It’s no secret that the modern patient begins their healthcare journey online, often interacting with a healthcare brand for the first time on a social media platform. But could it really be true that all patients are looking for your brand on social media?
In our efforts to better understand the complexities of the patient journey, we asked the very same question.
In a recent, nationwide survey, Response Mine Health asked people if a company’s social media presence would be influential when selecting a healthcare provider.
The Power of Presence
It may be surprising, but a presence on social media could be as critical to attracting patients as actively pursuing patient referrals.
- Nearly one-third, 31.5%, of survey respondents indicated that a medical provider’s social media presence “Definitely” influences their decisions about provider selection.
- Another 21.6% of people said it “Probably” has an impact, and about 15.9% said “Maybe.”
Thus, 69% of potential patients believe social media has the potential to notably influence their choice of healthcare provider.
This social media presence includes a compilation of various channels from traditional social media profiles like Facebook and Twitter to reviews on Google, Yelp, and other referral websites.
So, obviously, this means your healthcare brand needs to develop a presence on every social media channel, right?
In today’s digital world, it’s often better to strategically build your online presence where your ideal patients already are. All people are not on all social media platforms, and even then, all people on a social media site don’t use the platforms the same way. What the data really tells us is that while social media presence is an important part of your brand’s patient acquisition strategy, you also need to consider what kinds of patients you’re looking for.
So, how should you determine where your company should invest its time and money online? By knowing where your ideal patients spend their time. Ideally, understanding your best patients’ values and behaviors would be the most valuable when crafting convincing arguments for the value of your brand and selecting the correct placements for those messages. But psychographic profiles are often difficult to develop and in some cases even basic demographic information is useful!
For example, according to the previously mentioned survey, 31% of respondents said social media presence probably would not influence their decision when selecting a healthcare provider. So how can that help your company today?
Depending on the typical age range of your prospective patients, your social media presence may play a more or less influential role in their decision-making process.
Unsurprisingly, young people rely on input from providers and peers on social channels more than others. Those 18 to 24 and 35 to 44 selected “Definitely” influential more than any other choice and those 25 to 34 were most likely to “Probably” care about a healthcare brand’s social media presence. Not a single respondent in the 18 to 24 age group selected “Probably Not” or “Definitely Not” in the study. If your best patients are between the ages of 18 and 44, social media is definitely a marketing tactic you’ll need to develop.
Perhaps a bit more surprising, those 60 to 64 also indicated they would “Probably” rely on social media presence for a healthcare decision. In this case, it’s key to know that social media activity for this age group primarily takes place on Facebook – you likely won’t need to flesh out an Instagram or Tumblr account for your hospital to find these patients.
But what about that 31% who don’t weigh social media presence that we mentioned earlier? Those in the 45 to 59 and 65 to 74 age groups indicated they would “Probably Not” seek healthcare information on social media platforms before making a healthcare decision. In the 75 and older crowd, “Definitely Not” was the most common answer.
So, if your ideal patients fall into these age groups, your advertising efforts would likely be better spent elsewhere. Email marketing, paid search, and content marketing strategies may be ideal strategies to help your brand find these patients, share information, and build authority elsewhere online.
While these age patterns are by no means all-encompassing, and certainly have exceptions, they can help direct online marketing spend and strategy.
Reaching the Right Patient in the Right Space
While age was the most compelling variable in our survey, it’s not the only demographic qualifier that should influence your digital marketing strategy. For example, women indicated that social media presence would “Definitely” influence their decision significantly more than any other choices while men selected the same answer only slightly more than other choices. Even ethnicity had some correlations with African-Americans selecting “Probably” as the most common answer and very few Asian, Hispanic/Latino and African-American respondents selecting “Definitely Not.”
If your healthcare company has demographic information about your ideal patients, start using it. If you have psychographic information, even better! Knowing where and why your patients spend time online and look for healthcare information is critical for developing an optimized marketing strategy for your business. If you don’t, let the experts help you. At Response Mine Health we are constantly improving our understanding of the modern patient journey as well as our development and implantation of psychographic analytics software to optimize marketing strategies for patient acquisition.
Stay tuned for more information about our psychographic development capabilities and how to best utilize that information for our business in the coming weeks, or contact us to learn more today!