Recently, the digital marketing agency I am lucky enough to work for – Fathom – published a whitepaper on the state of social media in the healthcare industry, accompanied by an infographic depicting the results of our findings (created by yours truly).
Some key findings of the study included:
- 9 out of 10 consumers between the ages of 18 and 24 said they would trust health information they found on social media
- 87% of the top 15 health systems have an official social media presence for their system as a whole
- Only 4 of the top 15 health systems have an official Pinterest account, despite its massive growth of the past year
- Only 2 of the top 15 health systems have an official system blog
- Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube are the most commonly used social networks among the top 15 health systems, with more than 80% of the top systems having a presence on each network
Do these numbers shock your, or were you expecting a majority of healthcare systems to have a presence on three of the top social networks? A few years ago, most of these health systems wouldn’t have dreamed of taking the risks associated with engaging in social media, because the fact remains: because the healthcare industry is so highly regulated, social media is a scary, scary place for healthcare executives. However, with the right strategy, the right tools, and the right advice, social media can be an alarmingly powerful tool for health systems to have in their arsenal.
One of the most unique challenges to the healthcare industry is the fear of violating HIPAA laws and patient privacy, especially when customer service issues need addressed via a publish social media channel. In contrast, there are also some very unique opportunities. Adults between the ages of 35 and 54 represent one of the fastest growing demographics on most of the major social media channels. As a healthcare marketer most likely targeting mothers in this age group, how can you not engage on social media? It also presents healthcare brands with the opportunity to demonstrate their organizations as thought leaders and gain the trust of a community.
To begin improve the standing of an organization within the healthcare industry on social media, take the follow advice:
- Go to where the consumers are. Clearly identify your target audience, and create a presence for your organization on the channels through which they interact. Social media is not a “one size fits all” marketing program.
- Content is King (as if we all haven’t heard that one before). Create and curate content that is going to interest your audience. Don’t spend an inordinate amount of time boasting about your brand; consumers will infer the strength and goodness of your organization through the ways you go about improving their health from a 360 degree angle. Share content from other sources that may not promote your brand, but will improve the health and lives of your consumer and your online audiences.
- Invest in tools to help you maintain a solid strategy. Social media management and listening tools are crucial to ensuring success. Take advantage of online tools like Sysomos and HootSuite, among so many others, that can help you monitor and maintain the presence of your healthcare organization on social media.