for being so responsive on Instagram and letting me use the above photo. True to their yogurt, they’re a real,  authentic and simple brand. And I can’t help but fall head over heels for a good ole social brand!

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About Rachael Seda:

AE, Health PR @PadillaCRT. Grew up barefoot in Hawaii. Social media geek. #JMU alum. Runner. Creative. Optimist. Cheese=my weakness. I dream of traveling the world.

22 Comments on “Five Instagram Secrets for Health Brands

  1.  by  Lisa
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    Rachael,
    Great post! I hope by now that other social media channels have paved the way for hospitals and physicians to take advantage of Instagram without using HIPAA as their reason for not using this great tool. I’m not suggesting that they shouldn’t honor patient privacy, but I am saying that Instagram forces hospitals out of healthcare jargon and allows them to express their brands more creatively -whether with patients, families, donors or others.

  2.  by  Kim Blake
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    It’s taken a while for hospitals to fully embrace social media and Instagram is definitely one social media property you rarely see hospitals associated with. You make a great case for why hospitals should consider dipping their toes into the water and offer some nice suggestions on how they can do it! I do love the “behind the scenes” approach – we’ve done that for a number of clients with videos, but pictures make just as much sense!

  3.  by  Rachael Seda
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    Hi Lisa! Thanks for the comment. I hope so too. I’ve seen some really great examples of hospitals using it to really display their expertise, culture and patient focused environment. Plus, I also love the simplicity of Instagram as well!

    •  by  Bassam Darwish
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      Great , thanks a lot

      Bassam Darwhish MD
      Medical Media & Marketing Consultant
      Balsam For Health Promotion

  4.  by  Rachael Seda
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    Hi Kim! You’re right and what I think is so great is that when few others are doing it, your brand will get much more attention for being on of the first to embrace it. Plus quick pictures using your mobile phone, it can’t get more simple than that!

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  6.  by  Jordan hatmaker
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    What a fabulous entry. As far as I’m concerned, Instragram epitomizes everything social media should be about… short, simple, sweet (sometimes), and ENTERTAINING! I completely agree that health brands can use instragram just as much as anyone else. I mean… they are what keeps us living and breathing, literally! Also, if they began to use social media such as Instragram more often, the uptight/stuffy/serious stigma would be erased and words such as “hospital” and “medicine” would not cause heart palpitations and anxious palm sweats.

  7.  by  Rachael Seda
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    Thanks Jordan! I love your point about it making people feel more comfortable in a hospital or with medical professionals as well. Obviously most of us only need to go to the hospital for situations that aren’t ideal so feeling familiar and comfortable with a hospital by being able to engage with them is a fun visual way and not just when you have to go because you’re sick is spot on why Instagram is so awesome!

  8.  by  Madeline K.
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    I never really thought about the need for hospitals to market because I always thought of them as concrete facilities: for emergency use only. But I now understand the purpose of health care marketing and how difficult it must be to create a brand for and market for a product that is needed by everyone. How do you distinguish yourself among your competitors? This article does a great job of listing a few ideas to help those new to healthcare marketing break out in the social media world. I definitely believe Instagram is an underutilized tool and these are great ideas to effectively use the app.

  9.  by  Madeline Kruger
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    I never really thought about the need for hospitals to market because I always thought of them as concrete facilities: for emergency use only. But I now understand the purpose of health care marketing and how difficult it must be to create a brand for and market for a product that is needed by everyone. How do you distinguish yourself among your competitors? This article does a great job of listing a few ideas to help those new to healthcare marketing break out in the social media world. I definitely believe Instagram is an underutilized tool and these are great ideas to effectively use the app.

    Madeline Kruger: Tulane University

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  11.  by  Rachael Seda
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    Hi Madeline! Thank you so very much for your comment. You’re exactly right, many of us don’t think about a hospital until we need one. Which is exactly why hospitals should use social media to engage with potential and future patients before they’re needed. This way, people will feel a lot more comfortable with their hospital and a lot less intimidate especially in a potentially stressful life moment. I hope you continue to stop by the Buzz Bin Madeline!

  12.  by  Chobani
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    Thanks for the shoutout, Rachael! We have such an absolute blast on Instagram…it’s such a fun platform!

    Amy, @Chobani

  13.  by  Rachael Seda
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    Thanks for the comment Amy! It definitely shows! I’d love to see the behind the scenes making of the Chobani Instagramming haha!

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