How To Inform, Not Broadcast Using Social Media In The Healthcare Sector

SocialB Digital Marketing Blog Last modified: 14 Dec 2015 by SocialB
Other | Social Media

NHS BloodOnce again it’s been a real privilege for SocialB to involved in judging this year’s DMA Awards.

2015 saw health organisations really raising their social media game with NHS Blood and Transplant win Gold in the Best use of Social Media category.

Over the last few years, we’ve also provided training for many healthcare organisations. So what are the key learnings we’ve found that really works in the healthcare sector?

Have a strategy and a plan

Sadly many healthcare accounts still have a “tick-list” approach to social media platforms and content. The range of subjects available for content for public health organisations is huge, from health promotion, inoculations, policy and internal communications. From platform to platform, the result is often confused content aimed at multiple audiences. YouTube channels for instance contain videos aimed at patients, practitioners and stakeholders. Social platforms have become content dumping grounds, with the only strategy being “I’m sure someone might be interested in this.”

Instead decide what you want to achieve with your social media activity; work out where your audiences hang out; engage with them and measure success against your objectives.

Know and engage with your audiences

Understanding your audience will help define your social channels, their purpose and your content strategy. Using data and behavioural insight into an audience (whether a patient group or a sector of the population) together with research on the social platforms will help you answer some key questions:

  • Who are they?
  • Where are they? (geographically)
  • What social platforms do they hang out on?
  • How do we engage with them?
  • What do we want to get them to do?

The critically acclaimed “Melanoma Likes Me” social campaign from Melanoma Patients Australia was successful because it answered these questions:


  • Who are they? – 15-30 year olds
  • Where are they? Australia
  • What social platforms do they hang out on? Mainly on Instagram and Twitter
  • How do we engage with them? Identify relevant sun-related hashtags and use Instagram’s geo-location data
  • What do we want to get them to do? – Visit and use the Skincheck website

What does success look like?

It’s really important to go back to your objectives and define what success looks like. Within healthcare too many are taken in by “vanity metrics” i.e. the number of fans and followers. Even engagement metrics (views, likes, shares, retweets, comments etc.) aren’t the full story.

For NHS Blood and Transplant, the increase in their social communities and interaction with their content would be worthless if their objectives weren’t achieved i.e. increase the number of blood donors. Thankfully 30,000 new donors registered in just ten days.

For Melanoma Patients Australia success was defined by the number of visits to the Skincheck website and unique visits increased by 1371% during the summer campaign.

Have you seen any other real success stories in healthcare? We’d love to hear from you.

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