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Why Social Media is Great for Advertising (Yes, Even Healthcare)

By Stewart Gandolf, Chief Executive Officer

patient in hospital bed with phoneHow many times have you been walking along and nearly collided with someone staring at their phone? Many people are clearly absorbed with their mobile devices. And the majority of that time is spent on apps—like Facebook and Instagram. So can healthcare providers reach these same people through social media, where their attention is so heavily concentrated?

Mobile Now Rules

Today, consumers frequently research products and services on mobile devices. And they use the same devices when searching for healthcare providers. Some quick stats on mobile consumer behaviors:

  • According to Adweek, over 1/3 of all U.S. retail sales involved a mobile device in 2018
  • 76% of consumers have purchased a product or service from a social media post or advertisement (Curalate)

For consumers, having instant access to information, connections, products, and services in the palm of their hands is something they can’t imagine living without. For savvy healthcare marketers, social platforms—which are most often accessed via mobile devices—present opportunities to get in front of the right people and turn clicks into patients.

The State of Social Media and Healthcare

Social media has completely changed the way people think about healthcare. In fact, it’s put the healthcare consumer almost in complete control. People self-diagnose, can learn about conditions, access information, interact with providers, and connect with online support communities.

A wide range of consumers now rely on social media platforms for healthcare information or solutions for their family members. Caregivers are especially active on the web and social media, using it to gather health information and support.

A PEW Research study revealed that 52% of caregivers participated in online social activity related to health in the past year. 70% were seeking information and support online for their loved one. 

What platforms are they using?

Despite what your kids or grandkids may believe, Facebook is still crushing it in terms of active users. More than 2 billion worldwide users check their feeds each month—more than any other social media platform today. Facebook-owned image-based platform Instagram has over 1 billion monthly active users.

More specifically, Facebook is the overwhelming leader for engaging healthcare content. A WEGO Health behavioral intent study analyzed the impact online communities have on healthcare decisions for specific conditions. Facebook emerged as the most popular platform, with:

  • 87% of study participants saying they share health information via Facebook posts
  • 81% of study participants reporting sharing health information via Facebook messenger
  • 91% study participants revealing that online communities play a role in their health decisions

Video, Video, Video

Did you know? Vision is the dominant sense in humans. It’s no surprise that engagement with video content on social media is healthy. In fact, 65% of Wibbitz survey respondents engaged by sharing, commenting or liking, and 10% engaged with nearly every video they watched. Video instantly sparks emotion and personal connection; enticing viewers to seek more information.

Healthcare providers can use social media to engage with prospective patients through the online videos they watch every day. Social powerhouses Facebook and Instagram account for nearly 90% of all video watched by users.

But why does video marketing convert to traffic and leads more effectively than other forms of content?

  • Video can make your point quicker
  • Video allows you to share a human element (be it you or a patient)
  • You can showcase the value of your services in a more engaging way

Social Media Presence vs. Social Media Advertising

Having a social media presence today is par for the course for most practices, but to draw patients to your door, paid social media advertising is a key strategy. Don’t get us wrong, organic posts have value. You can educate people, create patient communities, build awareness for your practice and promote services. But you won’t be generating leads—and if you do, you’ll be doing so from a very limited audience. (Organic, or unpaid, reach on social media is down to 6.4% of your current followers.)

With social media advertising, or paid social, you can create ads featuring video, with focused content (like “teeth whitening” as opposed to “dental services”) and direct them to audiences who have recently searched for that service. (This is called retargeting.) Alternatively, you can customize your audience to a very specific demographic that may be interested in your services.

Where do you start? Partner with social media experts who can guide you on everything from strategy to bidding to tracking ROI.

Social Media Can Be a Shot in the Arm for Your Practice or Hospital 

There are quite a few social platforms to consider when it comes to placing ads. While multiple touchpoints work well in many cases, this won't always be true in healthcare social media.

For instance, advertising innovative treatments for prostate problems likely won’t get you many inquiries from Snapchat’s or Instagram’s younger audiences. But you could run heavy on Facebook to capture an over-40 male target with a greater chance to get clicks and calls.  

The beauty of paid social is that it can be tracked and adjusted mid-campaign if necessary—to alter the content, target audience or timing. 

For valuable insights on building your brand, reaching people on the platforms they spend time on each day, and leading-edge video strategies, contact Healthcare Success, a full-service healthcare marketing agency, at 800-656-0907. 

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