The Marketing Expert – should practice owners have their own Instagram account?
Shaz Memon questions whether practice owners should run their own Instagram accounts as well as a business account.
‘I don’t want the practice to become about me, that’s not a saleable business!’
Every so often, I will speak to a practice owner, and they are pretty clear that they do not want to put their face or name to the practice for strict business reasons.
However, once I get probing, it’s clear that the plan for the practice owner is to scale the business with minimal reliance on their own patient base.
Do you run a business?
There are various definitions of a business floating around.
An actual business is one that can operate without dependency on its owner. Richard Fertig says to ask yourself: ‘If I decided to step away from my business for a day…or a week…or even a month, with little to no involvement, what would happen?’
I expect the answer would reveal if you have a business that entirely or mainly depends on you, or one that can run reasonably well without you.
McDonald’s is a business example that most business coaches love turning to. It is an organisation that is a true example of a business and doesn’t need an owner-operator.
I was surprised to hear from people at my Instagram workshops that they believe hiding behind their practice name is the best place to be. Surely, we wouldn’t hear much about Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates and Richard Branson if that was the case.
Brand versus icon
As humans, we have a deep desire to learn more about the people behind the brand and people in general. This is evident in the connections people make with owner-operated restaurants or large organisations such as Tesla. Customers of Tesla may show interest in what Elon Musk has to say. His personal brand and Tesla overlap.
Suppose you trust Elon Musk, and associate his vision and brand with high performance, quality, forward-thinking and intuitive design; in that case, you will associate some of this to any project Mr Musk launches.
Richard Branson is a timeless example of this; we know that when Virgin launches a new brand, there is a level of quality we can expect. More than 40 Virgin companies operate in 35 countries and employ over 60,000 people. I am confident that Richard Branson’s personal brand has something to do with its success.
Front and centre
I was always a behind-the-scenes person. In fact, I would go as far as saying, I hate pictures and videos of myself.
Self-promotion does not come naturally to me at all. However, after I fought past the demons in my head – it is evident that putting myself out there has been essential to achieving the goals I have set myself, particularly for my charity.
People generally know that I am not a one-person show; there are 30 of us. Yet they still find comfort (understandably) in knowing they can contact me.
Practice owners that have a successful personal brand too will completely relate to this. If it sounds like a nightmare having to deal with a barrage of messages, don’t fear. You can use pre-saved responses for speed. Or just reply in a helpful way that won’t always take too much time, but has a beneficial impact on your practice.
For example, you can redirect patients to the Instagram page for the practice or the consultation booking link. The goal is to get the patient off Instagram and into the practice. You don’t want to discuss their treatment on the platform in direct messages.
I know many practice owners who have a personal brand will simply reply: ‘Thank you so much for reaching out to me personally. Of course, we would love to help you with your new smile. May I request you click here to schedule your virtual or in-person consultation with my team right away.’
Building your personal Instagram brand
I would advise all practice owners to have a personal brand Instagram account.
Managing a personal brand doesn’t mean you have to share every meal you ever have on Instagram. Not even close. With as little as five to 10 minutes a week, you can start building a personal brand by integrating Instagram into your day-to-day reporting.
You can share thoughts about how you think (keep it neutral! No politics or religion!), about your views on dentistry. A peek into your personal life is always nice.
I always say at my workshops that most patients already believe you have the skill; they just want to like you and see the whites of your eyes.
Present yourself so people can see you and like you, the same way your current patients do. Try this exercise to find out what your current patients love about you.
You can also use the platform to explain how you have built your team by only recruiting those with the same values. Coming to your practice would mean that they get a similar experience as if they were your patient.
Promoting the team on Instagram
There are a few ways you can get around making the practice about you, and more about the team. Instead of just posting examples of your own dentistry, share examples of work created by your colleagues at your practice. You can share this in your stories (expire after 24 hours) instead of your feed; remember to credit the team.
Share everything interesting about your practice, your why, your viewpoint, insights into your life and any achievements. People want to see that you are human just like them. They want to connect to you in a non-corporate way. This is what makes social media so successful for those who grasp this concept.
To limit the demand on you, charge more for appointments directly with you. You wouldn’t do this by saying: ‘Sorry I charge more’… Instead, present patients with a fee guide where they can choose if they wish to pay more for you or less for an associate that shares the same vision and ethos as you.
You can also have limited appointments available with yourself; this increases the chances of patients seeing your associates.
You must actively post about the practice and the team instead of just yourself. We want to encourage patients to visit the practice. We do this by promoting the practice and the team within it through your value filter.
If you look around, there are plenty of examples of business owners that do this well. Their customers have no issue seeing someone else at their businesses.
This approach helps grow the business and still allows it to be considered a good investment for a buyer in the future.
Where to begin?
If you don’t know where to begin, naturally, I would have to point you in the direction of my book Instagram for Dentists. It’s an easy read and gets you set up, so you know what you are doing.
Andy Acton, of practice sales company Frank Taylor, says: ‘I agree that practice owners can create a personal brand that meets the dual objective of raising your own profile (we all like to connect with individuals) but then divert that increased interest back into your business so you don’t become the star attraction, which isn’t good for the long term goodwill value of your business.’
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