22 Apr 5 Proven Strategies to Get Clients Through Instagram
Watching how other health professionals use Instagram has long been a source of fascination for me. Some people are absolutely crushing it and are scaling their business way quicker than they otherwise would be able to, while others are putting in hours of work with no reward.
I think it is a platform where being half-hearted is a poor use of time. There are plenty of people who have been putting in a bit of work, consistently for multiple years, without it turning into a source of clients. If you are putting up a couple of posts per week, but they are still getting minimal attention or engagement, is it a good use of your time? Could that 2 hours per week be spent better elsewhere?
I’ve been down that route personally. For a long time, I viewed Instagram as a side-project, particularly while I was working a full-time job. After 3 years of spending more time than I was proud of on Instagram, I had reached somewhere between 1000-2000 followers and had gotten exactly ZERO clients from the platform.
At that time, I decided to jump all-in since even though I hadn’t personally seen results, I could see potential based on what others were doing. Within 3 months, I had reached 5000 followers and was able to run a full-time business solely through clients I had generated through Instagram.
The reason I’m writing about how to get clients, instead of how to grow an Instagram following, is because that is really the metric that we should care about as health professionals or business owners. It’s easy to get followers. It’s harder to get engaged followers in your target market that are potential clients.
Below I will go through some of the main strategies I utilised throughout that process and I have continued to use to a certain degree since then. As of writing, my account has 17,000 followers even though I have drastically reduced the time I put into it.
1) Produce Good Content
This is a no-brainer. But I wanted to start with this since so many people get caught up with “hacks” and ignore the obvious.
Think about the type of people you follow on various platforms. Why do you follow them? It’s likely because they put out content that you like for some reason.
My 3 rules that I like to keep in mind are that content should Educate, Entertain or Engage. Even better if it does a combination of those things.
Your content is meant to serve your audience, not the other way around.
One common mistake I see is people posting content that doesn’t do any of the above. For example, if you eat at a café and take a photo of the food, does that educate, entertain or engage? Probably not.
Every time you post, think about it from the perspective of your target audience.
I also think you should aim to put out your BEST content where possible. Don’t be scared of giving away “too much” for free. If you aren’t giving out good info, your potential clients won’t even know if you are capable of helping them.
If you create content that helps solve problems, it will increase the chances that people will want to work with you. Beyond just helping them with that one specific problem, it might even make them want to see you to “put it all together” for them and create a plan that all they need to do is implement without thinking about all the details involved.
2) Follow and Engage with Potential Clients
This is a strategy that you could view as creepy or effective. I prefer to see it as effective.
Honestly, this is the “secret” that allowed me to get clients so quickly.
When I was at 1000-2000 followers, a large chunk of my followers were dietitians or other health professionals. I would estimate 90% of my engagement came from them.
If you have been on Instagram for a while, you know what I mean. Health professionals are super supportive. But they are not our target market.
What I recommend doing to break out of this cycle is finding potential clients and following them, while also liking their last 3 photos or so (obviously using common sense e.g. don’t like photos you don’t want to associate your brand with). Maybe even comment on a photo occasionally if you have something good to say.
Out of those people, a certain percentage will follow you back. If your profile has a good name, bio, profile picture and relevant content, maybe 30% will follow you back. If you don’t meet that criteria, less than 10% will follow back.
Case Study – Using Myself as an Example:
My target market is powerlifters and other strength athletes. Preferably those who live in Brisbane.
My strategy to find them on Instagram was to Google all the powerlifting, strongman and Olympic weightlifting gyms in Brisbane.
Then I would find those gyms on Instagram, click on their last 3 photos and see who was liking them.
I would go through that list of likes and follow almost everybody who was engaging. Once again, use common sense. If you see somebody who clearly isn’t a potential client or relevant to your goals, then don’t follow them.
By only following people who have liked the last 3 photos, you are guaranteeing that you are targeting people who are active and engage on Instagram, which will help boost your own engagement if they follow back.
During this timeframe, I followed roughly 100 people per day. This meant I had a steady stream of 20-30 new followers per day in my target market, from this one method alone.
Down the line, I also used an app to find out who did not follow me back, and slowly unfollowed those people too. Those were highly unlikely to engage with my content or seek me out for my services.
With any strategy like this if you choose to use it, DO NOT implement it too aggressively. Do not try to follow/unfollow too many people in a short period of time. Instagram is actively trying to stop that from happening on the platform and can punish accounts if they take it too far. Try to do it authentically, where possible.
While this strategy can seem like a weird thing to do, it is how I got out of the trap of only being followed by other allied health and actually breaking into my target market. By using this to get the ball rolling, now when I post shareable content, the people sharing it are in my target market, which then attracts more people in my target market.
I no longer use this strategy since it has diminishing returns the larger your account gets, but it can be an effective way to get things started. I even got a number of clients directly from this method.
3) Infographics or Other Shareable Content
Have you noticed that there are quite a few people who grew their followings on Instagram 2+ years ago, but their accounts stopped growing even though they are still posting similar content?
One common theme I see amongst accounts like that is that they do not post shareable content.
If you post content that people share on their stories, suddenly you have access to their audience. Posts that lead to the largest increases in followers for me typically are posts that are shared the most on people’s stories.
The key to this strategy is to post images that are super easy to see and read, that also meet the criteria for Educate, Entertain or Engage.
If you want to educate, I believe one of the most effective ways to do that on Instagram is through Infographics.
The trick generally is to keep the amount of text relatively minimal and easy to read, such as the below example from @emmalucasdietitian which resulted in a lot of new followers and engagement.
If needed, you can use more text to get the message across as long as it is something that resonates with your audience. This can take a fair bit of trial and error.
If you have a lot to say, you can spread it out across multiple images and set it up as a carousel, which also performs well on Instagram since a lot of experts believe that each swipe across is treated by the algorithm similarly to a like.
Another option that I see in this category is people utilising twitter to say something shareable, then screenshotting the image and posting on Instagram.
One other growth catalyst that can come from this strategy is that influencers in your niche might share your content, which can lead to a significant jump in followers. Do not put this aspiration on a pedestal though, since it likely will not provide that outcome you expect. I have had a few people with >500k followers share my content before and while it provides a good boost, it was back to business as usual not long after.
4) Keep Follower Quality High
There are no real metrics I am aware of for measuring the quality of your followers, but I still think it’s important to focus on in some way.
There are plenty of ways to grow on Instagram that are easier than what I’m promoting in this article, but the catch is that a lot of these ways can lead to irrelevant followers who don’t care about the same content that your target market does.
Your focus should more be on building strong connections with relevant followers.
The only advice I have here is to pay attention to your engagement as you are growing your account. If you are gaining a lot of followers, but your engagement on posts is not increasing, it would be best to take your focus off gaining followers and moving it onto building your connection with relevant followers.
Also ensure that you are not utilising strategies that lead to followers that are coming from irrelevant places. For example, I know that if I type #nutrition into Instagram and put well-thought out comments onto all the top posts, it will lead to new followers. But most of those followers will be from outside Australia. Since I prefer to see Australian clients, not only would that be a waste of time, it would also dilute the quality of my followers.
Another strategy that can help you grow quickly is to collaborate with other accounts.
Honestly, this is a strategy I underutilised throughout this process, but I have seen other people do it well.
If you can create good content, it is worthwhile teaming up with people in your niche and creating content for them that they give you credit for in the caption.
People who view that post could then potentially click on the link to your profile and start to follow you as well. This is another way to get engaged followers who care about your content.
This strategy scares a lot of people since it seems like a lot of work. But if you take your mind off how much time it takes to create a post for yourself versus how much time it takes to collaborate, and instead focus on actual OUTCOMEs, it is worth it.
The most followers I have ever gotten from one of my own posts is <150. The average I get per post is <20. If you collaborate with an account in your niche that has a decent number of followers, you will likely get a lot more followers through a post on their account than if you just posted that content on your own feed.
In addition, you don’t even need your own audience yet to do this and the people you collaborate with don’t need to have a similar sized audience. If your content is good enough, you can do it with anybody. You could even do it with the biggest and most engaged accounts in your niche. Just make sure the content you create fits in with the theme of the person you are giving it to.
Another option that is easier to do is a shoutout for shoutout. Find accounts in your niche with a similar number of followers and great content that you think your audience would like and ask them if you can do a shoutout for shoutout on your stories.
This is a win-win since some of your followers will start following them, while some of their followers will follow you.
Only implement this strategy with people you genuinely want to do a shout-out for though. Everything you do on Instagram should demonstrate respect for your audience. The more you do things that are not authentic, the less likely they are to engage with your content.
To get clients through Instagram you need to focus on two aspects.
The first one is growing your audience of potential clients. Without having any potential clients in your audience, you won’t have the attention of the people you are trying to reach.
The second aspect is to build trust with your potential clients. Post content that is useful for them. Try to build some form of relationship with them. Responding to all your DM’s and comments in a thoughtful way can help build this. Conversions often come from conversations.
Less than 50% of the clients I get through Instagram book in without speaking with me first. Most of them want to make sure I’m the right practitioner for them first.
All of these strategies work best if utilised all together, but even just implementing 1-2 of these that you aren’t already using can go a long way to helping you make the most of your time spent on Instagram.
Aidan Muir is a Brisbane based Accredited Practising Dietitian and Sports Dietitian.
To learn more about him, check out his website Ideal Nutrition.