Social Media Listening & Strategy for Healthcare


Published on For healthcare companies, understanding what information your customers may find about you is as important as what your potential customers are saying about you. Monitoring helps focus your business priorities–saving valuable time and resources.

And while social networks play an important part in health seekers online life, the vast majority begin their searches for information and communities via a traditional search engine like Google, not via social networks. This means any listening strategy needs to built around solutions that provide context beyond just social platforms to help you understand how health facilities, providers, or communities appear online.

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  • More than half of consumers searching online for medical information were searching for someone else. 72% of health seekers were looking for info about a specific illness or condition (compared to the 52% of seekers who were searching for themselves).
  • In effect, many people are using online health information as a de facto second opinion, as well as a means by which to explore alternative treatments that align more closely with their beliefs regarding their wellbeing.
  • There is no big mystery why Internet health searches are so popular and important. People often feel helpless as it relates to their own healthcare, and searching online allows us to feel more in control of our heath and situation.
  • 86% browse multiple sites and the vast majority start at a search engine like Google or a general site like Yahoo – not a medical site or via social connections. Those visits and connections typically occur *after* health seekers have familiarized themselves with the concepts and issues around their condition. 14% have one favorite site for health informationFrequent and enthusiastic health seekers are more likely to have health-related bookmarks, as are those who saw a doctor in the past year. Search engines’ value is that they deliver specific information at any hour to users who have become accustomed to “just in time” health advice. 93% of health seekers say convenience is important to them. The downside: Search engines don’t always deliver the highest quality results, esp. when a user isn’t sure what search terms to use.Last time they searched for health advice, those who used a search query on a search engine were more focused on getting the information fast than finding a trusted name – 45% started at the top of the search results and worked their way down; 39% read the results list and then clicked on the items that seemed to be the most relevant; and just 12% clicked on a site because they recognized the sponsor or name.
  • Strategy must be informed by qualified data. And to gather that data….
  • As with traditional datasets, online data needs to be placed in a broader context. To understand where your facility, service, or providers fit within that context you begin by listening.
  • These are just a handful of the applications forward thinking healthcare providers are utilizing
  • Such as finding people complaining about ER wait times, quality of service. Looking for people discussing their experiences (or asking about) the kind of special services your facility provides (Cardiology, Pediatrics, Oncology, Cyber Knife Surgery, Bariatric Surgery, etc)This is the tack you’d take to monitor how well your community sponsored events are promoted, as well as gauging sentiment from participants or fellow sponsors. In many cases health seekers will find your official listings and then compare those doctor’s against crowd-sourced review sites like RateMyDr. Similarly, you can track the media presence (and sentiment) around highly visible c-suite executives or affiliates
  • The breadth of your monitoring should be dependent on your area of service. If you’re a local facility, then you want to focus your search to target your geographic area (especially if your facility name is not unique)Typically an initial monitoring date range can be kept between the last 30-90 days. Information on the internet changes quickly, and many sites (like your corporate portal or homepage) will show up regardless of what time frame you’re searching within.Easy: Everywhere you can. Limiting your monitoring to only Social Media means you’ll miss doctor ratings, your own messaging, news items, and much, much more relevant information that can help you understand how your patients are finding you, as well as what they’re reading when they do.
  • In addition to alternate names for your facility, be sure to use region/locale specific terms to ensure you’re only looking at your own facility, and not similarly named facilities not in your market.It’s important to remember that while you might have a fantastic branded term, consumers who are investigating procedures and treatments won’t be familiar with your specific terminology. They’ll default to broad terms like “heart attack/disease” or “cardiology” Adjust your searches accordingly.While we tend to err on the side of “show me everything”, in many cases you’ll see information that only mentions your facility in passing (accident reports, obituary notices, birth notices, etc). Decide whether those kinds of results support your objective or will just cause you to spend more time weeding them out.
  • While your official homepage is unlikely to be a first stop, it’s important to know how likely health seekers are to find it, as well as auditing what kind of message your site delivers. Does it support or contradict other information seekers might discover. Auditing your own message for sentiment and semantic composition can be combined with the site statistics your site generates to look for ways to improve your digital presence. Are your local news sources mentioning your facility in ways beyond press releases and community events? What kind of message would health seekers take away from those mentions?At the end of the day – it’s imperative to determine how much or how little you control your own universe online. Without listening, you’re left with nothing but speculation.
  • It’s important to know what segment of the web your audience is looking towards for information, as well as where they’re looking to be engaged. If your audience isn’t already on Twitter, there’s no gain in trying to force them to adopt the platform. If your audience wants information about you delivered to them via Facebook, then why spend unnecessary resources pushing content through channels they’ll never see?
  • This are just a handful of examples of the many ways your monitoring program can help you better define your goals for ongoing strategy or initiatives. These datasets often contain many pivot points you can tie to future success and measurement.
  • Garnering ongoing support for your digital or social initiatives often means selling the ideas up (or across) the ladder. By establishing your benchmarks, you’ve given yourself the ability to measure and track your success, or in the case of winning support for moving forward with your initiatives you’ve handed numbers-driven metrics that can be translated into real-world ROI. Having measurable results that can be translated into a digestible report can go a long way towards combatting intra-office inertia, as well as allowing you to make the case that these numbers affect the entire facility, not just the marketing or PR department.
  • 1. Not to say that consumer or patient comments are unimportant; However, understanding *how* an individual came to hold a position allows you to make fundamental changes in your approach instead of just reacting.2. In a field filled with Army of Ones, our time and energy must be used strategically. Audit or ongoing listening allows you to best direct those efforts to the segment of the web your audience is already populating3. Having measurable data and events keeps you focused on those areas you can affect and measure instead of throwing spaghetti against the wall and seeing what sticks4. It’s easy to dismiss social media from an executive perspective (to say nothing of budget). By putting hard numbers around your efforts, you can more effectively sell your strategy up or down the ladder by tying it to real world consequences.
  • Social Media Listening & Strategy for Healthcare

    1. 1. built different.better data. better decisions. 1
    2. 2. spiral Introduction 2
    3. 3. spiral Health Seekers As they are with brands and products,consumers are increasingly turning to the Internetfor more and more of their health informationneeds. Meet the Health Seekers. 3
    4. 4. spiral Health Seekers Online – When Do They Search? 70 60 50 40 30 For self For someone else 20 10 0 Before a After a doctor Unrelated to a Instead of a doctor visit visit visit visit Peer-to-Peer Healthcare – 2.28.11, Pew Internet & American Life Project The Online Healthcare Revolution and the Rise of e-Patients and e-Caregivers – 11.3.03, Pew Internet & American Life Project
    5. 5. spiral What are they searching for? • Tentatively diagnosing their own condition • Confirming their doctor’s diagnosis and suggested treatments • Checking their doctors’ credentials • Researching all available treatment options – not just those recommended by their doctor • Researching specific medical conditions when they (or a loved one) are diagnosed • Connecting with other patients with the same disease • Exploring and signing up for clinical trials Peer-to-Peer Healthcare – 2.28.11, Pew Internet & American Life Project The Online Healthcare Revolution and the Rise of e-Patients and e-Caregivers – 11.3.03, Pew Internet & American Life Project
    6. 6. spiral Why Are Health Seekers Searching?• 93% say it is important that they can get health 95 information when it is convenient for them 90 85• 83% say it is important that Convienience Breadth of Sources they can get more 80 information online than Anonymity from other sources 75 70• 80% say it is important to get this information Health Seekers anonymously, without having to speak with anyone Peer-to-Peer Healthcare – 2.28.11, Pew Internet & American Life Project The Online Healthcare Revolution and the Rise of e-Patients and e-Caregivers – 11.3.03, Pew Internet & American Life Project
    7. 7. spiral How Are Health Seekers Searching? The vast majority begin their searches via Google (or a similar search engine) – not via social network channels or medical sites Peer-to-Peer Healthcare – 2.28.11, Pew Internet & American Life Project The Online Healthcare Revolution and the Rise of e-Patients and e-Caregivers – 11.3.03, Pew Internet & American Life Project
    8. 8. spiral
    9. 9. spiral The Power of Listening Monitoring your presence online to • Understand your digital presence • Gather basic data for setting benchmarks • Determine where your audience lives online • Audit your messaging
    10. 10. spiral Applying Online Data to Healthcare Initiatives
    11. 11. spiral Define Your ObjectiveMonitoring:• Emergency Services?• Conversation around specializations and services?• Community education or events?• Doctor reputations or c-suite personalities?• Sentiment around your facility, services, or physicians• General conversation around a facility?
    12. 12. spiral Define Your Scope • Listen locally, regionally, or nationally? • How far back do I need to look? • Where should I be looking?
    13. 13. spiral Define Your Language • Look for the terms that are around your specific facility – (Nicknames, abbreviations, or common misspellings) • Look for the language your patients or health seekers will use, not just the official language you broadcast • Explore the terms that will bring back data you don’t want to see – (-accident –trauma –obituary –police –funeral)
    14. 14. spiral Discover Your Influencerso Is your corporate or official landing page a likely destination?o Do your physicians show up on public rating sites? How likely are those pages to be found?o What community or local pages generate conversation around your facilities and services?o What kind of message are those other sites broadcasting about you?
    15. 15. spiral Where Is Your Audience?• Which, if any, social network does your audience utilize?• Are health-seekers more likely to discover information about you via a news channel?• How much reference or informational material is a health-seeker likely to find?• Where should you target your messaging or engagement efforts?
    16. 16. spiral Setting Benchmarks• What is the general sentiment around your facility or services?• What’s the ratio of news mentions to social mentions on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis?• If searching within a category or area of specialization, how often does your facility get mentioned?• If you’ve discovered disparate communities around your facility, can they be connected or engaged with?
    17. 17. spiral Selling It Up With Measured Successo Targeted messaging to the channels where your audience already lives.o Measuring how your communication alters the language health seekers are likely to seeo Responding to damaging reviews or commentso Proactively connecting patients with advocacy and service professionalso Growing participation in education and health behavior initiatives
    18. 18. spiral Conclusions • Understanding what information your audience may find about you is as important as what your audience is saying about you • Knowing where to focus your efforts saves valuable time and resources • Building a strategy around measurable data will keep your efforts focused • Translating those efforts into ROI promotes executive buy-in
    19. 19. Thank you from Tracy Panko & Aaron Weber @tracypanko @dadsbigplan built different. better data. better decisions. | @spiral16 | | 913-944-4500 19