Marketing Medical Tourism on Social Media Channels

When medical tourism businesses enter the realm of social media marketing for the first time, often it is quite alarming what they do and the approach they use.

Most providers, regardless of where they are located USA or Uruguay or Uganda, simply have no expertise or resources to properly and effectively manage social media marketing and they lack the know how to track and benefit from the return on investment. Attracting strong social-media talent is a struggle across many industries, but healthcare has historically spent little on marketing and social media, are now compete with the Google, Apple and and consultants of varying skill and cultural insight to be effective. These hurdles are even more noticeable in medical tourism start-ups.

When you enter a relationship with a new friend and you visit their home, you don’t just kick in the door and announce what’s on sale at your shop.

Doing that is rude in person – as even more inconsiderate in social media networks.

The biggest hurdle is relevancy

How does a medical tourism seller or provider become relevant on Facebook, Twitter, VK, Pinterest, or some other platform? How do you prove your value and how do you overcome public distrust or lack of awareness of your brand value and existence?”

On Facebook, I run two groups for the medical tourism industry.

Medical Tourism and Travel Suppliers
Medical Tourism Facilitator’s and Travel Agents Lounge

People join often and then, I get reports that they’ve done just that: barged in and plastered the group with irrelevant spammy posts.

In one group – described as the place for facilitators and travel agents and referral agents to share industry best practices and insights, they post their advertisement of medical tourism services as a facilitator – to their competitors – other facilitators. This gets them kicked out and blocked same day or shortly thereafter.

In the other group, described as the place for hospitals and sellers to market what they do, they don’t post. This gets them no return on investment because they seem to just lurk. We now realize that it is because they simply don’t know how to use Facebook for social marketing. The link to their sites and their content would make them place higher in searches if more people like their articles, but they don’t post content that’s relevant to the public. They post ads. The two are not the same.

In this sense, I don’t believe that the problem is 100% culturally driven.  Instead, I believe that what is happening is that no one taught these overly zealous, inexperienced and untrained marketers how to take the time to knock, listen, be invited in, understand what the community is about and what the norms are before they try to push their advertisements instead of content out there and engage with that audience. I see the same thing happening on LinkedIn Pulse articles, and in LinkedIn Groups and Google Communities about medical tourism that I manage. I have these groups to share content generously. But I also have them as a study lab to see what is happening in the marketplace from the consumer side, the government side, and the supplier side, as well as the facilitator side.
As a medical tourism business don’t start your social media strategy at such a simplistic level as to start (and end) with your objectives, That approach doesn’t work.

Start with content that targeted patients are interested in. Do lots of social listening and responding when appropriate, not just to respond.

Avoid plastering the group with spammy ads or links to your spammy content. Instead, start discussions by talking and seeking guidance from others who are peers within the community members. Leverage your traffic analytics and engagement analytics to indicate what resonates within a community. Do they comment? Do they share? Or do they ignore you?

Many medical tourism sellers copy and paste information about diseases and conditions and procedures from National Institute of Health, Mayo Clinic and other similar authority websites. They do so without attribution. I used to think it was laziness to write one’s own content. Now I realize, they simply don’t know better, they don’t have content of their own, they have no domain knowledge or authority and someone told them they needed content so they stole it just to have something.  That tanks their search engine rankings because the webcrawlers, upon finding plagiarized content drop your site to page 43.

If you are new to medical tourism and social media marketing to attract new leads, Bring in some volunteer patients to serve as a digital advisory board and ask for help to inform content. Many are great influencers and have even created content themselves—poems, videos, songs—but they are talking about how a your product or service has helped them. That’s one way you can tie together living and managing a medical or dental or psychiatric condition but also bring your product or service into that discussion.

About Social Media Comments

If you are going to enter social media marketing, you have to plan for social listening.  But responding to comments can pose headaches. Adverse event reporting has been a concern for pharma since the advent of social media. It can also be a headache for hospitals, clinics, doctors, and the treatments and procedures they perform and prescribe.  Part of the winning social media marketing strategy will be to determine which comments require attention.

Respond to direct questions and provide supportive, encouraging comments- but be careful how you word apologies.  Sometimes people just want to let off steam and feel heard, and a response in those cases may only exacerbate the situation if not worded properly. One best practice is to only respond in those situations if you can help.

Publish community guidelines to set expectations and stick to them.  In some instances it is best not to respond at all.

Measuring KPIs

What does “good performance” look like? How is it measured?

If you are attempting to build brand awareness, then likes, shares and comments all matter because they drive your reach.

When building relationships and providing resources, content relevance and engagement are two KPIs. As a consulting firm, that’s how I determined Mercury would set its strategy and goals. Is it working? Absolutely! We have more than 350,000 followers combined across all channels who engage and share and re-share our content. They write me “thank you” notes and tell me how much the article helped them avoid mistakes, oversights, and costly errors and expenditures. As a consultant and industry authority on medical tourism, I educate and advocate for my clients’ successes.  I don’t need to sell with advertising because when they continue to read and follow and share, I know that they know who they are going to call when the time comes to ask for personalized advice or coaching.

I compare our results and follows and engagement with competitors in the industry.  Anyone can get likes by advertising.but I’d prefer a smaller community of the right clients and prospects to a large community of uninterested, unengaged “likers”. Active conversations—and the insights we can pull from them—are what success looks like to us.

Your Facebook page for your company is not going to generate medical tourism leads, in most cases. That’s not how it works. There are a lot of data points to monitor, but you must first set those up clearly at the beginning. Otherwise, you’ll find yourself in a world where you’re counting likes but see no business conversion into revenues.

 

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