Integrative Nutrition Blog

How Health Coaches Can Use Instagram to Grow Their Brand

July 8, 2016

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Marketing is one of those words that comes with a lot of baggage, sometimes making us feel uncomfortable “promoting” ourselves, especially when we’re just starting out in a new venture. 

But it doesn’t have to be that way!

Social media, technology, and self-publishing platforms have transformed the idea of marketing from the old sleazy salesman model with questionable tactics, to a burgeoning sharing economy where we all have the opportunity to tell the world what we’re passionate about in a genuine way – while also growing a business.   

The trick is to be your natural and honest self, and to seamlessly combine who you are with what you do.

At Integrative Nutrition, students learn simple actionable tips to building your own health coaching business from the ground up. You may even already be using some of the best authentic marketing tools out there on a daily basis without even knowing it!

That’s why today we’re highlighting the increasingly-popular Instagram to show you how you can leverage something you’re already doing every day to support you and your new business!

The focus on images creates a beautiful display that “paints a picture” of what you’re all about. If you harness the true creative power of this media, you could drastically increase the number of people who read your blog or purchase your services or products.

So what’s a good way to do that? We thought you’d never ask, so here’s a foundational Instagram strategy to get you started.

Identity

  1. Get clear on who you are and what you offer, ideally having a unique approach, personal experience, or target audience. Define what kind of Health Coach you are, not just for Instagram, but also for your personal brand as a whole.
  2.  Make sure your profile bio speaks to this identity with your natural personality shining through in the language and in your profile photo. For example, “I’m a smoothie-loving Health Coach who’s thriving with Crohn’s, raising two sassy little kids, and launching a new online program in September!” Your profile photo could show you happily sipping on a smoothie to match this identity.

Content
As a health-conscious person who also understands the role of primary food, the possibilities for what you could show are limitless, but it’s up to you to think about what is realistic for you to post regularly. For example, if you have the freedom to cook delicious meals in your kitchen every day then those are a good option for Instagram photos, and if it’s hard for you to find someone to help you get good shots of yourself then those can be occasional but not as frequent.

Take a moment to think about your everyday life and what could make for good images that represent who you are and would also be interesting to someone who doesn’t know you personally. Ideas:

  • Healthy meals or meal prep
  • The view from your morning run
  • Nature or cityscapes
  • Your products, if you have any
  • Inspiring quotes that you like
  • Your home office
  • Preparing for a client meeting
  • Travel or lifestyle experiences
  • Farmer’s market shopping
  • A health/wellness book you’re reading

The idea is show your real life - making it clear that you’re a Health Coach - and inspire your followers in a positive way without pressuring them to do anything.

Visual aesthetic

  1. Your photos don’t have to be professional quality and can easily be taken on a mobile device, but you should aim to use natural light as much as possible. Being close to a window where the sun isn’t directly shining on you or your subject tends to be ideal.
  2. As an addendum to #1, don’t post bad photos! You might be lured into thinking that posting something is better than nothing, but in fact nothing is better than a grainy, dark, blurry, or somehow negative photo. Always take a moment to pause and assess before hitting that share button.
  3. Don’t post totally irrelevant photos either. It’s your account and you’re free to mix it up, but if you get into the habit of posting health tips and recipes then showing gritty art graffiti on your way to the subway might be a stretch and confuse people.
  4. Develop your own unique style. This is the magic element that some of the most popular accounts have mastered. Some people like to focus on favorite colors or themes, others like to have an element of minimalism. Maybe you want to evoke a sense of abundance, peace, movement, or something else? Often life itself and the scenes that surround you are unique enough, so no pressure here, you can allow this to evolve organically or look at other popular feeds for inspiration - just don’t copy anyone else’s style in the same way!

Interaction
Social media is not a one-way street, so be human, genuinely interact with people on Instagram!

  1. Respond to those who comment on your images.
  2. Comment on the images of other people you follow, telling them why you like that image.
  3. Repost favorite images and tag those creators to illustrate that you’re engaged in the platform and show who you admire.
  4. Reach out personally to build relationships with other Instagrammers. You never know who could become your next best friend or business partner!

Promotion
Instagram isn’t the place to sell your services directly, but it is a way to invite people to your website where they can learn more about your offerings, or sign up for your email list so that you can contact them more directly in the future.

  1. Your profile should include a link to your website, or to a particular page depending on the timing and your focus.
  2. Posts can include a mention of your services or offerings, but don’t overdo it or people will get turned off, once every 4 or 5 posts is a good balance.
  3. Weave your promotional language into your photo stories so that people know what you’re offering but don’t feel “sold to” in the platform. For example, you can show an image of your workspace with a notebook and cup of coffee and say “fueling up with some caffeinated antioxidants in preparation for my group coaching program launch tomorrow! Visit my website and sign up for email updates if you’re interested.”

Graphics, Filters, and Apps
Graphic images that include quotes or other design elements can be a nice addition to your Instagram feed if you like them, but it’s certainly not a requirement. You can also adjust things like lighting or colors in your photos if you want to create a certain look. Some image/text apps that can help you create these are Canva, Word Swag, VSCO, Snapseed, and Instaquote.

Frequency
There is no hard and fast rule, but it’s best to have some regularity, ideally posting once or twice a day. Just remember that this shouldn’t become a source of stress for you! If you a skip a day because you were busy or uninspired that’s totally ok.

Hashtags
Hashtags are highly recommended because that is how people you don’t know can find you on Instagram. Save a list of your most commonly used hashtags in the notes section of your phone so you can quickly copy and paste them into new posts, alternating some as needed.

Some good hashtags for Health Coaches include: #wellness #healthcoach #nutrition #fitness #health and #nutritionschool to stay in touch with IIN! Additionally, think about some non-obvious hashtags your target audience might use, exploring those in the search field to see what kinds of content those tags get and assessing whether they are aligned with you. For example, maybe you resonate with #glutenfree, #local, or #healthymom, or maybe you’d prefer to get on the radar of #yoga, #sustainable or #alternativehealth.

This requires a bit of homework but once you find your unique collection of hashtags you can easily stick to those.

Getting featured
This is one of the most effective ways of increasing your following so that more people could see your beautiful content. Find accounts who have a large following and whose content is related to health, wellness, food, or something else in line with your unique identity, ideally those who regularly feature other accounts. Once you do, make contact to get on their radar. You can do this by using their hashtags, sending them a direct message to compliment what they offer and introduce yourself, or by visiting their website to see if they offer feature opportunities. When you create your content make sure it’s something that fits with their general look and feel before bringing it to their attention.

If you’re a student or graduate of Integrative Nutrition use #nutritionschool, we check our tags regularly and love to share photos and stories from our incredible community!

This is just one example of the many different strategies you will learn to use and utilize as a student in the Health Coach Training Program. To learn more about our course, join our upcoming info session for the inside scoop.

How do you use Instagram to share your health-conscious life? Share in the comments below!

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