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Social Media in Healthcare: How Powerful Is It, Exactly?

social media in healthcare

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Did you know that 79% of social media users today use the platforms to look for health-related information? Many of these actions are held in private social media groups, or with other patients.

We’re undeniably in a generation who would rather go online to answer common health questions instead of visiting a doctor. With social networking sites becoming a necessity to connect most people globally, it eventually evolved into a marketing tool for various industries, including healthcare.

Through improved marketing and communication strategies, many healthcare professionals today have successfully transitioned from traditional to social media healthcare marketing to connect with more patients.

In this article, we’ll dive deeper into the power of social media in healthcare. You’ll also get some valuable tips to strengthen your brand’s social media presence. 

7 Benefits of Social Media in Healthcare

1. Healthcare Professionals Can Raise Medical Awareness

More healthcare professionals now use social media to spread and promote health awareness to the public about new, emerging, and common health care concerns.

Social media allows the public to get easy access to factual health information from trusted professionals. Even when things are fast-changing, social media is key to giving the public the latest healthcare news, advisories, and guidelines.

risk of respiratory illness spread post by mayo clinic
Source: Mayo Clinic’s Instagram post
number of people tested for covid 19 by labs across Canada tweet by Dr. Theresa Tam
Source: Dr. Theresa Tam’s tweet, retweeted by Health Canada PHAC

2. Combat Misinformation Using Various Social Media Platforms

With the growing number of social media users, one cannot deny the impact of the rampant dissemination of wrong information through online platforms. Conspiracy theories and fake news about various things, including false health tips and medical events, are everywhere.’

tweet post facebook post about fake Japanese covid 19 vaccine drug news
Source: Tweet Post’s false claim on Facebook about a vaccine drug for COVID-19 way back March 2020

Fortunately, healthcare professionals have learned to debunk these poor-quality pieces of information and misleading posts on social media platforms. By creating factual and expert-validated posts, people can now distinguish misinformation from real information.

mayo clinic post covid myths
Source: Mayo Clinic’s Instagram stories

3. Navigate Health Crisis

Since social media platforms have surpassed print newspapers as a news source, government health officials used them to disseminate the latest information, developments, and instructions about the current pandemic. 

They regularly share official status updates through articles and live videos. This way, anyone will know the news and announcements in real time, even when they don’t have access to television.

4. Public Health Monitoring

In the book Social Monitoring for Public Health, authors Michael Paul and Mark Dredze emphasized that social media offers many benefits over traditional sources of information, including real-time data availability, ease of access, and reduced cost. 

Moreover, social media allows the public to ask and answer questions we never thought possible.

Healthcare providers use social media tools such as Facebook chatbots nowadays to answer questions, direct users to the right resources, and combat misinformation. 

Even the World Health Organization has a Facebook Messenger chatbot to answer health-related questions or concerns and direct the users to the right resources, and counter any potential misinformation.

world health organization facebook messenger chat bot

Hashtags are also a powerful social media tool to easily monitor and track the latest trends about anything online, including health information. Many public health organizations use these tags to track any public health threats.

5. Healthcare Providers Can Educate the Public

According to the latest medical internet research commissioned by the American Health Information Management Association Foundation (AHIMA), 94% of Americans use the Internet to look for health information and self-diagnose themselves. 

Since professionals in the healthcare field, including those in the mental health industry, are the trusted source of medical information, they can use their social media accounts to educate the public about various health concerns.

6. Build Patient Trust

The connection between social media users and health professionals online can turn into a good patient-doctor relationship later on. 

Facebook support groups, such as the Mount Sinai Hospital Epilepsy Center, provide a space between medical professionals and patients to interact, support, and educate each other. 

Social media is a great avenue not just for educating and raising awareness to the public, but also for practicing empathy and making patients feel comfortable with you in times of need.

7. Market Your Brand

In a market research report by the Imarc Group, the US healthcare advertising market is expected to reach a value of $24.7 Billion by 2026, and the majority of that will likely go into digital platforms like Google and Facebook ads. 

This data should not be a surprise considering the constant growth of people seeking medical information on the web. Present your medical practice as an expert healthcare leader online, and you’ll eventually build a strong reputation in the industry and convert more sales in return.

Tips to Utilize Social Media in Healthcare Marketing

1. Share informative and educational content

Social media gives individuals access to quick information and communication with others, despite the distance barriers. As an industry expert, it is you who should provide factual and valid news and data on these platforms.

As a healthcare organization, you can utilize social media to share information in so many ways, including:

  • General information about common health concerns
  • News about health outbreaks and hazards
  • Updates on the latest health technologies, especially if you’re already using them in your practice
  • Introduce new doctors and staff
  • Answer questions on various topics from your existing and prospective patients
  • Other practice-related updates

Be it in the form of a blog post, an infographic, or video content, your followers will acknowledge you for every trusted information that you will share.

[Read: How to Build a Healthcare Content Marketing System That Really Works]

2. Ask for online reviews

According to recent healthcare marketing statistics, 95% of adults in the U.S. trust online ratings and reviews. Additionally, 90% of patients seeking out healthcare services rely on online testimonials when choosing a medical provider. 

Nowadays, patients will not trust you until they trust you online. Consider the following techniques to earn more positive online reviews:

  • Provide top-notch patient care and service
  • Encourage your patients to give honest feedback on your social sites
  • Address negative reviews in a professional manner

3. Engage with existing and potential patients

Educating on social media does not end after posting an article or an infographic. If a patient has a question regarding treatment options or your practice, do your best to respond as soon as you can.

Respond to comments and messengers, post polls, and ask them open-ended questions about health. Develop a specific tone and language that matches the target consumers of your brand.

Be proud to show the faces behind your organization, too. Humanize your practice and let your audience feel comfortable when communicating with you on your social media platforms.

4. Use infographic and video marketing strategies

Infographics and videos are both proven effective types of content to engage with more audiences in social media healthcare marketing.

These types of content are among the most popular and shared content for healthcare accounts since they can educate patients at a glance. 

Meanwhile, 92% of marketers this year claim that video content is a staple marketing strategy since it is proven effective in capturing audience attention. 

In just a short time, videos can explain things effectively through visuals, sounds, animations, and text. No wonder since 96% of Internet users have watched an explainer video about a specific product or service.

Platforms like YouTube can be a great opportunity for a business to promote its healthcare services. And video creation has become a lot easier due to technological advancements. All you need is a decent camera, lights, and a microphone to get started. A YouTube video maker can make your video editing process much quicker using the YouTube video templates that it provides.

5. Use health-related hashtags

Hashtags are a staple social media tool for so many reasons. Both users and experts can track, monitor, and post the latest updates using a specific tag.

Whether you’re posting a blog, infographic, or an update about your organization’s event, don’t forget to use a hashtag on your post caption. Promoting a tag does not only exert your content’s reach, it also makes it easy for your followers to share your social media posts.

6. Evaluate competitor’s healthcare marketing strategies

You can also utilize social media to monitor and evaluate your competitor’s services, patient engagement, and marketing strategies. 

Take a look at their practices and digital presence and compare them to yours. You can also look at their online reviews. 

By using the information that is readily available on social media, you will learn a lot about the similarities and differences of your healthcare brands and adjust yours accordingly.

7. Provide live medical training sessions

Some medical providers have started using their social media platforms in their training process.

During training sessions, trainees from health institutions use certain hashtags and join online communities to engage with one another. This way, the process became more enjoyable and interactive for them. It also gives power to the participants to quickly ask and answer questions.

Videos and updates from the training sessions are also a great way to engage with more audiences and market the healthcare organization’s facilities and technologies on various social media channels.

8. Spread positivity

northwestern medicine instagram post for #heartmonth
Source: Northwestern Medicine’s Instagram

Social media and healthcare marketing don’t have to be too boring and serious.

In times of crisis, seeing success stories of patients and their family members on social media can be a dose of inspiration for many, especially those who are struggling with the same diseases.

Humanize your organization. Make a difference by highlighting hope in every healthcare nightmare.

9. Don’t be afraid to advertise

It is undeniable that advertising your brand online is a sustainable way to reach more audiences moving forward. 

Use both paid and organic strategies to reach more targeted audiences. Make sure that your ads are relevant, well-written, and attention-catching.

[Read: How to Create Facebook Ads for Healthcare (Successfully)]

10. Comply with HIPAA

Above anything else, make sure you are always complying with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) regulations and medical ethics codes. HIPAA compliance when using social media ensures that there will be no privacy concerns between your healthcare providers and your patients.

Protect the privacy of your patients at all times. Healthcare organizations are expected to avoid sharing any sensitive patient information online, especially without their patient’s knowledge and consent.

[Read: 10 Challenges of Social Media in Healthcare (And How to Solve Them)]

Use Social Media Healthcare Marketing Now!

Social media healthcare marketing isn’t scary and complicated once you get the hang of it. Make sure to build a brand voice that resonates with your practice’s values and goals. 

Engage with your audience on a more personal level to receive their trust in your practice. Use your social networking platforms to educate the public on healthcare and create a positive sense of community between patients and medical professionals.

If you still find this marketing strategy challenging for you, don’t hesitate to hire a trusted digital healthcare marketing agency to do the work for you. 

How do you use social media in your marketing? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below!

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Founder, North Valley Women's Care

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