I see it happen too often: Veterinary clinics get a lot of followers and likes on Instagram, but it doesn’t actually help their business. Why? Those follows and likes are coming from people who aren’t even in their local area, who will never come to their veterinary hospital.
It’s easy for this to happen. You hashtag a lot of posts with general tags, like #vetmed or #dogsofinstagram. Hashtags are a key way that people find you on Instagram, but these vague hashtags attract vague followers.
Basically, they could be coming from anywhere! As a local business, this is not helpful nor relevant. It’s just making you feel popular.
There is value in throwing some of those general hashtags on your posts, but only if you’re also focusing on local hashtags and behaviors.
Thinking locally is critical to getting potential new clients in your area to follow you.
So how do you get local people to follow your animal hospital on Instagram?
1) Tag your location… but not always your actual clinic location!
Every time you post on Instagram – whether it’s on your story or on a regular post – you have the chance to tag a location.
It might seem tempting to tag your actual clinic location, and I’d suggest doing this 20% of the time. But the majority of the time, you need to tag locations near you that more people are searching.
What should you tag instead? More people will have the chance to find you if you:
-Tag the city in which you’re located.
-Tag a specific neighborhood, if you’re in a densely populated area.
-Tag popular businesses or locations nearby. (Dog park, anyone?)
2) Use local hashtags… and not always veterinary ones!
Let’s be real: People likely aren’t searching for that special hashtag you made for your vet clinic. What are they searching and following on Instagram? Hashtags about your local area.
Instead of #DogsOfInstagram or #PetsOfInstagram, see if there are pet-specific hashtags for your local area. For example, a veterinary clinic in Boston could use #DogsOfBoston, #BostonPets.
But don’t limit yourself to pet and vet hashtags. What else is trending in your local area? Search your town, city, or state name on Instagram to see what popular tags pop up. For example, you might see popular tags surrounding teams that could inspire some sporty pet posts.
3) Partner with local businesses… even if they aren’t pet-specific!
Giveaways and co-promotion with local businesses are a great way for both accounts to grow relevant followings.
Statistically, the majority of American households have a pet. So why not reach out to pet owners following other businesses, like coffee shops, breweries, or restaurants in your area? (We’ve all got to eat!)
This works best when all businesses contribute to the prize, and you require people to follow all included accounts on Instagram.
4) Be consistent, and have a plan!
These ideas are great in theory, but even better if you act upon them. I recommend you schedule posts ahead (using some of my favorite tools), set aside time to interact locally, and create lots of batches of local hashtags to use.
If you want a plan that’s done for you, plus tutorials on how to make all of this happen, snag my 4-Week Instagram Upgrade Plan for Vet Clinics now. It’s a reusable and customizable PDF planner – plus simple strategies and helpful tips – to help you get the most out of your Instagram efforts.