2016 Is the Year Paid Facebook Ads Work for Your Hospital’s Digital Marketing Strategy

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For hospitals trying to market themselves online, social media is more than just a rising trend — it’s become a baseline requirement for healthcare marketers everywhere. Here’s why you should add paid Facebook ads into your current digital marketing strategy.

Social media has rapidly become one of the key pillars for digital marketing success worldwide. If it’s any indication, 97% of marketers across all industries use social channels to promote their brands — 94% of that portion use Facebook to do so, according to Adweek.

Moreover, recent research conducted by the Content Marketing Institute indicates that 76% of all marketers use paid social media advertising to extend the reach of their campaigns. Their preferred platform? Facebook.

While some healthcare marketers lament paid ads as just another marketing cost, the reality is that social ad spends are often more cost-effective than traditional channels. And Facebook isn’t just an excellent place to reach a targeted, community-oriented audience — it will dramatically improve the ROI of your overall marketing efforts.

Find Your Audience

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Today, Facebook is at the top of the social media totem pole with more than 1.55 billion active monthly users, 1.39 billion of which are accessing it via mobile, according to Zephoria. It’s the place where you’re most likely to reach consumers of every demographic — many other social platforms are either too tech-savvy for anyone but millennials, or are too niche for anyone other than professionals, like LinkedIn. It’s also the most popular social network for hospitals nationwide with an online presence, according to WHPRMS.

Paid is the campaign of choice because, frankly, organic Facebook content doesn’t perform very well. As Social Media Week notes, Facebook’s algorithms weed out all but the most relevant content to individual users, and unfortunately for hospitals, most users don’t want to see a stream of healthcare-related posts on their newsfeeds. Indeed, Forbes predicts that organic visibility will continue to decline in 2016.

So why are so many marketers choosing paid Facebook ads? The simple answer is that they work. According to joint research from ComScore and Facebook (via ClickZ), paid ads reach a 5.3 times larger audience than organic content, and that audience is much more likely to include coveted “light users” who would otherwise be unreachable.

The real reason the ads are so effectual is that Facebook’s targeting features/options are nothing short of astounding. Marketers can target users by gender, income, demographic — you can even “listen in” on conversations to identify campaign-specific keywords and phrases.

For healthcare marketers, getting your hospital’s name and message in front of marginal users is key to boosting your visibility and driving consumer traffic to your website, and ultimately, through the doors of your facility.

Making Sure Your Message is Heard

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The best way to create paid social strategy is to start with your goals and work backwards from there. Do you primarily want Facebook “likes” (general brand outreach), positive engagement and sharing (earned media), or more traffic to your website? Then select the metrics that will best measure your campaign’s success.

Fortunately, Facebook recommends specific ad types and formats that are best suited to your selected goals: domain ads, page post links, or carousel ads. Then it offers the option to boost particular posts, pictures, and video content. Most simply, you can “promote” your hospital’s Facebook page — which automatically recommends it to relevant users — and then move forward from there.

It’s worth noting that posts with visual content receive nearly 130% more engagement than those without images, and last year, average video views on Facebook reached more than eight billion per day, according to HubSpot.

As such, hospitals should be generating content in accordance with what users have come to expect and prefer — for example, this might mean building visually engaging, interactive pages for various service lines or creating high-quality video content for things like Hospital events and lectures, patient treatment options, advice on post-op care, etc. In addition to giving a solid boost to your overall traffic and lead generation efforts, it will bolster the positive perception of your Hospital’s brand, which will be key when it comes to converting your new leads into patients.

Moreover, Facebook ads tend to be most effective when they give people a clear directive via Facebook’s native call-to-action buttons — Facebook just added Call Now (which connects mobile users to you), joining Learn More, Shop Now, Sign Up, etc. These buttons improve overall click-through rates by a whopping 185%, according to AdRoll.

This will always be a process of careful planning, reflection, and refinement. The more community familiarity you build and the more Facebook users you engage, the better sense you will have of which techniques work — and the ranking of your hospital’s page and posts will improve accordingly.

 (Image credit: SimonQ/flickr, Keri J/flickr; Joe the Goat Farmer/flickr)

Hospital Marketing, Digital Marketing, Healthcare Marketing