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


Future Implications

It’s no secret that the social media landscape changes in the blink of an eye. So how can you prepare for the unknown? It’s important to understand current trends in anticipation of what’s to come in the future.


  1. Visually appealing content is becoming more and more prevalent across networks from the introduction of networks like Pinterest and Instagram into mainstream social media channels to the insight brands have interpreted regarding engagement on photo posts.
  2. Search, social, and paid advertising are becoming more closely related than ever with the alignment of Google+ pages, local listings, reviews, ads, etc.
  3. Increasingly more conversations about a brand are being authorized by its consumers across a variety of networks.

Future Implications

  1. Brands need to focus more on their visual identity when it comes to social media. Users are making visual connections between messages, campaigns, and the overall brand that must be mirrored on social sources. Social posts accompanied by branded images, cover photos with CTAs, and visuals directly aligned with other external campaigns will help align the brand across all channels, promote a sense of unity to your followers, and improve overall engagement.
  2. Google+ is no longer only for the “tech savvy.” If you have any hope at all of your brand showing up in search results higher than your competitors who are engaging on the channel, it will be crucial to engage with users from a brand page and create highly engaging content containing keywords.
  3. In order to effectively partake in the conversations being authored about brands by other online users, it’s important to set up effective monitoring and listening processes. A variety of tools can be helpful in accomplishing this, and will ultimately lead to a stronger online presence. Once online influencers have been identified, a crucial next step is to conduct outreach to encourage positive conversations about the brand.

Viral Marketing Initiatives

What makes a great viral marketing campaign? It all starts with thinking, planning, and strategy.

A good viral marketing campaign can inject new life into a business and make a large impact on a business’s bottom line. Using social media to spread a message through a viral process can reach great deal of people within a short amount of time, generating buzz that can translate to both increased brand awareness and new leads or sales.

Developing a successful strategy for a viral campaign requires excellent content as well as exceptional social networking skills. In 2010, Old Spice launched its “The Man Your Man Can Smell Like” campaign with a video ad that mixed humor with product promotion targeting woman.

The video was well-produced and garnered a great deal of viral buzz on social med. Old Spice leveraged the viral buzz to extend the campaign by replying to influencers and average social media users with more than 180 personalized videos in one day.

In the first 24 hours, the Old Spice responses videos generated nearly 6 million viral video views – that’s more views than Obama’s victory speech received in the first 24 hours after it was given.

The short time frame on the campaign kept it fresh and unique, which garnered an extreme amount of buzz in that short time. The buzz the campaign created not only increased brand awareness, but the rise in conversations could also be tied to an increase in sales if one existed.

While the Old Spice campaign had a unique follow up process, Charles Verhoeff, CEO of World Class Media, identified three tactics to drive leads and sales with viral marketing campaigns:

  • “Capture Identities (drive viewers to take action, fill out a form, call or get something free – contests are great ways to do this)… You have to offer something in exchange and they will give you their name and phone number for your salesmen to follow up on.”
  • “You have to follow up. We have found that once you capture the identities, it can take up to 18 emails to get people to trust you – even if you have great content, people have to read it and trust you. People forget you exist if you don’t continue to remind them why they should be doing business with you.”
  • “Once you captured the identity and followed up – you need to ask for reviews and referrals. Reviews are the new deal-breakers. A whole shift in the buying cycle of consumers was documented by some engineers at Google in their recent book “ZMOT – The Zero Moment of Truth” where they found that there is a whole new step in the buying cycle of consumers – they look for the truth on the Internet before they buy. Before I bought a RAM – I would definitely look for reviews and if they break down for consumers or not. Therefor if I found Tundra’s had better reviews. I’d go straight to Toyota. Even if I were a Farmer…”

What other viral marketing campaigns effective incorporate these elements into their strategy?