Best Practices for a Health Care Social Media Campaign

posted by Pivotal Health Solutions on Friday, December 12, 2014

More likely than not, your practice is using social media to connect with your current and potential clients. But as social media continues to evolve, so should your strategy. Modern Healthcare and Advertising Age recently published this article on the latest best practices for health care social media. 

A major part of social media's appeal is that it can have definable and near-immediate returns for marketers trying to reach new—and established—audiences. Indeed, according to eMarketer, there are 172.6 million social media users in the U.S.—that's over half the population.

When brand building takes place via content sharing, “likes” and user mentions, the question remains whether actually pushing products and services via social channels is appropriate. For now, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social-media platforms are typically best received when they allow users to collect information and engage directly with brands on their own terms.

For health care brands, stressing preventive care in a positive manner is one big go-to strategy. Typically, users have found health care brands for a reason, said Howard Zoss, president of Zig Marketing: They are ready to make a change, but need motivation. As a result, campaigns should feel personal. “People who engage (with social media) want to get healthier,” Zoss said. “You have to unlock a way for them to get out of a bad habit and into a better habit to help themselves.”

Displaying credibility and legitimacy is also important to social-media users. They demand “the right story and the authenticity,” said Patrick Hopkins, president of agency Imaginasium. If marketers “can find that right story, that's when things go viral,” he added. “Users want to pass it on.”

Best practices for developing campaigns for social media include:

Find stories that are authentic and relatable

 Stories that complement a social-media advertising campaign can't be contrived, Hopkins said. When developing its “Change Your Game Challenge” campaign for client Prevea Health, Imaginasium and Prevea's marketing team decided to share video submissions from users talking about how they wanted to change their lives by making healthier choices. “When we started sharing that, that's when other people struggling with long-term illnesses or addictions got engaged,” Hopkins said. “We had the story. We had the authenticity. We identified the right audience.” Prevea chose six “game changers” from a pool of submissions and documented their lives on social media and its website, including video. The “game changers” also had their own blogs, which their trainers contributed to. From September 2013 to February 2014, Prevea saw an 85% increase in total users versus a typical organic growth rate of 34%.

Build an interactive user experience

Create conversations and provide “a value exchange that helps users, instead of selling (to) them,” Zoss said. For Zig Marketing's recent “We Dare You” microsite created for client UnitedHealthcare, participants could share photos, take quizzes and perform challenges to show how they are healthy and active. Three interactions every month dared users to “add fruits and vegetables to their diets” or enter fitness challenges, for example. The site saw strong engagement rates, Zoss said.

Use data to drive strategy

Because different audiences engage with content differently, it's important for marketers to know beforehand what people care the most about. For its recent Facebook infographic campaign for NorthShore University HealthSystem, digital marketing agency Rise Interactive first scoured Google. “We looked at search data to identify trends on the search value of things we could revolve content around,” said Brad Messinger, director of marketing. Rise found that people searched most for lifestyle, preventive health and mindfulness content. “I always say, 'Fish where the fish are,' ” he said. NorthShore saw an increase in “find a doctor” conversions as well as an increase in overall website traffic.


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