Facebook has become one of the most popular tools for marketing to consumers, and healthcare is no exception. In fact, a recent DC Interactive Group survey showed that 26 percent of all hospitals in the U.S. use Facebook and other social sites to reach potential patients. What many marketers don't realize, however, is Facebook can also be an excellent tool to help B2B healthcare companies reach hospitals, independent physicians, nursing facilities and other client businesses.
Still, effective Facebooking does get a little trickier for strictly B2B marketing in the healthcare industry. The following are five tips that will help you overcome these challenges and generate as much business as possible with Facebook.
It's one of the most basic rules of marketing, and it applies to Facebook as it does everywhere else – you have to know your audience. Are you selling solely to healthcare companies, or do consumers buy your products, as well? Are you mainly targeting large hospitals and healthcare conglomerates, or do smaller practices comprise most of your customer base? Do you want to reach out to peripheral industries like pharmaceuticals and in-home care?
These are questions you need to answer before you post content, and perhaps even before you set up your page. The look, layout and feel of your page should fit the needs and wants of your buyers, and if you're selling to diverse groups of businesses, you may want to create separate pages for different markets.
Far too many B2B and B2C Facebook marketers try to sell something in every post – a surefire way to turn people off from your brand. While the end goals of healthcare companies on Facebook include creating brand awareness and generating leads, your customers simply won't fall for in-your-face advertising anymore. Your content should, first and foremost, establish and nurture relationships with your fans, so focus primarily on posts that actually help your audience solve a problem or accomplish a goal.
To that end, you'll want to first focus on informative content. If you're selling to materials managers at hospitals, for instance, you might post articles – self-written or syndicated – that help these people reduce waste of their consumables. If you're targeting smaller, up-and-coming practices, you could post business-building tips written specifically for self-employed physicians. Whatever formats you choose, make sure the content addresses a likely need or pain point of your audience. Solving their problems will ultimately warm them up to your more “salesy” material in the future.
Once you've established a track record with your Facebook audience as a helpful company with legitimate healthcare expertise, you'll need to become a little more direct. While hard sales may not work well on Facebook, even loyal followers who “like” every one of your posts aren't going to buy or buy into anything if you don't ask first.
Still, that doesn't mean Facebook should be your main avenue for pitching specific products and prices. You can do some of that, sure, but it's a better tool for generating leads close to the top and middle of the sales funnel. Since you're already posting informative material, start asking for people to sign up to your mailing list for more helpful articles, eBooks and webinars. The viewers who don't want to sign up probably aren't the greatest prospects—but those who do may have a genuine interest in what you have to offer.
As important as an active Facebook page is to your business, a rarely updated page could actually work against you. In fact, it might be better not to have a Facebook presence at all than for potential customers to see a ghost town of a page. Looking at a rarely updated business page is kind of like walking into a dead restaurant at dinnertime – you automatically wonder if something's wrong.
Chances are your content is heavily regulated. You can work around that by working with your legal or regulatory department to ensure posts are OK-ed ahead of time. If you are syndicating content, have eight to 10 relevant sources approved ahead of time. Sure bets almost always include sites like The Mayo Clinic and The American Heart Association.
Make sure you dedicate enough time to Facebook to post at least a few times per week. Daily is even better. Regular informative posts interspersed with calls to action for other educational items will have you on the fast track to more B2B leads than you thought possible!
What tips do you have for updating healthcare Facebook pages? Share your ideas in the comment section below!
David LaMartina is a Kansas City-based freelance writer who specializes in health, technology and finance. You can view his portfolio and reach him at davidlamartina.com.