Gone are the days when the healthcare industry considered brand strategy and communications as a superfluous extra that didn’t apply to their market sector. Patient and customer expectations have shifted, and healthcare has caught up to the other customer-centric industries where strategic branding used to communicate, inform, connect, and engage with their target audience is mandatory. Customer trust and loyalty apply to healthcare more than just about any other industry, and strategic branding and marketing are key to achieving this connection and to nurturing client relationships. So how exactly does the healthcare industry achieve this?
Social Media may be the new kid on the block when it comes to marketing but it’s fast becoming one of the most effective channels to communicate and engage with followers, especially with a younger audience. According to a 2018 report by Adobe Digital Insights , Social Media is the most relevant advertising channel for 50% of Gen Z and 42% of millennials. The benefits this offers the healthcare industry is huge, if executed properly a SM campaign can have a powerful reach and be extremely effective in communicating to and informing a wide audience and can outperform the traditional forms of advertising used for healthcare in the past.
Exactly how does SM outperform other traditional forms of marketing when it comes to this industry? Firstly, it’s one of the most affordable marketing channels in the mix. It’s also the most accountable with comprehensive tracking and analysis reporting to ensure your SM campaign is helping to reach tangible marketing goals. It allows the healthcare industry to engage with their patients in real-time and can build and nurture a community of followers. But it’s not enough to have a large following and create interesting posts occasionally, if you don’t have a strategic plan your efforts won’t have a truly effective outcome. As a marketing manager in the healthcare industry you need to work out your WHY before you work out your HOW so get clear on your motivations for WHY your practice or organisation wants to start a SM campaign then get busy working on your strategy and planning. Hint, it’s not all about having thousands of followers!
So, what exactly is your WHY?
Do you want to attract more patients and clients?
Are you needing an inexpensive means of informing and educating your client base?
Are you wanting to raise your profile and reputation in the community?
Drive traffic to your websites? Or perhaps all the above?
Get clear on what this SM campaign is to achieve so that you can track results to confirm you are hitting the mark. Once you have identified your goals you will have a better understanding on which SM channels best suit your intent and purpose. LinkedIn is a fantastic platform for informing and educating as it is well suited to writing articles which has the dual benefit of positioning you as an expert and authority in the healthcare field. Perhaps you are needing to gain the trust of a younger demographic in which case Instagram and FB are terrific platforms for posting engaging graphics and dynamic videos that can really cut through to a more youthful audience. These platforms are also a very effective means of engaging in a dialogue with your audience which goes a long way towards building a community of loyal and trusting patients. Pinterest and Snapchat are another effective tools in engaging with a younger demographic. Understanding your audience is vital to understanding which SM channel is going to have the most impact.
Once you have decided on the channels that are going to give you maximum impact then you need to consider your tone or voice.
How do you want to come across?
Do want to be an authority that informs and educates?
Friendly and approachable?
Or as a solid and trustworthy establishment?
This brand positioning will inform the creative and messaging of your SM campaign. It’s important to be consistent with this positioning so that there is cohesion across the various channels you are posting on.
Above all, the success of your SM campaign all hinges on your ability to track and measure results and then to be nimble and agile to adjust your campaign if necessary, based on these results. Some of the metrics to measure how you are going is to look at the number of followers you are attracting and their level of engagement with your posts. High levels of followers and positive commenting on your posts generally means you are effectively connecting and engaging with your audience and that you are building and nurturing that relationship. Checking in to see which SM channels are driving the most traffic to your website is another indicator that your campaign is effective. Again, the campaign is only effective if it is aligned with your goals and marketing strategy which is a direct result of your getting clear on your WHY. All SM channels have easy to use built-in tools that allow you to track and measure results. It’s vital that these reports are utilised and acted upon frequently to see how things are tracking.
Although social media is one of the most affordable marketing channels for healthcare it’s also important to understand the benefits of paid advertising especially for channels like Facebook and Instagram where it’s no longer so easy to make an impact by making a few organic posts as it was a few years ago. Boosting posts that performed well in the first 24 hours of posting is a proven means of increasing your reach and exposure. It’s well worth the investment to set aside a part of your marketing budget for paid advertising on SM and by tracking your results regularly you will be able to maximise your return on investment.
Whether you’re a large healthcare organisation or have a small practice having a relevant mix of Social Media and a strategic plan that you are holding yourself accountable to is a sure-fired way to maximise a relatively affordable marketing channel. Find a creative agency that has experience marketing to this sector to help create and instigate your SM strategy and keep you on track with relevant content and you will be well on your way to building a community of loyal patients and clientele that you will retain well into the future.
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