Social Media Trends for Healthcare Companies
Did you know that two-thirds of American adults use social media? This figure has grown by over 800% since 2005 and continues to grow year after year1. Social media is typically seen as a tool used by younger generations (90% of those aged 18–29 are active on social media), but some of these usage stats show that social media isn’t just for the young:
- 77% of people aged 30–49 are active on social media.
- 51% of people aged 50–64 are active on social media.
- 35% of people aged 65 and older are active on social media.
Although many people spanning many ages are active on social media, the most active users are those who are educated and are in the middle-to-high-income bracket. Today, 78% of those living in the highest-income households use social media, compared with 56% of those in the lowest-income households2. This may be due, in part, to access to multiple devices and the internet.
Using social media for healthcare marketing is a great way to connect with both current and potential clients or patients. By engaging with current clients, you can increase their lifetime value by coaxing them to make more purchases and purchase more often. By engaging with potential customers, you can increase your client base and grow your company.
There are a lot of challenges and benefits associated with healthcare professionals using social media, such as patient care considerations and patient–doctor confidentiality. When deciding on whether your business should incorporate a social media strategy, it is important to make sure it is the right fit for the organization and the products and/or services that it offers.
There are several major social networks that healthcare professionals should consider incorporating into their healthcare marketing plan, and that we will touch on in this article including: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, LinkedIn, and Pinterest. We also provide an overview of a couple social media networks that are designed specifically for healthcare professionals. In the next section we will set our focus on Facebook.
Facebook Social Media Marketing Trends for Healthcare Companies
An evolving trend that’s frustrating for business owners using Facebook – and it affects everyone, not just healthcare professionals – is the fact that organic reach is at an all-time low. For years, business owners were told that, in order to be successful at marketing with Facebook, they needed to grow their audience in order to reach more people. Facebook has recently made significant changes that have created headaches for many business page owners.
Now, after investing time and resources to build up page “likes” to grow an audience, business page owners can’t even reach their own followers, because posts reach only around 2% of their total audience3. Facebook is now charging business page owners for the privilege of communicating with an audience that the business page owners spent years building up!
How do we solve this? Besides paying for Facebook ads or boosting your posts, there is still one workaround remaining – produce engaging content that your audience will want to like, share, and comment on.
Creating Engaging Facebook Content Using Videos
An effective way to create engaging content on Facebook leads us to another healthcare and social media marketing trend – using video. In 2014, Facebook introduced its own video platform, which allowed users to submit videos directly onto Facebook. Previously, you had to embed a video from another source such as YouTube or Vimeo.
Facebook videos not only generate more natural organic reach (because Facebook wants you to use its services), but the video will also automatically play when it appears in the news feed. While a little intrusive (especially if it’s using your mobile data), it’s a great way to grab the reader’s attention. We will touch more on healthcare video marketing trends in an upcoming article.
One of Facebook’s newest features for business pages and advertisers is the ability to create carousel ads that can be used with both images and video. This allows business page owners to create posts that can feature several products or services at a time. Since Facebook is all about “telling a story,” it allows advertisers to break up the story into easy-to-digest bites. Using healthcare as an example, the carousel could be made of 5 short videos educating viewers about the steps towards recovery from surgery using the product or service that you are selling.
Sharing stories using video is useful when it comes to social media for healthcare, because it provides physicians and healthcare professionals a more flexible and engaging medium to educate patients or clients on the products or services being offered.
Reinforcing Professionalism and Credibility Through Design
Professionalism and credibility is very important for any business, especially in the healthcare industry. Your Facebook page’s aesthetics should emulate the professional and credible businesses that you are trying to promote. Special care should be taken when designing the different elements of a Facebook page, such as profile pictures, cover photos, and the actual Facebook posts that you make on a day-to-day basis.
The example Facebook page cover photo above is professionally designed to fit the companies mission, which is helping people recover from arthritis and injuries so they can remain active.
Twitter Social Media Marketing Trends for Healthcare Companies
This social network is all about quick communication and being part of a dynamic conversation. Since posts are limited to 140 characters, it is imperative that communications are clear, concise and to the point. Twitter has quickly become the “customer service” social network, because it is often the shortest distance between a brand and its customers. When using Twitter for healthcare social media marketing, it is important to engage in conversations around and within your industry. Including healthcare industry partners in the conversation can build awareness for your company and build credibility for your organization within your particular field – showing you are a subject matter expert.
Twitter is also great for finding and joining local conversations. If you have clinics that are located in a certain geographic area, it’s easy to get involved in the local conversation and build awareness about your company by tweeting relevant information about local sports, charities, events, and other interesting and helpful information.
The tweet above was designed for a medical spa that was running a free facial giveaway. By adding location based hashtags, your tweet can reach an audience in a specific local area.
As Twitter communications are brief and the lifetime of a tweet is much shorter than a Facebook post, it is important to engage your audience using different tactics. A growing trend is the introduction of animated GIFs, looping videos, and live video streaming. Using videos and animation makes it easier to communicate your message and improve engagement – especially in the healthcare industry when educating consumers about the benefits that your products and services will have on their quality of life.
Live-Streaming Patient Education With Periscope
Periscope is Twitter’s live streaming service that allows people to live stream from their mobile phone. This is an effective alternative to hosting a webinar, because it takes much less time to set up, allowing for things like impromptu product demonstrations. This is useful for healthcare marketing because physicians and healthcare professionals can answer quick questions with a live demonstration that would be difficult to explain in text. The 2-way communication aspect is what really sets this medium apart. Users can ask questions if they are confused or can ask to expand on certain topics a bit more. Another advantage to this healthcare marketing trend is the fact that live streaming expands your reach on Twitter, which will expose your brand to people who have never interacted with your company before.
YouTube Social Media Marketing Trends for Healthcare Companies
YouTube has been around for quite a while and remains one of the most heavily used social media networks. In the United States alone, 500 hours of video content are uploaded to YouTube every minute and over 8 years of video are watched every day4.
While you shouldn’t expect your procedures or product demonstrations to go viral, YouTube is a wonderful way to boost your website’s SEO by embedding videos on your relevant website pages. This will not only bring more visitors to your website but will improve your company’s ability to educate and turn these visitors into paying customers.
One popular YouTube marketing trend to pay attention to, if you sell a physical product online, is “unboxing” videos. These surprisingly popular videos show a real customer unpacking (“unboxing”) a product and presenting it to the viewer. These reaction videos (another but broader YouTube trend) are a way to natively advertise your healthcare products vicariously through one of your customers.
If your healthcare company has any advertising videos or commercials that were created before the rise of YouTube, then a fantastic (and budget friendly) way to gain exposure for your brand is by uploading these previously created assets to YouTube and then sharing them online and to your other social media accounts.
The above YouTube video is the result of a TV commercial produced for a Medical Laboratory College to demonstrate the importance of laboratory work throughout the healthcare system.
Instagram Social Media Marketing Trends for Healthcare Companies
Instagram is one of the more recently introduced social networks that is heavily used by younger generations. This Facebook-owned social network is all about images and short video clips. One major distinguishing factor about Instagram is the inability to put links on posts (unless you are using Instagram ads); you are only allowed to have a single link in your bio section. We recommend that this link should take a user to either a contact page or a featured product/service page.
It is still beneficial to grow an organic audience on Instagram – especially since Instagram has the highest engagement level among the top social networks. When looking at engagement data on a “per-follower” basis, Instagram posts are 120 times more engaging than Twitter and 58 times more engaging than Facebook5. To put this into perspective, a post on Instagram with 500 likes would only receive 4 likes on Twitter and 9 likes on Facebook.
What does this mean for healthcare companies when it comes to using Instagram?
If your products or services are targeted at users 35 years of age and younger, utilizing Instagram would be an excellent way to build brand awareness. Facebook owns Instagram, thus they share the same advertising platform, allowing healthcare companies to hyper-target their advertisements on Instagram to reach a very specific audience who would be interested in their products and services.
The above Instagram post comes from a celebrity physician named Dr. Axe who specializes in natural medicine and is a clinical nutritionist. Dr. Axe found his niche in health and fitness products, and he provides tips and tricks surrounding the health and fitness topic. Dr. Axe has been able to build a large, engaged social media following by giving helpful information and insights, in an aesthetically pleasing way.
Pinterest Social Media Marketing for Healthcare Companies
Pinterest is one of the newest and fastest growing social networks – doubling its user base several times in just the past 5 years. If you are a healthcare professional in the nutrition, beauty, or fitness industries, then you’ll want to keep reading this section.
- Over 100 million active Pinterest users.
- 85% of Pinterest users are female.
- 93% of users use Pinterest to make buying decisions.
- Over half of Pinterest users make over $50K/yr.
- Pinterest users, on average, spend $50 per online order (larger than both Facebook and Twitter)6.
Pinterest is effective for educating clients and potential clients on topics relevant to your practice. You can set up categories (called “boards”) and create an online catalogue for all the topics that your target market will engage with. Healthcare professionals can build awareness and credibility by creating informative boards about these relevant topics. Education and helpful information are some of the keys to success when using social media, and in particular, Pinterest for healthcare companies.
The image above is another example taken from Dr. Axe. You can see a small sample of the types of categories he is using to segment his Pinterest boards and build his authority as a subject matter expert around the topics of natural medicine and nutrition.
Dr. Axe is currently managing over 100 boards, and some of the most popular categories include:
- Paleo Dessert Recipes.
- Healthy Lunch Box Ideas For Kids.
- Juicing & Smoothies.
- Healthy Pregnancy Tips.
- Nutrition Facts.
While Dr. Axe is providing helpful information, how is he able to produce a return on social media investment? If you notice in the image above, he is natively inserting his products and services in boards amongst the boards with helpful information:
- Dr. Axe's Articles
- Axe Naturals
- Dr. Axe's Products
- Dr. Axe's BurstFit
On Pinterest, physicians and healthcare professionals are finding success by using helpful tips and information to attract an audience and then letting the audience discover product and service offerings naturally as they navigate the boards.
Pinterest is still a relatively new platform and is continually implementing new features that will benefit businesses while still putting the consumer first (by not being overly intrusive).
Following are some of Pinterest's business features that can be very helpful.
Normally when you “pin” something to a board it includes an image and a description. By adding a tracking code to your company’s website, it allows you to include more information about items that you pin from your website. As of right now there are 6 types of Rich Pins: app, movie, recipe, article, product and place. We will focus on the different types of Rich Pins, as physicians and healthcare professionals can leverage these to build awareness and get a better return on their social media investment.
- App Pin - Involves a button where people can click and download your app right from Pinterest. If your healthcare company has its own fitness or health-monitoring application, this is a wonderful way to build exposure and get more downloads.
- Recipe Pin - As a healthcare professional you know that diet plays a huge role in a person’s health and wellbeing. Food dominates Pinterest, and pinning recipes is an effective way to inform and educate your audience about healthy eating habits. Recipe pins pull in ingredient information, serving sizes, prep & cooking time, and directions.
- Article Pin - Article pins pull in an article’s headline, author name, and a brief description of the article. For physicians who are regularly featured in a journal, or medical professionals running their own healthcare company’s blog, article pins are a great way to increase exposure.
- Product Pin - Product pins pull in product information from your website so the pin will display dynamic pricing, availability, and where to buy the product. Since Pinterest users have such a high purchasing propensity, this is a good tool to make it even easier for the consumer to make a buying decision.
- Place Pin - If geography and locality play a critical role in your healthcare organization’s success, then Place pins make it easy for the audience to find and contact you. Place pins include a map, address, and phone number. A health or wellness clinic could leverage place pins by having a special promotion or a demonstration at a certain location or by hosting an event.
The Pin It button is another useful Pinterest feature for healthcare companies because it allows people to share images from your website with their own Pinterest audience. With a little bit of code inserted onto your website, it’s possible for users to click the “Pin It” button and share the image on one of their own boards with a description and a link back to your healthcare company’s website.
Buy Now Button
This button allows users to make a product purchase directly from Pinterest. It is pretty obvious how this is tremendously valuable for Pinterest marketing, because it breaks down the purchasing barrier of having to navigate away from Pinterest and to another site selling healthcare products.
This is Pinterest’s version of paid ads. Promoted pins have strict guidelines on what is allowed. Pinterest wants promoted pins to look and feel as natural as possible for users, so they do not come across as advertisements. We will touch more on Pinterest advertising in our upcoming article on healthcare advertising trends.
LinkedIn Social Media Marketing Trends for Healthcare Companies
LinkedIn was designed specifically for business professionals to promote B2B relationships and community building. While primarily used as a recruitment tool, LinkedIn is often overlooked as a marketing and sales tool that can be used by healthcare professionals and physicians.
- LinkedIn has over 400 million users.
- 40% of users check their LinkedIn account daily.
- Almost 80% of B2B marketers plan to increase their LinkedIn use.
- Over 90% of marketers agree that LinkedIn is the best tool to gain B2B leads.
- Over 50% of LinkedIn users say they are more likely to do business with companies that they engage with on LinkedIn7.
Below are some LinkedIn healthcare marketing trends that should be a part of your social media strategy.
Have you ever thought to yourself, “I know my product/service can be a great solution for Company X? If there were only a way to show this information to a very specific person, such as the vice president of Company X, it could help my company grow 10x faster.” With a paid LinkedIn account this is possible. InMail with LinkedIn gives you the option to send these hard-to-reach people a direct message. The amount of InMail you are allowed to send depends on your account type – most starting with a few and up to dozens of messages per month.
If you have a common connection with the person you are trying to contact, then it’s possible to make a more personalized connection through an introduction. When viewing the profile of the person you are trying to contact, whether about new products or services, or a new opening at your medical practice, simply navigate to the right side bar and identify whether you have any common connections. If you do have a common connection, then click “Get Introduced. ” This will launch the LinkedIn messenger where you will be able to ask your connection to introduce you to the person you are trying to reach.
Content Marketing Using LinkedIn
This is the new buzzword on almost every marketing medium. Content marketing is a strategic approach focused on creating content that is relevant and valuable for your target audience. The intent is to attract the audience with the content and then drive this audience to perform an action such as visiting your website for more information or signing up for your newsletter on medical technology trends.
The best way to engage in content marketing on LinkedIn is by joining and participating in groups, where the audience shares a common business interest or industry. A few examples of large groups for the healthcare industry are:
- The US Healthcare Executive Networking Group (74,000 Member).
- Healthcare information Technology (47,000).
- Healthcare Management & Strategy (20,000 members).
Joining a Group on LinkedIn is incredibly easy. Simply click the search bar when signed into LinkedIn, enter a few keywords relating to your healthcare industry, filter results to show only groups, and then click the join button! Some LinkedIn groups require your account to be reviewed by one of the groups moderators before being accepted into group. This helps to reduce spam and will give the moderator a quick overview of your profile to see if you could potentially be a contributing member of the group.
Here are a few guidelines to follow when joining these communities to get the most out of your content marketing strategy on LinkedIn:
- Participate before starting your own discussion! In order to better understand the group’s dynamics, it is important to act as a bystander, then slowly begin to like and comment on things so active members become aware of who you are.
- After establishing yourself as an active and valuable participant in the group, you can begin sharing and posting articles. Don’t post your own or company-related articles at this stage of your content marketing campaign, because you haven’t built up enough rapport and may come across as self-promotional. Stick with industry news and helpful posts you find or create.
- Now that you are an active member of the community that provides valuable comments and articles, it’s time to ask your audience what they would like to know. Poll the group members on types of content they would like to see, studies they are interested in, infographics they would like created, etc. This is how you can develop the best possible content for the group that would be the most engaging and attract the most leads.
- Post your own content! It’s now the appropriate time to post our own content. Now that people value your opinion and now that you have a content piece that they have all been waiting for – it’s the perfect recipe to drive engagement8.
Healthcare Specific Social Networking Sites
Besides LinkedIn, there are a few other social media sites that are primarily focused on B2B marketing and networking. When it comes to healthcare, there are a couple that you will want to be aware of.
Specifically for healthcare professionals, SERMO is one of the social media market leaders, with over 500,000 members globally. SERMO is a social network dedicated to and exclusively for doctors. It’s an online community where physicians can collaborate and share both medical knowledge and expertise and also business strategies surrounding the healthcare industry.
If you are a company trying to sell products and services to doctors, SERMO provides marketers with data and intelligence on its user base that can be used in conjunction with their advertising platform. This allows healthcare professionals to gain a better understanding of their target market and access the physician network through sponsored articles, banner ads, and branded company pages. We will touch more on this in the upcoming healthcare advertising article.
If you are a physician or healthcare professional located in Canada, then we recommend checking out The Rounds. Much like SERMO, this is a social network exclusive to physicians who are located in Canada.
Both SERMA and The Rounds are private, secure, and HIPAA compliant.
Healthcare Social Media Strategy
Now that you have a good understanding of the latest social media trends, its time to implement a social media strategy that is the right ‘fit’ for your company. Social Media can be overwhelming so it’s important to not spread your resources too thin by going after every social media opportunity. There are a few key elements to any social media strategy:
- Identifying your healthcare company's goals for using social media.
- Setting measurable marketing objectives.
- Set parameters to measure your goals. You will want to be able to accurately measure wether or not you are achieving your healthcare marketing goals. For more on setting goals, see our post on SMART goal setting to learn more.
- Identify your ideal customer and what social media channels they use.
- Research the competition
- Choose primary social media channels for your company to use.
- Develop a content strategy that will engage your audience
- Set budget and roles
- Now that your strategy is formulated its time to set a budget for your social media marketing campaigns and assign roles for the tasks involved.
Building the initial audience for any social media community is the most difficult task. People are more likely to follow a page that already has an established following so this is a difficult hurdle to overcome without a plan in place. A great way to start is by asking friends and family to join and support your social media communities, and encouraging your employees to do the same.
Healthcare advertising on social media is a useful way to build your online community and increase awareness about your company and its products and services. Social media advertising has some of the most in-depth targeting options for reaching the ideal audience – and often is much less expensive than traditional alternatives. We will discuss this in more detail in our upcoming article: Healthcare Advertising Trends.
- PEW RESEARCH CENTER