Healthcare professional on a laptop

Harnessing the power of social media for healthcare

Social media has transformed the way businesses engage with their audiences, and the healthcare industry is no exception. Healthcare organisations in the B2B and B2C sectors have already realised the importance of healthcare PR and are now ramping up their social media presence as a powerful tool in patient care.

In terms of meeting patients where they are, traditional media such as newspaper headlines or poster campaigns won’t work if health problems have left target clients hospitalised, or mental health issues mean they struggle to leave home. However, a social media platform can be the perfect way for a healthcare professional to engage with patients who are more comfortable in an online environment. Commenting on health stories in the news, while adding additional insight, can add value to clients and patients as well as position you as a thought leader.

A tightly regulated healthcare system puts off many in healthcare from looking at the possibilities of social media, in case of compliance issues. There are several applications for it, though, even within the public and private healthcare sectors.

Brand awareness and reputation

Social media offers a powerful platform to build brand awareness and shape the reputation of healthcare organisations.

By consistently sharing valuable content, thought leadership articles, patient success stories, and updates on industry achievements, healthcare companies can establish credibility, attract partners and enhance their reputation among B2B stakeholders.

For example, healthcare providers could consider running online communities for social media users with specific health issues. As well as supporting end customers, this can also be a way of measuring patient satisfaction. Results can then be shared with other healthcare facilities or businesses as part of a shared medical education, that can improve patient outcomes and also enhance your brand reputation.

Thought leadership and patient education

Healthcare organisations can use social media to position themselves as thought leaders by sharing relevant industry insights, research findings and educational resources. This fosters trust among B2B audiences, establishes expertise and helps drive collaborations with other healthcare entities.

Healthcare business PillTime’s marketing campaign harnessed the power of social, broadcast and print media to reach a broad audience with a range of health-related reasons for needing to take regular medication.

One of the downsides of social media is it can lead to misinformation circulating about medication or chronic diseases. To counter this, healthcare professionals can share correct medical knowledge by commenting on social media news articles about health-related issues.

Another route to dispelling medical myths is by working with online support groups, such as those for patients with chronic conditions. There’s often the opportunity to talk to members of the group e.g. via Facebook Live or Instagram Live to offer advice and answer questions, or to provide answers to written questions.

Social media also enables healthcare organisations to engage directly with B2B clients, fostering stronger relationships and providing personalised customer support. Responding to queries, addressing concerns and sharing updates on services or products through social media channels enhances client satisfaction, loyalty and retention.

Industry networking for healthcare professionals

Social media platforms provide opportunities for healthcare organisations to connect with industry influencers, potential partners, and key decision-makers. Engaging in industry-specific groups, participating in discussions and joining relevant healthcare forums can lead to valuable networking opportunities and potential B2B collaborations.

Even medical journals, often slow to keep up with the pace of change, are integrating social media into their marketing campaigns for new publications. Professional networking used to take place at medical conferences, but nowadays most interaction has moved online. For example, during the pandemic healthcare professionals used social media to communicate with peers and share information on treatments, and to combat misinformation spreading across the internet.

It’s important to keep in mind, however, that while social media accounts can be a great way to enhance professional networking, patient privacy must be respected and social media shouldn’t be used to share identifying details of case studies.

Crisis communication via social media platforms

During public health crises or emergencies, social media serves as a rapid and effective communication tool and, ultimately, a method of disease control.

Healthcare organisations can disseminate important updates, correct poor-quality information and provide guidance to B2B stakeholders, contributing to the overall public health response and demonstrating leadership in times of crisis.

A social networking site can also be a more targeted way to reach an audience than trying to get a story in the national press if it only impacts a small segment of society. For example, Facebook groups for patients with specific chronic conditions could be a swifter way for many healthcare professionals to issue a product recall or raise awareness of new treatments.

Training public and private sector healthcare staff in what they can and can’t say on social media ahead of a crisis occurring will enable you to get the best use from it when it’s needed.

Social media sites have the added advantage that you can carry out robust measurement and evaluation of whether your communications achieved their aim. For instance, you can see how many people read your post, assess understanding from the comments it received, and even get in touch with people who need further support: something that’s impossible with a TV broadcast.

Social networking sites: a useful tool for healthcare professionals

Healthcare organisations in the B2B space should leverage social media tools to build brand awareness, establish thought leadership, enhance customer relationships, foster industry partnerships and effectively communicate during crises.

There are some great examples of how healthcare businesses have used social media campaigns to raise awareness and build relationships. There are, of course, risks involved in online discussions of health advice and the medical community must guard against revealing details of an individual patient’s condition or stepping outside legal boundaries set by health authorities. However, when used for health promotion and social support, social media posts can be a useful tool in health advocacy.

By harnessing the power of social media, healthcare entities can strengthen their position in the industry, drive collaborations, and contribute to improving healthcare outcomes.

 

If you need help with your healthcare PR, get in contact to see how we can assist.