June 15, 2018

How I Gained Over 68K Instagram Followers As A Nurse

How I Gained Over 68K Instagram Followers As A Nurse

By Danielle LeVeck, DNP, ACNPC-AG, CNS, RN, CCRN @nurseabnormalities

With over 68K Instagram followers, one of the most frequently asked questions I receive regarding my social media, @nurseabnormalities, the platform is how/why I started making memes and writing nurse stories. 

My next most asked question is, “How did you balance blogging with work and school?” So, the following post will focus on how to build your social media platform and fit it into your current busy lifestyle.

Click here to follow me @nurseabnormalities

I have always been a writer and after beginning my career as a bedside nurse in the ICU, I passionately felt inclined to share my experiences of the imperativeness of nurses in healthcare. I wanted to simply start the important and sometimes uncomfortable conversations about healthcare because I felt it might be able to inspire nurses and initiate change in the profession. I struggled with how I would do it theoretically and technically because the healthcare system is notoriously private and conservative. Also, I did not have website building skills. Thus initially, I never used my face, or even my name.

However, after Joy Behar infamously mocked a nurse for wearing a “doctor’s stethoscope” in the Miss America pageant, I channeled my emotions to quickly create a blog. I used a free platform on WordPress and fired off a blog post within four hours. Shortly thereafter, I started the associated Instagram and Facebook accounts.

Throughout the years, my mission has narrowed, and my content has become more intellectual. I pride myself on presenting the raw reality of nursing, but I try desperately to make content that does not hurt others. I found that people on social media latch onto negativity. Meaning, my memes and posts that highlighted the struggle in a counterproductive way gained the most “likes” and engagement. Although at the time I thought I was just telling a joke, I realized later that it did nothing to help nurses. Therefore, that content has been removed to the extent that it can be online, and I have focused mostly on storytelling and universal humor. It turns out, that positive humor and vulnerability attract even more people and engagement than cheap jokes.

Getting started

  • Develop a mission statement - who do you want to attract? Are you an Oncology nurse who has a personal connection to pediatric patients with liquid malignancies? Talk about it. Are you a Med-Surg nurse who wants to bring awareness to the fact that Med-Surg has transpired into a specialty over the years? Talk about it. Are you just trying to bring humor to a difficult profession? Then do it.
  • Develop a cohesive look - pick a font, a color scheme, etc. This took me awhile to figure out and my theme has changed multiple times, but most of my memes and posts have a cohesive look and color scheme that can be identified as mine.
  • Pick a platform - I suggest focusing the majority of your time on one platform initially. Once you learn how to appeal to your audience, then you can learn how to build on other platforms. My main platform is Instagram and my secondary is Facebook.
  • Just start sharing - Your memes and posts will transpire over time. Like I mentioned, I regret some of the things I’ve posted in the past, but I definitely learned a lesson and pray nothing comes back to haunt me. Starting is the hardest part, it’s now or never.

The technicalities...

1) I use WordPress for my blog. It is simple and has 24-hour chat support.

2) I recently started editing some of my photos and use the Photoshop Mix, 

    Photoshop Fix, Camera +, Facetune, and Afterlight 2 Apps.

3) I use the Phonto and CropVS Apps for my memes.

Gaining followers

  • Work on your hashtag game - figure out what the most popular hashtags are in the nursing world or your chosen mission and use them on every post.
  • Message your content to influencers with larger platforms -Do not ask them to share because it will likely turn them off but ask them to take a look. I used to Tweet my blog posts to influencers to see if I could get shares and send them via Facebook Messenger
  • Tag other influencers in your posts for hopes of them seeing it - I get so many messages and comments daily, it’s hard for me to keep up. Use a repetitive and multi-modality approach when trying to gain the attention of another influencer for content sharing. Persistence is key.
  • Become obsessive - look at accounts you admire in every realm and study them. How do they make their posts? What time are they posting? Be an engaged follower on these accounts as well. I used to have notifications turned on for accounts that I loved, so I could see how and when they were posting.

It really comes down to great content. If you produce great content people will share it. I gained many more followers when I started showing my face and writing more on my Instagram page. It made me feel extremely vulnerable for multiple reasons. For one, taking pictures has always been hard for me and being so open to criticism about my life to such a large audience was difficult too. But, it has helped so many people at this point, there is no way to turn back now. Of note, I have never paid for followers or used following bots. These days, an organically grown audience is best. A smaller, highly engaged audience trumps a larger, stagnant pool of followers every time.

Time management 

Every social media influencer will tell you, building an audience takes more time than most think. Every morning I wake an extra 30 minutes early to answer messages from followers and check comments on my posts. Every night I am staying up late to do the same and stay engaged with other people I follow. On Sunday nights, I try to schedule at least five posts for the week to decrease my workload on weekdays. In my perfect world I would write a blog post every day, but with my school and other “real” jobs, that just was not possible, so by creating my mini-blog on Instagram, I am fulfilling both realms.

Where I am headed now

I never started this platform with the intention of making money; my overarching goal was to help lift the profession and empower nurses. I have started speaking engagements, guest blogging, and hope to author a book in the next two years. I also want to start creating some of my own products and developing a brand. The possibilities are endless. However, whatever I do, I want to try to make sure it leads back to my main goal of helping nurses and the profession overall.

Please share your questions and comments and I will try to respond to as many as possible!

Here are a few of my most popular nurse memes!

Danielle LeVeck, DNP, ACNPC-AG, CNS, RN, CCRN is an ICU Nurse Practitioner, blogger, writer, and social media influencer, who strives to empower and inspire nurses from all backgrounds, to partake in regular self-care and multidisciplinary teamwork, for the sake of providing optimal patient care. Follow her on Instagram and Facebook for her latest. 

Next Up: Interview: Muslim Nurse Reflects On Working During Ramadan

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