A Plea for Healthcare to Use Social Media

It is no secret that social media has taken over engagement—except with our healthcare providers.

About 72% of U.S. adults who use the internet are on some kind of social networking site, according to an August 2013 study by the Pew Internet and American Life Project.

social media usage among online adults chart

So now, it’s time for you and your healthcare marketing team to decide what that means for your marketing strategy. I know traditional marketing vehicles like radio spots, print ads, billboards and television commercials have worked for your healthcare organization in the past—or have they? Could your healthcare organizations be doing something better?

It is time to step up your social media game. That means reevaluation.

Change can be scary, but here are a few things to consider when considering social media for  your marketing mix

1. Take a deep breath. You are not alone.

The healthcare industry has been generally pretty slow to jump on the social media bandwagon, primarily because of patient privacy regulations and low staff bandwidth. Experts say the healthcare industry is about two years behind other industries in terms of embracing social media but that is changing.

In fact, 43% of healthcare marketers plan to increase their content marketing spend—including social media strategy—over the next 12 months, compared to 54 percent for all industries. And that’s with good reason because 59 percent of patients search for health and medical information online (Google).

2. Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater

Just because it is time to integrate a strong social media component into your overall marketing strategy doesn’t mean that you can never run another print ad or television commercial. If you know your target audience still prefers to get information through traditional means, then print and television promotion may still be a good fit. Do what makes sense for your organization.

But it’s important to consider how much of your current marketing strategy includes tactics that you just do because you’ve always done them versus tactics that have significant ROI (i.e. generates leads, engagement or boosts brand awareness)?

3. Social media has its pros and cons

Proper use of social media can strengthen your healthcare organization’s connection with the surrounding community, current patients, physicians and new patients.

But let’s take a closer look at the pros and cons for social media:


  • It’s time consuming, a 24/7 job if it’s done correctly
  • It disseminates rapidly, where as traditional media feels more permanent
  • The rules and techniques are constantly changing


  • Social media tends to be less expensive
  • It’s measurable
  • Designed to provide long-term results through relationship building