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Social Media For Healthcare Marketing: Snaps, Pins, And Shares, Oh My!

If you are one of the millions of adults in the US who use Facebook or Twitter, you’ve probably followed—or at least seen—a company’s account on one of these social networks. Many businesses create Facebook profiles (called pages) or Twitter accounts (called handles) in order to further their brand recognition and boost their marketing efforts.

But Facebook and Twitter aren’t the only networks to consider. As more social media platforms sprout up, businesses are taking advantage of marketing opportunities across platforms.

So, how are companies using social media for healthcare? Here’s a look at three of the more popular platforms: Snapchat, Pinterest, and LinkedIn.

Snapchat

social media for healthcare, Snapchat

How It’s Used In Marketing

Businesses can create their own Snapchat accounts. Snaps are used to create a tone for the company or organization, promote specials, and give followers a behind-the-scenes look at the business.

How It’s Used In Healthcare

There are two major players in the healthcare scene on Snapchat: Plastic surgeons and children’s hospitals.

Several plastic surgeons have garnered Snapchat fame by posting snaps from surgical procedures (with the patient’s consent, of course). These snaps serve many purposes, including:

  • Marketing the providers and their organizations—and establishing themselves as experts
  • Providing opportunities for medical students to learn about surgeries and explore the field of plastic surgery
  • Giving prospective patients a chance to see what a specific surgery entails, and if it’s something they might want to pursue

Snapchat is also becoming a popular marketing tool for children’s hospitals. It makes sense—the target demographic for these hospitals is Gen Zers (between the ages of 10 and 22), and Generation Z accounts for more than 50% of Snapchat users.

Like plastic surgeons, children’s hospitals don’t use Snapchat solely for marketing. They also use it to engage their patients, promote fundraising opportunities, raise awareness about various health issues, and improve the overall patient experience.

The Downsides

Healthcare may be a growing presence in the world of Snapchat, but not everyone is on board.

One of the most vocal critics is Dan Mills, MD, president of the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery. Dr. Mills questions the ethics of using Snapchat during surgeries.

With the operating room staff occasionally cracking jokes, and breaking out the costumes and hats, and the front-of-office staff occasionally treating the Snapchat account as a way to perform a soap opera for viewers, Mills says that some offices are acting unprofessionally and with no integrity. He also raises concerns about patient safety and infection control issues.  

Pinterest

social media for healthcare, Pinterest

How It’s Used In Marketing

Similar to Snapchat, Pinterest can be used to solidify a company’s image and tone. It’s also a way for businesses to establish themselves, so they can gain followers or customers.

The more a pin is repinned by other users, the more visibility the company receives. And if companies can get a good grasp on creating content that makes for shareable pins, they’re on the right track toward major visibility—pins on Pinterest are considered 100 times more shareable than tweets.

This may be partially due to the fact that most adults respond better to images and visuals more than text—and you would be hard-pressed to find a pin without an image.  

How It’s Used In Healthcare

Hospitals large and small, from academic medical centers to community healthcare systems, have jumped onto the Pinterest bandwagon.

Each hospital has its own way of grouping pins, but most tend to have a few in each of these categories:

  • General well-being: These are boards with titles like “Healthy Recipes,” “Mindfulness Techniques,” and “Exercise Tips.” Children’s hospitals also tend to have boards with parenting tips and basic information about children’s’ health and well-being.
  • Medicine and health conditions: These boards have information about specific medical topics, like cancer, diabetes, or cardiac care.
  • Patient stories and testimonials: These boards have links to personal narratives about dealing with a specific disease, and testimonials about the healthcare organization.
  • Research: These boards feature the latest in medical research and technological advancements.
  • About us: These boards include general information about the organization. They may highlight specific services or areas of interest—like therapy dogs, virtual tours of the facilities, a history of the organization, or suggestions for what else to do when you’re in the area.

The Downsides

There aren’t many downsides to Pinterest. Fortunately, Pinterest hasn’t been the subject of arguments about ethics. Since it’s generally run by hospital administrators, there isn’t a big concern about providers being distracted by it.

The only downside—if you can call it that—is that there are several rules governing business Pinterest accounts. In addition to the Acceptable Use Policy and Pin Etiquette Policy that all users must follow, businesses also need to stick to Pinterest’s business guidelines.

LinkedIn

social media for healthcare, LinkedIn

How It’s Used In Marketing

When LinkedIn was first created, it was mostly thought of us a place for businesses to post job openings and professionals to look for work. LinkedIn is still used for recruiting future employees, but its purpose has expanded.

As with other social media platforms, LinkedIn is a great way for businesses to gain exposure and build their brand. By creating an engaging profile, posting articles about the latest trends, and sharing informed opinions about those trends, a business can establish itself as a thought leader in the industry.

How It’s Used In Healthcare

Healthcare organizations are mainly using LinkedIn for one of its original purposes: recruitment.

For instance, WellStar Health System in Georgia uses LinkedIn to boast about its benefits packages, workplace culture, and provider resources. Reading Health System in Pennsylvania uses LinkedIn to highlight employee testimonials. At Florida Hospital, LinkedIn is used specifically to target potential nurses.

In addition to recruitment, healthcare organizations are taking advantage of the opportunity to build their brand and reputation. These organizations post several types of content, including:

  • Humble (but proud) brags: If the hospital has a world-renowned cardiac care center, or was the birthplace of a current standard of care, they aren’t afraid to promote their accomplishments.
  • Medical, health, and wellness articles: Readers can find information on breastfeeding or healthy eating, or learn about cutting-edge research. Companies can open up the comments section, inviting readers to engage with their brand.
  • Hospital happenings: Organizations post promos for upcoming events or fundraisers, new hires, and information about what’s going on at the hospital.
  • Current events: Many organizations tie their content into current events. For example, the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago posted a story about the upcoming solar eclipse and eye health.
  • Patient testimonials: Whether the stories are about why patients chose the hospital, or about the quality of care they received, these testimonials can be an excellent way to bring in patients.

The Downsides

Businesses probably won’t run into many hurdles when using LinkedIn. As with Pinterest, there is little room for ethical ambiguity, and it typically does not distract providers from doing their job.

However, LinkedIn does come with its share of frustrations. Of the main social media platforms, LinkedIn has one of the lowest engagement rates—a measurement of how readers are interacting with the content (e.g., likes, shares, comments, etc.).

And, while the number of LinkedIn users is growing, membership is still significantly lagging compared to other platforms like Facebook.

That doesn’t mean that businesses should not use LinkedIn—they just need to stay on top of their other social networks as well.

Now that you’ve learned about Snapchat, Pinterest, and LinkedIn, you may be tempted to set up accounts on all three. That’s fine for some companies—but other companies benefit from quality over quantity when it comes to social media.

Bottom line: Choose your social media platforms wisely. Look for the platforms your target audience uses, and focus on creating quality content, rather than content on every single platform.

Want to learn more about using social media for healthcare marketing? Let the team at CareContent help.

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