Should television ads, direct mail, and digital display ads be in your healthcare marketing budget? Marketing Your Hospital explored where hospital marketers should spend their marketing dollars in 2020. We’re sharing what we found in this three-part series. In this third installment, we take a closer look at the latest trends in digital advertising. And be sure to check out Part 1: Is TV advertising dead? and Part 2: Should You Invest in Direct Mail?
Best practices for healthcare organizations utilizing social media.
Zsolt Bicskey writing for business2community.com recently gave what he thought were the top trends and best practices for using social media by hospitals and healthcare organizations. His main points are provided here with some slight editing.
Incentivizing Social Media
Having media accounts is useless without followers. Few patients have a reason to follow their hospital on Facebook — it’s up to marketers to convince them otherwise. Start by asking patients to like your pages and profiles (put your info on a business card, perhaps?) and even incentivize the process with drawings of gift cards for the gift shop or discounted parking, etc. Or, if you’re really into making a splash in the online community, send patients information via social media about upcoming appointments and health information they may find informative. The same idea applies to emailed newsletters, text message appointment times, and other reminders.
Marketers have found that people react better to bright, attractive imagery rather than boring blocks of Web text. When you’re making posts or publishing blogs on social media, accompany them with multimedia like videos, infographics, and images. People are more likely to halt their newsfeed scrolling if they come across something that pops off the page. Think visual when you start out on your campaign and find pictures and graphs that accurately reflect your information.
Websites can be like secondary storefronts for hospitals and healthcare organizations. In terms of social medical marketing, link to and from your website with your social profiles and keep it stocked full of new, original, and accurate information about your hospital and your service lines. As mentioned, the best marketing campaigns set you up as a professional authority in a field. Writing pamphlets, articles, and blogs can help support this idea — all you have to do is link them through to your website.
Enlisting the Masses
It would be impossible for you, a busy healthcare marketer, to do all of this on your own. Instead, enlist help from your staff and other experts. Did you get new technology? Ask a doctor or nurse to write up a few hundred words that you then publish on your website. Don’t be afraid to try new things, either; sometimes the most successful strategies are the ones no one has ever tried before.
The most important thing to do is to keep at it. Don’t give up if you don’t have every Facebook follower in town; focus instead on the long-term goal of creating an online brand and presence. Healthcare is a difficult, competitive field on the Internet. It is your job, and you should employ social healthcare marketing in order to support your organization as a source of valuable healthcare information and to provide patients with information.
Social media is moving from experimental stage to serious commitment for most professional marketers.
For many serious marketers, social media has thus far been mostly experimental. They have considered, explored, tested and sampled various social media options. But researchers at Forrester Research have concluded that now marketers are beginning to get serious about social media. 2010 “is the year social marketing gets serious” stated Forrester Analyst Augie Ray in a recent article by Laurie Sullivan in Online Media Daily.
Social media is maturing and is being taken more seriously by marketers. The growth of social media sites and the increasing use of such sites by consumers makes it very difficult to ignore. Significant audiences exist there and marketers are challenged to find ways to engage consumers on those sites. Social media is beginning to play a more significant role in marketing strategies and budget allocations are increasing for social media options.
Although the tide is moving toward more emphasis on social media, healthcare marketers are not embracing social networks at the same level as other industries. According to the 2010 Social Media Marketing Benchmark Report from MarketingSherpa, healthcare lags considerably behind other industries in anticipated budget commitments to social media. Only 43% of healthcare marketers anticipate increased budget allocations for social media in 2010 as compared to 79% in retail.
The trend is obvious. Social media is no longer just a fad. It is the place many marketers are engaging consumers and building brand awareness and loyalty. While many healthcare marketers are not yet fully embracing social networking, it provides a great opportunity and potential competitive advantage for those who catch the wave and commit to finding effective ways to use the media. It can be a place where healthcare marketers can dominant the competition and gain a significant advantage.
It is time to get serious about social media!