Written by Ariad Communications on September 30, 2013
in Healthcare Marketing

Research indicates that social media plays an important role in the healthcare industry, with nearly 58% of patients/consumers engaging in “health-related discussions” on social networks at least once per year.

And yet, for many healthcarebrands, social media is often a last-minute addition to a marketing plan – not an integral part of the marketing mix. For these brands, success in social media often means merely getting more Facebook likes or Twitter followers. And some only consider setting up a social-media page because the competition has one. What these brands fail to realize is that this approach won’t help you build a loyal following. In fact, when your social media is without a strategy, your audience becomes a group of people who don’t actually care about your brand.

How to make social media efforts pay off

Here are four simple approaches that can help you achieve stronger results from your social media efforts:

  1. Set measurable objectives: (Hint: “I need a Facebook page” is not an objective.) Start by taking a step back and asking why you need social media. Why do you want a Facebook page in the first place? If your objective is simply to out-do the competition then something is wrong. Strong, measurable objectives – such as building awareness, loyalty and advocacy – are what you need to support an effective social media strategy.
  2. Be relevant: The easiest way to lose followers and interest is by posting messages that do not connect with your audience. Many brands also run the risk of overselling and not bringing any value or information to their audience. Among ePharma consumers, the use of social media along the patient journey is highest when they are considering switching or stopping treatment. Consumers tend to triangulate their data – finding information on social media that spurs further conversations with more trusted people, such as doctors and family members.
  3. Stay connected: Show customers you care by responding frequently and considerately, and by the rewards you offer for loyalty and advocacy.  Many times social media acknowledgement and positive feedback goes a long way toward increasing advocacy and brand loyalty.
  4. Be professional: We have heard stories of healthcare professionals being disciplined for ill-advised social media posts containing private patient information. One instance involved a hospital employee in the U.S. who shared her opinion that a State governor had received preferential treatment during a checkup. The employee was suspended for violating patient confidentiality. Perhaps the biggest quandary for many healthcare providers is whether to accept Facebook friend requests from patients. It becomes a challenge here to use social media to strengthen the provider-patient relationship while maintaining appropriate professional boundaries.

Social media is a powerful tool. Having a well-thought out strategy in place will help your brand make the most of it.

“If you’re looking to explore these ideas more fully, be sure to download our whitepaper: Content Changes Everything.”

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