Dos and Don’ts of Social Media in Healthcare Marketing
Posted by Lori R.
Three weeks ago, I was uncertain what I would write about for the final project. Fortuitously, my boss talked to me around the same time and asked me about taking on more responsibilities, including managing the company’s social media sites. Although we already have a Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn page set up, we post to them very rarely, and, until this semester, I would have had little clue as to what the best approach would be for capitalizing on social media. Well, I am happy to report that I have a much better idea now, especially after writing this final paper which I entitled “The Dos and Don’ts of Social Media in Healthcare Marketing.” I specifically looked at Facebook, Twitter and YouTube as they are very popular and are increasingly being used within the healthcare sector.
In addition to being helpful to my job, I felt like this topic was very appropriate because social media is a perfect example of the move from traditional means of communication to digital methods, a primary theme in the English 745 course. In this specific case, social media is replacing traditional means of word-of-mouth marketing (i.e. face-to-face conversations with friends and family). Now, people talk about their medical conditions and recommendations on Facebook, blogs, and discussion boards. People are looking for medical advice and health updates on YouTube. They are following health-related events and news on Twitter. Social media is pervasive in healthcare communications, and organizations would best figure out how to jump on the social media bandwagon.
Like with many things, though, there is no one-size-fits-all approach. Social media will not achieve all marketing goals for the company. It has a specific use for specific audiences and should be used in conjunction with other marketing strategies.
One of social media’s specific uses is to create greater awareness and increase conversation and participation, things that are not easily measured by normal ROI methods, but valuable nonetheless. The way I see it, social media can be a terrific means for getting your name out there to become established as the expert in your field. The company I work for used to be known for this and has taken a backseat lately. Perhaps being visible on social media will help bring our brand back behind the driver’s seat. Or, at the very least, allow us to be the “driving” force behind a social media strategy, rather than letting it sit, collecting dust.
In my research for this paper, I found an unbelievable amount of information so the most difficult part was narrowing down the resources. Fortunately, they all meshed well and I found many of the same themes, such as:
- Determine how social media fits into your overall marketing strategy.
- Decide which audience you are targeting and choose an appropriate social medium that this audience uses.
- Share helpful, engaging and valuable information. Photos, links and videos can help make this content more interesting.
- Regular, frequent posts are essential to stay relevant and keep your viewers coming back.
- Use Facebook apps to make your site more robust and useful.
- YouTube videos are more effective if they have an emotional element to them.
- Use two or fewer hashtags per Tweet.
These are just some of the things that I learned while working on this paper. I’d like to share more, so I am going to end with posting some links in case you are looking for some help with developing a social media strategy.
The Healthcare Communicator’s Social Media Toolkit
31 Twitter tips
25 ways to get more social media followers
Thanks for a great semester! Good luck to you all!
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