Should Hospitals be on Facebook? Social Media Marketing for the Healthcare Industry
Across industries, sophisticated organizations are now committing both time and money to their social media marketing campaigns. But the healthcare industry (including hospitals, B2B medical manufacturers, and health clubs) has hesitated to embrace social media.
A survey of 1,060 U.S. adults by the PwC Health Research Institute found that one-third of respondents considered social media platforms appropriate for the discussion of healthcare. The Journal of Internet Medical Research found that 60% of adults surveyed used the Internet to access medical information. This is a major opportunity – it’s time to get ahead of the curve.
That said, there are some of the unique concerns for healthcare marketers when it comes to marketing on social. These include:
- Fear that social media may compromise patient or client privacy and security
- Challenges in creating a secure monitoring system, which could potentially lead to charges of malpractice
- Challenges in producing factually accurate content
Still, the benefits of engaging on social may outweigh the risks. Here are some ways that healthcare institutions can engage on social in a relevant, useful, and industry-appropriate way. And if you want more information, be sure to download the new ebook created by Infinigraph and Marketo, The State of Content Marketing and Social Media in the Medical and Fitness Industries.
In a study by Infinigraph, we measured the effectiveness of different posts made by healthcare companies, including hospitals, clinics, and health care foundations. We found that healthcare audiences engaged most with posts containing images.
This image below from Cleveland Clinic received 1,140 shares, 24 comments and 1,995 likes on Facebook:
Note the visibly placed calorie count on the image – Cleveland Clinic knows that their audience is interested in nutritional information. Also, when you consider that more than 75% of health-related costs involve obesity, diabetes, hypertension, and high cholesterol, low-calorie recipes from Cleveland Clinic could potentially reduce health costs in the long-run.
This next image from WebMD received 1,377 shares, 48 comments, and 1,135 likes. Both attractive and useful, the image accompanied an article about the best foods for sufferers of food poisoning or the stomach flu.
Keep it Human, Keep it Useful
Here are some of the most engaged-with Facebook posts from our surveyed healthcare institutions over a 30-day period.
What made these post successful? All contain images, and all link to valuable content. These short posts link to larger articles which tell human interest stories, tapping into audience emotions, or provide useful health information.
As for placement, Facebook and Twitter are both crucial to your social media campaigns, but our research strongly suggests that Facebook posts generate the most engagement with the health and wellness industry. Facebook has more active users than Twitter, and content posted to Facebook has a longer shelf life – depending on engagement, Facebook posts can remain prominently displayed for days.
Closing Thoughts: A Few Best Practices for Healthcare Marketers
- Make your data available. Allow your ratings and reviews, as well as error rates within your database (if applicable) to be made public.
- Educate your employees on social media policies. Make the risk of violating the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) clear, and prohibit posting inappropriate information about doctors or patients.
- Implement privacy settings. Be sure to safeguard personal information and content.
- Avoid using social media channels to communicate with patients on sensitive issues. Advise them on a secure, personalized server.
- Enlist at least one author, editor, or reviewer on every piece of content that you publish. Include references or links to the source of your content, and date it whenever possible.
- Include an “About Us” or “History” section on your website. Present information about qualified staff, services, and facility as well as your purpose, goal, or mission.
- Ask for audience feedback through surveys and questionnaires. Make your contact information easy to find, and encourage your audience to get in touch via email, Facebook, and Twitter. When they do reach out, respond promptly and thoughtfully.
To read InfiniGraph’s 30-day competitive analysis of engagement from medical and fitness brands, follow the links to their Medical Foundations Engagement Performance Report and Fitness Brands Engagement Performance Report.