What Instagram Can Do For Your Hospital

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Use Instagram’s visually-driven platform to share a new side of your hospital and reach more patients than ever before.

If your hospital already has a thriving presence on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter, you may be skeptical about branching into Instagram, too. After all, there are only so many hours in a day, and another social media channel will demand that much more time and attention. Or maybe your hospital already has an Instagram account, and you’re not entirely convinced that it’s adding much to your social strategy.

But with over 400 million users worldwide, Instagram is just too big to ignore. The platform can be an incredibly valuable asset to a hospital looking to increase its marketing reach. And in the face of all the evidence that consumers respond to visual content online, there’s just no reason to continue holding out on Instagram. Here’s how to use the platform to engage patients — both present and future — whether you’ve yet to make an account or are looking to revamp your Instagram strategy:

1. Show off what you have to offer

Your hospital has the best doctors and the latest and greatest technology – why not use Instagram to show them off? Create posts featuring new services, talented doctors, and team events.  Keep in mind that the more personal you can make these posts sound, the better.

This post from Children’s Hospital Los Angeles is a great example of the balance hospitals are trying to strike with their tone: the caption comes across as appreciative of these doctors and their accomplishments rather than overly self-congratulatory.

If you’re trying to grow your service lines, providing footage of procedures can be a successful tactic, as well. Brave patients appreciate seeing what a procedure will really be like before they consult with your medical teams. Make sure to adhere to Instagram guidelines about graphic content. 

2. Tell patient stories (with permission!)

Because Instagram is a visual platform, it’s also an emotional platform – making it a prime channel for patient storytelling. Take a cue from the popular Instagram account Humans of New York — the account features portraits of people found on the streets of New York City, with their own quotations in the caption.

Like New York City, your hospital is full of people with rich and interesting stories. Feature some of them on your Instagram account and share a snippet of their healthcare journey, like St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital frequently does. Not only will these stories inspire hope in potential patients, but they’ll also humanize your hospital and demonstrate that you understand patients’ emotional needs as well as their physical ones. 


3. Run fundraising or awareness campaigns

Instagram’s hashtag system is far more organized and visually appealing than Facebook’s or Twitter’s, which means that your followers are more likely to search and use hashtags on Instagram than on other platforms. Take advantage of this feature to generate awareness for issues or upcoming events; consider creating custom hashtags for the event or for your hospital’s general fundraising efforts.

You can also use the platform to celebrate large donations, feature fundraising events, or both. In this post, Shriner’s Hospitals for Children showcase the results of their fundraising efforts, thank participants, and share a photo from a fun event, potentially encouraging followers to get involved in similar events in the future:

4. Become a health resource

Studies show that more and more people — especially millennials and teens — are using social media platforms like Instagram to seek out health information. Take advantage of this opportunity to reach patients by making health information readily available on your account. One way to do this may be running a series of posts with seasonal health tips, like how to ward off fall allergies or staying healthy during flu season.  

This post from CityMD is a great example of using Instagram to offer health information while also promoting your hospital. While the post contains real, valuable tips for avoiding fall allergens, the post also shows off the healthcare provider’s telehealth capabilities: 


5. Use Instagram as a recruiting resource

Attract top talent to your hospital by using Instagram to establish your employer brand. Share stories from your staff, accompanied by quotes about why they enjoy working at your hospital. Make your workplace look fun, inviting, and rewarding by sharing photos of your staff hard at work, volunteering, training, or sharing a laugh together in the hallway.

Draw inspiration from this great recruitment idea from Houston Methodist — sharing staff appreciation posts like this one make your current staff feel appreciated, give your employer brand a boost, and show off your great staff to potential patients, all at once!


6. Use Instagram Stories

Instagram’s short-form Stories tool offers a great opportunity to show off the daily operations of your hospital or to broadcast from fun events. Because Stories only last 24 hours, they can be more casual than regular Instagram posts. This means they’re easy to create on the fly and that you can share even more often, since you won’t fill patients’ feeds with your posts.

This Story from Northwestern’s Lake Forest Hospital is a great use of the tool. While a big move is an exciting event for a hospital, that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea to post 20 pictures to your regular Instagram account. 20 Stories, on the other hand, are a great way to record and share the big day without causing information overload. 


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