Healthcare Marketing: Face-to-Face with Facebook Advertising

Some brands are questioning if Facebook advertising actually delivers.

One in five clicks on the internet happen on Facebook.  Astonishing!  Is there any place that touches so many people?  No.  So if there is that many people on Facebook, then obviously that’s where we should advertise.  That’s what logic and common sense would tell us.   And therefore brands have rushed to get and maintain a presence on Facebook.

But as of late, questions have arisen about the effectiveness of advertising on Facebook.  There has always been skepticism about Facebook advertising but GM’s decision to pull the plug on $10 million of Facebook advertising has certainly brought the issue more to the forefront.   Although GM is in the minority, it certainly raises eyebrows.  Especially when GM gave the reason for their retreat being the inability to effectively track an ROI for Facebook advertising and the general belief that it was ineffective.

Some advertisers agree with GM and therefore don’t advertise with Facebook although they have a heavy Facebook presence.  GM in fact still devotes an estimated $30 million to building and maintaining a Facebook presence.  Others argue the problem is not Facebook but rather the strategy and execution of the Facebook advertising.

Another example is P&G’s Secret Deodorant’s anti-bulling campaign “Mean Stinks.”  Although P&G has a strong presence on Facebook it has bought Facebook advertising not during the build up but after the launch and strategic times since.

Others argue Facebook advertising is not good for brand building but only for specific promotions or offers.

All of these arguments have some validity.  So where does that leave healthcare marketers when considering Facebook advertising?  I think the key to success is to determine your objective and then gauge if Facebook advertising can deliver on that objective. 

Our agency has rarely used Facebook advertising for our healthcare clients strictly for image building.  I have my doubts about whether that is effective.  But we have used for Facebook advertising for events and specific services.  And have seen very good results.  We have targeted Facebook audiences who would be interested in a hospital’s special event and believe the advertising contributed to the event’s success.

More often, however we have used Facebook adverting for specific self-referral services.  We have used it quite often for such products as sleep services and spine centers.  In each case, from a landing page we offer a way for the consumer to request an appointment.  And those efforts have been successful. The financial investment is modest but we get direct click thrus with consumers requesting appointment.  And they come at various times during a 24-hour period. But most frequently late at night when a person is on their computer because they can’t sleep or their spouse’s snoring is preventing them from sleeping.  Or because their back pain is hindering their sleep.

Facebook is where the consumers are.  Hospital marketers should consider having a presence there for their brand and engage the consumer with meaningful and helpful information.  And Facebook advertising can be effective. But only with a well thought out objective and a solid strategy.   And just to be sure its worth the expenditures, make sure you can measure the response.

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