With #MayoInOz in full swing in Brisbane this week it got me thinking about what I have personally learnt about healthcare social media marketing for the past 9 years and here they are!
1. Industry in Transition
Whether it is hospitals, health care providers or public health organisations and publishers each area is now in transition due to digital disruption. A few years ago I was engaged by the Medical Journal of Australia to run a training course on social media. They were taking the leap into the space as they knew their audience was transitioning into that space. Change is not easy especially in the early days but now social media is over 10 years old it’s not a fad and it’s not going away.
2. Power of a Celebrity
When I was working at the Cancer Council NSW the Angelina Jolie breast cancer story broke. It came across my twitter feed and the story was from the New York Times. While on the surface it looked like a ‘celebrity’ story I knew our audience would find it not only compelling but personally interesting. We moved quickly to tell the story (before the SMH and others) on our social media platforms and calls to our Helpline regarding genetic testing went through the roof. Don’t be afraid to engage and highlight celebrity or ambassador stories to tell your story or help impart valuable information.
3. Power of Emotion in Storytelling
Creating engaging content that tells the facts but also engages is critical. Research shows that information that gets shared online typically engages due to emotion so don’t be afraid to produce that style of content.
4. Strategy before Tactics
I teach pr and social media at UTS part time and really love it but what I often see is students jumping to tactics before strategy. This often happens in the real world with clients wanting the ‘sexy’ tactic before looking at the overall strategy and objectives. The takeaway – slow down, take a break – strategise do your research and then embark. If you are new to the social media world congratulations there are now great case studies from the past 10 years you don’t need to make the mistakes that others before you did!
5. Knowledge In-House vs Outsourcing
After working for a range of health organisations including pharmaceuticas and public health organisations I do believe the best model is a hybrid model of strategy development, training and mentoring people in-house. It is important to build up your in-house capabilities so you truly become a a ‘social’ organisation. For example, when I was engaged by The Australian Prevention and Partnership Centre (part of the Sax Institute) I worked with them closely on their strategy – we did so in partnership with some mentoring along the way. I believe this model is very appropriate for most organisations.
6. Regulatory Environment
The nature of working in healthcare means we are in a pretty serious business. If you work in the pharmaceutical/medical space there are certainly regulatory frameworks to abide by so it is important to understand these and apply these to your social media marketing.
7. Finding your Tribe
Often organisations spend so much time creating content that they don’t spend time finding their tribe online and engaging with them. Recently I have been working with ACON and I am impressed on how closely they interact with their audience and understand how to reach them. Make time to find your tribe and engage regularly.
8..Beware the Infographic
Don’t get me wrong I love infographics they really do help to distill complex information into an engaging visual format BUT as a healthcare organisation you need to carefully ensure they represent the facts. I have seen infographics that look great but the facts are not clearly represented or have been changed to look better on the page but confuse the audience. As mentioned, we are in a serious business and any fact checking for this area is critical.
9. Monitoring and Moderation
Let’s face it working in healthcare is not like working for a FMCG brand such as Pringles, serious conversations happen online and need to be monitored and moderated. Organisations need to invest in monitoring tools but also the human investment of moderation across the week. Social media doesn’t sleep so ensure you view it as a seven day a week venture and resource it accordingly. This may mean outsourcing moderation or getting a suitable roster for your team.
Working in healthcare social media marketing is extremely satisfying. Putting in the groundwork early on, or revisiting your strategy to see how you can improve it is vital to ensure you tell your story, get your health information across and engage your audience.