Digital Marketing Effects on Patient Acquisition & Retention
The patient can see you now.
The importance of social media in healthcare marketing
Fifty years ago, when you chose a doctor for care, perhaps he was a family friend, or your neighbor told you about them and sang their praise. Or, they may have been the only physician in town, and they were your only choice for care.
You called their office and asked if they were accepting new patients. They always were, and so you made an appointment for you and your family.
The day of the appointment arrived. You all waited in the waiting room for your last name to be called. After what seemed like forever, the receptionist would finally call out your name and say, “the doctor can see you, now.”
Today, the patient care model is vastly different.
As consumers become more tech-savvy, the more they realize they’re in control of when they’ll see the doctor. From their smartphone, tablet or laptop, today’s healthcare consumers are in the driver’s seat, as they scroll not only through their options of specialists and physicians they want to see but also when and where they want to see them.
That’s why today, communication between healthcare professionals and patients is at its most crucial and pivotal point. The patient is in control, and they’re making their choices by what they’re seeing and hearing, online. So it’s important to be seen.
Direct-to-patient marketing is more important than ever as healthcare systems, hospitals, ambulatory care sites and physicians’ offices seek new patient acquisition strategies and patient retention strategies.
Social media and healthcare have joined together to connect with and educate the patient. Today, healthcare social media marketing is the most effective way to reach out to patients because it is now among the most common pathways where people—mostly young adults—get their information.
So as patients are in control of their healthcare and, proverbially, the doctor is now in the waiting room waiting to see them, the healthcare industry must actively and effectively use social media to stand out to become the “chosen one.”
Choosing an effective and continual social media campaign can not only attract new patients to you, it can also increase the retention rate of your current patients. It’s all about creating the authentic persona of your environment, services and people online.
Here, we share a few best practices and some pros and cons of social media in healthcare marketing.
Best practices for social media in healthcare
1. Have a plan.
Don’t be reactionary when it comes to social media posts. Have a plan. Sit down with your marketing team every three months, and outline an entire quarter of content across all of your channels. Are there any national healthcare celebrations coming up? Doctor’s Day? Nurse’s Week? What specials, offers or discounts would you like to promote? Consider the season. If it’s flu season, offer best tips and practices on how to avoid the flu. If it’s summer, offer advice on avoiding bug bites or how to treat poison ivy.
2. Say it right and fast.
In today’s world, you have less than five seconds to connect with the user before they lose interest and move on. So, your message mustn’t sound too corporate. It’s important to speak to the user, almost like you’re having a conversation with them. Keep it simple. Make what you’re saying impactful. Here’s an example: Instead of saying, “Our office does lung cancer screenings, and we were voted the number one place to get one in our city,” say, “This year, an estimated 228,820 adults in the United States will be diagnosed with lung cancer. We don’t want you to become another statistic. Call us today for an appointment.”
3. Engage people, not audiences.
Take a look at your organization. It’s not just one person, it’s many people representing many different disciplines of care. So be sure to use social media for marketing all of those disciplines. Don’t just focus on one message and expect it to reach and resonate with everyone. Not all patients are dealing with the same issues, illnesses or diseases, so break down your approach to speak to each type of patient by engaging and educating them through your many layers of care.
4. Share your story.
The best way to engage social media users is to share a conversational story. Think of it this way: social media is not just one message; it’s a story shared over time. Consider Netflix and the many series they show. You keep watching week-to-week because you want to know what happens next. Share your story in the same way. Engage them.
5. Make it easy.
As you post, ensure that you can be contacted easily should the user want to learn more. Share a link to your “contact us” page or a list of your providers. Make it easy to be found.
6. Mind your manners.
Just because you can post it doesn’t always mean you should. Use this as your barometer: if it’s not a topic you should be discussing in your lunchroom or cafeteria, then it’s not a topic you should be discussing online. Keep it professional.
Pros and cons of social media in healthcare:
Your patients are online, so you should be, too.
Social media makes you more approachable and real. You can remove the disconnect and lack of awareness using social media.
Educate, educate, educate.
Sharing your mission, vision and values help to create and build your true character.
Don’t share patient information without their written consent – this is a HIPPA violation, and that is a big, big no-no.
There may be negative responses and comments. Brace yourself for some backlash from time to time, and be prepared to react to it professionally and in a way that makes you look proactive and empathetic. Don’t fight fire with fire. Nothing good comes from that approach.
Want to learn more?
If you’d like to learn more about best practices for social media in healthcare marketing, Blue Laser can help you through a strategy that is unique and specific to your organization. Through social media, we can help you with patient retention strategies, as all as gaining attention from new and prospective patients. We can walk you through social media trends, as well, and how to best leverage and approach them for your business’ marketing efforts.
Contact us today. We are happy to help!