Using hashtags on your Instagram posts can be a great way to categorize the photo, connect with the local community, and even inspire new posts from your followers. While more than 90% of Instagram users follow at least one business account, many users also follow specific hashtags in addition. You can see how many users follow a particular hashtag when you type it in the search and click on the “tags” tab at the top.
While it’s super tempting to add #puppiesofinstagram and #cute #instagood #photooftheday to every post, it’s unlikely that those who follow those hashtags are ever going to become clients of your practice. Focus on hashtags that are already in circulation in your neighborhood and community, and even consider adding your own (e.g. #petsofYourVetClinic) to inspire photo tags at your practice. Spend a few minutes on Instagram looking up hashtags in your area, including community name, #dogsofyourcity, #yourcitydogs, #catsofyourcity, #yourcitycats, etc. and see which ones are most popular. If you’ve got neighboring businesses with strong Instagram presences, check out what community-themed hashtags they’re using and jump on the band wagon. You can still add the generic #weloveourjob, #puppybreath, #muttsrule type hashtags to your post but know that they’re largely functioning to convey emotion and humor.
Get my whole list of hashtags to get you started here.
While you can add up to 30 hashtags to each post, the sweet spot tends to be around 11. Any more than that and your post might look spammy, and is less likely to be using hashtags strategically.
Save Time: Storage
Tired of typing out the same hashtags over and over again? Or do you have them saved on a note on your phone to copy and paste? Save yourself time and energy, and also be more strategic with your hashtags by creating a hashtag document. I use Google docs, simply because it’s free, everyone can open it without any special software, and it’s saved in the cloud so I can access it anytime, from any device. If you use a scheduling software like Buffer, these platforms often have a feature that will allow you to save common hashtags as well, sometimes referred to as a hashtag manager.
Save Time: Post Themes
In addition to creating the reusable list of hashtags, consider creating sections in your document for common types of post. For instance, if you’re posting an awesome picture of one of your veterinarians with a cat, using the #dogsofyourcity hashtag isn’t going to work. Create a list for dog-centric posts, cat-centric posts, general pet-themed post, and any other specific niche you commonly post about.
Don’t Forget To Change It Up
While you can certainly save a lot of time by using these handy pre-built hashtag lists, don’t rely on them entirely. Add new relevant hashtags when appropriate, keep an eye on hashtag analytics (if included in your platform), and review other posts using that hashtag quarterly to ensure you’re meeting your strategic goals and connecting with the right pet parents.
Caitlin DeWilde, DVM
As veterinary practices start to rely more heavily on Instagram, the limitations of its single link option become even more noticeable. Because Instagram only allows ONE clickable website link (hosted in your bio, not on each post), practices are forced to either a) choose a single link like their practice website or b) constantly swap links out every time you have a post that references a different site.
Plus, we know that not all of our clients on Instagram behave the same - new clients may want to check out the practice’s main website while existing clients may want to take action on booking an appointment or ordering a refill from their online store.
I never want a client to be inspired or prompted to take action….only to be deterred. It’s asking a lot to ask a client to see a post then close their Instagram app, open their browser app, Google your practice, get to the website and THEN get to the specific page for which your post promised them they’d find more information.
So what’s the solution? Using an Instagram bio tool. Instead of only providing a single clickable link, an Instagram bio tool will expand into multiple - so your practice can link to a variety of helpful resources for your clients, such as your website, appointment booking portal, blog, online pharmacy, and more! You can edit these at any time and add relevant links (e.g., the voting site for a community award, an event page, etc). Best of all, many of these tools provide additional analytics on what your clients are clicking and how Instagram may be helping your practice.
Which tool to use? There are a few ways to maximize your bio link. Here are my top three favorites:
Caitlin DeWilde, DVM
Can you believe nearly 85% of mobile users watch social media videos with the sound OFF? Truthfully, I can. I almost never have my sound on- I’m always worried about my phone going off in an exam room or waking up a kiddo at home. It’s just easier for to leave the phone’s sound off.
Consider this stat along with the facts that:
1) videos are the preferred social media content (from the perspective of users and algorithms alike) and
2) we have just a few short seconds to capture our viewer’s attention.
Combined, these reasons make captioning your videos a worthy investment of time and in some cases, money. Captions are a great way to improve the length of watch time as well as getting your viewer to understand your message.
Even on image-heavy Instagram, captions can increase view time by 12%.
Adding captions sounds hard, but really can be done in just a few steps. Here’s the roundup of the platforms and options:
A quick note about file type: I had never heard of an .SRT file (SubRip file type) before I started captioning videos, so don’t feel bad if you hadn’t either!
Unfortunately, the only way to include subtitles on your Instagram videos is to have them be a part of the original file. There are a few apps that can help with this, or traditional video editing software like Adobe Premier Pro.
The Social DVM Team