The social media landscape is changing, and fast. Here’s what medical marketers need to know to keep up in the coming year.
In many ways, 2018 has been a challenging year for marketers and advertisers who use social media to reach new audiences. With the arrival of GDPR regulations and increasing distrust in social media platforms like Facebook, it’s more difficult than ever for healthcare providers to forge relationships with potential patients online.
But with challenges come opportunities, and the coming year promises to offer medical marketers new and innovative ways to create new patient relationships and solidify established ones. With major changes on the horizon for social media marketing, here’s what healthcare marketers need to know to stay a step ahead.
1. Messaging is on the rise.
The 2018 Internet Trends Report from Mary Meeker found that the top five messaging applications — WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, WeChat, Instagram, and Twitter — total a whopping 5 billion monthly users. Facebook messenger alone can boast 1.3 billion monthly users, making the messaging platform officially too big to ignore.
Healthcare providers that are reachable via messaging platforms will have a huge leg up over the competition in 2019. Your healthcare practice may want to consider investing in a chatbot that will allow patients to make an appointment via Messenger; more than ever before, patients expect retail-level customer service from their doctor’s offices, and chatbots are a page right from retail’s book.
2. Social ads aren’t going anywhere, but they’re changing.
Meeker’s report found that click-through rates for Facebook ads are up 61 percent from 2017, but at the same time, their cost per thousand impressions has increased 112 percent. That means that, despite improving ad performance, ROI for marketers is on the decline.
While social media marketing is as relevant as ever, it’s becoming increasingly expensive to play the paid ad game. For that reason, expect that in 2019, savvy marketers will combine paid social ads with creative, timely organic social media efforts to keep costs low while reaching a wide audience.
3. Patients have higher standards for digital experiences.
Many retail and media companies are old pros at creating compelling digital content — whether it’s user-friendly apps or gorgeous digital stories – but healthcare providers tend to lag behind on this front. In the new year, medical practices need to seamlessly blend digital and physical patient experiences to keep up with growing expectations.
The rise of telehealth and digital patient portals have foretold this trend for a while now – healthcare providers are increasingly realizing that an optimized digital UX is almost as important to the patient experience as great bedside manner or top-of-the-line care.
4. Facebook is officially dominated by the Boomers.
As of this year, Facebook users aged 55 and up are officially the largest group on the platform, up 24% from 2017. For medical marketers looking to reach an older demographic, Facebook is a more powerful tool than ever before. But for medical marketers who wish to reach a younger group of patients, it may be a good idea to lose elsewhere.
While Facebook accumulated many older users in the last year, its number of users aged 18 to 24 actually fell slightly. That decline can likely be attributed at least in part to the rising distrust in the platform in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal. However, with that being said, Facebook remains the number-one social media platform in the world.
5. Instagram is a powerful tool for reaching a younger demographic.
Instagram, the photo-sharing app that’s owned by Facebook, surpassed 1 billion users this year — and the vast majority of its user base is under the age of 30. Medical marketers who wish to reach a younger patient demographic would be wise to begin their efforts on Instagram, which allows paid ads, feed-based content, and 24-hour stories.
Many healthcare practices already use Instagram to share patient stories, show appreciation for their staff, and offer quick health tips. If yours isn’t one of them, now is a good time to begin building your follower base and sharing compelling content on the quickly-growing social media platform.
6. The stories format is blowing up.
Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, and WhatsApp all allow sharing via “stories,” and LinkedIn is even testing the feature. According to the consulting firm Block Party, stories are growing 15 percent faster than feed-based content; Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg credits that growth to the fact that “Stories is a better format for sharing multiple quick video clips throughout your day.
Stories do tend to feel more on-the-fly and organic than feed-based content, which makes them more fun and allows a bit more room for experimentation. Healthcare practices could use stories to give a face and personality to their doctors and nurses, share exciting patient moments (with permission!), or provide updates on exciting events. For example, when Northwestern’s Lake Forest Hospital moved, it provided fun, hourly updates to share the big day.