All health care is local and is shaped by events nationally, regionally and locally. Changes in healthcare policy and reimbursement such as the Affordable Care Act, state regulatory action, and new or experimental payment methodologies change the game on a regular basis.
But in the end, it still comes down to medical care delivered in the physician’s office, the local hospital and other alternative and nearby ambulatory care settings that may or may not be hospital-based. Places of care where the healthcare consumer forms opinions and then shares in a variety of ways.
Even with all the market uncertainty, growing healthcare consumerism, data transparency driven by third parties along price and outcomes, retail innovation and non-traditional competition, health care is still a game of influence.
Many hospitals and health systems are turning to macro-influencers to promote the brand in pithy clever campaigns. Then you see the same macro-influencers in the same market promoting other non-healthcare brands. One must ask if they are really influencing the hospital brand in the market or just causing confusion? And what happens when the macro-influencers go bad?
The time had come for creating a brand strategy around the micro-influencer.
Instead of macro influencers like celebrities which have a limited lifespan and are fraught with their endorsement dangers from ill-advised behavior or comments in social media on a much larger scale, it’s time for a better influencer strategy.
The age of impactful micro-influencers is here.
Micro-influencers are based in the community in the local hospital market and carry more significant weight with the brand endorsements than many realize. Think of it this way, what is of more value to the hospital in swaying the healthcare consumer? The celebrity with millions of followers all over the world, tweeting or blogging about the hospital, or the micro-local influencer with several thousand followers who is blogging about the hospital in the community?
Since most of the healthcare consumer searching for hospital and physician services are online, then the value of using local micro-influencers in the hospital service area increases exponentially.
Micro-influencers are the new word-of-mouth influencers for the hospital and physician.
So how can a hospital or health system influence the influencers?
What it is about is identifying who the micro-influencers are in your local market and building long-term relationships. It’s like making a friend. Would one make a friend just by tweeting or commenting on a Facebook post or reading a blog? No magic bag of tricks here. It takes hard work, but the micro-influencer of choice payoff for you is brand growth and revenue. Now, who doesn’t want that?
Since influencing the influencers is all about relationship building, it’s about getting them to an event, getting them on the phone, writing a personal email. Influencing the influencers is traditional stuff that healthcare marketer’s use to do and still do to a certain extent, but instead, chase the shiny new channel or technique. Its old-fashioned relationship-building applied to a new way of reaching people.
Consider the following.
Micro-influencers can assist in recommending insurance plans one is a provider member of in the exchanges. Influencers can recommend hospital friendly physicians. Influencers can make a great difference and speed up the brand and reputation recover efforts after a major public relations or media disaster. Micro-influencers work and live in the community and our friends, family members, community leaders, and local radio personalities, etc.
The more things change, the more they stay the same. Adding an influence, the micro- influencer’s component into your integrated marketing has the potential to pay some very large long-term brand, reputation and revenue impacts.
Why isn’t a micro-influencing strategy part of your hospital marketing?
Michael is a healthcare business, marketing, communications strategist and thought-leader. As an internationally followed healthcare strategy blogger, his blog, Healthcare Marketing Matters is read in 52 countries and listed on the 100 Top Healthcare Marketing Blogs, and Websites ranked at No. 3 on the list by Feedspot.com. Michael is a Fellow, American College of Healthcare Executives, Professional Certified Marketer, American Marketing Association. As an expert in digital marketing & social media with a Klout score of 64, Michael is in the top 10 percent of social media experts nationwide. Michael is an established influencer and inquires for strategic consulting engagements can be made by calling 815-351-0671. Opinions expressed are my own.
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