Welcome to the Evolution of Medicine podcast! In this episode, James Maskell sits down with Theresa DePasquale, CEO of Capture Social Group, to discuss how to use Instagram and its features for growing your brand. Theresa gives some tips on what types of posts will work best for engagement with your followers, and examples on what features to utilize when creating a post. If you want to know how to build your practice and engage your patients using social media marketing, this episode is for you!

Highlights include:

  • How sharing your story is a great way for marketing to your customers; people want to know the personality behind the business
  • Why some posts perform better than others, and insider tips to help with engagement
  • Why Instagram is a great platform to organically grow your business
  • And so much more!

Resources mentioned in this episode:

James Maskell: Welcome to the Evolution of Medicine podcast, the place health professionals come to hear from innovators and agitators leading the charge. We cover the latest clinical breakthroughs in health technology, as well as practical tools to help you transform your practice and the health of your community. This podcast is brought to you by the Lifestyle Matrix Resource Center, who provide a range of options to help you deliver successful, effective, functional, and integrative medicine. To find out more and to get started, go to goevomed.com/lmrc. That’s goevomed.com/lmrc.

James Maskell: Hello, and welcome to the podcast. This week, we feature Theresa DePasquale. She is a social media maven and expert and helps practitioners like you build a super strong Instagram presence. This is part of our marketing series. We’ve spoken throughout the marketing series about how to take people from never having heard of you to wanting to part with their money to see you. And so ultimately this is going to be a real education on the top of the funnel on how to find people in your community that are a great fit. It was a very valuable half an hour. Enjoy.
So a warm welcome to the podcast, Theresa DePasquale. Welcome, Theresa.

Theresa DePasquale: Hello, hello.

James Maskell: So we’re going to be talking about Instagram marketing here today, but before we get into the specifics of how to do that, I guess I just want to give our audience some context for the fact that you are not just some Instagram marketer. You are passionate and deeply embedded in the functional medicine community. So you want to share a little bit about that?

Theresa DePasquale: Yeah, for sure. Well, I was in the health and fitness industry myself. I was a health and wellness expert for the past 15 years and built a whole fitness business. But outside of that, my husband and I actually own several functional medicine stem cell clinics. So yeah, I’m definitely involved in this space.

James Maskell: Beautiful. Well, look, I really want to help out practitioners. We’re doing a whole series this year on marketing, and we’ve looked at sort of building the baseline structure to take people who have never heard of you through a process where they can now book an appointment with you. So we’ve talked about automation, we’ve talked about lead magnets, we’ve talked about challenges. We’ve talked about a lot of different things over the year so far. What I wanted to get in with you is ultimately we want to talk about the very top of the funnel, right? We want to talk about how do you connect with people who going to be your target market and how do you start to engage them with the fact that you exist so that they can sort of jump into the top of the funnel and eventually become patients. And I know that you have a particular knowledge and skillset when it comes to Instagram. So why don’t we just start there? Why Instagram? Why is Instagram the most important social media platform for practitioners to be thinking about today?

Theresa DePasquale: That’s a good question. So obviously, all social media is great. I prefer Instagram because … A few different reasons. Number one, you can still get organic growth if you have the right strategy, right? It’s kind of not like Facebook where Facebook, it’s pay to play. If you don’t pay, nobody’s going to see your content. Whereas Instagram, if you know what you’re doing, you can still get a very good organic growth rate. And number two, what’s very cool about Instagram is they are slowly becoming more and more of a search engine. So you know how there is a Google and then people were using YouTube, it was basically the second search engine to Google.

And now Instagram is putting a bunch of changes in so that people can basically seek out different types of content and accounts that they want to follow. So for example, if I have the little search bar and I type in a different phrase, it’s going to populate specific accounts based on what I’m looking for. So if you understand that, and you’re an expert and you’re offering something, there’s ways to optimize your content for that. So it’s pretty cool. There’s lot of things you can do with it as an expert.

James Maskell: Let me ask you this. If you’re an Instagram, what are some things that you would recommend? Let’s just focus, first of all, on the needs of a clinic. You could only service in your city, in your state, right? So you’re not heading for stardom. You’re not going after making a book, you’re just starting to build a local kind of a community. What would be some fundamentals on Instagram that you have to have? Or what are the fundamentals for practitioners starting to starting to build an account?

Theresa DePasquale: Okay. So that’s a loaded question because there’s a couple of different answers to different things. Because if you’re talking about a clinic having its own page, I’d probably handle that a little bit differently than the actual practitioner doing their own page. But at the end of the day, there’s some basic Instagram principles that work on any page, which is you want to focus on obviously providing value. So helping to educate. It’s like the … Gary Vaynerchuk calls it the thank-you economy. So you have to give, give gifts, so just giving your followers or your potential clients little micro wins. It also positions you as the expert. Okay?

If I was in local business, I would look at doing things a little bit differently. I’d still provide value, but I’d do like a little bit more fun to where I would kind of bring people into … who works at the office, who are the doctors, and make them feel like they know us and we’re a family. So you need to make sure you’re being relatable. That’s another big one. Consistency is a huge one. So just being consistent. And then taking the time to make good content. And when I say make good content, it means … a lot of people when they first start just kind of haphazardly post stuff, but you have to realize Instagram is a visual platform. So if you want to succeed, you need to take the time to make nice graphics or quote cards or images, or whatever you’re posting needs to be good quality to get people’s attention.

James Maskell: Okay. And what are some visual assets that you’ve seen work in the functional medicine space for practitioners? I mean, ultimately all of these practitioners have an insane amount of knowledge gathered over years of practice and years of learning about different ways of thinking about health. How do you really create health? How do you reclaim health? And I know that there’s so much good stuff in the heads of the practitioners. It’s not always that easy to just flush that out into a calendar schedule.

Theresa DePasquale: Well, so it’s basically just taking that, but taking it down 10 levels. Because I’ll tell you a big mistake that I see people making. There’s two mistakes. One is they dump too much information and then they overwhelm people, or two is a lot of practitioners or people will post up a topic without giving any value, and then be like, “Visit my website to learn more.” So you have to realize that people don’t want to leave Instagram to learn more unless you’re going to give them something of value on Instagram.

So you want to take these little different micro topics and just take one little piece of it, you don’t want to give them too much, and talk about it. So, for example, if I was going to talk about gut health, I wouldn’t do this extensive post about gut health every time. I would break it down into what are the little micro topics around gut health that could help people have a healthier gut? What are the best supplements? What are the best foods? What foods should you avoid? You take it and deconstruct it into little pieces.

James Maskell: Yeah. It’s really interesting you say that, because one of the topics we’ve had during this series is niching. I think one of the things that’s tough around functional medicine is that when you’re rethinking a whole medical operating system around systems thinking, you really have to know a little bit about a lot. And ultimately, when it comes to marketing, what we found over the years is that if you are starting a functional medicine practice and you’re looking to really think who are the first 500 patients that I’m going to have walk through the door, you need to have a very tight demographic. And one of the reasons why we said that is so that when it comes to, as an example, your Instagram marketing, you know what to post about, because you could post about a thousand different things. So how do you help practitioners? Or when you’ve worked with practitioners, how do you help them stay sort of on point and develop being known for something?

Theresa DePasquale: So, most of the people I work with already have that figured out. So, but if I were to give advice to somebody that’s just starting, because like you’re saying, if you’re talking about functional medicine and people can come in with a million different elements and you can talk about a million different things. So I would look at who are you treating the most? Who can you get the best results to? That’s probably where I would start. Like, right now, with what you’re doing, what is that demographic or avatar that you can literally get the best transformational results, and I would focus on that. That’d be my suggestion.

James Maskell: How do you recommend that practitioners kind of tell their story? Because I guess one of the things with this kind of marketing is like you do a post and then then a few days later you have to come up with a lot of new topic all the time. Ultimately, one of the things that is a strength for a lot of our practitioners is their story, like how they got themselves better or they helped someone in their family. How do you continue to bring that in over time?

Theresa DePasquale: Well, number one, it’s very important that you share it to begin with, because I find that a lot of physicians don’t like to even talk about it or put themselves out there. And so what they’ll do is they’ll typically start an Instagram account and then just post business stuff, and then there’s nothing about them on there. So the first thing is actually making one post like that and sharing your story, right? Because people want to know the why. They want to know why you’re doing what you’re doing, why do you care? Right? And also helps them relate and know that you’ve been through it.

And then outside of that, it’s just really turning that… Through your captions is how you’re going to share your stories. So I would say like we weave that in. We don’t do that all the time. But we definitely weave that into different posts throughout the month in our client’s accounts. It’s not just about their story. It’s also about tell stories about people that you work with. You don’t have to share their name or do like a HIPAA violation, but you could just talk about sharing the stories of success that people came in, what they were struggling with, what that looked like, what you did, et cetera.

James Maskell: Yeah. Okay. And what are some tricks to this sort of captioning pot of things? Because obviously you have to make a beautiful picture or you have to make something that’s visually appealing. What are some best practices for the captions to increase engagement and increase reach?

Theresa DePasquale: Good question. So, yeah, so the picture should get their attention. The caption is what’s going to keep it. So a couple of tips is, one, is like … On Instagram, you can only see the first line. You want to make sure the first line counts. So you want to avoid doing salesy, spammy, “Are you struggling to lose weight?” You know how people do that? Don’t start with a question. Start with a story. So this is where stories come in. So if you can take a look at whatever you want to post and kind of start with the story, you’re going to have people much more inclined to stay and read and continue reading than if you just start with something cheesy.

For doctors, I would say another big one is stop using doctor speak. Because most of the doctors I work with use big, fancy, hard to read words that we know what that means in our world, but if you’re trying to reach the consumer or patient and help somebody, they’re not going to know what that means and they’re not going to understand it, and you just go on over their head. So really be mindful of how you’re writing the captions. Just kind of write it like you were having a conversation with somebody. Also, I think that every caption doesn’t have to be a dissertation Some of them can be shorter or sweeter. You want to make sure you’re having captions in there that have little lists or things that people can save. I mean, there’s a million tips I can give you. That was a few.

James Maskell: So then what about the actual transfer of people into your funnel? Right? Because ultimately, we’ve talked on this session before about lead magnets. I know on Instagram you can kind of … you have one link, right? Where you can send people to. What are some best practices that you’ve seen from getting people off Instagram and into sort of a connection with you? Where’s the action happening there?

Theresa DePasquale: Yes. So what works on Instagram is less direct promotions and more, for example, PDFs, opt-ins, guides, something you can give them for free to get them on your list. Instagrammers will definitely leave and go and give you their email if you have something. So what I always suggest doing is looking at your content and paying attention to what your followers, as you start getting more followers, really like. And obviously if everybody loves the top tips to balance your hormones, that could be a free guide. So come up with something that you can put a little opt in and get them on your list.

As far as the links in the bio, the way that we do it is anytime you do a direct promotion or call to action, you want to have one link. Because the problem is, when you give people too many choices, they’re not going to pick any or they’re not going to go where you want. So if you’re doing a direct CTA, you need you to just have whatever link that is you have in there, and then if you have random posts that you’re not really doing call to action, you can put a link through if you want. But we see clicks go way down when we have multiple links.

James Maskell: Interesting. So it’s just like find the most efficient place to bring people in and just keep hammering that along. I see a lot of people in our space who’ve just had the same kind of lead magnet for ages. I mean, ultimately you only need people to opt into the list once. Right? And then you can work with them on the email. So that makes a lot of sense. All right. So let’s just talk about some of the other things that you could do on Instagram now. Like, I’ve got for me, and this is maybe a limit on my growth, but I have a hard stop with … I’m not going to dance in front of the camera on a Reel and have different words coming up there.

Like, I’ve set myself… I don’t know if it’s my British sensibility, but I’m not going to do it. Even if it means that doesn’t mean that my numbers will go up. But I know that Reels and Stories are a lot of what’s happening on Instagram. So can you share with us a little bit about some best practices for using some of those other features, newer features?

Theresa DePasquale: Yeah, totally. So Reels is obviously kind of their attempt at getting some of their people back from TikTok. And you don’t have to go in there and dance and be stupid. There’s creative ways that you can do different stuff. And you can actually make content for Reels that doesn’t even have you in it. Just a little tip there. You can get creative, so you don’t always have to be in there dancing or being silly. But right now Reels is getting a ton of reach in Instagram because it’s a newer feature and obviously Instagram wants people to use it. So we’ve been pushing people to use it because it’s very easy to hit the Explore page. So if you’re someone that is a little bit more shy or conserved, I would definitely say, get out of your comfort zone and at least try it. And you don’t have to do dancing stuff.

You can, like I said, go on the Reels Explore page and you can kind of sift through and get different ideas. I think it’s the best thing to do because you might just be seeing the silly dancing ones, but there’s a ton of different creative stuff that you can do. We have clients that, for example, if they have keynotes or things they’ve done, we’ve cut and made little videos for Reels that we can put on there. So you can get pretty creative. But definitely you want to be using new features.

Obviously Stories are great. Stories are great because they are very real. They’re authentic. Your followers feel like they connect with you. You can give them real-time updates. They’re great because they’re not really highly produced. You jump on, you could be in your PJs or sweatpants or whatever, and nobody cares, right? So it’s a great way to connect to your audience, keep them up to date, show them behind the scenes. You can even go on and do … I call them focused Stories, which is like still teaching or educating or delivering some kind of value to them in the Stories, which you should be. So it’s another great tool in Instagram. That’s why—

James Maskell: One of the things that I’ve seen people do that I really like is to do the stories, and if they do add a lot of value and they fit in one of, say, your five categories of things that you talk about, to then put them into those Highlights packages. Because I always just think about someone who comes to your Instagram profile for the first time, one of the things that we’ve said time and time again through this series is how are you going to get people to part with their money? Right? They’re going to part with their money because they think that this person can help me in a way that no one else has been able to help me and this person is the person for me.

And ultimately what I’ve seen on some of the profiles of practitioners that I follow, that I like is they’ve done those stories. And rather than these stories that just go away and you never see them again, they put them into their highlight reel. And so there’s a highlight reel on diet tips. And so if you’re a person that comes to the Instagram first and you want diet tips and you go on there and you watch this person do 50 of them, because you’ve done three a week for the last 14 weeks and you’ve managed to build up a lot of highlights in there, they’re seeing the range of your expertise, they’re seeing your realness, and also it’s captured in a place where they can continue to … that they can see all the highlights in one go.

So that to me, when I’ve seen other practitioners do that, I think, look, that’s a cool idea. Because one of the things with stories is you could think that it’s so short that it’s kind of wasted, but ultimately with that feature, it seems like you can really keep the best bits ready for people to view and you can sort of curate your best foot forward, I guess, for new people.

Theresa DePasquale: Totally. And people look at them. I have people looking at some of mine that I’ve had for like a year old and I get comments on it. It’s crazy. They come to your page and they sit and go through all their story highlights. So absolutely, a hundred percent.

James Maskell: Tell me about hashtagging, because I know that hashtagging is specifically something that I know is sort of intimidating to some people, but also is obviously a clear way to get random new people to show up.

Theresa DePasquale: So, hashtagging on Instagram is really the secret weapon, unless you’re in the situation we’re in right now, which is when they’re shut down. So, I don’t know if you’ve seen, but basically Instagram’s had all the hashtags really closed down for the past four weeks or so because of false information about the election being spread. So when they’re back up, I can give you some tips to help. Yeah.

James Maskell: Do you anticipate that happening, or are we sliding into a no-hashtag dystopia?

Theresa DePasquale: I can’t even imagine. If that happens, I’ll be devastated. So at my agency, we actually have a whole hashtag ladder process that we use and we crush it. We have our clients leading at the top of the hashtag all the time. So a couple things you want to keep in mind with hashtags. Remember, I told you, people are using Instagram like a search engine, so use hashtags that people would be looking for: paleo diet tips, best thyroid diet, things like that. Home exercise tips. So what would your ideal patient, what would they be looking for? So that’s number one.

Number two is stop using the really big, super popular hashtags. So when people go to hashtag, I think most people just kind of haphazardly do it and not really think about it. But when you’re posting a hashtag that has 20 million tags, you’re now competing with 20 million other posts to be seen. So you’re never going to get seen. So you want to do research and find optimized hashtags. That’s really the game. That’s like the two biggest tips I would give you.

James Maskell: So let me just see if I can dial in a strategy for someone who’s listening who has been following the whole series. To me, this seems reasonable. It’s like, optimize the profile, right? So get a bunch of stuff on there. Get some good visuals. Get your highlight things set up. If you could do that in, say, a three-month period of time where you just get the … It doesn’t matter how many followers you have. It’s just about getting the page to land so that your landing page is going to the right place. Where people click on, they’re going to go somewhere where you’re going to be able to warm them up and capture them. Then you have your pictures set up and the captions so that people can see that you’re an expert. Then you have your story highlights.

At that moment, one of the things I just want to, I guess, finish on, is one of the things that we’ve spoken about with Facebook ads and Instagram ads is just that this is how you can sort of start to micro target for people in your community. Like, if you have a in-person clinic and you just want to get people in your city, Facebook and Instagram provides the opportunity. And also you can organize this all through the Facebook ads manager to advertise on Instagram. One of the things that we’ve said is that get yourself set up so you can do that, because it’s never really been as efficient of a way to put yourself in front of the exact target market.

So if you are a women’s health expert and you help people between 45 and 75, women, you can only put your ads in front of 45-to-75-year-old women of people that live within 20 miles of your practice. I mean, that’s never been available for in the history of marketing. And now we have three or four platforms of millions of people on where you can do exactly that. So what have I missed and what are some best practices for paying money to put your stuff in front of people once you’ve developed your protocol in that way?

Theresa DePasquale: Okay. So let’s just quickly talk about it, because there’s two ways to advertise through Instagram. One is directly through Instagram. For example, when you see your posts, you can boost a post. The other is using Facebook ads manager to advertise to Instagram. I would not suggest, if you want to really focus on organic growth, to do anything through Instagram itself. Because once you boost a post or Instagram, it dramatically diminishes your organic reach. It’s a nightmare. So if you guys do want to do a paid strategy, my suggestion would be to use through Facebook ads manager and have it advertise to your Instagram. Does that make sense?

James Maskell: Yes.

Theresa DePasquale: Okay. Significant difference. But that’s pretty much my biggest tip for advertising. Is that what you’re saying? I mean, you want to make sure your profile and your bio is updated to attract your ideal audience, but that comes down to really understanding, who is your ideal avatar, right? Because when they come to your profile, you want them to know who you are, what you’re about, and how you can help them. So you got to make sure that’s in your bio, and then, like you said, that there’s content on there that when they glance at your page, they realize there’s something valuable there and then it’s worth the follow-up.

James Maskell: Got it. That’s really valuable. Yeah. Because, I mean, a lot of the strategies that we’ve been speaking about, and Uli, who’s been on, and all the things that we’ve done with Evolution of Medicine have really focused on, okay, if you’re going to use paid traffic, let’s really focus on the people that you can serve most clearly. Most of the people that we’re speaking to are people that are working on building local practices. They have licenses within states and have to work with people inside the state. Obviously it’s opened up a little bit with telemedicine, but certainly not all the way for most practitioners and most doctors in our community. I just went past 10,000 followers, which meant that now I can add my links into my stories and generate a bit more traffic in that way. And so I haven’t really done as much as I want to do with that, but that was one of my goals to get there. How important is that? And what are some things that you can do once you get past that level?

Theresa DePasquale: Well, I think swipe up, if you are obviously trying to build your brand or business or monetize social media in any way, is super important. So that should be anybody’s goal, to get to 10K, because I can tell you that we ran a few influencer campaigns and the amount of story clicks we get in the swipe up compared to post flex was triple. So the swipe ups absolutely worked. So I think that if you have it and you’re not utilizing, you definitely need to start utilizing it because it works very well, because it’s super easy for people. What was the next question? What’d you say about after that?

James Maskell: Well, I guess the follow-up question I have for that, I know it’s valuable, let me ask you this. I know that you can’t have been on Instagram very long without someone DM-ing you asking you if you want to buy a bunch of followers, or if you want to do that kind of thing. Tell me about what’s the skinny on that.

Theresa DePasquale: Okay. Yeah, please don’t do that. And if they message you and telling you that they can get you verification, to log in here, please don’t do that either. It’s a phishing. So there’s so many different scams and things on Instagram. And here’s what you have to understand, is that Instagram works off of engagement. So if you buy fake followers, it’s a vanity metric. And yeah, you’re going to look like you have followers, but what’s going to happen is that actually hurt your page worse in the long run, because everything works basically off of an engagement rate. So the more followers you have who aren’t engaging, the less actual real followers are going to see. That make sense? So it’s just really not worth it. Just work on really focusing on building slow, consistent growth of your ideal people, and then you’ll get there. You want to make sure, because there’s no point. If you’re trying to get an ROI with fake followers, it’s not happening.

James Maskell: Yeah. I mean, ultimately you have to look at it this: who are real people that can buy your products and services? That’s all it counts. And ultimately I do see a lot of people in our world who do a great job on social media. It’s a little fewer who do a great job on social media who are local clinics as opposed to kind of celebrities or aspirational celebrities, I guess. But I do come across clinics and practitioners that are doing a good job locally. And as you said, what does it really matter? What really matters is like what is the most efficient way to get people on your email list? Like, if you’re looking at a marketing KPI, how many people you add to your email list every month is a really good way to do that.

Instagram is obviously a super-efficient way to be able to meet people where they are and to be able to engage them into who you are. I guess I really want to just acknowledge the work that you’re doing. I know you’re helping a lot of people, and I know that you’ve developed a lot of expertise on this. If people are interested in sort of getting a little bit more support on doing this, or kind of want to outsource some of this stuff, what’s the best way to get in touch, Theresa?

Theresa DePasquale: Yeah. Well, thank you by the way. So the best place would be is to go to capturesocialgroup.com and you can actually download … I have a whole guide there that your audience can have that’s a bunch of tips to help them boost their engagement on Instagram. So they can download the guide and then they can get in contact with me through Instagram, which is … My Instagram is @theresadepasquale, it’s my name.

James Maskell: So, listen. Go through that process. Download the guide. Because ultimately what you’re witnessing is the best practices that you’re meant to do for your practice. I mean, that’s the most obvious thing. I mean, you learn by doing and you learn by seeing how other people do. If you’ve learned nothing through this whole marketing series is that it’s about setting up a system where you can predictably take people who are in your target market from never having heard of you to trusting you enough to part with that money. That’s it. And ultimately, if you build that, you cannot fail in practice because everything else that goes wrong, there’ll be enough people to make it right. And if you never worked that out, it’ll be a hit and miss situation.

I guess, Theresa, I just want to ask you one final question, which is like the heart of this. Ultimately, the reason for the Evolution of Medicine, and the reason why I spent the last decade really talking to practitioners about how to build their practice, and literally in 2010, I did a webinar on social media and functional medicine because I realized we need to get the word out. And 2020 couldn’t have been a bigger kick up the butt that what we’re doing in this world is actually critical to the future of human health and COVID anti-fragility and all that kind of stuff. Why does this matter to you? Why are you doing this? Why do you wake up every morning and want to help these practitioners do it?

Theresa DePasquale: Why do I do it?

James Maskell: Yeah.

Theresa DePasquale: You said. So obviously I was in that industry, in that field myself, for years, so I’m extremely passionate about it. And so now I get to basically help others get their message out there. So everybody I work with is absolutely incredible. They’re all heart-centered, health and wellness entrepreneurs that are very impact driven and all function … I mean, they’re really, really good people that are making a difference. And that’s why I do it.

James Maskell: Beautiful.

Theresa DePasquale: I get to get up every morning and love what I do.

James Maskell: Well, thank you for being part of the Evolution of Medicine Podcast. Everyone who’s listening in, thank you so much for checking this out. I hope this has given you some good ideas about how you can really continue to use tools like Instagram to introduce you to new people. Thanks so much for being part of the podcast. We’ll have all the details in the links. I’m your host, James Maskell. We’ve been with Theresa DePasquale from Capture Social Group. We’ll have all the links in the show notes. Thanks so much for listening, and we’ll see you next time.

James Maskell: Thanks for listening to the evolution of medicine podcast. Please share this with colleagues who need to hear it. Thanks so much to our sponsors, the Lifestyle Matrix Resource Center. This podcast is really possible because of them. Please visit goevomed.com/lmrc to find out more about their clinical tools like the group visit toolkit. That’s goevomed.com/lmrc. Thanks so much for listening and we’ll see you next time.

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