Social Media Kickstarter Checklist for Healthcare Marketers

A 6-points checklist from Maria Todd to use when getting started with social marketing for healthcare products and services

There’s a fair amount of preparatory work to establish your business’ presence on social media and effectively market your healthcare products (bundled price surgery packages, concierge memberships, etc.) and services (robotic-assisted surgery procedures, medical tourism care coordination, etc.) in a tasteful and engaging manner. 

Many of the checklist action items I’ve listed here are easily performed by a novice if there’s adequate time. However, if you are like many healthcare organizations and haven’t hired someone whose job it is to manage your social media presence, full time, you may wish to hire an agency to help you on a part time basis. There are three key parts to social media marketing:

  1. Content creation
  2. Posting and response management
  3. Mentions and reputation management

The first myth I want to clarify for readers is that social media marketing is by no means “free”. You’ll need a budget just to create blog articles and memes, edit photos, create podcasts and videos, and a budget to amplify (“boost”, is the term used on Facebook) your posts, or associate paid Pay-per-click (PPC) targeted keywords that drive visitors to your website. 

You may also need assistance with search engine optimization (SEO) after your content has been created which is applied just prior to posting your content.  

And of course, someone must direct if not sit down and write the content for you. That may be an internal hire, a physician, or a paid ghost writer who may charge between $25 and $125 per hour depending on skill level and location (urban, rural, foreign) to create original content for you.

My preference is always that the client write their own in their brand’s voice, and specific to their ideal customers’ interests. But what if you:

  • don’t have time to write?
  • don’t like to or feel uncomfortable authoring content?
  • haven’t deciphered your brand characteristics and voice?
  • haven’t determined your brand’s ideal customers and how and when they consume content on each social media channel or platform about what your are marketing or advertising?
  • don’t know the difference between advertising and marketing?
  • aren’t sure about the compliance regulations for healthcare marketing – local, regional or international?
What I’ve learned in practice vs theory is that while many of my clients promise to write, they don’t get around to fulfilling that promise. Their website serves as a static e-brochure that languishes and gets lower and lower and lower on the search engine returns. That’s because Google and other search engines rate the site “inactive” or “not maintained” because new content has not been added periodically. 
If you believe this is likely to happen in your case – make the decision right now. In or Out? Because if you are not planning to invest in your business marketing and advertising with a good website and quality content distributed through social media, don’t kickstart or invest in the services of a qualified healthcare marketing consultant, drop the ball when it is in your court, and then complain about results you didn’t get.

A 6-points checklist from Maria Todd to use when getting started with social marketing for healthcare products and services

1. Choose the most effective social channels for your strategy.

Maria Todd: Above all else, the cardinal rule is “know your customer.” You learn this through a proper brand development exercise. You can’t build an effective social media marketing strategy or effective campaigns that produce revenue without this. If you haven’t yet done the brand creation exercises, do those first – then proceed with social media marketing. Otherwise you risk wasting time and money merely shouting at no one in particular through what equates to a bullhorn that has the volume dialed down to zero.

Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are your best bets for posting about your services and products. Create posts that link back to your website for the rest of the story. 

LinkedIn is more for professional branding and facility press releases and updates.  

For a DME or technology or pharma supplier, Pinterest is also a good outlet for product promotions. 

The choice of social channels is extremely dependent on whom you are targeting and what you want them to do as engagement. Purchase intention on Facebook is excellent up to about a $40 price point. 

2. Draft your social media profiles

Maria Todd: What you say about your business and the words you choose matter. You have two choices: Feature-oriented and benefits-oriented.

Without the branding exercise done and your ideal customer persona(s) developed, you are limited to features-oriented. All the marketing is about you. In contrast, benefits-oriented profiles describe you in ways you benefit the people doing business with you. The customer is the protagonist in your stories and profile description; not you.

The new Google Medic update now requires that you prove your expertise, authority and trustworthiness as a subject matter expert. Your profile should be present on every post and every profile you publish on social media. Posting other people’s curated content, stealing content or posting a bunch of selfies and memes does not position you as an expert in any domain. The days of posting anything without value to people or writing for SEO machine-based dominance are over.

If you haven’t yet completed your brand creation exercise, you won’t know what to post to trigger interest from people. And if you aren’t a proven expert or authority and cannot substantiate your expertise in your industry, sort that out first because you’ll be evaluated and ranked differently than in the past under the Medic update. Then post to social channels. Your Medic score is now a composite score of all that is found on the internet about you. If all you do is post selfies of you at speaking events and no supported content, expect to rank at the bottom if at all. This is actually the comeuppance for all the people that fancy or describe themselves as experts but don’t put in the work to substantiate it online. 

3. Examine your competitors’ social media presence, engagement and tactics.

Maria Todd: I see am hired to do the preparatory work for social media marketing by many physicians, dentists, veterinarians, hospitals and ambulatory surgery centers. Part of the prep work after the brand development and competitive analysis is studying my clients’ competitors’ websites and “share of voice” on social media channels. 

I examine their use of images, texts, fonts, memes, posting quality and frequency as well as engagement. I evaluate how they use hashtags (#[word]). I can spot a failed campaign in a matter of seconds and tell you exactly why it failed. If you copy what others have done and you copy off a failure example what do you think is bound to happen?

4. Follow your competitors’ social channels. 

Maria Todd: When I do this, I am amused by what my competitors post. Following doesn’t mean “liking” or engaging. I tend to lurk a lot. I won’t reward bad posts and bad content just to indicate I saw it. For one thing, it rewards bad tactics and practices. For another, it associates the like back to my SEO and authority scores. If my competitor posts junk or selfies without audience value, and I show I like it, does that not put my reputation at risk? That’s tantamount liking a political or racist posts and memes. That’s your choice but best not done under your professional or business identity if your ideal customers are not of the same ilk.  

A compelling example is a consultant I’ve worked with from time to time over the past several years. He’s become so blatant about his political leanings that when I suggested to a client that they add him to an assignment, their conservative position was highly offended and they refused my recommendation.  

Furthermore, his articles were not oriented to “healthcare” and he expected readers to make the leap from general to specific applicability. As a result, I can’t use him on as many projects because a) his political leanings affect clients’ and prospective clients’ interpretation of me by association and b) he spends so much time ranting on political stuff and so little time on writing and sharing about healthcare- specific topics that he now struggles to get hired by healthcare industry clients.

4. Monitor mentions, feedback, comments and tags.

Maria Todd: Mentions are harder to earn that one might assume. There are three types of mentions to consider: 

  • Comments on your posts
  • Feedback on services and products
  • Tagging

Your response time is critical when maximizing brand interactions with followers and fans.

If someone comments, you can at least say “thank you”, or you can turn a single comment into active dialogue.  If someone attacks, choose your response carefully. Don’t go down a rabbit hole with them without good reason. 

If someone posts feedback that praises you, thank them and welcome them back for more. If they criticize you, be ready to address the matter being criticized as an opportunity for improvement, without emotion. If the feedback is untrue or overblown, tread carefully, but do respond with professional decorum.

If someone tags you in a post without your express consent as a way to give the appearance that you approve their product, service or brand, and you don’t – have the tag removed – by request or by force. Learn how to remove tags from Facebook and other channels so that when (not if) the time comes, you can take action quickly.

5. Create and use a content calendar

Maria Todd: Plan & schedule your content in advance to keep your audience engaged & save you time. I’ve been blogging for years, but I still use a separate digital calendar of trending topics, themes, and information I want to feature or topics that relate to speaking and training Master Classes I offer. Just create a posting calendar in your Google or Outlook calendar that lists content you want to create and the date you want to post it.That way, I can link internally in my posts. You can do likewise. You can create the calendar to drip out one piece of content per week or per month and then create derivative works in the form of memes, podcasts, videos, checklists, listicles, and more that align with the various social media marketing outlets you plan to use.

6. Be sociable on social media. 

Maria Todd: Take time out to congratulate folks, like and share appropriately. 

Maria K Todd

Maria K Todd

Maria Todd is frequently engaged as a trusted authority and expert to advise and assist hospitals, physicians, dentists, veterinarians, and ambulatory surgery facilities to plan and execute marketing campaigns using print and digital marketing, advertising and promotions. She's been certified by Google's Digital Garage in digital marketing for healthcare since 2017. This training and frequent client projects coupled with her clinical and health administration background makes her a rare breed among experts offering healthcare marketing advice to healthcare providers.

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