How the Changing Social Media Landscape Will Affect Medical Marketers in 2019

social media landscape

Understanding the latest social media trends and capabilities can help healthcare marketers use their advertising budgets wisely in 2019.

Social media marketing is an ever-changing field, with so many new features and user trends that healthcare marketers may feel they are always playing catch-up. But one thing has remained the same: social media marketing remains a crucial investment, able to drive traffic, attract followers, and share brand messages. Social media as a whole continues to demand attention — and funding — from healthcare marketers.

Medical marketers across the board are keeping up with the times. Some 68% of marketers plan to spend more on social media ads in 2019, while three-fourths will direct some of that investment toward Instagram. For healthcare marketers looking to shape their 2019 social media budget, here’s how the changing landscape of social media may influence spending decisions.

Despite Scandals, Facebook Still Matters

Though Facebook has been through a few rough patches recently, it remains a vital channel for attracting new audiences. That being said, we understand why advertisers may be wary; 2018 brought about the Cambridge Analytica scandal and a hack encompassing 30 million accounts. These events convinced 42% of users to take a break from Facebook for up to a few weeks, while some 26% deleted the app from their phone. Many users were clearly fed up with the platform — but that shouldn’t scare off marketers. The platform still has some 1.52 billion daily users worldwide, while user numbers and revenue continued to grow in the fourth quarter of 2018.

The platform remains an important component of any social strategy. In the context of these scandals, however, it’s more important than ever that medical marketers position their brand as honest, transparent, and open to patient feedback — not just on Facebook, but across channels.

At a time when consumers might be leery of big companies, you can deliberately give patients the impression that your brand is human, trustworthy, and careful about patient privacy. In some cases, that might mean partnering with healthcare influencers, who appeal to patients because of their sense of authenticity. Indeed, the influencer trend is far from over — it continued to spread in 2018.

The Power of Photo and Video

Video content remains as relevant as ever for telling brand stories. These days, video is cheaper, easier, and more widespread, and a report from HubSpot research reveals that 54% of consumers want to see video content from brands over any other form of marketing. Predictions suggest that by 2021, mobile video could make up some 78% of mobile data traffic. The opportunity is there for healthcare marketers looking to expand their capabilities, especially as digital video ad spending in healthcare, at just 29% of all digital ad spending, lags behind the 32% spent by other industries.

The focus on video emphasizes the importance of visual storytelling, and no channel does that better than Instagram. Instagram has quickly become one of the world’s most popular social media sites, and passed the one-billion-users milestone in June 2018. Instagram capabilities have grown from just sharing photos to sharing “Stories,” typically consisting of in-the-moment photos or videos. The related, standalone app, IGTV, hasn’t yet been as popular, but new Instagram integration features could soon bring these videos in front of more viewers.

Why Medical Marketers Should Be Listening

At this point, many healthcare marketers have established accounts on Twitter, a popular platform for 69 million users in the U.S., with nearly half of those on the site daily. It isn’t necessarily easy to use this fast-moving site to its full potential, but there are advantages to trying.

For those looking to take their Twitter engagement further in 2019, it’s time to try “social listening.” Social listening essentially means that marketing teams deliberately search for what patients are saying about brands and industries for immediate insights into what patients are really thinking and feeling. Making an effort to search for relevant remarks is especially powerful on Twitter, a platform where the conversation never stops.

Paying attention to that conversation also provides a way for brands to address negative feedback before it spirals into something larger. The democratic nature of Twitter allows patients to publicly state complaints — but it also allows social media managers to respond quickly and prove that the company is responsive and responsible. Or, you can answer questions and concerns related to your offerings by proposing your services as the right solution. In this day and age, that isn’t typically seen as an overreach — that’s good listening.

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