How to Build a Social Media Strategy for Healthcare Brands

Sep 15, 2023
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About seven percent of Google’s daily searches are health-related. This is because many patients and consumers go online to find answers and information about healthcare. Many of those consumers are also on social media, making it a strategic platform for healthcare providers to reach their patients.Explore ways you can use social in healthcare and how to develop a social media strategy for healthcare.

7 Social Media Uses in the Healthcare Industry

Social media is essential for engaging with current patients, bringing in new patients, and increasing the quality of life for consumers worldwide.Here are seven specific ways you can use your social media platform to engage with your community:

1. Raise Awareness about Health Topics

About 80% of heart disease, diabetes, and strokes are preventable if patients addressed their behavior-related risk factors. Unfortunately, most people still suffer from preventable illnesses and adverse outcomes because they aren’t aware of what to avoid and what actions they can take to improve their diagnosis.Healthcare awareness campaigns are essential for improving patient outcomes and educating the public on healthier life choices.Awareness campaigns educate your audience about a specific topic to motivate them to act. The action might be donating to research, scheduling preventative care, or creating healthy habits in healthcare. Healthcare social media campaigns can also bring attention to common dangers to remind people how to protect themselves.For example, healthcare facilities use #YesMamm on social media to remind their followers to schedule their mammograms. Carilion Clinic started this campaign after noticing how many women were skipping their annual mammograms.Their campaign was incredibly impactful because it launched during Breast Cancer Awareness Month, making it a timely effort. It was also a campaign that overlapped on several platforms, with users on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter picking up the hashtag and increasing the response. Healthcare businesses still use the hashtag in their awareness campaigns today.

Image from Facebook

2. Educate Your Patients

The phrase “Dr. Google” refers to patients who consult the internet for medical help rather than a trained medical professional. About 72% of people said they consult the internet for medical information, and 48% will even prioritize internet research over their doctor.While healthcare facilities can’t stop people from finding information from Dr. Google, they can contribute to the available data to help patients get the correct answers. Posting educational material, linking to resources, and correcting misinformation are just a few ways healthcare facilities can use their social media accounts to educate patients.New York-Presbyterian Hospital is an excellent example of a healthcare organization using its social media to educate its audience. They regularly post topics that help patients understand common medical issues, teach them ways to improve their health, and explain when to seek treatment.

3. Encourage Your Patients

Going through a health challenge is very discouraging for many patients. They are experiencing multiple emotions like fear, anger, and sadness. However, keeping your patients encouraged and hopeful can improve their outcomes.Your social media channel can be a beacon of hope for your patients. For example, St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital shows the power of storytelling for encouraging patients. They regularly post images, videos, and written content about how their research changed lives. These posts encourage patients to keep fighting and donors to keep giving.

4. Interact with Your Patients

Social media is another way to connect with your patients and build relationships. For example, you can interact with patients through private chat or by responding to comments on your posts. These interactions build trust with your patients and relieve stress when patients don’t understand a medical subject.Patient interactions also encourage them to leave feedback. New patients will see the feedback and consider it when choosing a provider, which helps build your patient base.Ken Jeong is one example of how you can creatively connect with your patients and answer their questions. He is more than just an actor and comedian. He is also a trained and licensed physician with an M.D. He combined his love of comedy with his medical training to answer humorous and random medical questions people post on social media or search on Google. His Q&A video series is available on YouTube.

5. Gather Patient Data

With more than 4.62 billion people on social media, you have access to personal information from over half of the world’s population. The data you uncover on social media can help you understand your patients and their journey.For instance, you might notice a trend in social media posts among people with specific mental health concerns that can lead to a discovery in mental health diagnosis. You can also use the information to identify potential reasons patients might not receive necessary care from a facility.------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

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6. Perform Healthcare Social Marketing

Social marketing uses marketing techniques to move your audience to adopt behaviors that benefit society as a whole. Many of social media’s marketing techniques also work well for promoting healthier choices and making safer decisions.For example, #100deadliestdays was a campaign started by Arkansas Children’s Hospital to caution teens about driving safety during summer vacation. Between 2010 and 2019, 7,000 people died because of teen-related crashes during summer break. Social marketing brought this danger to light and encouraged entire communities to educate themselves and take precautions to avoid car accidents.

7. Share Business Updates

Using your platform to share insights about your organization, company culture, facilities, and treatment helps build trust with patients. Then, when they come to you for treatment options, they will be more confident about your diagnosis and medical advice.An example of humanizing your business through social media is Novo Nordisk. Their organization regularly shares updates about their medical advancements, images depicting their company culture, and changes within the company. These posts create transparency and build authentic relationships with their patients.

How to Create a Social Media Healthcare Strategy

Here are five tips for creating a relevant and successful social media and healthcare strategy.

Understand your Patient’s Needs

Understanding your audience is vital for all social media strategies. However, healthcare relies even more on having a deep understanding of what your patients are going through. When you understand your patients, you can be more empathetic in your approach.Understanding your audience also means you will create information they can easily understand. When patients are concerned about their health and need quick answers, they don’t want to sort through paragraphs of medical jargon or complex videos. They often need answers fast and in easy-to-understand language with actionable steps.

Create Timely Content

COVID-19 showed the importance of having timely information, especially with the constant change in regulations, new vaccines, and updates on variants that permeated the news.When a crisis occurs like COVID, healthcare organizations should be ready with relevant content that combats misinformation, calms the public, and helps patients make the best decisions for their health.

Use Relevant Keywords and Hashtags

Keywords and hashtags are an essential strategy on social media to connect you to your audience and join relevant conversations in your industry.Symplur introduced the Healthcare Hashtag Project, a collection of 23,773 hashtags relating to over 18,000 healthcare topics. This database helps healthcare organizations stay on top of industry discussions and add accurate and relevant content to these discussions.

Focus on Accurate Information

According to the Florida Center for Cybersecurity’s 2021 COVID-19 survey, most people rely on health social media for medical information, but not everyone will fact check what they read on social media. For example, only 36% of respondents say they talk to their doctor to verify the information they see online.Further research showed a shift in who patients followed. Before COVID-19, people were more apt to follow individuals and providers. However, since the pandemic, social media users began following larger health organizations to help them perform more research on their own instead of just taking the word of their doctors.

Image from JMIR Publications

With so many patients looking online for information, you must ensure all your content is accurate. Even with disclaimers from doctors saying their content doesn’t replace a professional diagnosis, users will still use your content for self-diagnosis and treatment. Because you have the lives of your patients in your hand, you must always take extra precautions before posting health advice to ensure it is accurate.

Comply with HIPAA Regulations

HIPAA regulations don’t specifically address social media concerns but provide general rules about disclosing patient information, including images, videos, or private health details. For example, you can’t include a patient’s photo or details on your social media page without written consent.HIPAA also restricts what you can say over social media messengers. For example, even though a patient reaches out to you through social media chat doesn’t mean you can disclose all their medical information through the platform.While these regulations will limit what content you can share on your social channels, remember that these rules protect your patients, which should be your top priority. If you violate HIPAA regulations, you can receive a fine or even jail time, depending on the severity.

Work with Experts to Build Your Healthcare Social Media Strategy

Kubbco can help you design and build your healthcare social media strategy. Our industry-leading tools, experience and insider knowledge will help you reach more patients with relevant, accurate, and timely information. We also provide metrics for measuring your results to know what content performs the best and where to focus your resources.Contact us to learn more about our healthcare social media solutions.

David Ledstrup
Chief Strategy Officer

As Chief Strategy Officer (CSO) @ Kubbco, I lead the global strategic efforts and oversee the research and planning, community, content strategy and paid social teams.

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