Healthcare marketers are beginning to gear up and participate more fully in social media. And they should. There are now over 500 million Facebook users. And those users are spending increasingly more time on the social networking site.
So it only makes sense that healthcare marketers are being called upon to be more active in social media, more proactive, more engaging. More and more brands are seeing success utilizing social media.
But there could be concern about the long-term effectiveness of social media for healthcare brands. A recent study by Forrester evaluated attitudes of young people toward brands using social media and it did not brood so well for brands. Only 6% of those 14-17 wanted to be friends with brands on Facebook. And with those 18-24 the percentage is only 12%.
And perhaps even more alarming, almost half of 14-17 year olds don’t think brands should be allowed on Facebook. Although 74% of them talk about brands on Facebook with their friends, only 16% expect brands to interact with them.
So what does this mean? It could mean very little if attitudes change in consumers as they age. Perhaps these young people will eventually accept the use of social media by brands and social networking will continue to be a powerful tool for marketing a brand. However, if their attitudes do not change, the effectiveness of social media for brands could be very limited in the future.
Who knows what the future will hold? It will be interesting to watch. But there are two points to embrace today. The first is that many of our patients and prospects are active on social media sites and are willing to have relationships with brands. Therefore we should be engaged and build relationships. The second point is that all brands have a responsibility to understand social media is about relationships and a brand’s role in this arena is to provide useful and meaningful information and interaction. By doing so, we build credibility for our brand through social media and earn the respect of users of the medium. Not only is the future of brands ‘ use of social media at stake, the effectiveness and acceptance of brands on social networking sites today is in play.