Social media is one of the most exciting marketing opportunities for healthcare brands today. Unfortunately, it’s often misunderstood.
As audiences become increasingly fragmented across digital channels, social media offers the perfect chance to form communities. It isn’t just for tech-savvy millennials anymore; middle-aged and elderly adults are some of social media’s fastest-growing demographics.
People are engaging these platforms to talk about everything ranging from what they had for lunch to important topics like finances, relationships, and health.
How can we healthcare marketers make it work for us?
By pulling out the key insights from brands who are already doing it well.
Every audience is unique. Each one requires a slightly different social media strategy.
With that said, there are some principles that apply regardless of which healthcare product or service you’re marketing. Instead of trying to invent a social media strategy from scratch, you can follow the brands who are already doing it well and model their success.
These five brands are building deep relationships through social media.
1. Arkansas Children’s Hospital
As the only pediatric center in the state, Arkansas Children’s Hospital plays a key role in helping kids and young adults get the healthcare they need.
They’re doing a lot more than just providing healthcare services. With social media’s help, they’re building vibrant communities where everyone involved–the children, their families, and hospital employees–feels welcome.
The hospital is active on multiple social platforms, but one of the most interesting ones they’re using is Instagram. They aren’t posting boring stock photos with corporate speak. Instead, the photos are warm and inviting. Most importantly, they give us a glimpse of the people behind the organization.
Here’s a photo of their heart and kidney transplant coordinators:
And here’s another one from their volunteer services celebrating the arrival of spring:
If you go through their Instagram posts, you’ll notice that the vast majority of the photos don’t seem “salesy” at all. They’re focused more on giving us a behind-the-scenes look at the people who make Arkansas Children’s Hospital special. Some posts are serious; others are silly. All of them come from the heart.
Towards the end of 2016, Zocdoc, an online medical care scheduling service that helps people find the right healthcare providers, decided to launch an initiative called “Unsick day.”
With the help of other corporate partners like Buffer and Foursquare, Zocdoc launched a social media campaign. The idea: encourage employees to take time off work while they were healthy to see providers and seek preventative care.
The campaign was a big success, racking up over 70 million impressions in just two weeks. It even won a Shorty Award in the health and fitness category.
The hashtag got people talking, as you can see from these Tweets below:
Where the campaign truly excelled was in video. The YouTube video below sums up the significance of both employers and employees putting more importance on preventive care.
While the Unsick day campaign is over now, its success shows the power of social media not just for sustained relationship-building, but for discrete marketing campaigns as well.
If you’re trying to raise awareness for an overlooked health issue, a similar campaign (along with ongoing social media efforts) could help you cut through the noise and resonate with your audience.
ClearFlow’s primary mission is to keep patients’ chest tubes clear after operations, preventing the retention of blood and fluid in the chest cavity. Their device is incredibly innovative; the challenge lies in explaining the value of the technology in terms that both patients and providers can understand.
One way ClearFlow does this is through social media. Their Twitter account simplifies the technology visually, which makes the content easy to digest (and share).
ClearFlow also uses Twitter to highlight the severity of the Retained Blood Syndrome problem to help convince healthcare providers to investigate potential solutions.
ClearFlow is active on other social media platforms too, including YouTube. Their short videos (most are under two minutes) are the perfect way for patients (and their providers) to see how the device works without slogging through complicated technical material.
4. Quest Diagnostics
Quest Diagnostics is a Fortune 500 company that provides clinical laboratory services. With the nature of their business and massive size, you can imagine it would be tough to build warm relationships with an audience.
But Quest Diagnostics is using social media to do just that. One thing that stands out right away is their massive LinkedIn community. They curate a steady stream of content ranging from wellness tips and info about the latest scientific innovations to employee accolades.
The common theme with their LinkedIn page is to contribute value relentlessly. Here’s a screenshot of their page so you get a better idea how they mix up the content.
Their Twitter account is excellent because it addresses one of the major marketing challenges Quest faces: translating the quantitative value of their diagnostic equipment into tangible emotional benefits.
Without medical training, people might not appreciate all the benefits of testing blood glucose, heart rate, or something else. Quest uses Twitter to convey them clearly.
5. Doctors Without Borders
Doctors Without Borders shows that social media marketing can work for non-governmental organizations and nonprofits as well.
This organization, which supplies crucial medical care to regions ravaged by war and disease, is active on multiple social media platforms. Its most remarkable is Instagram, which features over 1,000 posts of Doctor Without Borders staff and the patients they treat.
Here’s a post about a measles vaccination campaign in Guinea:
Doctors Without Borders also uses Instagram to highlight its employees’ experiences. Alongside their pictures, we can read about what drew them to the organization. These give us that cool behind-the-scenes look while encouraging other healthcare professionals to join.
These photos are extremely high in quality, but they don’t look staged or overly produced. Because a part of us feels like we could have taken the photos ourselves, it’s easier to imagine being there and having a part in the community.
Build the Community Your Audience Craves
While your audience seeks connection online, you can use social media to create it at the perfect place and time.
It takes time and commitment to pull this off. But if you incorporate the principles that healthcare brands are already using to build meaningful relationships, you’ll engage your audience with both head and heart.