It doesn’t take a genius to point out that social media has fast become a stream of photos with commentary. Where places like Facebook used to be more of a way to post opinions and info about your everyday life, it’s now a photo album of sorts. And it’s no wonder. We’re visual beings and pictures reel us in. Hey, we’ll even do some reading if it’s attached to a good photo!

Although Instagram began as a simple way to share pictures, it wasn’t until the last couple of years when businesses started to realize that this is an amazing tool to spread word quickly online. If you’re curious as to how you can go about marketing your business using Instagram, you’re about to find out.

Reach Out to New Patients

While you may already have profiles on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter, Instagram is another great way to reach further and be visible to an even larger audience. By creating a visual of your company, you’re allowing visitors to have a peek inside your office without even stepping foot inside. Promote yourself by focusing on what you, your staff and your patients are passionate about. Think of Instagram as a collage of photos that comes together to tell the story of your business.

Get Followers by Giving Incentives

Everyone loves to win, or at least to try and win. Photo contests have become a catchy way to grab new followers. It’s easy for you and easy for them. A good method of determining the winner is to have people vote for their favorite picture. Offer the winner some sort of prize such as a discount on whitening.

Ask for entries to have a certain “hashtag” which will tag the photo to your page. If you haven’t ever heard of a hashtag, it’s ok. It’s basically a stamp that organizes all of the photos and discussions online into categories. Say you’re searching for people who are also talking about their experiences with in-office whitening treatments. Someone might post before and after pictures or commentary accompanied by a “hashtag” such as #whiteteethinaday which translates as “white teeth in a day”. Come on, you picked up on that, right? You’ll get the hang of it with some practice. Hashtags are an important part of marketing online because you’re basically placing your posts in a category with others of the same topic.

If you’re not into competition, consider offering special promo codes or discounts to people who follow you.

Keep Them Engaged

What about your business is exciting, cutting edge, funny or creative? Make sure that you keep track of your content by logging everything into a calendar. Before you just start randomly loading up pictures and comments, take time to really analyze who it is that you’re marketing to – figure out who your audience is – and think of ways to excite them and keep them interested.

Put Patients and Staff in the Spotlight

One sure way to create a positive view of your practice is to display photos of happy patients. Obviously, their permission is required. Say someone just had an in-office whitening treatment and several veneers. Take a candid photo of them and put it up with comments from the patient regarding how happy they are with the treatments.

Building your business identity with Instagram will take commitment. In order to stay noticeable, you need to keep up with the times, with what’s popular and being talked about in the circle that you want to be a part of the most. For instance, if you’re a relatively new dentist in town and are surrounded by apartments and condos filled with 30-something men in suits, BINGO. This is a market you should focus on. Make your office appear hip and young. Toss out the Better Homes and Gardens and load up on GQ and Inc. Magazine instead. Cater to those who are nearby and need you just as much as you need them. Point out how close you are to a certain business district, or that you offer convenient early am and lunchtime appointments.

The amazing thing about Instagram is that you can create a snapshot of your business that is sure to make an impressive first impression. From there, it’s up to you and your staff to carry through this image in your business practices. With more and more new and return patients, you’re certain to have an extravagantly decorated Instagram in no time.