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All health care is local, but is shaped by events nationally, regionally, and locally. Changes in healthcare caused by the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic with the rise of telemedicine, digital health, and new entrants in the healthcare market changes the competitive hospital landscape regularly.
It still comes down to medical care delivered in the physician’s office, the local hospital, and other care settings where patients form opinions and then share in a variety of ways on social media channels.
Despite all the market uncertainty, new price transparency regulations effective January 1, 2021, growing healthcare consumerism, data transparency driven by third parties, retail, medical innovation, and non-traditional competition, health care is still a game of influence. Many hospitals and health systems are turning to influencers to promote the brand in creative campaigns. Then you see the same 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, it’s time for a better influencer strategy.
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The age of impactful micro-influencers is here.
Micro-influencers are based in the local hospital market and carry more significant weight with the brand endorsements than many realize. Think of it this way: What is more valuable to the hospital in swaying the healthcare consumer? The celebrity with millions of followers worldwide, tweeting or blogging about the hospital, or the micro-local influencer who lives in the community with several thousand followers blogging about the hospital in the city?
Since most healthcare consumers 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.
How can a hospital or health system influence the influencers?
It’s like making a friend but with payment. 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, getting them to an event, getting them on the phone, and writing a personal email. Influencing the influencers is traditional stuff that healthcare marketers 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 in choosing a plan that the provider member in the exchanges. Influencers can guide patients to hospital friendly physicians. Influencers can significantly speed up the brand and reputation recovery efforts after a significant public relations or media disaster. Micro-influencers work and live in the community and our friends, family members, community leaders, local radio personalities, etc.
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The more things change, the more they stay the same. Adding an influence by the respected and followed micro-influencers into your integrated marketing has the potential to pay some substantial long-term brand, reputation, and revenue impacts.
The hospital needs to rebuild trust as a result of the pandemic, and micro-influencers can lead the way.