Instagram Stories at Boston Medical Center: Lily Vautour takes us behind the scenes of their monthly resident takeovers

Last summer, Senior Manager of Social Media & Engagement Strategy, Lily Vautour and her teammate, Social Media Specialist Andrea Vega Moreno, started work on a new project to highlight some of Boston Medical Center's (BMC) residents: monthly takeovers of the hospital's Instagram Stories.

So far, they've spotlighted residents across the hospital's surgery, OBGYN, internal medicine, orthopedics, pharmacy, and emergency medicine departments.

The idea for the takeovers came out of the team's goal to share more behind-the-scenes content.

“We've been working on building up our Instagram presence in general, and Stories are a big part of that,” Lily said. “We've been seeing a lot of viewership of our Stories, and people are sticking with them and watching all the way through.”

She wanted to hone in on specific members of BMC staff leveraging the platform. “Then, we thought about who would be best to spotlight, what kind of series it would be, and how to brand it,” she said.

According to Lily, they gravitated toward residents because many of them are native users of Instagram.

We've been working on building up our Instagram presence in general, and Stories are a big part of that. Lily Vautour
She said they make a concerted effort to select residents who are already on Instagram and using it regularly. “It makes the takeover much better, both for their experience and ours,” said Lily. “They tend to know how to make them more engaging by adding GIFs, fun colors, fonts and things like that. It's more authentic in their style, versus having us layer that creative stuff on for them.”

She explained residents are broken out by department, so choosing them for takeovers has also allowed the team to balance which departments they showcase each month. “They also get their peers and colleagues on board,” Lily said. “They tell faculty members, co-residents, and nurses they work with to tune in. They're energetic and excited about it.”

Lily said it's given them the opportunity to highlight how smart and hardworking BMC's residents are.

“One orthopedic resident we featured was up at 2 AM to start her daily reading before heading into the hospital,” she said. “This has been a nice way to give kudos to this hardworking subset of physicians at the hospital. And they're up-and-coming in their careers, so they have a lot of advice to give.”

After brainstorming the idea with their communications and marketing department, Lily and her team started the search for residents to feature.

“Our Social Media Specialist, Andrea, and I had to get our process ironed out,” she said. “And, because we are doing regular social media training with departments, we're typically able to go directly to the respective Chiefs to ask for residents to potentially feature.”

We don't want to force people to be featured or surprise them. But for the most part, we've only run into people who want to be featured within the takeovers. Lily Vautour

According to Lily, the first resident they featured, Dr. Priyanka Chugh, had a very active and interesting personal Instagram account, which sparked the team's interest. “After finding her, we asked the Chief of Surgery if we could feature her.”

Once they select a resident to feature, they ask him or her for the names of the attendings they'll be working with on the day of their takeover. “We want to give them a heads up a couple of days in advance and let them know if they want to chat or if they have any concerns, they can call us,” Lily said. “We also encourage the resident to let co-residents, nurses, and other care team members know ahead of time. We don't want to force people to be featured or surprise them. But for the most part, we've only run into people who want to be featured within the takeovers.”

Then, the team meets each resident in person to talk them through the process.

They have a test Instagram account they use for the takeovers, which they give the residents access to. “We're the only followers of the account,” Lily said. “The residents use this account to capture all the content and add GIFs. From there, we can hop into the test page, view their Story, and download it. Sometimes we make little edits before posting to BMC's main account.”

She said they cover all the rules and what they're generally looking for during the initial meeting with the resident, so they often don't have to alter much once the takeover is happening.

“But it's absolutely essential that we have another set of eyes on all the content before it goes out,” Lily said. “We've learned over time and developed guidelines around how many things they should post based on analytics we've gathered and the drop-off rates of our Stories. We let them know they shouldn't do more than two frames per hour or a total of 25 posts for the day. It's been a learning process.”

For each takeover, Social Media Specialist Andrea blocks off her day to devote to communicating with the resident, approving content, and posting it.

They mainly communicate via text with the residents on the day of their takeover. “That way, they can let us know when they've posted something to the test account so we can hop in and take a look at it,” Lily said. “But, we check it often throughout the day anyway.”

She emphasized the importance of making sure Andrea doesn't have any meetings that run longer than a half hour, so she can stay on top of the content and make sure it's all posted in near-real time.

People appreciate we're doing this, and they want to learn more about the residents. In the long run, we hope it will also help residency recruitment efforts. Lily Vautour

They also make a point to share the analytics and messages they receive during each takeover with the residents. “Sometimes we use the ‘Ask me a question' overlay feature and text the resident the questions we receive through it so they can respond during the takeover,” said Lily.

Most of the promotion the team does takes place on the day of each takeover.

“We have a photographer and graphic designer who put together promotion graphics,” Lily said. “We meet with the resident ahead of their takeover to take photos of them.”

The team takes pictures of the resident on their phone in a fun setting around campus, and then they add design elements to ensure each resident promotion photo looks consistent. “We use those on the day of,” she said. “With Instagram, if you post something ahead of time to direct people to your Story and there's nothing there, it's a waste. So, we rely on day-of promotion. We promote it on our Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn.”

Lily and her team were happy to see a jump in fans on BMC's Instagram page during the takeovers.

They've only been building up the page for a year or two and are currently striving to hit the 10,000-followers mark, and the takeovers are helping get them to that milestone, she said.

“The engagement on our account is what we love the most,” she said. “During our pharmacy resident takeover, we received a lot of meaningful questions from aspiring pharmacists in our DMs. People appreciate we're doing this, and they want to learn more about the residents. In the long run, we hope it will also help residency recruitment efforts.”

Lily added they've seen a jump in employee engagement as well. “We get a lot of staff tuning in from across the campus, which we love to see and hear about,” she said.

Lily said she has learned that establishing a process and finding the right people to participate is crucial to finding success with a project like this.

“The test page works for us,” she said. “Now we have it down pat, and the process is replicable. They take up a good amount of time on the day of the takeover, but it's all streamlined.”

Lily added they've also found that while the Stories would add up to multiple-minute videos, audiences continued to watch all the way through — which the team largely attributes to selecting residents who are enthusiastic and knowledgeable about the project.

Now, the team plans to focus on expanding the series.

“We don't want to break what's working,” she said. “But, we want to start showcasing other providers. We're trying to figure out the best way to do it.”

Lily added it can be hard to select a specific individual for each takeover and focusing on residents made that process easier. “Our next step, hopefully, will be to do a nursing takeover,” she said.

Lily Vautour has been a member of SocialMedia.org Health since 2016. You can connect with her on LinkedIn or Twitter.