/The Problem with Self-Serving Social Media in Healthcare

The Problem with Self-Serving Social Media in Healthcare


Person holding an iPhone and looking at a bunch of social media appsPerson holding an iPhone and looking at a bunch of social media apps

So many social media apps, so little time.

Social media is a hot topic for healthcare marketers, though navigating the various channels isn’t always easy. Most people have experience sharing on social media, so it may seem that posting for your healthcare organization would be simple enough.

However, this leads a lot of companies to have self-serving social media feeds that don’t necessarily pique the interest of would-be followers. And while followers don’t typically translate into patients (more on this later)—a solid social media presence can build your brand in a positive way.

How lots of healthcare organizations use social media

No two healthcare social media feeds are the same. However, we see a lot of these patterns with organizations, especially those that use their business profiles only casually:

  • Updates to regular or holiday hours
  • Updates on services offered
  • Photos of the staff having fun
  • Promotions, such as free screenings
  • Featured Healthcare services or technologies
  • Birthday shout-outs for the staff

Yes, it’s important for prospective patients, for your audience to know when your hours are and to hear about your upcoming promotions and service offerings. And yes, it’s great to highlight your company culture. (This is especially true on Instagram, which is a great tool to use for recruiting purposes.)

But will these things lead people to follow your Facebook page? Probably not the followers you’d hope for.

Rather, these kinds of strategies speak to current and former staff members, their friends and family members, and maybe a few very loyal patients. These are all people who are excited to see what’s going on with the business—but prospective patients won’t be so enthused.

So what belongs on social media?

By no means are we saying you shouldn’t share important updates about your business with your followers on social media—especially since much of your existing base would want to know about a change in your practice’s hours.

However, it’s more important for healthcare organizations to share content that actually helps patients and prospective patients get the information they need to ensure their health.

Show your community that you’re here for them. As a healthcare professional, you have the opportunity to help stop the spread of disinformation with accurate, informative, and timely health information. 

Think about what topics could help your patients avoid health emergencies, take care of themselves after a procedure, or choose the right treatment. For example:

  • A statistic about how many people suffer from depression, convincing prospective mental health patients they are not alone.
  • A video interview with a doctor explaining the importance of the flu shot.
  • A link to an article (from your website or another reputable site) about how to spot signs of skin cancer.

Thoughtful, relevant, and engaging content shows people that you’re always thinking about their health, whether or not they become patients. Remember, videos and images are typically far more engaging than simple text posts.

Are followers really important to your social strategy?

Posting on social media is an excellent way to build your brand and potentially gain a few followers. But will it get you patients? Probably not.

LEARN MORE: The Biggest Misconception about Social Media in Healthcare

More and more patients are searching for healthcare providers online. But they do not typically search on social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

There’s still a chance, however, that a prospective patient will come across your Facebook while searching for your brand. And posting helpful social media content can only serve to prove your commitment to helping patients.

That said, there is a way to win more patients with social media, especially on Facebook and Instagram—paid social media advertising.

How to attract patients from Facebook and Instagram

When we talk about social media marketing, we typically separate it into two categories: organic and paid. Organic social media is simply posting organically. But paid social media ads give you the opportunity to win patients.

Most Facebook business users know about “boosted posts”—paying to have a regular post stand out on people’s feeds. But Facebook ads go far beyond this. You can target precisely the right audience at the right time with a relevant CTA. You can even retarget previous visitors to your website to increase their chances of converting.

The bottom line is that posting on your social media profiles can help build your brand. But it’s unlikely to win you patients. If you have a limited amount of time or budget for social media, think about what’s most important to your company. Typically, someone in the office is happy to handle organic posts, but it pays to have an expert curate your Facebook ads, constantly readjusting them to get the best bang for your buck.

For more information about organic social media and paid social media strategies, see Cash-Pay Healthcare: How to Start, Grow, & Perfect Your Business by Stewart Gandolf, CEO of Healthcare Success, and Mark J. Tager, MD.

And to get started on a social media strategy that really wins you patients, call the digital marketing experts at Healthcare Success.

Peter Do

Marketing Strategist at Healthcare Success

Having worked in related business fields for over a decade, Peter brings a strong online marketing background to Healthcare Success. A lifelong resident of Southern California, his responsibilities for the company include marketing strategy, business development and establishing new client relationships. Peter studied Environmental Law and Public Policy at the University of California, Berkeley, before returning to Orange County.

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