Medico Digital Insights

How to develop a patient-centric social media marketing campaign

Social media

Read time

5 min


18th June 2019


Written by Ollie Capel

Our Director Ollie recently spoke at the 2019 Private Healthcare Summit in London on how to develop a patient-centric social media marketing campaign. Below he shares some of the insights from his presentation.

Patient behaviour is changing, and it’s changing in line with how habits are evolving in the wider consumer world. According to recent research, a third of the world’s population is expected to be active on social media by the year 2021. In the UK, we spend an average of 2.2 hours every day on social media networks, and this is having a trickle-down effect on the mindset of patients.

Many patients fully acknowledge the influence of social media – some 40 per cent of people quizzed said that social media affects the way they deal with their health. Furthermore, a survey found that 90 per cent of 18 to 24 year-olds trust the medical information which they see on social media.

These developments can be seen as part of how the wider online customer experience is changing. We now have an unprecedented number of ways to create personalised experiences via the net, and this is all feeding into the way marketing campaigns are developed and implemented. Products can be recommended to individuals based on buying habits, food apps can advise you on which restaurant’s dishes contain ingredients you may be allergic to, and almost every type of media that is served up to you, whether its news, music or tv, is personalised to your personal preferences and previous viewing habits.

Is social media marketing in healthcare effective?

This kind of marketing is working; in some cases spectacularly. Figures published by Amazon showed that a remarkable 35 per cent of purchases on the online shopping portal were generated directly from their personalised recommendation engine. In healthcare, this can teach us a lot. And so we come onto the question of “what is patient centricity?” Simply put, it is the process of designing a service or solution around the patient. To expand, being patient-centric means trying to find value points in a process – whether it’s writing a protocol or designing a marketing campaign – you get patient insights, inputs, and connections.

Where to start with healthcare marketing through social media

Before you can get going on the patient-centric pathway, you need to know where to find your patients. While 77 per cent of UK internet users had a social media account as of 2018, it helps to know which networks attract which demographics. For example, while Facebook is still the most popular network, it has been found that the number of 18 to 24-year-old users declined recently, while the number of over-54s actually increased.

Listen, define, deliver

One way of assessing what your patients want as you create your campaign is to employ social listening techniques. These are ways of tracking which health-related questions and concerns are most prevalent on social media networks. It will also help to define your patient personas. Which kind of social media users will you be targeting? You can specify a few pieces of information – from their demographics to their age and their hobbies. The further you drill down, the stronger the foundation you will have for creating targeted campaigns.

Once you have done the groundwork, you’ll be in a better position to construct the content of your campaigns. Seek to craft advertising messages which are tailored to the particular demographics which you have pinpointed in your patient personas, and then direct them through the right social media channels. This is where you will be able to bring the details of each person into play.

For example, a mother of three may need a new knee just as much as an avid jogger about to enter his golden years, but the imaging and messaging for each are quite different. One will care about getting back to her kids and not missing the moments they can share, and one will care more about how quickly they can return to the beach for their morning walks. Therefore, you can replace the messaging and image slightly to reflect the target audience – “You can’t replace the moments you miss,” vs “Get back to doing what you love.”

Hitting the target

Once you have your campaign content, there are several ways of directing it through paid advertising channels – including; custom audiences, based on existing email lists; lookalike audiences, based on your patient personas; website custom audiences, based on social media users who have visited your website; and Facebook exchange, which involves retargeting ads based on specific page visits. The second, but to a larger degree, the third and fourth methods, are the more personalised options here, allowing you to leverage patients’ previous onsite activity and behaviour to present them with more meaningful content.

You can also use sequential messaging, which ensures that ads are not repeated too much by varying the content which website visitors will see in their social media feeds after visiting your site. This can help to fight ad fatigue, nurture prospects and blend in better with organic content.

Ask for feedback

Finally, you shouldn’t be afraid of asking for feedback on your service, as this can be a great help in tweaking your future campaigns. It has been found that 90 per cent of consumers read online reviews before transacting with a business. Consumers aren’t shy to voice their opinions, and you can use this to your campaign’s advantage.

By following the cues of the wider consumer sphere, we can improve social media marketing with patient-centricity.

You can view the slides from my presentation below:

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