Social media is big. How big, exactly? As of January 2014, almost three out of every four Americans on the Internet use social networking sites. In the healthcare world, social media networks are especially important. Over 40% of consumers report that information they find on social media networks will have an impact on the way that they address their health.
As someone who oversees healthcare marketing, the challenge you face is figuring out a way to harness the power of social media for improving your marketing ROI. If you're going to improve your bottom line by using social media the formula isn't really that complex. It ends up being about content; getting it out there where people can see it and benefit from it. Your marketing content says a lot about how you manage patients, people want to get to know you before they commit to placing their healthcare in your hands. Social media is just another avenue for attracting people to begin the process of building the relationship that leads them to become a patient. It also solidifies existing relationships so that patient retention improves too. Here is how social media is stirred into your content marketing efforts to impact revenue goals.
Know Your Audience
It’s hard to create effective social media messages if you do not know who is going to be reading them. Creating at least one buyer persona should be the first step in social media marketing for healthcare. Think about what your prospects would be interested in. What kind of healthcare problems would they have? Who are they going to turn to for their healthcare questions? What are they looking for from their provider?
All these questions and more should be answered when you go to create your buyer personas. Remember, as Anna Ritchie at The Content Marketing Institute points out, that you also need to take time to tweak your buyer personas when necessary: creating these personas is not a one-and-done affair.
Create a Dialogue
One mistake that too many healthcare practices make with their healthcare marketing is exclusively sending out one-way messages: updates about what your nurses and doctors have been doing, recommendations about healthcare techniques, and other messages that prospects and clients can’t respond to very easily.
Social media is one of the most interactive platforms available: why limit your healthcare marketing on social media by talking to your customer base, instead of talking with them? Engaging with your audience on social media can be as simple as including a question at the end of your updates, or conducting a survey of your current and future patients. You can also engage with patients through the content that they share on social networks: just remember not to overdo it.
Or more accurately, don’t make selling the exclusive reason that your practice is present on social networks. Healthcare in particular is a field where information is crucial. Did you know that one out of every three American adults has gone online to diagnose a healthcare condition?
To help you get beyond only promoting your practice, we recommend using the 80/20 rule for healthcare marketing on social media. 80% of what you share on social networks should be helpful, external content aimed at providing value for your audience, while 20% should be self-promotion or sales messages.
Social Media, Not Social Text
Remember that social media networks are just that: platforms for sharing media, your valuable content. Don’t get caught up in the trap of only sending articles, editorials, or other text-based updates. You could use a humorous picture to bring some lightness to your fans or followers, or you may want to share a video of one of your doctors talking about an important health issue. Keep your format varied and your social media audience will be more compelled to follow your updates and share them with their own network.
Healthcare marketing on social networks can be difficult, but it doesn’t have to be impossible. By taking a few small steps you can begin to improve your social media marketing in some very valuable ways.