3 social media strategies to employ for your healthcare campaign

May 26, 2016
Colin Deval Senior Communications Strategist

As the Internet, and the content it houses, becomes more socialized, acceptance and use of social media among the general population continues to grow. If you check the most recently used apps on your smartphone, you’ll know that.

  • We consume content online (between 20 – 30 percent of Boomers, Gen X and Millennials spend more than 20 hours per week with online content).
  • We create content and put it online (images, blogs, comments among the top three most consumed types of comments for each generation – same study).
  • And social media platforms fuel the inter-connected nature of all of that (65 percent of the US population uses one or more social network sites).

The entire web today is social; bits and pieces of socially-connected content. Articles. Interviews. Opinions. Amazing photography and design. Emotionally stunning videos. Valuable, audience-focused information and short how-to videos. And, hopefully, chances for the audience to participate in a strategic campaign.

Healthcare brands are no different. Hospitals and healthcare systems can build and motivate a targeted audience with content, using the social media platform that best fits the audience, to tell a story. The challenge is in doing it strategically, creatively and in the ways that best fit the current requirements of specific platforms.

With social media, it’s your content, but it’s the platform’s rules and functionality. For example, see this article for specific details on Facebook’s News Feed algorithm, which determines if your content will reach your audience.

Here are three strategies to implement right now for your healthcare brand with social media and content. To start applying these principles, think of your own work. Do you have a content campaign targeting heart health or a video campaign touting patient intimacy and quality of care? If so, it’s time to start planning how you can use these principles to build a healthcare campaign worthy of attention like the ones collected in this article.


1. Retarget

Use social retargeting so your content (those beautifully emotional ads you’ve produced) is presented in the Facebook News Feed of people based on specific web searches and sites visited (like your own). Not only does it make your organization relevant to their needs, it gives your target audience the things they search for on the web before they need it, based on your predictive research … providing greater value. This can be planned as part of your media buy and presents your content to an engaged audience who may just be researching your hospital or healthcare system.

That new audience can be prompted to view your content, take action in a health challenge you’ve put in front of them, call to make an appointment or like your page. If they do the latter, you can build a more highly engaged potential patient who learns from your content (the stuff you make, see point three).

Traditionally, we’ve thought of retargeting as a function of advertising. Visit a site and you see the ad online for a couple of days. Ads today get really interesting when they appear in your social media feeds, inviting you to follow a social profile to learn more and take action. This infographic covers some great information on retargeting. One stat you’ll see there? Sixty-seven percent of online advertisers are using Facebook’s retargeting. That’s because it’s powerful.

Some of the most powerful ad retargeting today comes from Facebook’s highly targeted advertising platform, which also connects right into Instagram (adopted child of Facebook). If you conduct a Google search, visit a website, click on a product or conduct any number of executions online your social media profile and content can be presented to a potential customer.

For healthcare, ensure you are not retargeting sensitive pages or personal information. Use it for general campaign awareness to build brand affinity and value for potential patients. This article from Sprout Social, the platform Core Creative uses for social media management programs, breaks down specifics regarding healthcare, social media and the regulations you need to be mindful of.

Who’s doing it?

Check out Warby Parker, Tuft & Needle or Zappos. Those are direct-to-consumer brands, not healthcare services, but they give you the foundation you need to understand how to make retargeting on social media work for your needs. I guarantee, if you visit those websites, you’ll see their content retargeted to you in interesting ways.


2. Listen

Social listening may be an untapped resource for you.

When people began to master the arts of social media and recognized its more selfless benefits, listening was discussed as a key need in the space. However, as platforms grew and audiences became more fragmented, engagement dropped. Specifically, people haven’t been sharing of themselves as much as they used to on Facebook and Twitter. Engagement with a platform doesn’t necessarily mean people are engaging with each other on the platform. For many, social media platforms today are content platforms. For example, this article, from Derek Thompson of The Atlantic, is a sterling assessment of the evolution of Twitter … and people’s use of it closely correlating to their use of television. That is to say, watching it.

So, if people aren’t necessarily engaging with content on social media, and are just shouting into the void, how can we listen to them? One thing remains true; people still share their opinions on social media, a grand digital confessional to anyone who may be listening. That reality gives marketers a chance to establish effective listening strategies to build connections with an audience. Not necessarily to make a sale or immediately book an appointment with a physician, but to built brand awareness and affinity. Equity between your brand and your target audiences is the key starting point with social media. Build it, and your content will resonate.

Management tools like Sprout Social, Radian6 and more offer sophisticated opportunities to set keywords, lists and geo-targeting to listen for opportunities to serve your customers.

  • Listen for opportunities to engage with people on your campaign.
  • Listen to understand sentiment.
  • Listen to find valuable content aligned with a specific service line on which you’re focused.
  • Listen to understand live, in the moment impressions of your facilities or providers and ways you might be able to serve them better.

You may not find much, but what you do find can inform operational enhancements that make incredible differences for patients and word-of-mouth impressions.

People may be watching Twitter like television, but they are also shouting at it … just like real television. Chatter on Twitter could lead to a new product or service innovation, it could direct someone to vital information that can get them on the right track to a healthier lifestyle or it could introduce the right doctor to the right patient at just the right time. It can also connect you with influencers, media or bloggers who can provide great PR opportunities. A fantastic example of social listening comes out of Australia and this melanoma campaign. Social listening. Engagement. A very tight strategy. And a campaign that generated an avalanche of PR opportunities.

As with any social media strategy, there are right and wrong ways to go about it, many detailed in this thread on Quora. Just know if you’re getting active with content and social media, you can’t say you’re conducting social media management without social media listening. Social listening is a vital part of the puzzle so you can engage with the healthcare consumer.


3. Make Stuff

For years, I’ve been saying Facebook is the front door of the Internet.

While social media platforms have become more varied and audiences more fragmented based on age, interests and needs,, Facebook usage remains high across the board. Your friends, family and coworkers are there. You’re following news sources, influencers, fun things, community news and more. You’re sharing/posting right to Facebook from articles you read and videos you watch on different websites.

As noted earlier, recent studies are showing that as content on Facebook becomes more prevalent, Facebook engagement is dropping.

Key phrase … “content on Facebook becomes more prevalent.”

As you use Facebook, connecting with friends or consuming content, think about what it is you’re watching and discussing. Think about the stories you see, the ways those stories are being presented and think about your own story. What is your brand? How do its elements move and impact your customers to offer services or insight? How might your services and the insight available from your experts best serve that audience? How does that audience consume content online?

Now, thinking about what you see there on a weekly basis, think about how you can make stuff to build your brand, serve your audience and give them opportunities to learn about how you can serve them.

You’ve seen videos.

You’ve seen great design.

You’ve seen instructional videos.

You’ve seen jokes and emotionally impactful content.

Take a step back and start planning how you can make stuff. It’ll help you reach and move your audience.

If it’s not reaching them, use retargeting to make sure it does.

And if you have a tight and clear strategy … maybe you’ll be able to come up with the next avalanche of PR around a listening campaign like the melanoma campaign that came out of Australia.

Colin Deval is a PR/Social Media Strategist at Core Creative.


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