Healthcare Marketing: Marketers Use of Social Media Not Keeping Up With Users Consumption

Some companies are having great success with social media, but overall use of social networking is still very modest. 

Most companies are at least dabbling in social media. This includes hospitals and health care organizations.  The number of hospitals that have Facebook pages and that tweet continues to slowly increase.  But overall, the statistics indicate overall involvement and investment is still very modest.

Social Media and Online Media Report conducted by Econsultancy reveals that almost a third of companies are not spending anything on social media marketing while another third spend very small amounts.  Only about 10% of companies are spending a significant amount of their budget on social network sites.

Several reasons are given for not investing very much in social media.

  • Lack of resources  49%
  • Lack of knowledge and understanding  35%
  • Lack of budget  30%
  • Company culture 29%
  • Inability to measure success  24%
  • Fear of reputation issues   22%
  • Lack of senior buy-in  15%

Although these figures relate to all businesses, we can  safely assume the numbers for health care marketing would be very similar.

On the other end of the spectrum, Ford Motor Company uses social media extensively and very effectively.  In an interview with Ford’s CMO Jim Farley and reported by Mack Collier, Farley stated Ford has effectively used social media to lower marketing costs.   Farley, referring to social media states, “by launching a new vehicle early, getting people talking about it before it goes on sale, we can lower the amount of traditional advertising we do after the vehicle goes on sale.”  He adds Ford  spends 10% of the amount normally spent on traditional media on social media before a launch.

So two very different approaches to social media.  Two very different attitudes.  And these two are pretty representative of the marketing landscape.  Some marketers embrace social network marketing and claim great success while others are still skeptical and limit their use of social media.  It’s the nature of new media.  There is always a period of experimentation and uncertainty.

The lessons to learn are to watch, explore, experiment and learn.  There are ways to use social media that can be effective, but it may not be time to sell out and transfer significant amount resources and budget to a mostly unproven medium.  True some health care marketers have invested significant amounts in social marketing, like the Mayo Clinic.  However, they are generally an exception.  For most hospitals, the investment and effectiveness of social media is limited and varied.

There is still much to learn.  And the learning process will be adventurous, challenging and perhaps exciting.  Stay tuned as we watch what others do, explore new opportunities, experiment with new ideas and learn.  Social media will most likely consume more resources in the future but for now it’s a mixed bag for sure.


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