7 Ways You Should be Using Social Media Marketing in Healthcare

by | Feb 10, 2021 | Digital Strategy | 0 comments

Social media is the most important—and iterative—tool in a healthcare marketer’s playbook. This is especially true during the COVID-19 era. Here are seven best practices for using social media marketing in healthcare to engage your communities and elevate performance.

As we’re social dis­tanc­ing, social media is fill­ing the gaps for con­nect­ing with the peo­ple and brands we val­ue. This sub­sti­tu­tion of malls and cof­fee shops for screens is forc­ing a rapid evo­lu­tion of social media strategies.

Now, these apps rep­re­sent much more than a chan­nel for stay­ing cur­rent on our favorite shows and view­ing fam­i­ly pho­tos. Face­book, Insta­gram and oth­er social plat­forms are the source for time­ly, acces­si­ble and action­able infor­ma­tion. Health­care mar­keters must adapt their social strat­e­gy, tools and con­tent to these realities.

Based on our work in help­ing health sys­tems imple­ment social strate­gies and host­ing con­ver­sa­tions around lessons learned dur­ing the COVID-19 era, we’ve com­piled a few best prac­tices for health­care social media marketing.

Here are sev­en ways we rec­om­mend that mar­keters use social media as part of a com­pre­hen­sive health­care mar­ket­ing strat­e­gy in 2021.

Create a conversion path for priority service lines.

Whether active­ly fol­lowed or shared by a friend or loved one, a hospital’s Face­book con­tent is often a first step in a health­care deci­sion cycle that could last weeks, months or even years depend­ing on the con­di­tion. Make this path as clear as pos­si­ble by post­ing organ­ic con­tent and tar­get­ed ads that align with each step on the journey.

Here’s an exam­ple: Altru Health Sys­tem offers engag­ing Face­book posts and access points for ortho­pe­dic can­di­dates who are at the aware­ness stage (build­ing the rela­tion­ship), the eval­u­a­tion stage (shar­ing resources that sup­port research) and through to the deci­sion stage (cre­at­ing oppor­tu­ni­ties to con­nect with a health­care provider). This approach is part of an inte­grat­ed ser­vice line growth cam­paign that gen­er­at­ed more than $10 mil­lion in down­stream rev­enue in the first year—for an ROI of $227 to $1.

Drive traffic to your website for a more in-depth conversation and conversion opportunities.

Social con­tent is designed to spark con­ver­sa­tions and inspire behav­ior change. Your web­site is where spe­cif­ic clin­i­cal ques­tions are answered and where con­sumers can con­vert to ser­vice line rev­enue. Bridge social media with your web­site by pro­mot­ing top­ics fea­tured on the blog or con­tent hub, where you can offer more in-depth infor­ma­tion that advances the dia­logue and nur­tures leads through the funnel.

Here’s an exam­ple: Methodist Health Sys­tem fea­tures top­ics like the dan­gers of low-dose aspirin and rel­e­vant COVID-19 sto­ries on the SHINE Online blog. The con­tent is active­ly pro­mot­ed on social media—a strat­e­gy that has helped dri­ve 1,000% growth in site traffic.

Build the case for an increased ad budget.

At the same time that social media is becom­ing the #1 chan­nel for engag­ing con­sumers, com­pe­ti­tion for paid place­ments are low­er than pre-COVID lev­els and social media ads, par­tic­u­lar­ly on Face­book, are rel­a­tive­ly inex­pen­sive right now.

It’s the tri­fec­ta of pos­i­tive trends for health­care social media mar­ket­ing strategists.

Lever­age these trends to increase ad spend­ing on the chan­nels where build­ing audi­ence and engage­ment are a pri­or­i­ty for your orga­ni­za­tion. Make sure to mea­sure engage­ment, con­ver­sion and oth­er met­rics against your goals and opti­mize based on performance.

Encourage your audience to take the best next step through calls to action.

Your com­mu­ni­ties are active­ly seek­ing ways to stay healthy—and they trust health­care providers now more than ever. Antic­i­pate their ques­tions and help fol­low­ers on their path by craft­ing calls to action that guide them on the best next step on the health­care journey.

Here’s an exam­ple: Beau­fort Memo­r­i­al Hos­pi­tal has used social media as a proac­tive resource through­out the pan­dem­ic, from pro­mot­ing free COVID-19 test­ing and vac­cine appoint­ments to help­ing com­mu­ni­ty mem­bers cope with depres­sion.

Experiment with new content formats like video.

With social media activ­i­ty sky­rock­et­ing while organ­ic reach con­tin­ues to decline, now is the time to try new things that can boost your sig­nal. One of the effec­tive ways to engage your com­mu­ni­ty is live video. Most phones offer ample stream­ing qual­i­ty so you don’t have to invest in high­ly pol­ished video pro­duc­tion. Health­care mar­keters are lever­ag­ing this for­mat to fea­ture physi­cians on con­tent relat­ed to COVID-19, sea­son­al health issues and oth­er crit­i­cal topics.

Here’s an exam­ple: The Ohio State Uni­ver­si­ty Wexn­er Med­ical Cen­ter host­ed a Face­book Live event fea­tur­ing mem­bers of their neu­ro team describ­ing how COVID-19 can impact the risk for stroke.

Use your voice in the community to amplify social issues in an authentic way.

Hos­pi­tals are often among the largest employ­ers in the area. Their impact often has a halo effect on vir­tu­al­ly every busi­ness, civic orga­ni­za­tion and house­hold. This reach often comes with a respon­si­bil­i­ty to address key issues like diver­si­ty and inclu­sion, the impor­tance of social dis­tanc­ing and why wear­ing masks is important.

Many health­care orga­ni­za­tions are embrac­ing the role to guide their com­mu­ni­ties and advo­cate for all of their con­stituents. The key is mak­ing sure your tone and mes­sage match your brand val­ues and orga­ni­za­tion­al culture.

Here are exam­ples: Van­der­bilt Health infec­tious dis­ease experts dis­cuss why wear­ing a mask in pub­lic helps reduce the risk of spread­ing coro­n­avirus. Adven­tist Health­Care shared a state­ment on the sig­nif­i­cance of this era titled “Our Time in His­to­ry,” signed by the lead­er­ship team.

Invest in the right tools to boost engagement and efficiency.

A hall­mark of dig­i­tal matu­ri­ty is lever­ag­ing tools that enrich the user expe­ri­ence while mak­ing life eas­i­er for mar­keters. From plan­ning and col­lab­o­ra­tion to con­tent cre­ation and track­ing, tech­nol­o­gy is mak­ing a marketer’s job a lot less man­u­al and much more effective.

For exam­ple, many True North clients use tools like Hoot­suite to man­age social media mar­ket­ing across mul­ti­ple local hos­pi­tal or sys­tem divi­sion pages. There are also chan­nel-spe­cif­ic appli­ca­tions that aug­ment the con­tent you’re already plan­ning, cre­at­ing and shar­ing on social media. The chal­lenge is find­ing the right tool for your social media strat­e­gy and bud­get with thou­sands of options. This is where strate­gic part­ners can guide deci­sions on the right tools for your organization.

Here’s an exam­ple: At True North, we’re using a Link­In­Bio tool for Insta­gram that allows fol­low­ers to learn more about the peo­ple and ideas we’re shar­ing with cur­rent team mem­bers, job can­di­dates and the health­care mar­ket­ing community.

Test and learn.

With these insights as a guide, the impact of your health­care social media mar­ket­ing can tran­scend van­i­ty met­rics and advance the mis­sion and growth strat­e­gy of your organization.

Get More Insights to Guide Your Strategy

Sched­ule a con­tent strat­e­gy con­sult with our team to get 10–12 turnkey top­ics to fea­ture on social media—and a FREE con­tent plan­ning template!

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