A lot is being written about using social media in healthcare marketing. Most, if not all, pertains to driving patient volume and revenue. Though I am a heavy user of social media though facebook, twitter, LinkedIn and blogging, I really wonder if social media will ever drive volume and revenue? It may impact indirectly long term volume and revenue growth, but as of now, the jury is out.
My guess is that it won't short-term, but it can be used to build your brand effectively, raise awareness and provide you with a no-cost, low-cost way to maintain a continuous presence in your market. After all, presence builds preference, and too much of healthcare marketing is a one shot, one or two communication channels effort that is limited in exposure and audience reach due to lack of funding and sustainability.
So, if we assume the premise is correct that volume and revenue growth in the short term will not occur due to the impact of social media, that what should you do?
Well, you need to be in social media. It is a growing and important communication channel that allows you to control the brand message and connect with savvy consumers.
Consider these ideas:
Commit to a written plan and strategy for using social media. Resist the temptation to say we need to do this without making sure the strategy is part of your overall marketing effort, and the tactic makes sense for you with a clear understanding of what you want to do.
Use social media as a method for gathering competitive intelligence about your major competition. You can learn a lot by what that they are writing and talking about.
Make sure everything links back to your web page. Use email marketing to build sign-ups.
Measure the effectiveness of everything you do. Use that data to understand what your audience wants and give them more. Once that is established, begin introducing new ideas, concepts, services etc.
Keep the content current and interactive. Use twitter to broadcast changes to your web site, news articles, interviews, wellness programs, specials, doctor interviews, health and wellness tips.etc. Link with your facebook, LinkedIn and blog so that notifications are always automatic and posted to those sites. Video needs YouTube exposure. Always make sure you have a call to action- request more info, register for a program, make a doc appointment.
Be creative. There is so much health information out there published on a daily basis that this can be used to position you as the local "go-to" source for news and information.
Daily activity as opposed to once in a while. Make it a part of someones ongoing responsibility to do this daily. People lose interest if you're not changing, updating, educating, informing building your brand daily. No one follows an organization that is not current and relevant to the times. Make your brand strong.
This is all about brand building, your brand promise and value. Use social media to promote your brand marketing campaigns and public relations.
Your cost for doing all this is limited to the staff time involved. Now, if you so choose to outsource that a different matter and you need to budget for same.
Use social media to leverage everything you do.
Good luck and happy socializing!
I would like to share some exciting news. Healthcare Marketing Matters has gone international and page views are increasing at a regular rate. The blog is now read in the United States and then (in alphabetical order) Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, Czech Republic, France, Germany, India, Latvia, Netherlands, Qatar, Russia and Sweden.
My twitter following continues to grow as well. Several hospitals in Florida are now following me and I am grateful. The hospitals are: HCA East Florida; Palms W Hospital; St. Lucie Medical Center; Central Florida Regional; Kendall Regional Medical Center; HCA St. Pete General; Northwest Medical; HCA West Florida; and Ed White Hospital.
Michael Krivich is Fellow, American College of Healthcare Executives and a Professional Certified Marketer, American Marketing Association and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 815-293-1471 for consulting services in strategic marketing, media relations and interim marketing executive leadership assignments. Huthwaite SPIN selling trained and a Miller Heiman Strategic Selling alumni, both highly respected and successful international sales training organizations , I can lead your organization though the challenge of integrating sales and marketing.