Social Media For Healthcare In Today’s Digital Landscape 

Life Is Happening On Social Media And It’s Time For Healthcare To Join The Conversation 

 

From socializing with friends to conducting research, networking, interacting in “online communities” and making purchasing decisions, the social media presence of brands is more important than ever.  In the wake of a pandemic and the rise of platforms like TikTok and Instagram Stories, Live Rooms and Reels, social media is possibly the most valuable tool for companies to connect with their audience with both content and advertising. Social media is your chance to cultivate your relationship with your followers, grow your brand and communicate on a personal level. That being said, it’s no longer just about well-targeted ads, creating new and exciting digital experiences allows companies to connect with their users and build on that connection that has been lost in face-to-face interactions. This is especially important in the healthcare space.

While most companies have a basic social strategy down at this point, true success lies in how well a company utilizes social listening, data analysis, optimizes its engagement, and keeps up with the ever-changing trends and algorithms. Creating purposeful content that is also informative, witty, and attention-grabbing for long enough to have the consumer complete the intended action is key. The way a consumer finds, understands, and engages with your brand on social media is the new customer experience and the path forward for marketing. 

The rapid changes that happen in the social media space present a constant challenge for marketers and brands trying to stay top of mind and sell products and services. With that in mind, most of the trends and success on social media platforms are geared towards fashion, home, and food, so how do industries that are not so sexy get in the game? Health, wellness, and pharmaceutical brands need to find creative and original ways to fit into the conversation and breakthrough to their target audiences. 

 

Set Yourself Up For Social Media Success In 2021

While some of these points may sound familiar, they are consistently making headlines of hot topics for social media success.  Many companies still struggle to implement these baseline tactics that will amplify their brand overall, from sales to better performing ads and more engagement. With the pandemic raging on and considering the current social climate of the country, things like credibility, transparency, and diversity are more important than ever.

Credibility 

Your website is solid and you’re successfully running ads on multiple social channels so you’re feeling pretty good about your social media game. But what happens when a user dives deeper? Maybe they don’t click on the ad they got served but instead begin to investigate your brand, product, or services on social media like today’s digitally-savvy consumers tend to do. With so much information floating around online, people are less inclined to believe everything they read and will seek out further information to form an opinion on your product and services. Do you have a presence on every social media platform? Are you consistently posting fresh purposeful content, articles, images, and videos that are relevant to your industry? Are you offering insights into your company that will engage and inspire your audience? Credibility and believing a brand is legitimate is of the utmost importance to gain a consumer’s trust. This means a cohesive, relevant, and consistent social media strategy that is current and responsive in real-time. If you find that you are not using a platform, shut it down. A bare-bones social page that is not consistently updated and has no engagement on posts will cause a user to question the integrity of your brand.

Transparency and Authenticity

Today’s consumers are looking first and foremost for trustworthy and authentic brands that also show a certain level of transparency. Competition is fierce and the path to purchase is no longer solely based on the need for a certain product or service, a great ad, or believing in a product just because a brand says so. New buyer beliefs and the social climate of the country are affecting purchasing decisions. Brands can no longer stay silent or ignore what is happening in the world. The social media shopping experience is a personal one, there is a need to connect on a deeper level. What does your brand stand for? Are you diverse and inclusive? Do you give back to the community and support national issues like pandemic and disaster relief? Is your company making the world a better place? Do you factor in sustainability and green initiatives? All these factors come into play and should be apparent in your social marketing strategy and messaging. 

The Power of A Personal Connection 

Following closely behind the importance of an authentic and credible brand is how well you can connect with your users on a personal level. Consumers are smart and educated enough to recognize ads and sales pitches, they have become numb and often breeze right over them. Generic and impersonal ads and posts are all but being ignored and glossed over. Today’s digital-savvy consumers want to feel a personal connection with the brands they are shopping.  Before they ever make a purchasing decision, they have been on your website, blog, social channels, interacted in relevant online communities, and have read your reviews about your brand or product. It’s more important than ever to strike a chord with your buyers and create an emotional connection. A connection is what stops them in their tracks to investigate further. Building trust and confidence in the experience or service you can provide is the first step to getting the client’s foot in the door.  So what does it mean to connect emotionally with consumers on a digital level? Show them who you are, what you do, and why you are proud of it. This is the first step in creating that connection that will breed confidence in your brand. Social posts that achieve this goal can be things like meet the team, check out our lab/facility, product images, surveys, polls and votes, and tips from doctors, scientists, employees, or actual patients. 

Accessibility

How easy is it for your target audience to digest your content and/or ads and take action without having to think too hard about it or get dragged down a rabbit hole? The ask must be clear and concise and the steps the user needs to take must be simple. One-click purchases, sign-ups for information, and requests for materials or samples must be seamless and happen in the platform without the disruption of being led to another site or off the current page they are scrolling through.  The consumer journey must be short, quick, and user-friendly.  This is not a new idea, but with evolving technology and updates to in-platform shopping and data capture, it can be easier than ever to obtain the information or encourage a click without a consumer having to stop scrolling their feed. Companies like Facebook and Instagram have made it easier than ever to allow your product and services to be discoverable. 

 

Social Media Trends To Get In On This Year

The people have spoken. If you want to be heard, it’s time to get creative and find a way to immerse your brand and adapt your advertising strategy to stay on top of your game.

User-Generated Content 

Consumers overall are less trusting of the media and mainstream marketing which has them relying more and more on what they consider genuine information being created by real people and professionals. This user-generated content is staking a claim at the top of the fold across all platforms. From a healthcare/pharma perspective, having doctors and patients create content on your behalf offers a credible perspective that is a vote of confidence providing social proof of your brand and/or products or services. Brands can create campaigns making a claim or promoting hashtags to encourage users to tell their stories and share their points of view. Studies show that people trust user-generated content over any other type of content. We already know that consumers have become blind to ads and user-generated content that brands can promote and share cuts through the weeds. On another note, campaigns created and geared towards creators allow companies the opportunity to have an unbranded presence. This allows more flexibility and may be more achievable from a regulatory approval standpoint for HCP / Pharma.

Stories, Reels, Live Streams & Live Rooms

We already know video is the dominant form of content on social platforms and continues to grow with the popularity of new apps like TikTok. The pandemic has also caused a rise in demand for short engaging videos allowing users to interact with brands from the comfort of their home. Social media platforms have capitalized on highlighting video content by continuously adding and improving new features like stories, reels, IGTV, live streams, and now Live Rooms. Viewers crave a personal connection to brands and content that is less structured and informal. It’s all about content that is happening now, behind the scenes, this just in, announcements, and the like. If you haven’t figured out a way to leverage these features, it’s time to start working on a strategic approach to getting in on the action. In the healthcare space, it’s more of a challenge to create off-the-cuff content, so it’s important that the content you do create for these platforms is personable and either entertaining or providing unique insights that will capture the user’s attention and inspire them to engage with the brand.

Influencers & Brand Ambassadors 

Influencers and brand ambassadors are still gaining momentum in the digital marketing space. Working with a network of influencers can be a very beneficial marketing tactic as they will continue to play an essential role in brands’ digital marketing strategies.  If you are considering using influencers for your brand, they should align with your product or services and have a genuine connection.  Their niche following sees them as a real person, and a trusted source. This gives Influencers the power to affect purchasing decisions. They have authority, knowledge, and a trusted relationship with their audience. Brand ambassadors serve a similar purpose. Utilizing a well-known, or trusted persona or creating a “brand persona” can provide brands with a powerful and/or recognizable voice that will rise above the competition. Influencers and brand ambassadors provide a reliable source of information. A lot of HCPs are utilizing influencers to get messaging out there both on their platforms as well as the brand’s platforms.  For example, if you are treating a condition that relies heavily on diet, partner with a food/health/lifestyle influencer that suffers from the condition to create custom recipes for your audience. 

 

Find Your Voice On The Top Platforms

If you want to be heard, it’s time to get creative and find a way to immerse your brand and adapt your advertising strategy to stay on top of your game. The demographics and tone of each platform should drive how you create content. Each social media outlet attracts users based on what type of content they are looking to consume. Most social media content should be quick-hitting content relevant to the users interests and/or needs that provides them information or entertainment.  A few things to remember when it comes to all social platforms is to have an approachable voice and meaningful customer interactions, not just one-sided conversations and sales pitches. It’s also important to understand while most content can effortlessly be posted across all platforms, Twitter posts must be adapted based on character limitations, TikTok requires content specifically designed for this app and Instagram is image-based and not linkable requiring some tweaking to the overall posting strategy and messaging. When it comes to stories, a completely different strategy is needed to make sure it fits within the landscape and narrative that stories are designed for. Not every Instagram post belongs in stories, and not every story belongs in the feed. 

 

TikTok  is a video-based app taking social media by storm with its often comedic and entertaining fast-paced, unfiltered content that includes dancing, singing, bloopers, and so on.  While we are starting to see some more serious and tutorial-type content, satire and sports clips reign supreme. It is primarily a platform being embraced by a younger demographic but because of its increasing popularity, brands are trying to figure out how to fit into this space. Is there a place for your brand on TikTok? It’s a question that will take time and some experimenting to answer. To start, do some insight mining by searching the platform for other healthcare-related content that can inspire ideas for your brand. This will also give you some indication of what content is working and what isn’t by the amount of engagement it’s getting. HCPs can jump on existing trends but add their own medical twist and POV to get started. When it comes to health and pharma, there are definitely ways to utilize TikTok to convey things like patient journeys, diagnosis stories, awareness campaigns, health tips, case studies from doctors, ‘how it works’ videos, and educational content. 

Tips: 

  • TikTok’s slogan is “Don’t Make Ads. Make TikToks.”
  • TikTok is not the place for professionally produced, branded content.
  • Algorithms curate content based on the user’s actual viewing habits.
  • You can share your TikToks to your other platforms.
  • Come up with a catchy tagline for your page (Chipotle).
  • Create a recognizable company hashtag that is used consistently across platforms.
  • Try to use relevant trending hashtags in every post.

Trends:

  • Create challenges and/or giveaways via custom hashtags for individual campaigns (#eyeslipsface) 
  • Use relevant TikTok influencers to spread your brand message (#TooSickToBeSick
  • Use insight mining to follow along with the hottest trends like the “Dance Trend” (AustinChiangMD) 
  • Consider the use of a Persona or a Brand Ambassador for your page (Washington Post)
  • Partner with relevant influencers like Kelly. Kelly has a neuromuscular disorder and uses TikTok to raise awareness about her condition. 
  • Work with patients to create diagnosis stories like Cheryl‘s, who shares her journey to shed light on her condition, treatments, and daily struggles.

 

Instagram has an impressive and growing demographic base gaining popularity with users aged 18 – 50 years old. This platform is leading the charge in engagement thanks to its focus on beautiful images and video content. It is the ultimate space for storytelling. While this is exciting, certain brands often struggle with how to best leverage the reach of Instagram. Infographics are not ideal in this space and there is no ability to link in posts that are not an ad. There is however the ability to use stories and reels which are the driving force behind the platform’s current bragging rights for exploding engagement. Stories are like a conveyor belt of consumption, one click, and next thing you know you’ve tapped through 30 Instagram Stories. Keep in mind that content for Instagram and Stories should be curated specifically for this platform. When it comes to Reels, they were designed with entertainment in mind, as opposed to stories which are more for social and storytelling content.  With the rollout of Live Rooms, companies can now host up to 4 panelists to join in for live discussions, this is an amazing tool for brands, especially in the era of Covid-19.  Topic ideas for Instagram include: patient journeys, diagnosis stories, awareness campaigns, health tips, case studies, quotes, educational content, behind the scenes, happening now, live with our panel of experts, live Q&As, messages from the team, doctors, or scientists, product release announcements, sample offerings, and giveaways. 

 Tips:

  • A picture paints 1000 words but videos trump photos and infographics.
  • Videos can be animated graphics, they don’t have to be live video.
  • Have a brand hashtag so others can find, follow and tag you. 
  • Put significant effort into unique content for Stories and take advantage of the highlight feature. 
  • Stories, happening now and “behind the scenes type content” are performing well. 
  • Find your focus. IG is for storytelling, so tell a story (@takearecess).
  • Use a mix of professional photography and user-generated content (@teva).

Trends:

  • Create Interactive Stories: polls, questionnaires, and this or that on Stories to garner engagement.
  • Take advantage of the features in stories that promote engagement, like countdowns, swipe-ups, reaction sliders, and hashtag stickers. 
  • Test out Story Templates, which are branded templates that users can screenshot, fill out and share in their stories. This is a unique way to garner user-generated content and build brand awareness.  
  • Take advantage of the highlight feature to keep important content front and center.
  • Make every effort to get on the EXPLORE TAB
    • Use popular Instagram hashtags and location tags to get discovered
    • Instagram posts that quickly attract a large number of likes and comments have a significantly higher chance of making it on Instagram’s Explore page
    • Interact with your Instagram followers
    • Use captions to encourage action  
    • Tag a friend who is suffering/share with a friend 
    • Get big brands/influencers to interact with your posts (tag / @ a question) 
  • Do create a custom AR filter (McDonalds). 
  • Consider creating an unbranded page like “The Cancer Patient”.
  • Brainstorm Instagram Live Series ideas like Tiffany’s.
  • Start conversations like Away.  Instead of focusing on product features, they use their Instagram to talk about the experiences that their luggage gets to tag along on.
  • NASA does a great job with stories, featuring Q&As, Meet the Astronauts, and behind-the-scenes clips.
  • Work with relevant industry influencers who can be the face of your brand.

 

Twitter Trends

Twitter is filled with both newsworthy and opinion-based content lending itself to being more flexible as to the nature of the posts. Overall, it tends to be conversational and purposeful with the intent of sparking interest and generating comments. If your brand is more serious, then posting to that extent works. If your product or service is more quirky and fun, that works too. The bottom line is you can be yourself on Twitter as long as your voice is consistent. Post short and sweet taglines and concise messaging with an eye-catching image, infographic or video.

Tips: 

  • Keep your eye on trending hashtags and try to join in the conversation. 
  • You can now follow Topics that interest you rather than just following accounts. 
  • Be aware:
    • Twitter is making stronger efforts to stop the spread of misinformation.
    • Content that poses a risk to public safety will be removed.
    • All posts that show signs of fabrication or manipulation will be marked with a warning label.
    • Conversation Controls are being put into place to combat hate speech and offensive language, and content in the form of a pop-up to give users the opportunity to “reconsider” before publishing.
    • Political Ads are banned.

Trends: 

  • Twitter Audio is a new unique feature that allows you to tweet small audio clips like this Example from Shirley Setia for #worldmusicday.
  • Twitter has introduced Fleets which are meant to capture “fleeting thoughts.” Like Facebook and Instagram stories, they disappear after 24 hours. Rather than resharing or liking, users will be able to send DMs with their responses.

 

Facebook Trends

Facebook is the ultimate social platform built around the community. Facebook posts and content should be more personal in nature. Families and friends connect on this social network more so than others that are geared towards younger generations. Facebook users are big on joining communities and groups of like-minded people and those with similar interests and lifestyles. This presents great opportunities to join the conversation with set groups of consumers. You also have the ability to post longer-form content here and set up ads that allow you to capture data and consumer info without the user leaving the page. 

Tips:

  • ChatBots/Messenger are now standard practice for brands who want to exude the highest level of customer service and be available 24/7.
  • There is a focus on building smaller communities
    • Private channels 
    • Groups
    • Messenger

Trends:

  • Interactive Ads using Spark AR allow brands to utilize augmented reality camera effects to let people interact with their products like We Make-up
  • Build a community like Fitbit. They do a great job of not just selling but instead focusing on physical and mental health which builds their community and empowers their fans to set fitness goals.
  • Consider creating a group around your condition or cause to build awareness.
  • Posting exclusive behind-the-scenes content is something that Netflix has mastered. They make this content available only on FB.
  • National Geographic excels on Facebook by posting in real-time and inspiring audience engagement. An example of this was their “Safari Live” series, where users were able to post comments and ask questions.

 

LinkedIn Trends

LinkedIn of course has a more serious tone and focuses on B2B networking and marketing. Unfortunately, it has recently fallen victim to becoming a platform for sales pitches and spam. With that being said, it’s more important than ever to be mindful of what you post here. LinkedIn should be used for building relationships and sharing purposeful content about business topics, technology, innovations, product launches, and breakthroughs. 

Tips: 

  • Ads can target by job title, industry, degree, company, and much more which allows for precision marketing. 
  • Successful brands are balancing between creating awareness and exposure with their posts while cultivating relationships on private channels.

Trends: 

  • Career Stories and Employee Profiles .
  • LinkedIn Publishing –  enhance your profile by taking advantage of the publishing feature to showcase articles/content.
  • LinkedIn Groups –  Create and join industry-relevant groups to grow your brand voice. 
  • Stories are performing on every platform. While new to LinkedIn, they will continue to gain momentum. 

 

YouTube Trends

YouTube while originally created for independent content creators, has in recent years moved toward more traditional content models. The platform still holds the #2 spot as the most visited website behind Google and an incredible amount of content around the world is being consumed on YouTube every day. Videos consist of everything from home improvement how-tos to beauty tutorials, maintenance and repair videos, gardening, self-care and health, and fitness. There is a place for everyone on YouTube.  

 

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