Ah, Facebook. What started as updating your status with the details of your day for friends, “poking” people, and growing business pages to keep customers engaged has become what some people feel is a wasteland of ads, misinformation and comment wars.
If you work in healthcare marketing, you may be asking, “Is Facebook for healthcare marketing even worth it anymore?” Maybe you’re thinking about starting a new Facebook page for a hospital, clinic or network—or maybe you’re seeing declining engagement on the page you manage and are wondering if your marketing efforts would be more effective elsewhere.
It’s a legitimate question. Let’s start with a good, old-fashioned list of pros and cons when it comes to using Facebook for healthcare marketing these days.
Pros of using Facebook
Facebook has some advantages over other media, which include:
- You can share accurate health information quickly and directly with Facebook users without going through traditional media channels.
- Lots of people are still on Facebook. As of April 2021, 69% of American adults use Facebook.
- It can help your organization stay top-of-mind for past and future patients.
- It humanizes your brand to show who you are and how you care.
Cons of using Facebook:
The downsides of investing time, energy and budget are important to consider. They include:
- Facebook has notoriously allowed the spread of deadly misinformation about COVID and vaccines.
- Facebook can be a hotbed for comment wars. Even the most benign of posts can devolve into arguing and name-calling in the comments.
- The algorithm tends to only show people information that they already agree with.
- For the first time in Facebook’s history, its user base declined by half a million users.
- Facebook use among teens has dropped from 60% in 2016 to 27% in 2021.
- The algorithm doesn’t favor Facebook pages to encourage paid advertising.
So, should we log out of Facebook and kiss “Meta Business Suite” goodbye forever? Not so fast.
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The benefits of Facebook for healthcare marketing
Yes, Facebook has been a major medium for the spread of misinformation about COVID and vaccines. But as a healthcare institution, you can be the voice of science and research, promoting accurate, potentially life-saving information on your page. In an age where misinformation about health spreads like wildfire, it’s crucial that doctors and healthcare institutions continue to be a guiding voice. The large majority of noteworthy hospitals and healthcare networks are actively posting on Facebook, and when people search your name, it matters that you’re showing up.
While Facebook use may have dropped for the first time since its inception in 2004, it’s consistently one of the most-used social networks by Americans—second only to YouTube. And the loss of half a million users, while a seemingly large number, is still small in contrast to its 1.9 billion users. It’s worth noting, though, that because the demographic of Facebook is increasingly skewing older and today’s teenagers are less likely than ever to create a Facebook account, the conversation around whether it’s worth using Facebook for healthcare marketing could have a different answer five years from now.
But as it currently stands, using Facebook to market your healthcare organization does make sense. But how can you get the most out of it to create consistent, engaging content? While the changes to the algorithm can be frustrating, they exist on every social platform. The most effective healthcare organizations diversify and include a mix of many types of posts in their social media feeds.
Here are our favorite organic (unpaid) strategies for healthcare marketing on Facebook. (Along with the best healthcare Facebook pages we’ve seen.)
Sharing blogs and articles
If you already have a blog on your website, Facebook is a great place to get those blogs in front of more people. Blogs share valuable content that can improve people’s well-being or educate them on the warning signs of more serious diseases. They’re also a great medium for sharing patient stories in a more journalistic or long-form format. We’ve found that the blogs that perform best are the ones that are timely or relevant—especially those around COVID and mental health. Looking for a good example? Cleveland Clinic’s Facebook page posts upwards of eight blogs per day!
Did you recently have a fundraiser, sponsor an event or plan a fun outing for families? Post about it! People love to see pictures of real people doing real things (not stock photos.) Plus, they’ll be more likely to share a post about your organization doing good in the world! We love how our client Orlando Health does this on their Facebook page.
Posting shareable graphics
Infographics that educate and inform people on key health topics perform well on Facebook because they’re the kind of posts people want to share. Rather than having all of the valuable information in a long-form blog that the user has to click to, it’s all visible and available in one image. Here’s a great example from Arkansas Children’s.
Celebrating healthcare heroes
Healthcare heroes need some love, and Facebook is a great place to highlight the amazing nurses, doctors, researchers and custodians who make healthcare possible. Did a doctor on your team get an award? Share it! Has a researcher made an amazing breakthrough for treatment? That’s the kind of good news people want to see! Did a team of nurses dress up for a holiday to bring joy to patients in the ICU? Post a picture! We’re loving the way Mercy Health highlights their staff in both the blogs and posts their share.
Showcasing patient stories
Patient stories cut right to the heart of why you do what you do as a healthcare organization — and they are by far the most engaging posts we see on Facebook pages. It’s one thing to post about an advance in life-saving bone marrow transplants, and it’s another thing to share the story of a three-year-old whose life was saved by that very transplant. Of course, HIPAA comes into play with these, and getting permission from the patients or the patient’s parents is paramount. (Check out this blog on how to protect patient privacy!) As long as you have permission, this is also a great way to use user-generated content — pictures taken by patients that you then re-share and attribute to them. Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center does a great job on its Facebook page of humanizing their content by sharing real stories.
What does the future hold for Facebook healthcare marketing?
Inevitably, Facebook will continue to evolve and how Americans use social media will change. No matter what happens, human stories of healthcare heroes, patients receiving care from compassionate doctors, and researchers making breakthrough discoveries will always resonate.
As you create content for Facebook and as audiences inevitably become more saturated with millennials and Generation Z, remember that you can use photos and infographics on Instagram too, and that video can be reformatted for TikTok. It’s always smart to diversify and post to multiple social platforms.
But until then, the status of Facebook for healthcare marketing remains steady: it’s active, and as a healthcare marketer, it’s important that you stay active on the platform, too.
Feeling overwhelmed by creating content to post on Facebook? WriterGirl has 20+ years of experience crafting custom healthcare content that’s proven to increase engagement rates on social media. Reach out to us anytime to learn how we can help you reach your goals!