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Feature HealtHcare marketing


and unbiased platforms for sharing feedback. With this in mind, it’s no wonder that many of the world’s leading healthcare providers are learning to use social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and blogs. 2010 saw a dramatic increase in the


number of healthcare organisations who started to integrate social media into their marketing plans. The adoption of social media continues to grow in 2011 with no signs of slowing. With over 75% of US households using social media, a business needs to be where their consumers are spending the most time. While one size does not fit all when it comes to social media, the core benefits are a common thread between all companies regardless of size or marketing budgets. The benefits of social media include:  Generate exposure for your business  Increased traffic to website  Gain qualified leads  Build awareness and loyalty of your brand  Reduce overall marketing expense  Increase search engine rankings  Establish yourself as a leader in your industry  Networking  Improve customer service Crisis communication


Integrating social media into health


communications and activities helps leverage social dynamics to encourage participation, conversation and community – all essential ingredients of a successful brand experience. These can help spread the key messages of your brand, thereby influencing health decision-making. Social media also helps to reach people


when, where and how they want to receive your messages. It improves the availability of content and may influence satisfaction and trust in the messages delivered. Likewise, utilising multiple social platforms and presenting information in multiple formats makes messages appear more credible and effective. The 2009 Edelman Trust Barometer found that 60% of informed publics aged 25 to 64 years need to see a message three to five times before they believe the information to be true.


WHy is social media important in HealtHcare? Discussions around personal health and healthcare are no longer private issues. Today, everyone is taking keen interest in their health; preferring to share health related information with their peers. With governments across the world re-looking at their healthcare systems and taking measures in a bid to extend


Hospital Build Issue 3 2011 27


healthcare benefits to as many citizens as possible, public health and associated policy remains a key topic of discussion. At the same time, the internet has emerged as the main medium to enable such information sharing, with social media taking the lead. A recently concluded consumer survey


in the US says that 60 million Americans exchanged their medical experiences online with each other last year. Almost 72% of patients searched for online information before or after a doctor visit and just over 890 hospitals in the US used social media to engage with their patients. (Source: ebennett.org) Other key healthcare trends for 2010


include: 73% of US consumers consider being physically fit important to being ‘well’, with 74% including ‘feeling good about themselves’. An estimated 500 million people worldwide are expected to be using mobile healthcare applications by 2015. There were nearly 17,000 health apps available in major app stores in November 2010, with 57% of them being aimed at consumers rather than healthcare professionals. (Source: The Hartman Group, August 2010 and Research2Guidance, November 2010)


tHink strategy A social media strategy should be part of a larger communication effort. As with all media outreach, the key to success is to identify the target audiences, determine the objectives, understand the most effective channels and decide on the amount of resources that can be invested. Having clear communication objectives will help build your strategy. Organisations need to start thinking about


the answer to two fundamental questions: How do we educate ourselves about the 


‘social media requires a full-time position to manage the channels, content and distribution


IN SHORT


■ The trend for healthcare companies or facilities to use social media to interact with the customers in growing fast


■ Social media can help a company to gain qualified leads, build brand awareness, network, improve customer service, reduce overall marketing expense and increase traffic to the website


■ It’s essential to establish a proper social media strategy before embarking on a campaign as it requires long-term commitment


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