Tactics for Using Social Media To Boost Your Healthcare Practice
Social media is more ubiquitous — and more necessary — than ever before. Since 2016, between 77% and 80% of the U.S. population has had at least one social media handle, and worldwide, that numbers about 2.3 billion and growing (via Statista). And believe it or not, people are turning to the internet — and specifically social media and reviews — to answer medical questions and get opinions about medical and health products and services. Most (59%) of internet-using adults look online for specific information about a medical issue (e.g., regarding specific treatments), 18% have looked at social reviews, and 13% have gone online to seek out others with similar medical issues (via Pew Research Center). And roughly a third of consumers will turn to specifically to social media for a variety of health-related issues (from PwC Health Research Institute, via Greater Than One).
That makes social media a vital tool for intersecting with current and potential patients in order to ensure they receive not only the right care, but the best care. We’ve put together four ways your brand — be it a hospital, clinic, medi spa, dentist, or other healthcare facility — can use social media to ultimately maintain current patients and engage new ones.
Solve a Problem or Need
It’s important to remember that social media is a large conversation, so participating in that conversation (in real time) often means addressing patients’ health concerns based on the day, month, or season. You can do this fairly directly by tapping into what they’re talking about. For instance, during spring you might address allergies, in the summer you might talk about skincare, while in the fall/winter it might be flu season.
This presents the opportunity to discuss preventative care and drive solutions (including products and services) without resorting to a sales pitch. For instance, in response to allergies, you can compare pollen counts from this season compared to previous years and discuss how proper allergy care is critical to avoid causing more severe reactions like respiratory distress. Skincare providers may want to consider discussing the developments in technology that help monitor how much UV the user is exposed to, while general practitioners and pharmacists can discuss the need for flu vaccinations when risks are clearly heightened. Dental professionals can promote cleanings or even discuss the benefits of different types of orthodontic devices to help ensure a bright smile in the long run.
This information as well as discussing potential solutions positions your brand as one that cares about patient needs and ultimately “gets it”. You add value to their experience before they’ve ever stepped foot into your office.
Provide Motivation Through Encouragement or a Challenge
Sometimes patients feel like a walking dollar sign or question how much their healthcare professional actually cares about their wellbeing. Or sometimes they’re simply unsure about what care will be the best fit for their needs. In cases like these, providing motivation can go a long way.
Intersecting patients like this means making them feel both heard and valued. Question-and-answer sessions (think of the popular AMA format, or “ask me anything” that involve users questioning the interviewee in real time) can be a great way to be present in a discussion.
Of course, while motivation may be as simple as encouraging a healthy lifestyle, it may also need to walk a thin line of sharing how serious something is without sounding like you’re trying to scare them into a decision. Many times, statistics about a certain situation (say, HPV or prostate cancer) can be influential, but it’s important to touch on an emotional heart. Testimonial videos from patients about receiving the right care at the right time can have a huge impact on a potential patient’s decision to receive care.
Promote or Celebrate Patients and/or Staff
Patients don’t want to interact with a cold and distant healthcare brand. Rather, they want to know that there’s a human face that’s as compassionate as it is expertly professional. Here, storytelling becomes pivotal, especially when it comes to patient stories.
Influencer marketing has a role to play here. A little more than three quarters of those turning to the internet for medical help will place more trust in user generated content from people they trust and who are on similar health journeys (via Greater Than One). Influencers provide authentic stories about their experiences, but without the perceived strings attached to a typical testimonial or referral.
Due to this, at least in part, Instagram Stories and similar platform options are increasingly utilized. They don’t require the polish that other videos require; in fact, the less polished it seems, the more authentic it feels. That doesn’t mean you should act unprofessionally, but it does mean you can offer an unfiltered peak into everyday life for your staff (within ethical guidelines, of course). It helps soften your brand and make you more inviting and trustworthy.
The bottom line for all marketing endeavors requires knowing your audience. Social media offers an easy, friction-free way to listen to your current and potential patients. By observing what they talk about, you can learn what their health concerns are. Utilizing quizzes (often a tool for platforms, though this varies) can make it easier to quantify people’s concerns and how they perceive various parts of your niche in the healthcare industry and your brand in particular.
What’s more, it further cements the sense that you’re paying attention to how they think and feel about their care, positioning your brand as one that’s genuinely interested in their experience. You also make it easily apparent that you’re eager to both hear and address their concerns and suggestions.
These aren’t the only ways to leverage social media for your healthcare brand, but our list offers some of the top ways to get started. Social media is no longer just a tool for connecting with patients — it’s a necessary tool for growing your practice. While healthcare companies do need to be careful in the way they handle social media engagement, there’s plenty of ways to connect with the patients who want to know more about your brand or need to know more about the care and relief you offer.