Expect 2018 to be a seminal year for social media marketing in healthcare, especially since tighter global privacy regulations restricting data acquisition will make sustaining an engaging social media presence more important. No longer will companies measure success based on acquiring contact details—success will be based on building an engaged audience. Social media is perfectly placed to realize this opportunity, relying on great content, strong branding, and empathetic customer relationships to grow their following.

2018 will bring more impactful, inspirational, and lifestyle-based stories in healthcare. The rise of Instagram Stories and Snapchat will encourage more social media marketers to focus on the core fundamentals of marketing. Irrespective of the length of the content, the message needs to be clear: There will be fewer words, but more impact. These platforms encourage multiple short posts, building a brief, rich story. However, to be truly impactful this must be a two-way conversation—where we listen and pay attention to the posted stories from patients and HCPs before they disappear, to ensure we continue to learn and support them as much as possible.

Changing Your Social Approach in 2018

To capitalize on these platforms social media marketers will have to find new, closer ways of working with compliance and medical teams so that content can be released in a timelier manner. To avoid unnecessary bottlenecks, you need to develop a social media strategy that will bring these groups together, so that all are part of the entire process rather than just for approval. Not only will some of the obstacles disappear, but new ideas will be offered by people who see things differently. This is crucial, because in a social landscape of low-cost, high-volume ephemeral content, the key differentiator is creativity. While augmented reality, for example, may prompt some great creative campaigns, it won’t change how we work to the same extent.

Finally, one core element of social media marketing in healthcare that will only get more important in 2018: Credibility. The abundance of noise and alternative facts that are spread across social platforms means that healthcare organizations need to create strategies and campaigns to explicitly reinforce their credibility. We need to make clear the steps taken to ensure the data, messaging, and all the information provided is accurate. Credibility isn’t something that just happens. In 2018, you should make sure you have a strategy around creating and maintaining it.

  • Piers French

    Piers French is the Strategic Growth lead within the digital and creative team at Ashfield Healthcare Communications, part of UDG Healthcare, working with new clients to identify innovative opportunities to reach their customers. Piers has more than seven years’ experience in digital marketing across healthcare, automotive, telecommunications, and travel. 

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