4 Questions to Ask When Targeting Healthcare Consumers on Social Media

When targeting healthcare consumers in social media to market your health system, it’s important to know who you are targeting, how to reach them, where they engage online, and what implications your tactics will have on their emotional behavior.  Ask yourself:

1. What is my health system’s target online healthcare audience?

The target demographic for your health system’s marketing efforts has most likely already been defined for other mediums, and for most health systems, you’re looking to reach women who are aged 35 or older, and are the healthcare decision maker for their families, including children, themselves and their spouses, as well as elderly parents.

When we boil it down to statistics, we know that:

  • click image properties to edit the alt tag, include keyword healthcare [jd]Women account for 80% of all healthcare consumer purchases, according to She-comony.
  • 57% of women older than 35 years of age are moms, according to Edison Research.
  • 66% of women feel misunderstood by healthcare marketers, according to She-comony.
  • 72% of internet users say they looked online for health information within the past year, according to the Pew Internet study.
  • Women searched online for health data at a higher rate than men across nearly all age groups, according to the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics.
  • 74% of online women use social networking sites, according to a Pew Internet study.

2. On what networks should I be engaging with these online healthcare consumers?

Demographic studies of social network usage tell us just what networks are most appealing and most used by women in the target demographic. According to research from Pew Internet, women are found most predominantly on:

  • Facebook. First things first, Facebook is ubiquitous. If your organization – regardless of industry – is engaging in social media marketing, you need a presence on Facebook. According to the Pew Internet study, “Facebook remains the most-used social networking platform, as two-thirds of online adults say that they are Facebook users.” In addition, the study also states that, “Women are more likely than men to be Facebook users.”
  • Pinterest. Not only is Pinterest the fastest growing social network (at a growth rate of 88% over the past year), but it is also widely popular among the target demographic. According to the information presented in the Pew Internet study, “Women are about five times as likely to be on the site as men.” In addition, Pinterest is incredibly conducive to health-related content, including tips for eating healthy and exercising, as well as a myriad of other topics appealing to healthcare consumers.
  • Instagram. While Instagram is far less popular among the target demographic than Facebook and Pinterest, there is definitely a place for it in a healthcare social media marketer’s arsenal.

3. How do I plan my content strategy?

Women – moms in particular – are busy people. In order to reach them, healthcare marketers must be sure to create content that is not only compelling, but also easily digestible. It’s also important to evaluate when and where your content will be disseminated. To create content that will resonate well with the target demographic, focus on:click image properties to edit the alt tag, include keyword healthcare [jd]

  • Types of content. More often than not, busy moms are going to respond best to fewer words and more images. They may not have time to read anything more than a few bullet points, but an image may stick in their minds for hours, days, or weeks to come. To top it off, it’s no secret to social media marketers that images are the highest engaging form of content we can push out. According to Hubspot, visual content – photos and videos – drive more engagement, especially on Facebook.
  • Timing. Have I mentioned that moms are busy? They most likely don’t have time to check their Facebook news feed at 7:30 a.m. when they’re getting kids on the busy or at 6:00 p.m. when they’ve just gotten home from work and need to get dinner on the table. Fortunately, moms are incredibly connected. According to Edison Research, in 2013, 90% of moms had internet access at any location and have, on average, about 5 devices.
  • Cross-channel promotion. When you’ve created a piece of compelling content, it’s important that you remember to repurpose that content for other networks and other mediums. Cross-promote your content across different social networks, and using information gathered from social media to identify what may resonate with your audience through different digital or even traditional marketing tactics.

4. What emotional implications should engagement with consumers have to maximize impact?

When engaging in social media marketing for your healthcare organization, you want to do a few things:

  • Convey authenticity
  • Practice empathy
  • Build trust

There is nothing worse than a brand on social media that is afraid to be authentic. Social media is, at its very nature, social. Talk to people like you would in every day conversations, empathize with them, and don’t shy away from topics that may be difficult to discuss. Consumers want to be heard and they want to engage. Be there for them.

And while it’s important to remain conversational and engaging with your followers online, it’s equally as important to build trust by demonstrating your organization as a thought leader and as a reliable source of information. By balancing the two, healthcare consumers will be more likely to trust your organization with one of the most important behavioral decisions they will make: choosing who will be responsible for the health of their family.

This post was originally published on The Social Observer

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