The impact of Social media in the healthcare industry is greater than we think.
If you check your favorite social media platform right now, there’s a good chance that you see at least one post related to the healthcare industry – from symptoms of seasonal flu to guides on a nutrition diet for better health.
But it’s not just about sharing and liking posts; in fact, 41% of people use social media when choosing a specific doctor, hospital, or medical facility.
Also, more and more people, especially those seeking mental health help, turn to virtual clinics to see a doctor completely online.
In this article, we will examine the role of social media in healthcare and talk about marketing tips and tools to get the best result in this niche.
Let’s jump right in!
Table of Contents
Why Should the Healthcare Industry Leverage Social Media?
It’s no surprise that more people turn to social media to access health-related information. This trend especially took a sharp jump since late 2019 when the whole world had to face the Covid-19 pandemic.
Here are some highlights based on recent surveys that shed light on social media usage and sharing of health information:
- People are connected to the healthcare industry via social media: 54% of millennials and 42% of all adults are willing to follow their doctor or healthcare professionals on Social media;
- People are contacting their physicians using social media: Millennials (65%) and other adults (43%) leave a posting or direct message to ask health-related questions and issues.
- Parents are seeking health-related information online: 15% of people with children under 18 use social media to self-diagnose a health problem.
- Younger patients prefer communication via social media over other means.
As we can see, the demand side is growing, but do the suppliers, aka the health organizations, keep pace with users to provide enough social media presence? Let’s see.
The Role of Social Media in Healthcare Industry
Social media and the healthcare industry are connected in several ways, including, but not limited to
1- Raising Awareness About Health Issues
Providing accurate public health information, guidelines, and advisories is one of the main reasons why healthcare organizations and professionals are using social media.
This is especially useful to raise public awareness about important more general health issues such as alcohol-related harms, food safety, infections, heart disease, etc.
The good news is patients are most likely to trust online medical content. However, there’s a dark side: what if unprofessional people start sharing false health information on social media?
Well, it’s easy and dangerous at the same time!
In fact, this issue was so crucial during the Covid-19 breakout crisis. Remember this banner on Instagram that would appear when you posted about Coronavirus?
This was (and still is) Instagram trying to keep the platform safe from false news.
If you are a member of healthcare influencers, pharma companies, or anyhow active on social media and give medical advice, make sure you gain your audience’s trust.
Getting verified on Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, or any other social platform is one of the first things healthcare social media managers can do toward this.
2- Providing Healthcare Social Media Services
Social media is all about socializing and connecting with people.
As the healthcare industry audience is everyone, one of the primary purposes of using social media for any facility, such as clinics, medical offices, birth centers, and even hospitals, is to find new customers.
Not only do healthcare facilities try to advertise their services on social media, but also they use it to find new leads and send them to different marketing channels.
3- Industry Updates and Connections
Another use of social media in the healthcare industry is for sharing information.
Healthcare leaders frequently publish new medicine, clinical trials, research, and any new discoveries and inventions on social media.
An important part of the audience in this niche is healthcare professionals. Using social media, institutions can expand professional networks and share (or get informed) the latest industry news, such as conferences.
LinkedIn is the best choice when it comes to B2B social media marketing and communications for this purpose.
Best Practices for Social Media Marketing in Healthcare Industry
If you are a part of the healthcare community and wish to promote your organization through social media, here are some of the best marketing practices:
1- Conduct Social Media Monitoring
Social media monitoring is effective whether you want to improve health outcomes, develop a community of practitioners, educate patients, motivate patients, or provide critical information.
Also, Based on MedTechMedia, 31% of healthcare professionals use social media for professional networking. To conduct a competitor analysis, you need to monitor your competitors, and the content people share on social media.
Moreover, stay alert about some particular news in your niche. For example, over these past years, staying updated and tracking the impact of covid-19 has been essential for any health organization.
There are many benefits for healthcare systems to implement social media monitoring. Some of them are:
- Social media monitoring and analytics help you find relevant healthcare conversations by performing social listening on various platforms;
- You’ll gain deeper marketing insights into the needs and preferences of your healthcare community;
- Continuous monitoring of social media channels helps you improve customer service and monitor your brand;
- You can perform sentiment analysis, which helps you understand the overall feeling of the public toward your services and brand;
- Keeping an eye on competitors, their behavior, and tactics helps to improve your approach and find loopholes in your strategies. As you come up with a unique concept, it establishes you as a thought leader in the industry;
- It gives you real-time updates and helps to resolve patient queries ASAP.
How Can You Use Social Media Monitoring for Healthcare Systems?
Luckily, there are many social media monitoring tools available to make healthcare social media marketing a lot easier. You can start a free trial in Mentionlytics to collect essential social media insights.
Here are some of the Mentionlytics’ features:
- Social media mentions;
- Social media reports;
- Measuring share of voice & sentiment analysis;
- Tracking brand name or any other keyword;
- Personal AI consultant (SIA)
Dive into two weeks of free access to all premium features of Mentionlytics!
2- Publish a Variety of Educational Content
One proven way of social media marketing for medical practices and healthcare institutions is through content.
As mentioned above, one of the main roles of the healthcare industry’s presence in social media is to educate people, especially in times of health and global crisis.
Here are some of the social media post ideas for healthcare institutions:
Infographics are valuable as the reader can digest a wealth of information with just a glance. You can create helpful infographics about medical and or any healthcare-related topics, such as first-aid, and share them on social media.
You can break down the infographic into several pics and then publish it as Instagram carousels.
One picture might be worth thousands of words, but how about videos?
Well, videos are way more engaging than other types of content. The average engagement rate of short-form videos is around 50% (Wistia).
Explainer videos can be just what your audience craves: packed with valuable information in a few minutes.
Link to the resources directly on social media so that the users can examine them. Do you have a list of verified labs and medical institutions that run Covid-19 tests? Share them!
Quotes on social media do not always have to be inspirational from well-known characters. You can use quotes from your healthcare staff or patients to spread positivity.
Industry Research and Events
Keep your followers up-to-date by publishing the latest trends, findings, and discoveries in the healthcare world, especially if you are a contributor.
Use case studies to show successful treatment stories of patients. Not only does this spread positivity, but also it’s a great way to advertise your institution.
Important Note: Make sure you comply with policies regarding the patient’s privacy when sharing their information on social media. To learn about these regulations, keep reading and check the following sections.
Behind the Scenes
Behind-the-scenes content is a less applied but powerful healthcare social media marketing practice.
Once in a while, share behind-the-scenes photos and videos to show the human face of your organization.
You can include your staff, and funny stories, or show off your brand-new equipment. This will help people to feel closer to you. After all, we’re all human.
3- Show Your Source is Reliable
Always include the source when giving medical and healthcare information. Luckily, due to the nature of the work, you are surrounded by many qualified professionals that can be reliable sources of information.
You’ve probably seen some doctors and nurses influencers. Collaborate with healthcare influencers or your own staff to give the content more value and authority.
In other words, let them be the voice of your organization. People trust doctors and are more willing to engage when they see reliable content.
4- Speak your Audience’s Language
You may have healthcare professionals among your audience, but many of your followers are regular.
That’s why it’s important to speak in a simple way and make sure that any special medical term and jargon is explained properly.
5- Combat Misinformation
We all know that social media is not always the best source of information.
After all, it’s a two-way means of communication; anyone can share news and ideas with a click.
Spreading misinformation and fake news can be more dangerous when it comes to healthcare-related topics. The good news is the new generation is more aware of such dangers, and they tend to be more careful about it.
Remember this one?
This fake news was just one of the thousands of misinformation that was circulating fast on social media during the Covid-19 breakout.
The amount of misinformation was so significant that the World Health Organization (WHO) has introduced seven steps to verify a piece of info/news in the time of an infodemic (flood of information).
Although this procedure was explicitly introduced for Covid-19 information, you can still use it for any piece of delicate details that you want to share on social media.
These seven steps include:
- Assess the source
- Go beyond headlines
- Identify the author
- Check the date
- Examine the supporting evidence
- Check your biases
- Turn to fact-checkers
6- Focus on Engagement
The success of your healthcare social media marketing efforts depends largely on your level of engagement.
That’s why you should take advantage of every opportunity to get engaged with your audience. Not only will this boost your visibility, but it will also help you to become a reliable source of information about the healthcare industry on social media.
More engagement means more likes, shares, and comments as people feel they are connecting to a real person rather than just an organization.
Here are some of the effective ways to increase your level of engagement on social media:
Write longer captions
Although it seems like people favor short captions, there’s still room for meaty ones. This is specially working for LinkedIn and Instagram. Just write as long as it feels right. Avoid writing details that your audience doesn’t want to hear.
Use more reels
Reels are still booming on social media, and it’s one of the main strengths of TikTok for increasing engagement. Create more reels, especially the loop ones, to give your engagement a sharp boost.
Ask questions and invite followers to leave comments
One great way to improve your engagement on social media is to ask questions or just ask followers to leave their comments on a specific matter. You’ll be surprised how many people actually respond to this strategy!
Share unique content
Give your audience what they cannot find anywhere else. This can be a recent research study that you’ve done or any other information and tips that are worth sharing.
Post on pick hours
This was maybe more important a few years ago when most social media used to have a chronological algorithm, but still, it’s an important factor in increasing engagement. Try to publish your post at the best time of the day or week.
There’s no fixed magic number, but you can get a good estimate of what works for you by checking your social media insights.
Leverage using hashtags
Use trending hashtags on social media effectively to increase your engagement. Try using trending hashtags in the healthcare industry based on the context of your post.
7- Run Healthcare Social Media Campaigns
To improve your brand awareness, click-throughs, and other marketing goals, design and run different marketing campaigns on social media.
One particular example of a healthcare social media campaign that especially works for medical organizations like hospitals and clinics is sharing the success stories of patients. You can also do a little user-generated content (UGC) marketing and use posts that people share to shout out for the organization.
Although some institutions outsource their social media effort to a digital marketing agency, others try to keep it in-house by leveraging their own resources.
Medical and healthcare influencers can make a big change to your social media platforms. The good thing about influencers, especially micro or nano influencers, is that people tend to trust them better due to the close-knit community that they have developed.
Compliance with Healthcare Policy and Regulation on Social Media
Complying with policies and regulations regarding patient privacy and health information is no joke when it comes to social media activities in the healthcare sector.
So, you should be sure that patient confidentiality is respected when you publish related posts and sensitive information. In some cases, you may even need written consent to share patient information.
In the US, HIPAA, or Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, was designed to make sure
sensitive information is safe.
- When publishing patient photos, stories, and health issues, you are required to prepare and sign a written contest.
- You can engage with patients on social media, but you should be extra careful about transferring sensitive information over messages.
What is the Best Social Media Platform for Healthcare?
That entirely depends on your organization’s marketing approach. But to give you an idea, based on the research carried out by Healthcare Success, among 3,371 hospitals throughout the US, half of them used these four social media: Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, and Yelp.
What are the Risks of Social Media in Healthcare for Patients?
There are two main risks of social media in healthcare:
- The danger of self-diagnosis by using social media
- Sharing private information of patients on social media
In this article, we examined the relationship between social media and the healthcare industry and suggested some of the best marketing practices for social media in healthcare, including media monitoring.
If you want to stay updated in your medical field, know how your patients talk about your organization on social media, and track a special keyword, give Mentionlytics a try!