Healthcare, say hello to Instagram

600 million monthly users. 92 million #healthy posts. It’s time for the healthcare industry to make its mark.

Instagram is the hub of health and wellbeing. It’s an obsession.

From avocado toast and acai bowls to ‘detox’ teas and vitamin gummy bears, the photo-sharing platform is overflowing with images showing people how they can be healthy. You’re only a few taps away from the millions of posts dedicated to the subject.

Health Instagram search

On the surface, you’ll find a collection of people sharing aspirational shots of their life, their goals and quite often, their food. But, in truth, health and wellness is big business. Its global worth is $3.7 trillion1. Yep, we did say BIG business.

So what about healthcare and pharma?

At first glance, this can be tricky.

First of all, healthcare companies are not bloggers sharing #cleaneating recipes.

Second, advertising their products is a big no-no.

Case in point? Kim Kardashian.

Kim Kardashian Instagram

When the US Food and Drug Administration saw this post they were less than happy with Duchesnay, the makers of the drug. The post was later deleted.

Don’t let this stop you.

From our social watching we see an opportunity with Instagram to build trust in ‘Big Pharma’. It won’t be a space for traditional healthcare advertising, but there’s room to do something else entirely.

It’s a place where healthcare can socialise with its audience and learn from them. The opportunity is right there for those with the pace and agility to take it.

Several big healthcare companies like Pfizer, GSK and Bayer are now on Instagram. It’s a good start for an industry that is often accused of not moving with the times. We think there’s still some catching up to do.

But how? Here are a few tips:

1. Have a personality

Instagram is more than just a few pretty pictures. We’re not suggesting that you write poetry when you post, but don’t be afraid to crack a joke or say something sweet!

Let’s take a look at Bayer. They have some beautiful photos, but what does their bio say about them as a brand? To us, it seems mismatched.


Bayer official Instagram

If Instagram were LinkedIn, it would be perfect. But this isn’t LinkedIn.

2. Provide unique insights

Let the world see the people behind the brand.

By sharing human, behind the scenes moments, your big, faceless pharma company suddenly becomes a lot more personable. Win.

They aren’t a pharma company, but check out Rude Health. In this single snapshot, you know exactly who they are.

Rude Health Instagram

3. Show the good that you do

You may not be able to promote your products, but you can tell the stories of the lives they’ve changed.

Great Ormond Street Hospital regularly updates followers with patient stories and it’s truly heart warming.

GOSH Instagram

4. Campaign for change

This is Louise Delage. She’s the epitome of Instacool, isn’t she?

Louise Delage Instagram

She’s also an alcoholic.

This brilliant campaign challenged people to spot the signs of addiction online – it’s the kind of subversive work that healthcare needs to get behind and get involved in.

5. Watch, listen and learn

Remember those 92 million #healthy posts? They and the people behind them can tell you something.

It may not be what you always want to hear (remember what we said about building trust?) but you can still learn from it.

Here’s a suggestion. Watch what happens when you post. What gets you the most likes? Or gives you new followers? Do people comment? Who’s responding?

It seems like a lot of questions, but having them in mind can help you create authentic (buzzword!) interactions.

6. Find the right people

This Instagram business can feel daunting, but don’t let it stop you.

You’ve seen a few of our suggestions, but we’re bursting with more #healthy ideas.

We believe in change, and we’re here to guide you through it.

So what’s your handle going to be?

Ours is @twistwithlime – in case you were wondering.


1. Global Wellness Institute. Wellness and Facts.
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