Healthcare and Social Media – Why Healthcare Needs to Embrace Being Social

PR in healthcare, particularly the use of social media in PR can sit uncomfortably with a lot of people in the industry. This may be a reason as to why typically the healthcare industry is up to two years behind its industry counterparts in embracing social media and new marketing  techniques.

The greatest risk for a healthcare company in terms of social media is not the legal complications and regulations but rather the inability to get a clear view of how people perceive you and your brand by being socially invisible. Social media is a widely embraced medium used by companies to interact with and gain valuable customer insight that traditional marketing doesn’t offer.
Here are our top reasons as to why the healthcare industry needs to embrace social media:

Social media isn’t just Twitter and Facebook……………..

There’s a wealth of social media channels that can be used to convey the correct messaging to the correct people. When using social media in an industry that is as heavily regulated as healthcare, being careful to have the correct channels and correct messaging is very important. A healthcare professional may use social media both in their professional and in their private lives. Using tools such as viral games, YouTube, Pinterest, Infographics and blogs can be just as effective in reaching the right people in a professional environment as much as a personal one.

They are going to talk about you anyway……………

You have no control over conversations already taking place on social media about your company, brand or product, but the embracing of social media gives you an insight into the reception of new products, campaigns and your company in general. Having social media allows you to steer the conversation, clarify incorrect information, and gives you a chance to deliver impact and insight from your company’s perspective.
It allows you to see whether or not those thousands of pounds you pay for creative marketing are paying off and your brand really is as strong as you think it is.

This is 2013……….

2013 is the year where a large proportion of consumers read their news and marketing bumph via their social media streams that they can access from their mobile.  Whilst you are relying on your press releases and traditional forms of marketing, your patients and customers can read about you, tweet about you and share information about you all from their handhelds.
Even if your PR team is as good as they say they are, without social media, you are always behind real time when dealing with questions, concerns or, even a crisis. In 2013, if you aren’t up to date with the social media channels and able to effectively use it to communicate with your audience you run the risk of a competitor doing it before you and doing it better!

Silence isn’t golden………………

With so many of your consumers online it’s hard to deal with complaints and issues with your products without being in the social sphere. Being socially silent you are essentially ignoring your customers when they are voicing their concerns, opinions, as well as praise of your company.  It jeopardises your customer perception as it shows you as being unavailable to comment when there are issues arising and you miss good opportunities to share positive customer feedback to a wider audience.

It’s a big scary world in the social media universe, but it’s important to develop your relationships with your customers and key stakeholders in a way that they find accessible and can engage with. In an integrated marketing approach, in any industry, social media has to be a part of your public relations activities, and healthcare more than any other needs to embrace being social.

Holly Waite

A new recruit to Purple, Holly has joined our healthcare team this year to help manage and grow our pharma accounts. Holly has experience both in house and agency side in delivering high profile PR and marketing campaigns across the sports and leisure, third sector, consumer and healthcare industries. When not in the world of communications, Holly a keen sports fan, can usually be found court side at a local basketball game, in a kickboxing ring, or watching her favourite football team compete for the title!