Healthcare digital marketing is now clearly under the spotlight! A large number of people share and search for health-related information on Web-based social media. This activity has been increasing over the past 10 years and yet to date we have known little about who is posting and what information they are sharing.
Recently a study based in the United States was published in J Med Internet Res 2015;17(4):e106 and these were their findings:
Objective: The aims of this study were to analyse the content of Web-based health-related social media based on users’ demographics to identify which health topics are discussed in which social media by which demographic groups and to help guide educational and research activities.
Methods: They analysed 3 different types of health-related social media: (1) general Web-based social networks Twitter and Google+; (2) drug review websites; and (3) health Web forums, with a total of about 6 million users and 20 million posts. They analysed the content of these posts based on the demographic group of their authors, in terms of sentiment and emotion, top distinctive terms, and top medical concepts.
- Pregnancy is the dominant topic for female users in drug review websites and health Web forums,
- For male users, it is cardiac problems, HIV, and back pain,
- On Twitter; younger users (0-17 years) mainly talk about attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and depression-related drugs, users aged 35-44 years discuss about multiple sclerosis (MS) drugs, and middle-aged users (45-64 years) talk about alcohol and smoking; users from the Northeast United States talk about physical disorders, whereas users from the West United States talk about mental disorders and addictive behaviors; Users with higher writing level express less anger in their posts.
In summary different subjects or topics dominated different online channels and certain demographics predisposed users to discussing certain topics. The above information is highly useful for healthcare marketing to ensure the right channel is selected. The study also shows the topics that have high ‘talkability’ online and therefore content marketing to these audiences would be valuable.
So what are the first steps if you were to target these specific audiences with health information? Listening! while we know these are dominant topics it will now be important to conduct a listening audit to see what the sub topics are. For example we know that pregnancy is a key topic on forums but what are the dominant themes? are they pre-pregnancy care or pregnancy diet and exercise? Understanding the breakdown of these areas is vital to understanding your consumer groups.
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