Four Reasons Facebook & Instagram Advertising Are Essential for Healthcare Marketing

By Stewart Gandolf
Chief Executive Officer

Four Reasons Facebook & Instagram Advertising Are Essential for Healthcare MarketingHow much of your marketing budget is allocated to paid social media advertising? Are you wondering if it’s worth investing in healthcare Facebook ads? If it’s not something you’re taking seriously in 2022, you’re missing out on a massive opportunity to attract new audiences, increase awareness, drive conversions, and improve your bottom line.

With approximately 1.9 billion daily active users (DAU) on Facebook and 500 million DAU on Instagram stories, social media offers an enormous advertising opportunity for healthcare organizations. 

What’s more, social media advertisements have a higher return on investment (ROI) than any other form of advertising in the healthcare industry, and it’s not hard to see why. 

According to the Journal of American Medical Informatics Association, eight in 10 U.S. internet users search for health information online, and 74% of these people use social media.

In short, high-intent healthcare audiences are on social media, and it’s time your organization is, too.

It’s certainly not a blue ocean strategy, but many organizations have been reluctant to invest in healthcare Facebook ads and Instagram advertising due to concerns over HIPAA compliance. 

Inexperienced marketers often favor organic social over paid tactics. While it’s a key ingredient for a successful social strategy, organic posts are typically only seen by 2-5.2% of a business’s active followers—a meager fraction of their audience. 

Fewer competitors in the paid social space give your business a significant opportunity to build a healthy lead queue and establish thought leadership in your industry and community.

In today’s blog post, I share:

  • Four big reasons why healthcare organizations should prioritize in healthcare Facebook ads and Instagram advertising,
  • How to maintain HIPAA compliance while advertising your organization and its services,
  • And how your marketing team works together to create HIPAA compliant ad campaigns that drive conversions.

4 Reasons to Embrace Facebook and Instagram Advertising

Are you leveraging the power of paid social advertising to meet your business objectives? If you’ve been reluctant to dive into this channel, here are four reasons why you shouldn’t wait:

1. Your healthcare consumers are on Facebook and Instagram.

Healthcare is personal, so it’s no surprise people turn to those they trust (family, friends, or authority figures in their community) for information and education. According to Facebook, 1 in 4 people rely on social media tools to connect with people to make informed health decisions. This means patients aren’t just relying on word of mouth anymore; they’re using social media to take charge of their healthcare.

In fact, 57% of consumers said a substantial social media presence would greatly influence their decision about where to go for medical services, and 81% said it is a strong indication that a hospital offers leading-edge technologies.

2. Facebook and Instagram have a unique combination of scale and targeting.

Not only do Facebook and Instagram offer massive, warm audiences, but they also deliver on click-through and conversion rates:

a. The average healthcare click-through rate (CTR) for Facebook ads (0.83%) and Instagram ads (0.98%) are comparable to the average for all industries (0.90%).

b. The average healthcare conversion rate (CVR) for Facebook ads (11%) is significantly higher than the average conversion rate across all industries (1.08%). 

This data tells me the Meta Business Suite (a free tool that centralizes Facebook, Instagram, and messaging tools) allows businesses to easily create highly-targeted ad campaigns (using audience demographics) in a variety of formats (display, video, etc.) and placements (feeds, stories, reels, etc.).

3. Healthcare Facebook ads and Instagram ads are highly effective for generational marketing.

Facebook and Instagram ads are excellent push marketing tactics for hospitals and health systems to strengthen their relationships with current patients and access new markets (e.g., different generations or service areas) that may not be aware of your services.

The Meta Business Suite allows businesses to target people on both platforms based on their preferences, attitudes, and upbringings that distinguish them from other groups. While the vast majority of Baby Boomers prefer getting health information elsewhere, 28% of Gen Z and 21% of millennials and Gen X seek out this information on social media.

In fact, consumers are returning to their favorite social media platforms time and again to get the information they need from the sources they know and trust.

4. Facebook and Instagram influence at all stages of the healthcare funnel.

Whether your business objective is to attract a new audience or convert a high-intent one, the Meta Business Suite allows organizations to target consumers in various ways, driving them further into the marketing funnel.

They can identify key moments in a customer’s online journey and persuade them to take a specific action:

  • Awareness

    With Instagram or healthcare Facebook ads, you can introduce new audiences to your brand and establish your business as a thought leader in your space using advertisements centered on public education and advocacy regarding public health issues.

  • Interest

    Nurture new and existing information-seeking audiences with a consistent flow of educational ads that link to relevant content (e.g., shareable blog posts, social media posts, infographics, videos, podcasts, etc.) and define your position in the marketplace.

  • Desire

    Encourage decision-making audiences with healthcare Instagram ads that identify solutions to their problems and inspire action.

  • Action

    Inspire and persuade high-intent audiences to convert with ads that promote social proof (e.g., testimonials, case studies, etc.).

Maintaining HIPAA compliance with Healthcare Facebook Ads

Facebook and Instagram do not have a firm policy on healthcare advertisements because they did not consider HIPAA regulations when building their ad platform. Moreover, they will not sign a business associate agreement (BAA) with healthcare organizations; a written contract between a covered entity and a business associate that’s required by law for HIPAA compliance. 

A BAA creates a bond of liability that binds two parties. So, if one member violates a BAA, the other has legal recourse. However, covered entities (healthcare organizations) can safely use the platform as long as they do not share protected health information (PHI).*

Facebook, Instagram, and other social platforms are constantly evolving to meet the changing demands of consumers and regulators. Navigating healthcare Facebook advertising can be challenging, particularly regarding HIPAA compliance. But it’s also filled with opportunity, given its vast audience, targeting capabilities, and attractive click-through and conversion rates (CTR/CVR).

Here’s how you can safely leverage these tools for your healthcare organization:

What not to share

  • Any personal detail linked to someone’s health condition
  • A patient’s name or email 
  • Any specific patient information, stories, or conditions—even if the name is left out
  • Photos of patients or their medical documents
  • Photos that have PHI visible in the background

What you can safely share

  • Updates or news about or related to your practice or hospital (events, hours, location, etc.)
  • Educational content about popular or timely health topics
  • Crisis communication (health updates, flu, COVID-19, etc.)
  • Health and wellness tips
  • Support for local businesses and partners

Who is Responsible for Creating Facebook and Instagram Ads on Your Team?

Whether you have a complete in-house marketing team or work with an experienced marketing agency with industry-specific expertise, it’s essential to understand how each role contributes to developing HIPAA-compliant healthcare Facebook ads and Instagram ad campaigns that drive conversions.

  • Account Manager

    The Account Manager oversees the agency-client relationship, determines clients’ needs (what they’re looking to achieve short-term and long-term goals) and ensures the agency delivers. They choose the overall strategy and budget for social media campaigns and liaison between the client creative and digital teams throughout the campaign.

  • Creative Director

    The Creative Director keeps the creative vision on track. They also oversee and manage the concept, direction, and aesthetic and functional pieces of ad design, ensuring that each area comes together in a way that adheres to the client’s brand standards.

  • Copywriter

    The copywriter crafts clear and concise copy for ads, marketing materials, and websites to engage readers and motivate them to do something (e.g., book an appointment, make a phone call or visit a client’s website).

  • Graphic Designer

    The graphic designer develops new concepts, designs compelling visual content, and tests graphics and layouts on different devices to strengthen the brand image and persuade more people to take the desired action.

  • Photographer/Videographer

    The photographer or videographer captures a unique moment that can engage and inspire people to take the desired action. Paid social ads with high-quality photos or videos that define common pain points and how your business can help solve them is also a cost-effective way to build your brand online.

  • Paid Social Marketing Specialist

    The paid social marketing specialist launches, monitors, and optimizes targeted ad campaigns to drive more traffic and conversions. They also measure and evaluate the success of social media advertising campaigns to inform investment decisions.

If your business is looking for a fast, cost-effective way to increase lead generation and retarget audiences, drive conversions and improve your bottom line, it’s time to reallocate your budget and make paid social a priority. 

* Of course, Healthcare Success is not a law firm, and this blog is not meant to provide legal advice. Always speak to a qualified attorney about any legal issue or questions you have.

Stewart Gandolf
Chief Executive Officer at Healthcare Success
Stewart Gandolf, MBA, is Chief Executive Officer of Healthcare Success, one of the nation's leading healthcare and digital marketing agencies. Over the past 20 years, Stewart has marketed and consulted for over 1,000 healthcare clients, ranging from practices and hospitals to multi-billion dollar corporations. A frequent speaker, Stewart has shared his expertise at over 200 venues nationwide. As an author and expert resource, Stewart has also written for many leading industry publications, including the 21,000 subscriber Healthcare Success Insight blog. Stewart also co-authored, "Cash-Pay Healthcare: Start, Grow & Perfect Your Cash-Pay Healthcare Business." Stewart began his career with leading advertising agencies, including J. Walter Thompson, where he marketed Fortune 500 clients such as Wells Fargo and Bally's Total Fitness.

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