In some ways, orchestrating a sound social media strategy is like running the rapids with a kayak: you need to respond to small scale changes in direction with one eye on the big turns downstream. This is especially true for healthcare marketers, who must balance growing patient expectations against ethical obligations and privacy considerations.
That makes keeping up on social media trends a full time job. The disruption (and innovation) resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, for example, has accelerated some trends and hindered others. When the playing field changes so rapidly, scrutinizing the most prominent and important social media trends of 2021 can help set you up for strategic success in the years to come.
Focus on Authenticity
Like most people, modern patients want a social media experience. And they want that experience to feel authentic and organic. This means that your social media posts across all your platforms need to appear natural and on brand–as though the patient is getting to know you, your facility, and your physicians in person. This isn’t a new trend, admittedly, but it’s absolutely critical to generating a positive result.
Patient demand for authenticity means that inauthentic content can quickly demolish your social media strategy, leading to dwindling reach and stifled engagement.
Authentic content could include:
- Brief interviews with surgeons, doctors, and other team members.
- Health-related information that patients can use in their everyday lives (for example, how to reduce the chances of getting the flu or ways to improve sleeping habits).
- Authentic banter between team members (for example, perhaps the orthopedic team and Ambulatory Surgery Center have a friendly rivalry).
- Information on hobbies, interests, or pets (people love pets!) of the doctors, surgeons, or specialists that patients will be seeing.
The nice thing about authentic content is that it does not have to be polished or perfect. Take video with a smartphone or create off-the-cuff images to emphasize authenticity.
Publish More Video
Social media is an incredibly visual medium. Which means video is absolutely vital. In fact, if your social media doesn’t have video, you’re missing out on significant growth and engagement opportunities. A video post on social media will generate over 1200% more shares than text or images alone. If you want your social media platform to grow and expand, video is almost always the fastest way to accomplish that.
There are a couple of caveats here: First, the video doesn’t have to be splashy or professionally produced (though it sure is nice if you can see and hear everything). The second is that not every platform has the same video requirements.
- Twitter and Facebook are great places for longer form videos. A surgeon at her desk calmly explaining how knee replacement works or the testimonial video from a real patient is just fine for Twitter and Facebook.
- TikTok and Instagram stories (or even IGTV) require a different approach to video. Several brands have found massive success on TikTok using clever editing or promoting charismatic users and influencers. Patients will expect TikTok-style videos to be short and sweet.
When you’re already running a complex healthcare practice, finding the time to create video can be challenging–but it’s one of the single fastest ways to improve engagement.
Create Content with Value
Back in 2019, most brands (healthcare brands included) were motivated by a “more is more” approach to social media. Patients seemed so hungry for content that any content seemed good enough. In part because of COVID-19 and their unique proximity to the pandemic, healthcare brands are taking a more thoughtful approach these days.
That’s because patients have so much information on their feeds that they’re trying to cut out the chaff. Offering high quality content–even if it’s published less often–can help you stand out from your competitors. What’s more, high quality content can build trust and confidence, and that’s especially important in the healthcare vertical.
In the current social media platforms, it’s better to take your time and create high quality content that patients really want.
Most social media platforms, from YouTube to Instagram to TikTok, now have a live broadcasting function. This provides brands with a creative means to create appointment viewing (and generate high quality content for users). According to one survey, 80% of users would rather watch live video than read a blog–which means live video is a great way to reach a lot of users.
You can turn live broadcasts into big events or impromptu (and more intimate) showcases. They do take a lot of planning, however, so it’s important to make sure live broadcasts match with your strategy. That said, patients are demanding more of this type of content. Live events could include:
- Advice from surgeons, doctors, or other health professionals.
- Broadcasts from procedures with patients (where ethical, and when the patient has approved)
- Simple Q&A sessions that emphasize interaction or answering patient questions.
The right approach to live events can generate a significant amount of engagement and bring positive exposure to your healthcare brand.
Balancing Entertainment, Sales, and Ethics
As healthcare professionals, social media comes with certain responsibilities. The American College of Surgeons, for example, have established their own ethical guidelines intended to instruct surgeons on social media best practices.
Social media marketers working in a social media ecosystem need to be well versed in patient privacy obligations as well as ethical considerations. This is especially important when patients appear in any of your brand’s social media posts. A wrong step in this arena can result in a loss of patient trust or more serious repercussions.
Finding Social Media Time Management Solutions
Social media can bring in new patients, improve your brand perception, and help you forge new partnerships. But only when it’s done right. Even if you’re using social media tools such as HubSpot, Later or Hootsuite, organizing and enacting your strategy can be a monumental amount of work. And it may not be work you have time for. After all, you’re busy running a medical facility or healthcare organization!
As such, the best approach to navigating the modern social media ecosystem may be one of two different options:
- Scale back your social media strategy to only include that which you can do well. If you don’t have time for video, don’t start a TikTok account.
- Let an agency with social media experience take some (or all) of the work off your hands.
These days, managing social media is a more serious undertaking than something you can hand off to a doctor’s nephew or an intern (even more so since the COVID-19 pandemic). Understanding today’s social media trends can help you form cogent, effective strategies and unlock potential growth.
Find out how PatientX can help modernize your healthcare organization’s social media strategy and start growing your followers today!
About the Author:
PatientX is a healthcare marketing company that specializes in helping care providers create better patient experiences. While placing an emphasis on the patient experience, PatientX works with members of the healthcare industry to achieve higher standards of patient care and satisfaction, and helping them achieve their goals of growth and success.