About 90% of the American public uses at least one form of social media. It’s not just a platform for staying connected with friends; people use social channels to get their information and news.
Brands of all types use social media as a powerful marketing tool to reach their followers as well as to target new audiences. And social should be part of the integrated marketing mix for healthcare organizations — especially if your brand is focused on building connections with your community and promoting physical and mental health.
Social media marketing is a great way for healthcare brands to put a human face on their work and establish personal relationships with patients and community members. It’s easy and inexpensive. But it’s also common for social media marketing to fall by the wayside or lack consistency and strategy. If you’re going to do it, do it right — here are six tips.
Posting regularly will keep your audience interested and engaged. And it creates brand awareness: the more they see you the more likely they are to remember you when they need care later.
Leverage your in-house consumer insight to understand who your audience is and where they get their information online. Certain demographics tend to use certain platforms; the rule of thumb is that Instagram skews younger, Facebook skews older, while TikTok and Snapchat are favored by young adults and students. LinkedIn is an important channel for posting employment opportunities, thought leadership and publishing information that’s targeted at external stakeholders like funders, community leaders, and legislators. Posting related content across these channels ensures that your audience will see you no matter where they are.
Your marketing goals for social media are to build community and to be helpful. So think about what types of questions your patients, prospects and other stakeholders may have and how to answer them. What would be useful to them as they scroll through their social media feed?
Posts that are more lifestyle focused, educational and prevention oriented are ideal topics for social media marketing. The future of healthcare is in helping people stay well as opposed to just treating them when they’re sick. So think about content like exercise advice for heart health, tips for managing flu season, how to manage joint pain. Explainer posts about how to sign up for your patient portal or what to expect with a procedure are good fodder for social channels. Help people understand what it’s like to get care from or to work with your organization.
Social channels feature so much content and are so easy to scroll through quickly that it’s important to make your posts eye-catching. The best, simplest way to do that is to create a story, whether it’s using words, static images or video. People like to hear what others are saying, so testimonials work well on social media. Give your audience something they can’t hear from you in other ways. When using video or photos, use text over the images as a headline to grab attention.
This might be the hardest part of managing social media. Because it can be done so quickly and it can be handled by different people, posts can get off-brand pretty easily. We advise our healthcare clients to designate one marketer to review everything before it’s posted on social media to make sure it’s consistent and appropriate. If you’re a large organization with many people in other areas posting, create a communication style guide that specifically covers social media communication, along with a set of design templates for different media.
When you integrate social media into your broader marketing portfolio, you’ll develop a content schedule and a cadence of posting that syncs with a larger campaign. Your audience will come to expect seeing your brand in their feeds.
6. Watch and measure.
Social media marketing isn’t about ‘likes’; it’s about creating engagement. Ultimately, your goal is to use social communication to prompt some kind of action: scheduling an appointment, telling a friend about your organization, making a donation, seeking care. All of that activity happens, typically, via your website, so social messaging should point people there. Use site analytics to see where traffic is coming from and where it goes most on your site, and refine your social media marketing. Paying attention to what your followers engage with also helps you create more of that kind of content. Social media marketing is all about posting, testing, measuring, and refining.
We’ve seen the power of social media to change audience perceptions about healthcare organizations. Recently, a client needed to better explain the breadth and depth of its work in the community and counter some negative perceptions about its size and influence. We created an online impact report that highlighted the organization’s work to benefit patients and the region. As part of the work, we developed a companion social media campaign designed to direct people to the impact report and to share facts on what the organization was doing to make a difference. These factoids were meant to create “oh wow, that’s cool” moments for people as they scrolled through their feed.
Social media marketing can be a great outlet for communicating with your audience on a person-to-person level. It takes intention, planning, and discipline to build and maintain a presence. Do this right, and your healthcare brand will be a trusted, welcome source of information for the people you serve. We can help you get your social media marketing right — let’s talk.