Hospitals create emotional connections using social media

16 May 2022
Posted by: Danny Flamberg

In recent conversations with more than a dozen hospital marketers, a common desire and high priority is to increase brand awareness and expand engagement with patients, caregivers, care teams, HCPs and employees. As a result, hospitals are broadly embracing social media to reach constituent audiences at levels ranging from slight toe-in-the-water exposure to full on media channels.

There is a consensus that hospitals need to be part of the on-going conversations in social media. That’s because social media can play a critical role for engaging prospective patients & caregivers and can create emotional and practical relationships that extend beyond traditional hospital transactions. Social media plays a role in brand building, reputation management, patient education and revenue generation.

The leading hospital systems like the Mayo Clinic, The Cleveland Clinic and Cedars Sinai are setting the pace in social media adoption and experimentation. They are monitoring ongoing conversations using social listening and moderation tools to develop branded positions, establishing clear distinct brand voices and personalities, targeting discrete populations by disease, condition or geography and consistently interacting with patients, caregivers, and HCPs with compelling relevant content.

Productive social content includes new research and treatment options, patient stories, successful outcomes, wellness content, strong medical personalities and participation in community activities and events. Social media offers an ideal channel for stories and storytelling.

Everyone has a story to tell and there is an almost unlimited appetite to hear and relate to them. Every prospective patient wants to know what will happen before during and after treatment, what the overall experience is like and what outcome they can expect. Uncertainty, fear, and hope are present in every case. This creates an opportunity to expose specialty expertise or state of the art facilities, zero-in on customer focus and reveal the core attributes of a hospital brand. Patients will see themselves in the stories shared.

Savvy marketers are exploring new social tactics and channels. Online communities are emerging as a new tactic for service line marketing by gathering and super serving patients and caregivers experiencing similar journeys. TikTok, an addictive video app, is becoming a testing ground for relevant and engaging content and experimentation with influencer marketing. Apps like MyChart are building blocks for expanding customer relationships, managing practical issues, and expediting information sharing between patients and providers.

Social media plays a variety of roles in the media mix. Social media can augment and complement broadcast and digital advertising, or it can stand alone as a lower cost counterpunch option in highly competitive markets. Strong affinity for platforms like Facebook and Instagram and frequent use gives social media flexibility and immediacy to communicate core brand attributes or to offer a competitive narrative to targeted populations.
Successful social media marketers are building models to ensure success. Among the must-haves are a dedicated social media manager, a baseline marketing strategy, a clear understanding of target populations, strong content creation skills, careful social listening, a robust response library, interactive guidelines, and frequent relevant highly visual postings.

In the near term, we expect to see expanded use of social media by hospitals at all levels and an explosion of creativity in messaging and marketing using the unique features of each social media platform.

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Author: Danny Flamberg, VP, HCP Strategy, LiveWorld