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Is Social Media an Effective Healthcare Marketing Tool?



Many hospitals and healthcare organizations are still figuring out the best ways to use social media to their advantage. We look at one hospital that flexed to respond to an emergency Tweet, and another that logged an embarrassing Facebook failure.



8 comments on "Is Social Media an Effective Healthcare Marketing Tool?"
Isabel McCan (6/27/2012 at 4:10 PM)

Although there is no cut and dry way to gauge the amount of revenue that a social media marketing campaign can bring to a health or wellness company, social media is still an undoubtedly useful tool for health professionals. Not only can health practices garner new potential customers by spreading word about their business across the many platforms of the social media circuit, they can also keep these new fans or followers up-to-date about any events, news, or anything interesting and relevant to their business. By using well thought-out social media tactics like these, it is much easier to cultivate customer loyalty. Also, health companies can not only use social media to reach out to existing and potential patients, but they can also find other like-minded professionals with whom they can connect and collaborate with. So despite the ethical lines that health practices must be careful not to cross while creating content online, there are still many ways that social media can prove fruitful for a health practice. Here is an article we posted on our site that give six (of the many) reasons why health practices should engage in social media: http://www.feelgoodnow.com/feelgoodsocial/bid/154833/6-Reasons-Why-Health-Practices-Should-Be-On-Social-Sites
Erick Kinuthia (3/21/2012 at 1:34 AM)

In this current world and economy if a doctor is not in the social media bandwagon is missing a lot on potential patients. Erick Kinuthia Team MDwebpro
Brandon (10/29/2011 at 3:02 PM)

Emily, I am pretty sure that the second paragraph states the stance the article takes on the effectiveness of advertising through social media.
Emily (5/11/2011 at 9:46 PM)

This article fails to address the question, Is Social Media an Effective Healthcare Marketing Tool? Your examples only illustrate cases in which a doctor and a patient used social media for health. Neither are explicitly part of a marketing campaign. In my opinion, social media has a relevant and ever growing place in the healthcare industry. There is a dialogue going on in blogs, in chat forums, on Facebook and Twitter about health. People are seeking answers to their health questions. They are looking for advice and support. For the healthcare industry to utilize social media to understand what these Health Activists are asking questions about online, understanding their sentiments toward different drugs and treatment options would be hugely relevant insight for them. It would be the first step in bridging the gap between the patient and the healthcare industry. It would not only improve the relationship between the two parties, but it would also improve transparency and trust. With over 500 million active Facebook users and 200 million active Twitter users around the world, clearly social media is a force to be reckoned with. The healthcare industry needs to get on board. Check out WEGO Health (www.wegohealth.com) you might find their work, connecting Health Activists with the healthcare industry, interesting.
Andrew B. (5/11/2011 at 3:58 PM)

The ultimate problem here is that social media is really just another form of MEDIA. What makes it work is appropriate and effective CONTENT. Without meaningful content, it's virtually useless. It's not surprising that in the healthcare industry, it's largely irrelevant. Too many marketers think "How can we tap into the billions of Facebook users?" instead of "What story do we have to tell? What makes us different? What makes us relevant?"
Bill Lindsay (5/11/2011 at 2:28 PM)

The Emory/Twitter example strays a bit from the main proposition of this article, i.e. social media as a MARKETING tool for healthcare. With regard to the uncertainty or outright skepticism reflected in your survey results, I would ask the following questions: (1) How closely are these folks monitoring their social media results? You have to monitor and measure to have any real sense of effectiveness or be able to adjust tactics to build upon successes. In our experience with hospitals and healthcare providers, we've found that some do and some don't. (2) Have the respondents' own social media efforts routinely delivered compelling content and been attended to? All too often healthcare's social media efforts fail to deliver messages that meet patients' and potential patients' interests and needs. Instead, they simply serve up the same old push PR messages that few people care about. That doesn't create interest or engagement. Or worse, they set up a Facebook page and then don't pay any attention to it – in effect saying: "We don't really care." (We were stunned to find that roughly 1 in 5 of the nearly 1,000 hospitals and healthcare-associated pages tracked on our Healthcare Facebook Engagement Chart – http://UbiCare.com/engagement/ – had EQ rankings of 0). (3) Are social media efforts part of a greater marketing strategy? While social media is a unique and potentially important tool, it is most effective when thoughtfully integrated with all channels of marketing outreach.
Drew Weilage (5/11/2011 at 1:45 PM)

This is ridiculous. My response: http://ourownsystem.com/post/5394770072/healthcare-doesnt-get-social
Sue McNally (5/11/2011 at 12:34 PM)

In the example here about Emory Hospital, didn't Twitter add an extra layer, and delay, to getting treatment? The answer to the distress call was "call 9-1-1." Twitter is great for a lot of things, but summoning emergency help is not one of them.