The Instagram associate – asset or liability?

While the efforts of 'Instagram associates' can benefit your practice, there are also times to exercise caution, Chris Barrow says...

While the efforts of ‘Instagram associates’ can benefit your practice, there are also times to exercise caution, Chris Barrow says…

The Instagram associate – asset or liability?

By which I mean: the associate who has created their own website and social media channels and is very active in posting case studies and moments from their own professional and personal life, in order to gain followers and promote patient referrals.

In the department of spotting trends, here’s one that seems to be reemerging in my inbox and messages:

‘Dear Chris

We are worried about our high-grossing associate as she is posting more to her own Instagram account (and other social media channels) and making less reference to the practice.

On your advice and recommendation, we agreed that it would be OK for her to have her own website, as well as social media channels.

However, we cannot escape the anxiety around this, as we feel that it will inevitably end up with her setting up her own practice and taking patients (and maybe even team members) with her.

So, to be clear, I’m not associate-bashing here – and there have been numerous occasions on which clients have expressed concerns about associate websites and social media channels, to which I have responded with encouragement in allowing the associate to build their own personal brand.

The 80/20 rule

I’m going to suggest yet another 80/20 rule here:

  • Around 80% of Instagram associates simply want to find an output for their natural enthusiasm for branding, marketing and business-building
  • And around 20% are focused on their own future ownership and simply look at their existing practice as a stepping stone on that career pathway.

Question: are the 20% the ‘baddies’ here?

Only if they are not transparent about their future objectives – once more, I find myself advising clients that ‘all problems exist in the absence of a good conversation.’

The anxious client is the one who isn’t regularly meeting with the associate and seeking first to understand, then to be understood.

It may well also be that the 20% associate simply doesn’t feel appreciated where they are…

A great asset

I believe that the Instagram associate can be a great asset to the business.

Please encourage your associates to promote themselves – but a few caveats:

  • Strike an agreement that any website and/or posts contain clear information on the practice name, location, hashtag
  • Observe carefully the associate’s performance and behaviour around both patients and other team members
  • Note the associate’s willingness to become involved in practice activities, both professional (huddles, training, away days) and personal (birthdays, weddings, anniversaries, celebrations, conferences, parties).

In essence, do they conduct themselves as an ‘ideal team player’?

If not, I suggest caution.

Ensure that their contract does include a realistic and enforceable restriction on practicing within a certain geographical distance, as well anti-poaching provisions.

However, whether they are an 80% team player or a 20% lone wolf, you are their clinical and business mentor and should act as such.

Don’t come complaining to me if you don’t invest time in conversation with them!

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