Lori Moore

Hospital Marketing: Social Media Facts to Consider for 2014 (Part 2 of 4)

Patients use mobile to connect to hospital social media sitesSocial media has gone mobile. And smart phones are our constant companion.

As healthcare marketers experiment and learn more about social media it’s important to know the role smart phones play in a person’s social networking activities.  It’s increasingly about mobility.  Here are two facts to consider:

1. 189 million Facebook users are “mobile only”.  Many (millions) of Facebook users don’t access Facebook from their desktop or laptop but rather from their smart phones only.   And that’s a 7% increase in the past year.

So as hospital marketers increasingly include social media as an important part of their overall marketing strategy, it’s important to consider how the content displays on smart phones and smaller screens

2.  63% of smartphone owners have their phones with them all but one hour during the working day.  79% for less than 2 hours a day.  And 25% of smartphone owners ages 18-44 can’t recall the last time their smartphone wasn’t with them. Our phones are considered such an important part of our lives; consumers are rarely without it nearby.

Smartphones have become ubiquitous. They are always a part of our lives.  Our connection to others and to the web is through our phones.  So as healthcare marketers we must make sure our content is accessible and viewable on mobile screens.  And we must consider how consumers access and use the web to make sure our online and social media strategies are appropriate for those who use their phones all day every day.

 

Statistics accredited to Belle Beth Cooper writing for the Huffington Post (huffingtonpost.com).

 

 

Hospital Marketing: Social Media Facts to Consider for 2014 (Part 1 of 4)

This isn’t your kid’s social media anymore!  Adults are getting in on the action.

mature adults on hospital websiteHealthcare marketers often think social media is for the younger generation.  Valuable yes, but a vehicle to reach and engage a younger audience.  But that has been changing and continues to change.  Here are two facts we can’t ignore:

1. Facebook is already a predominantly adult social network and now the fastest growing demographic on Twitter is the 55-63 year olds.  This demographic has grown 79% since 2012.   And the 45-54 age bracket is the fastest growing demographic on both Facebook and Google+.  Within this demo, Facebook has grown 46% and Google+ 56%.

For hospital marketers this is a prime target audience.  And their increasing use of these three platforms certainly makes social media extremely viable. Our social media strategy should not be to just to engage young adults.  We must make sure our strategy and messaging is targeting older adults and their needs and interests.

2.  And if that isn’t enough to get our attention, social media is now the number one activity on the web, surpassing porn (thankfully!).  Social media is now the most common activity online.  When you’re on Facebook or Instagram or Pinterest there are more people doing the same things than anything else on the web. 

It’s clear that social media is not just a fad. With new platforms and new users, it has become a habit and it continues to grow. As healthcare marketers we can’t ignore it.  It has become a necessity.  It should be an important component of our overall marketing strategy.  Especially since its use is becoming so common within a key target demo.

Statistics accredited to Belle Beth Cooper writing for the Huffington Post (huffingtonpost.com).

 

Healthcare Marketing: 8 Ways to Humanize Your Hospital’s Brand

Humanize Your Hospitals BrandUse these suggestions to make your hospital more than an organization, make it more human.  Build relationships that are more personal.  Create more loyalty. Impact your brand.

Too often consumers’ relationships with our hospital are strictly transactional.  They use the hospital to get the service they need.  Nothing more.  But we can help them develop positive feelings and emotions about our brand. And build brand loyalty.

In today’s socially charged world, there is a need for hospitals to develop a persona, create relationships that are more than just transactional.  To be helpful, meaningful, engaging.  To develop a brand for our hospital that people like.  A brand they trust.  A brand they are loyal to.

Corey Eridon posted a blog for HubSpot that offered suggestions on how an organization could do this.  I borrow some of his ideas here that could help humanize your hospital’s brand.

1.    Write an “About Us’ page that’s actually good.

Here is your chance to tell people who you are.  Give your brand a personality.  But more often than not, its boring, stale, factual information about your hospital.  Why not use it to show your personality, to be interesting and give a reason why the reader should care about who you are?

2.    Kill the business babble.

Hospital or clinical jargon doesn’t cut it. Be clear and easy to understand.  Talk as if you are having a one-on-one conversation with someone in person who knows nothing about your industry.  Talk like a person.  And this goes for ‘About Us’ pages especially.

3.    Publish photos of your people.

People doing what they do.  At work, volunteering, in serious activities and even in more light-hearted ones.  Let your people’s personality show.  Put a face on the place.  Make it about people who work at your hospital and not about an organization.

4.    Sign your social media updates.

If you have various persons posting on your social media sites, let them sign it.  This helps people know there is a real, live, breathing person behind the brand.

5.    Have conversations with fans, followers and commenters.

Make sure all the conversations aren’t just about your hospital.  Venture outside the norm a bit so you can be real.   Make it abut them.

6.    Encourage employees to be social on behalf of the brand.

Eridon says when employees post social media updates about or on behalf of their company, it does a few things:

  • It lets people know that person gives a hoot about the company they work for
  • It lets people get to know the names, faces and personalities behind the company
  • It gives the company’s content way, way more reach

Sure there has to be a strong social media policy with guidelines and restrictions.  Especially with regard to HIPAA regulations.  But letting your people help humanize the hospital through their social media channels can be very helpful personalizing your brand.

7.     Admit your mistakes.

On those occasions when customer service is not what you want to be admit your shortcomings.  Everyone screws up.  It’s human. It’s how you respond to mistakes that matters the most.  Be genuine, care and own up to it.

8.    Take off your marketer’s hat sometimes.

Sometimes it’s good to see things a little differently.  Like through the eyes of the consumer.  Step back, stop being a marketer for a bit and just be a consumer.  You may see things a little differently.  That’s what marketing is really about anyway.

Make your brand more human.  Build rapport with your audiences.  Be a friend and just “hang out” with them sometimes.  Be authentic.  Build lasting relationships!

Healthcare Marketing: Consumers Don’t Trust Our Ads

Infographic explains consumers’ opinions about advertising.  And it’s not all good.

We’ve heard it.  We’ve had suspicions about it.  Well, actually we’ve known it.  People love ads but they don’t necessarily trust them.  Yeah, as healthcare marketers we’re right there with used car salesmen (the sleazy ones) and politicians (the dishonest ones).  People don’t trust us.

Market researcher, Lab42, created an infographic that summarizes what consumers think about advertising.  The results are interesting and, well interesting.  While the majority of consumers distrust advertising, only 17% want more laws to govern them.  Only 5% don’t pay attention to ads, hardly anyone will admit being influenced by them.  Although consumers are skeptical about ads, they enjoy them. 

 My personal opinion is that people enjoy ads and are often influenced by them and some times profoundly.  But they don’t want to admit it.  They have become convinced it would be a bad thing if they did admit it.  So what consumers say and what they actually believe are not always the same.  As marketers, we have found that to be true many times.

Nevertheless, we must admit there is skepticism about ads.  Which means, as healthcare marketers, we need to always be honest and truthful in our ad messaging.  Note that 96% of weight-loss ads are Photoshopped.   All marketers must be truthful and accurate in the ads they produce.  But there is an even heavier burden and responsibility on healthcare advertising.  We can never take the health and well-being of consumers lightly or offer a false sense of hope.  Our hospitals, with excellent physicians, nurses and staff, do amazing things.  They give health and life back to people in danger of losing it.  That being said, we should always speak the truth and only the truth.  Provide helpful and meaning information.  And in that, consumers can find trust and hope.

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Healthcare Marketing: More Focus on Search, Less on Social

In the rush to do social media, healthcare marketers have neglected what may be more important – SEO.  It’s time to correct that.

180435502Writing for Search Engine Watch, Jay Taylor wrote a very interesting article about today’s emphasis on social media at the expense of search engine marketing.  It was very stimulating and thought provoking.  The article was directed to small and medium sized businesses, but it’s very appropriate for healthcare marketers.  The article is reprinted here but I’ve taken the liberty to make a few changes directing it specifically to hospital and healthcare marketing:

Social media is all the rave, and for good reason.

Fortune 500 companies are showing that social can be a very effective marketing tool, particularly when it comes to brand awareness and engagement.

But how effective is social media when it comes to customer acquisition for hospitals?

Hospitals and healthcare organizations are increasingly placing emphasis on social media marketing as a customer acquisition tool, while placing less emphasis on search marketing. Here are five reasons why this is a mistake, and why hospitals should focus on search, not social when it comes to acquiring patients.

1. Search Gets Hospitals in Front of Prospective Customers Who Aren’t Already Familiar With Their Brand

Unlike Fortune 500 companies, most hospitals don’t have the resources to invest in brand awareness campaigns that can take months or years to pay dividends. New patient acquisition is the primary objective, and search allows hospitals to get in front of prospective customers who aren’t already familiar with their brand, but are in need of their products or services.

While organic search takes time, paid search allows hospitals to get in front of prospective patients immediately with ads that are contextually relevant to their search query. So, even if the prospective customer isn’t familiar with the hospital serving the ad, that’s OK, because that hospital is advertising a solution intended to meet that prospective patient’s immediate needs.

2. Searchers are More Likely to Convert Into Customers

People use social media to, well, socialize. People use search engines when they want to find something.

When was the last time you went on Twitter to look for the nearest hamburger joint? Now, when was the last time you used Google to find a local restaurant?

The fact that searchers are actively searching for the products or services your hospital offers makes them much more likely to become a customer than someone who simply likes your Facebook page. The person who likes your Facebook page may eventually become a customer, but chances are they did not like your page because of their intent to purchase.

3. Search Allows Customers to Easily Find Your Business on the Go

Search engines make it easy to find information such as phone numbers and directions to local businesses on mobile devices. In fact, 88 percent of people who search for local information with a smartphone take action within a day, such as calling or visiting a local business, according to Google.

Additionally, 77 percent of smartphone users use their device for search. So, even if you do not target a local customer base specifically, mobile search provides an excellent opportunity to get in front of prospective customers.

4. Social Media Marketing Isn’t Easy

Some hospitals tend to gravitate to social media because they perceive it as being easy and inexpensive, while perceiving search marketing as just the opposite. However, a well-executed social media campaign is no easy task, particularly if the goal is new patient acquisition.

On the other hand, if a hospitals is using their company’s Twitter page to tweet about how good the cafeteria food was today, then yes, that is easy and inexpensive, and also ineffective.

5. Search is a Proven Customer Acquisition Tool

Whether organic search or paid search, there is little argument that search marketing is an effective customer acquisition tool, and mobile search has only enhanced its effectiveness.

Conversely, there is still much debate regarding the relationship between “likes” and purchase intent, and social media’s effectiveness in general when it comes to customer acquisition. When working with a limited marketing budget, as most hospitals do, it makes sense to utilize a proven patient acquisition method.

Conclusion

The truth is that search and social are not mutually exclusive. The lines are blurring between them.

The most effective digital marketing strategy would utilize both search and social to their maximum potential. Yet, the reality is that most hospitals don’t have the necessary resources to do both effectively. So, when the primary goal is patient acquisition, hospitals should focus on search, not social.

Healthcare Marketing: 5 Social Media Suggestions for Hospitals

111773023Here are 5 excellent suggestions offered by Marianne Aiello in an article for HealthcareLeaders Media.  It’s republished in its entirety.

In 2013 the new millennium officially became a teenager. And like all teenagers, it is seriously addicted to social media. Really, mom and dad should consider limiting its data plan.

Hospitals, however, are still playing catch up in the social media space. There are plenty of excuses, from staffing problems to technical ditziness.  But none is acceptable anymore. MySpace, the granddaddy of social media, was created ten years ago. It’s time the healthcare industry got with it.

 An infographic by Demi & Cooper Advertising and DC Interactive Group highlights just where hospitals stand in the social space. Only 26% use social media. No, that is not a typo—just one-quarter of hospitals in the US use any type of social media. Of those,

  • 84% are on Facebook
  • 64% are on Twitter
  • 46% are on YouTube
  • 12% blog

So that’s where we stand. Now let’s look at healthcare consumers.

About one-third of consumers use social sites for health-related matters. And these patients are sharing their experiences, with 44% of respondents saying they were likely or very likely to share a positive experience they had with a hospital.

More notably, 40% said they were likely or very likely to share a negative experience they had with a hospital.

So like it or not, patients are talking about your organization on social media sites. It’s a hospital marketer’s duty to be there to listen, share successes, and respond to complaints. Let’s take a tip from the newly pimple-faced millennium and get social.

Here are five resolutions all hospital marketers should make for the coming year.

1.    Tell powerful patient stories.

Perhaps the greatest value of social media is the ability to quickly and easily connect with patients. From there, it’s up to the marketer to make this connection meaningful.

Often, the best way to accomplish this is by telling meaningful, powerful patient stories. Luckily for us, these stories already exist out there. We just have to find them. 

To do this, track any keyword or hashtag that relates to your organization. A third party platform such as HootSuite can facilitate this. If you don’t find much, start soliciting  patient stories.

From there, you can share them on Facebook, re-tweet them on Twitter, or write up a blog post, which you can then link to on Facebook and Twitter. In some cases, YouTube may be the best storytelling medium. 

There are countless ways to share positive patient experiences through social media. And the more often you do it, the easier the process will become.

2.    Do something innovative.

Another benefit of social media campaigns versus traditional marketing campaigns is that you can afford to take more risks. 

If a marketing campaign bombs, you’ve wasted money on print materials and advertising space. But, in most cases, if a social media campaign misses the mark you’re only real cost is the time it took to execute it. 

Besides, in social media taking a risk can pay off big.

Here are some ideas to get your gears turning:

  • Live-tweet a surgery to highlight a service line
  • Experiment with fundraising through Facebook
  • Set up a weekly doc Q&A time on Twitter
  • Use social media to attract new physicians and staff
  • Ask a patient to live-tweet a “day in the life” at your organization

Get creative and see what sticks. As a bonus, local press love to cover innovative hospital social marketing efforts.

3.    Take a hard look at risk management. 

Of course, using social media to promote your organization has its risks. As much as people enjoy sharing positive feedback online, they seem to enjoy sharing negative feedback even more. It’s the nature of the beast. But this is absolutely not a reason to avoid social media altogether.

Like I said before, social media is about 10 years old. Most people using social media aren’t new. Therefore, most people using social media know that the anonymity users have on some sites turn people into hate-filled harping conspiracy theorists. 

You can just tell when a commenter has taken a couple crazy pills. Most internet users put everything they read online through a filter and, for marketers, this acts as a barrier of sorts. 

That said, there are some steps you should take to mitigate your social media risk. Make sure that you have a comprehensive social media policy for employees and that the policy is up to date. 

Employees should sign a document stating that they understand they are not to post any patient information or any negative comments about the organization. 

I’m amazed at how often I see a high school classmate post on Facebook about how much they hate their nursing job and mentioning the hospital by name. 

It’s also important to make sure all providers understand where the boundary lies when communicating with patients on social media. While you’re at it, ask physicians if they have a public Twitter account or blog where they postulate about anything healthcare related. 

Doctors  represent your organization, so it’s critical to know what they’re putting out there. Social media savvy docs can also be great allies when formulating a new campaign

4.    Keep an eye on your peers.

The healthcare industry as a whole is behind the curve, but many hospitals are true social media standouts. Keep an eye on these organizations to see how they launch campaigns, respond to criticism, and deal with employees. 

The Mayo Clinic tops the list of social media trailblazers and provides helpful information to other organizations through its Center for Social Media.

 UPMC is also a top organization to go to for social media tips, especially it’s well maintained Facebook page.

And if you’re looking for Twitter inspiration, check out Brigham and Women’s account. They tweet a variety of posts on anything from health topics to hospital rankings to volunteer opportunities.

5.    Track everything.

None of this counts if you can’t view the statistics that tell you which efforts are working, which fell flat, which are tapering off, and which have found a second life. Keep count of your followers and likes, of how many people clicked your links, of how long visitors stayed on that blog post. 

This information will help you better tailor future social campaigns and give you solid numbers to report to your superiors.

With these five resolutions, hospital marketers should be able to commit to having a strong presence in the social media world now and for years to come—or at least until the millennium gets its braces off.

 

            

     

Hospital Advertising: Are Banner Ads Really Effective?

Perhaps banner ads have become so ubiquitous they are ineffective. They certainly aren’t very creative.

155425841Web banner ads have been around for 18 years and are the standard for web advertising.  As all other marketers, healthcare marketers have used them to create a web presence for their hospitals.  But are they effective?

Surely we can all agree they are mostly devoid of creativity.  And space limitations prohibit providing very much brand information.  And the scary thing is that some research indicates they are mostly ignored.

Digiday published some rather alarming facts about online advertising.  Here are some of them:

1.  Over 5.3 trillion display ads were served to U.S. users last year. (ComScore)


2.  That’s 1 trillion more than 2009. (ComScore)

3.  The typical Internet user is served 1,707 banner ads per month. (Comscore)


4.  Click-through rates are .1 percent. (DoubleClick)


5.  The 468 x 60 banner has a .04 percent click rate. (DoubleClick)


6.  An estimated 31 percent of ad impressions can’t be viewed by users. (Comscore)


7.  8 percent of Internet users account for 85 percent of clicks. (ComScore)


8.  Up to 50 percent of clicks on mobile banner ads are accidental. (GoldSpot Media)


9.   Mobile CPMs are 75 cents. (Kleiner Perkins)


10. You’re more likely to survive a plane crash than click a banner ad. (Solve Media)


11. 15 percent of people trust banner ads completely or somewhat, compared to 29 percent for TV ads. (eMarketer)


12. 34 percent don’t trust banner ads at all or much, compared to 26 percent for magazine ads. (eMarketer)


13. 25-34-year olds see 2,094 banner ads per month. (ComScore)


14. 445 different advertisers delivered more than a billion banner ads in 2012. (ComScore)

These are startling statistics.  I would not go so far as saying banner ads have no value for hospitals.  Simple brand awareness and brand recall are valuable.  But we should be aware of the limitations of web banner advertising and invest your hospital’s media dollars accordingly.

Healthcare Marketing: When “Big Data” is Not So Big

All the consumer information that is available to us cannot take the place of the “Big Idea.”

Big data in HealthcareBig data is the BIG deal these days.   Big data is the term used for the tremendous amount of information available through the monitoring of consumers as they search online, purchase online, pay for products and services with credit cards and provide information at the point of purchase.  The amount of data is almost endless and marketers are accessing it to understand when and how to market to their target audience.

Healthcare marketing is no exception.  Even with the HIPPA restrictions, the amount of data available from our own patients, data collected from health agencies and data that can be purchased from third parties, there is a plethora of information now at the fingertips of healthcare marketers.  And there are companies that can help us mine and manage that data.  So indeed it is the “big data” because it helps us market to a specific audience and then measure just about anything to determine effectiveness, rate of response and even ROI.

I’m certainly in favor of as much information as possible.  The more data the more precise and on-target healthcare marketing can be.  I’m indeed interested in determining ROI of healthcare marketing expenditures.  But, and that is a big BUT, we can become so enamored and focused on the big data that we sacrifice the “big idea.”  Data without a strategic concept and execution is just big data.  In marketing, it’s still about the big idea.  The concept that resonates with the consumer.  The idea that creates, builds and enhances a brand.  The idea and execution that builds an affinity with the brand and creates long-term loyalty.  Too much of big data marketing is about acquiring an instant sale and realizing a measurable and acceptable ROI.  But it fails to create a brand identity and brand value.

It’s akin to retail stores putting their entire effort into sales promotion because it creates instant results and a measurable ROI with little regard for the brand.  And as result, they are only as good or successful as their next sale.  A very short sided view of marketing because it creates no brand loyalty.   The same is true in healthcare marketing.  To rely too heavily on big data, you are only as good as your ability to mine data, interpret it and use it to direct market to a niche.  You’re only as good as your next targeted mailing.

It is said Steve Jobs never paid much interest to market research but rather built one of the strongest brands on earth based on his gut and his own creativity and the creativity of his agency.  I would not suggest all healthcare marketers should go that route but it does make the point that there should be balance between big data and the big idea.

Big data can help us understand the marketplace and our current and prospective customers but it’s the big idea that plant and positions our brand in their minds so they know us, like us, want to do business with us and become loyal to us.

It’s not “Big Data” versus the “Big Idea.”  It’s how we can use both to effectively market our healthcare organization.  It’s how we can find a balance of the two to create responses to our targeted messages but also build a strong and enduring brand.

Tools for Monitoring What’s Being Said About Your Hospital

104762790Use monitoring tools to know what people are saying about your hospital and respond appropriately.

People are most likely talking about your hospital.  Conversations are occurring about your brand.  Do you know what they are saying?  You should.  Some marketers had rather not know.  They prefer to stick their heads in the sand and pretend it doesn’t exist.  This is neither good nor responsible.  Conversations about your hospital are happening and you should know what they are.

Sarah Johnson in an article for intuit mentioned three important and instructive points about knowing what people are saying about your hospital.

1.    Set up alerts and conduct regular web searches.

At the very least, set up Google Alerts for the name of your hospital or healthcare organization  (put quotation marks around any proper names to get the most accurate result).  In addition use tools on social media sites to search those particular sites.  With these two, you will receive notices of mentions of your hospital on the web and on the social media sites you monitor.

2.    Invest in a monitoring tool.

The alerts and searches mentioned above are not totally effective.  Mentions often escape their filters so it’s recommended to invest in a monitoring tool that does a far better job than Google Alert.  The good monitoring services will monitor and report mentions of your hospital across the entire web and across all public sections of social media sites.  Some to consider include Social Comply, Trackur and Radian6.

3.    Make people feel they’re being heard.

It’s important your hospital is perceived as responsive and caring.  Respond to issues that appear and to disgruntled consumers.  Take the disgruntled person offline, express your concern and offer to make it right, if possible.  If not, assure the complainant that you will do as much as possible to insure the perceived wrong is not repeated.

It may be important to also make a conciliatory statement in the same venue to show your hospital has a heart and a concern about any dissatisfaction and state that steps will be taken to correct any issues.

It is also important to show appreciation.  When good things are stated, acknowledge it and be appreciative.

People are talking about your hospital.   And as a brand advocate for your hospital you need to know about those conversations.  Monitor, listen, learn and be proactive.  Your hospital’s brand reputation may depend on it.

 

 

Healthcare Marketing: Forget the Tech and Focus on the Idea

160353810Consumers aren’t moved by all the data we can use to find and use to communicate with them.  Instead they still want to be moved. They want emotional connection.

This blog  was actually borrowed from comments made by Procter & Gamble Global Brand Building Officer Marc Pritchard as he spoke to the 4As annual conference.  I used it because I think he’s onto something.

More and more we are being driven by data.  We have so much at our disposal.  No wonder it’s referred to a “Big Data.”  And marketing professionals, including those in healthcare, are making decisions and developing marketing plans based on the data.  But too many times I’m afraid that leads to creative that is mediocre at best.  We run the risk of being devoid of the big idea that connects rationally and emotionally with the consumer.

Data can help avoid risk or help improve our odds.  Data can provide insight or sometimes confusion.  But data doesn’t tell you to put an actor around a group of kids and interview them (AT&T), or develop a campaign around the line “The man your man could smell like” (Old Spice).  Procter and Gamble’s “Moms have the best Jobs” television spot was not inspired by data.  And neither was “Just Do It,” “Got Milk,” “Think Differently,” or “Think Small.”

Consumers are moved by emotions.  Brands connect with consumers with emotionAnd that’s no truer than in healthcare marketing. In a world where we have so many ways and so much power to connect with consumers we cannot just pour our message into as many channels as possible.  That’s just noise.  It’s the power of an idea that separates you from the numbness.

Christoph Becker, writing for Adweek put it very well when he stated, “For an idea to have value in the world of marketing communications it must make you feel; it should provoke laughter, touch a nerve and create excitement for a brand. There should be generosity of spirit in what we do. Even if we have messages for the head, we should always seek to gain entry through the heart. To be humanly relevant our work should be founded on emotion.

He continued, “the challenge is to remember this truth: our laughing, crying, loving, loathing, silly, serious emotional minds are always in charge. This is something the most successful—and iconic—businesses understand instinctively.”

As healthcare marketers we have so much information at our disposal.  And we should use it to sharpen our focus and hone our efforts.  Yet never forsaking the pursuit of that emotional connection that far exceeds ordinary communication with consumers.

I will conclude with Becker’s final comments,

“There has never been a better time to reach our customers, but we have a choice. We can use all the technology and channels at our disposal merely to amplify our messages to the point of noise. Or we can use those gifts to give life and purpose and never-ending expansiveness to our ideas, to reach people in ways that matter, to ignite emotions.  That’s my dream.”