Healthcare social media marketing has evolved significantly over the past decade. In fact, a 2013 survey found that social media was blocked for 59% of professionals working in hospitals. Since then, healthcare organizations have increasingly used social media to engage with their communities, recruit employees, and increase patient satisfaction.
According to a WEGO health behavioral study, 91% of participants said online communities play a role in their health decisions. And when it comes to healthcare, the same study found that 87% of study participants say they share health information via Facebook posts, and 81% of study participants say they share health information via Facebook Messenger. Needless to say, social media marketing for healthcare presents a unique opportunity to connect with patients, physicians, and the wider community.
Our New Healthcare Social Media Research
Given the importance of social media in healthcare, the team at Convince & Convert wanted to identify common trends across social media marketing from the top U.S. hospitals. We are releasing our findings in our latest 20-page report, “Beyond the Newsfeeed: The Best Healthcare Social Media Marketing for 2020“.
For the second annual version of our report, Convince & Convert reviewed all Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest and YouTube public posts from January 1 – March 31, 2019, by 54 of the top U.S. hospitals, as determined by bed count and the 2018–19 Best Hospitals Honor Roll. We used Rival IQ for content aggregation and in-depth competitive analysis of all 54 hospitals’ social media efforts. We gathered insights into how hospitals use private messaging by directly interacting with hospital Facebook pages through Messenger.
We also ranked thee Top 20 Hospitals in Social Media based on a ranking score that includes Audience Size, Engagement, Engagement Rate Per Post and Total Posts. You can see the 2019 Top Hospitals in Social Media rankings in the full report.
Where Healthcare Social Media Marketing Is Headed
Gone are the days of social media managers posting the same or similar content across one, two, or three social media profiles and calling it a day.
Social media marketing in the present and future is returning to a one-on-one approach of engaging with audiences directly, be it in a private message or in response to a recommendation. Users are eschewing the spotlight in favor of smaller, niche communities where their presence is valued and they are not just a number.
The 4 Best Practices for Healthcare Social Media Marketing in 2020
Based on the report, here are the 4 best practices of healthcare social media marketing that will help you set your strategy in the right direction this upcoming year.
1. Diversify Your Channel Mix Beyond Facebook and Twitter
Our research found that hospitals post on Instagram less than once every two days, but publish to Twitter and Facebook at least twice per day on each channel. Based on posting frequency, Instagram and YouTube are as secondary channels, despite these audiences being more engaged.
In addition, thirty of the hospitals reviewed have Pinterest accounts — but only half of those pinned anything in the first three months of 2019. Northwestern Medicine and Norton Healthcare are the two hospitals actively using Pinterest to promote content from their websites.
2. Vary Your Content Mix to Optimize Audience Actions
More than half of the best-performing posts included photos of people. Twenty-seven of the best 50 posts clearly showed the faces of people or babies. The number of people in photos does not appear to impact engagement — 18 images had a single person, and 18 images had 2 or more people.
In addition, curated content links have higher engagement: 35% of links shared by hospitals are curated, meaning they are not from the hospital’s own domain. Posts with curated links earned an average of 0.033% engagement per post, while links originating from the hospital’s own domain generated half as much engagement, at 0.015%.
Successful Facebook content is made up of a lot of different types of content. A good content calendar for Facebook should include photos, videos, and links. A photo-only or a link-only approach doesn’t work nearly as well as a varied content mix.
3. Boost Top Performing Posts Organic Posts
While engagement is trending down across social media as a whole, brands are circumventing declining organic reach by spending money to ensure their content is getting seen. In fact, 5.5% of all hospital Facebook posts we analyzed are signaled as “likely-boosted”, according to Rival IQ. Of those likely-boosted Facebook posts, the engagement rate per post was 177% higher than the non-boosted posts.
We advise our social media consulting clients to boost well-performing organic posts within the first 24 hours after posting. This provides a strong boost to content that is already proven to perform well.
4. Connect with Niche Communities
While Facebook Brand Pages continue to be used by patients and hospitals, some hospitals are beginning to leverage Facebook Groups and Messenger to create deeper connections with audiences.
In fact, 30% of the top U.S. hospitals are making Groups part of their Facebook strategy. Twelve of the 54 hospitals (22%) are currently or have recently used Groups as part of their Facebook outreach. Four hospitals are in the pre-launch or initial-launch phase of deploying Groups.
Groups managed or moderated by hospital Facebook Pages are created for a variety of communities, including employees, graduates, general wellness and specific healthcare support (NICU families, transplant recipients, breastfeeding mothers etc.). More than one hospital told us specifically they do not manage Groups for patients due to HIPPA laws and patient privacy.
That is just a small portion of the best practices, stats and research from our 20-page report, “Beyond the Newsfeed”. I urge you to download the full report now. Questions? Feedback? Email us. We can’t wait to hear what you think about the research!