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3 Social Media Content Tips for the Healthcare Industry

By Jennifer KingJun 24, 2014

social media marketing tips for healthcareNo one can deny social media has turned the marketing landscape upside down. Consumers are now in control and hold the reins (most of the time) when it comes to the content and information they choose to access online. They Google what they want to know, they share what they think others should know and they take action based on how compelling and intriguing the content may be.

For the healthcare industry in particular, social media marketing presents unique opportunities for companies and providers to meet the needs of consumers through content that’s emotional, educational and enthralling.

Think about it: We’re now living in an era in which we’re more likely to Google symptoms or other health-related questions before engaging with a doctor. In fact, more than 40 percent of consumers say information found via social media influences the way they deal with their health, according to an infographic by AlliedWorldHealth.com.

If your target audience is searching for information online and you have a solution, be prepared to speak up. “Health care professionals have an obligation to create educational content to be shared across social media that will help accurately inform consumers about health-related issues and out shine misleading information,” says Brian Honigman on referralMD. “The opinions of others on social media are often trusted but aren’t always accurate sources of insights, especially when it comes to a subject as sensitive as health.”

If you’re in the business of healthcare and trying to build a presence on social media, here are three types of content you should consider creating:

Emotional Content

I’m not talking about content that scares people into seeing a doctor. Instead, emotional content strikes a cord in someone. But it doesn’t have to be emotional in the sense of making someone happy or sad—it simply has to resonate with said or unsaid feelings and/or concerns.

Former Healthcare Finance News Media Producer Michelle McNickle says, “40 percent of people polled [in a Health Research Institute report] said information found on social media affects how someone coped with a chronic condition, their view of diet and exercise and their selection of a physician.”

Information absorbed via social media may influence how we care for ourselves and our families. One way professionals can become part of the conversation is to inform consumers of healthcare options and information through content that resonates with a concern or genuine interest.

Take 23andMe, for example. This web-based genetic testing service helps users read and understand their DNA. Users provide a saliva sample using an at-home kit and leverage 23andMe’s interactive tools to get insight on distant ancestors, close family and personal DNA information.

23andMe is using platforms like Facebook and YouTube to inform audiences on genetic research and how it works, but it’s the stories the company shares that have the potential to create a personal connection with viewers. Like the video below—one of 23andMe’s most popular videos includes Muhammad Ali and his daughter telling a story about his rise to stardom and his battle with Parkinson’s. 23andMe used the video to encourage 10,000 people to participate in a Parkinson’s research study:

 

Educational Content

As a healthcare marketer or a provider of healthcare services, you want to directly educate your audience, whether that’s educating consumers about their health or educating healthcare professionals in the B2B space. On the services side, social media helps providers “capitalize on positive patient sentiment and build a trusted support community to actively engage with,” says John Trader, PR and marketing manager with a biometrics research and development company.

To build rapport with your audience and engage them with the type of content they are seeking, you need to create content on topics they care about and ones you can address. Healthcare providers like the Cleveland Clinic are doing this well by providing regularly updated content from trusted experts in the field. But there are other healthcare-related outlets providing timely and engaging content:

RxWiki is an online community for consumers and their health and medication questions. The site is created and maintained by pharmacists and every piece of content is peer reviewed by a fellow pharmacist. Users can get information on prescriptions, over-the-counter medication and more, plus you can get timely answers from pharmacists themselves with the Ask a Pharmacist Now feature.

But RxWiki expands its opportunity to engage users beyond medication questions and answers with more educational content. Its Twitter and Facebook profiles are full of snackable pieces of information, originating on the RxWiki blog, on topics relating to overall health and wellness, from “How to Choose the Best Sunscreen and Sun Protection” to “6 Celebrities with Sleeping Disorders.”

Enthralling Content

“Enthrall” may be a fancier word for “engage,” but in this case I’m talking about content that’s disarming, like love at first sight. I’m talking about content you can’t pull away from because it’s just. too. good.

When asked, “What does engaging content mean to you?”, Doug Kessler answered: “Engaging means stopping someone in their tracks, then signaling, ‘This is really important’ and ‘This will be entertaining and informative.’ That’s just to earn the first engagement. To sustain it, it’s all about telling a really good story and telling it well.”

While the topics of health care, insurance plans and FDA regulations are all valuable content for social media marketing, healthcare marketers have an opportunity to deliver content that’s unexpected and entertaining to further enthrall audiences.

Bupa and the story of Chad Strider immediately come to mind. Bupa, a global company and provider of health insurance plans and services, created a walking app and engaging storyline to get the word out about it. The effort and ideation that went into this campaign signals an important concept (get up and get moving) in an entertaining way:

 

With these three tips in mind, how will you build a social media presence for your healthcare business or practice? Let us know how we can help!

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