The Ultimate Guide to Healthcare Social Media Marketing (with images)

Digital healthcare communications is key to marketing your healthcare business and with the unprecedented spread of the COVID-19 pandemic which brought about an “everything virtual” culture, there has been growing interest in accelerating digital communications with customers.

Growing online presence on social media is the first step most companies take to grow their digital footprint. As healthcare is a highly regulated industry, there may be a lot of concerns for healthcare companies when it comes to social media marketing.

However, these few companies and individuals have proven that social media is a great tool for digital healthcare marketing and are continuing to leverage different platforms to grow their brands into household names. Let’s take a look at some of them.

#HealthcareWithoutBorders

Mayo Clinic

Lee Aase, director of MCSMN, spoke to the AMA Tampa Bay Healthcare SIG on social media.

Social media platforms

  • Facebook
  • Instagram
  • Twitter
  • YouTube
  • Pinterest

Social media wins

  • Established the Mayo Clinic Social Media Network (MCSMN) to improve health worldwide through social media.
  • They were recognised as a top health information website as a result of their large social media following.

Learning from best practices

  • Use social media to build connections with your target markets.
  • Provide followers with informative and educational content.

Cleveland Clinic

Cleveland Clinic has used Facebook Live to host several live Q&A sessions, including the State of the Clinic health event. Source: Cleveland Clinic Facebook page

Social media platforms

  • Facebook
  • Instagram
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • YouTube
  • Pinterest

Social media wins

  • They have an effective social media plan in place – they have built a mix of paid, owned and earned media.

Learning from best practices

  • Leverage on social media features to boost your brand awareness.
  • Layman, empathetic and relevant content can improve engagement.
  • Create topics which are unique to your brand.

Dr. Pimple Popper

Dr. Sandra Lee, also called as Dr. Pimple Popper, has 6.74 million subscribers on YouTube. Source: YouTube

Social media platforms

Social media wins

  • Has over 10 million followers across different social media platforms – almost 6.8 million being from YouTube alone.

Learning from best practices

  • Adopt a personal and engaged approach with followers.
  • Be involved and have ownership over your own content.

Cheat sheet: Get on the right platforms

Did you know that while social media is a big part of everyone’s lives, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a 50% increase in social media usage? Not to mention, irrespective of the pandemic, social media has been a popular source of health-related information – case in point, over 200 million conversations across social media users in the United States, France and China are about health.

If you are planning to grow your digital footprint on social media, the omnichannel social media marketing strategy helps tap into a wider target market. Here is a list of the most popular social media platforms and their drawbacks which you’d probably want to take note of before investing time and/or money on them:

Facebook

Facebook’s preventive health tool shows a list of recommended tests and screenings based on age and gender. Source: CNET

For your information

  • Facebook recently launched its Preventive Healthcare tool for the US market that connects users to health resources and provides recommendations for checkups.
  • Many health-related topics can be considered as sensitive content to Facebook – you might want to consider engaging in a digital healthcare content strategist.

Useful tips

  • Provide relevant and current medical information – end it with a question for your audience to respond to.
  • Tell stories which aim to encourage and give hope like how the American Cancer Society shares cancer survivor stories.

Instagram

MedCircle has Instagram Live sessions with medical professionals such as Dr. Ramani, a licensed clinical psychologist. Source: Dr. Ramani Facebook page

For your information

  • There are almost 125 million #health hashtags, and about 5 million #healthcare hashtags on Instagram.
  • Instagram is a strong call-to-action platform to raise awareness for health-related matters.

Useful tips

  • Use Instagram Story features to connect with your audience e.g. allow followers to ask you a medical related question – but first, set the focus topic e.g. fertility.
  • Use Instagram Live to let your audience interact and discuss health-related matters with healthcare professionals live.

Twitter

For your information

  • Twitter is widely used by healthcare organizations to humanize care and interact with patients.
  • The keyword “health” is searched for 276,000 times per month.

Useful tips

  • Share quick healthcare information bites on Twitter and retweet your doctors’ Tweets to increase eyeballs.
  • Where possible, separate your Twitter accounts into different handles like what Medtronic has done.

LinkedIn

LinkedIn Healthcare Hub regularly publishes articles to inform healthcare marketers. Source: LinkedIn

For your information

  • LinkedIn recently launched a Healthcare Hub to help healthcare marketers engage with their priority audience with the right resources and tools.
  • Telemedicine is a key topic of interest, whereby the volume of content on the subject increased by 726%.

Useful tips

  • Leverage on LinkedIn to share updates on latest research findings with working professionals or even do a shoutout to your healthcare worker of the month.
  • Join LinkedIn groups and make your healthcare organisation’s voice heard by posting thought leadership content.

YouTube

For your information

  • Doctors are encouraging doctors to use YouTube to create education videos for patients.
  • Due to COVID-19, there was a 215% increase in searches for videos with “self-care” in the title.

Useful tips

  • Type keywords into the search bar to get auto-generated search words which you can use as a reference to what your next health-related video should be about.
  • Work with YouTubers to spread your healthcare messages even more quickly and effectively.

Granted, these may be platforms which have been around for a long time and you might be keen on embracing a different social network to stand out from your competitors while reaching out to a different set of audience. Here are two you might be keen to consider:

TikTok

Things to know

  • A video-based social network app.
  • TikTok has loads of healthcare content – educational and/or just plain fun.
  • During this COVID-19 pandemic, healthcare providers are also coming onto TikTok to spread awareness or enjoy a quick dance break
  • Even patients are coming onto TikTok to tell people they are doing great despite their ailments, or to celebrate a full recovery.

Examples

  • TikTok joined forces with a mental health organization in the UK called Mind to launch a campaign called #SpeakYourMind in May.

Pinterest

Things to know

  • A visual discovery engine – over 7 in 10 users are women.
  • Last year, Pinterest introduced a new experience for vaccine-related searches, whereby Pinners can obtain reliable results about immunizations from leading public health organizations.
  • They were previously the most used platform to spread misinformation about vaccines.

Examples

  • Pawsitively 4 Pink, an non-profit organization in Massachusetts which helps finance women diagnosed with breast cancer pins empowering posts to support patients and survivors throughout their cancer journey.

Social media trends

Here are 3 of the top social media trends that you should be following to get the most out of your digital healthcare marketing efforts:

Trend

Micro-influencer marketing a “must” marketing tactic

Go small but grow big with micro-influencer marketing

Quick notes
  • Almost 80% of brands use micro-influencer marketing for brand promotion.
  • Micro-influencer marketing helps in conversion, referrals, growing awareness, and growing your audience.
  • Micro-influencers have anywhere from 1,000 to 100,000 followers.
  • They specialize in their niche area of interest and generate more engagement.
  • Repurposing their generated content on your own social media channels can drive interest to your page or post.
LikeOneAnother was created by PGP and Kaiser Permanente to let people share their mental health stories.
Example
  • Healthcare company Kaiser Permanente partnered with Public Good Projects (PGP) worked with 120 micro-influencers to narrow the health disparity gap with regards to flu vaccinations. They got 93% positive comments from the campaign.

Ephemeral content is growing

Ephemeral content as your daily FOMO post

Quick notes
  • Addictive form of content consumption and can be user-generated content.
  • The content expires after a certain amount of time.
  • Only a small window of engagement but it is effective as people have a short attention span.
  • A smart method to get an immediate response to your CTA.
  • Content type and format can be diversified in the way it is presented to keep the FOMO going.
Example
  • The Jimmy Fund, a non-profit organization which raises money for cancer research and treatments, posts optimistic content and promotes their successes on Instagram Stories. They even feature cancer survivors who provide tips for living with the disease.

Go Live on social media

Closing the gap on social distancing digitally

Quick notes
  • The most exciting way to engage with your customers right now is to post live videos on your social media platforms.
  • Many physicians are doing live streams to raise awareness on health-related matters and interact with the public through live Q&A sessions.
  • Some invite guest speakers to go live with them to make the session more interesting.
  • The recommendation for live broadcasts is 10 minutes but it can be longer, depending on your viewers’ interaction.
  • Facebook Live garners 3 times more engagement than normal videos.
Example
  • Mental health experts, Dr Judy Ho and Dr. Dom Sportelli from MedCircle recently did an Instagram Live video to address public questions on mental health and gave tips on surviving self-isolation which garnered over 400 views during the 8-minute live session.

Making social media work for you

With an understanding of which social media platforms would be best suited to your business and target markets, let’s look at some of the pros and cons of leveraging social media for your healthcare business:

Pros

  • Able to boost professional networking
  • Able to improve brand awareness and engagement
  • Communication with customers and patients can be instantaneous 
  • Able to relay correct health-related information to the public
  • Able to combat any misinformation and hearsay
  • A cost-effective way to get your messages heard

Cons

  • Strict regulations and local laws that need to be followed such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)
  • Topics or comments with negative influence may go viral, leading to a potential crisis – like they say, “the internet never forgets”
  • Managing expectations may be harder as time waits for no man on social media

So, what can you do to reap all the benefits of social media and avoid any unwanted pitfalls? Have a sound social media strategy. The easiest way is to take the digital marketing funnel approach – but not really:

Awareness

  • Your top of the funnel strategy is to grow the awareness for your healthcare brand. In order to do that, you will need a unique calling card. ROI aside, what do you intend to be known for in the digital space and to your target audience? What can you offer that your competitors can’t?
  • The CDC uses their social media platforms to ensure members of the public are kept abreast with the latest safety updates and receive information from a source they can trust.

Interest

  • Going down the funnel, you will need to understand your audiences’ interest. Interests generally change, so while you would need an evergreen go-to specialty, you will need to be quick enough to ride on trends and viral topics. SEO keywords also play a huge role whereby the more interest you get for your search words, the better your visibility and the higher you will be ranked by Google.
  • Dr. Mike Varshavski was quick to share his views on the misinformation given by politicians regarding COVID-19 and had garnered almost 170,000 views on that IGTV video.

Desire

  • Next, understand what your audience desires from your social media channels. What types of posts garner the most engagement? Expanding on what works best for your healthcare brand will inadvertently increase your organic reach as well.
  • Doctors WIthout Borders posts distinct types of content on the Facebook page – from their texts, down to their images or videos, the key to their high engagement is the empathy they invoke.

Action

  • At the end of your funnel, you will need to take action. This includes ensuring you post regularly and responsibly, pushing out different content to cater to different interests, boosting your posts to gain more attention, and ensuring your audience always feels like they are connected to your brand.
  • ZDoggMD is very consistent at posting his healthcare videos on YouTube. He even has a “members only” playlist for members of his channel.

Last by not least

As the social media landscape and public interests are constantly and rapidly changing, it is important to keep yourself informed and abreast in order to leverage these digital marketing tools to the best of your advantage. You should also ensure that you adhere to HIPAA and the health-related regulations set by respective social media platforms at all times.

Reach out to Hire Digital for more information on growing your social media presence further.