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How Healthy is Content Marketing in the Healthcare Industry

Happy New Year friends!

It’s hard to believe that 2011 is over. It was a wonderful year for us and quite a few key milestones were achieved.

As we look ahead, we are focusing again primarily on Content Marketing. But we’re going to make a shift. We’re going to give top priority to Content Marketing in the Healthcare Industry.

A recent report by PwC predicted that:

“In 2012, health industry organizations will connect in new ways with each other and their consumers as they wade through the economic, regulatory and political uncertainly. Some are stepping forward in co-operation; others are re-writing the rules of competition.”

The same report concluded that we will start to see healthcare increasing its social media presence.

As I have said before, content is the fuel that drives social media. Consumers flock to social networking sites to talk about interesting stories (i.e. content) and to share those stories with their friends.

As one who has overcome serious health problems in my life, I can tell you that the most remarkable stories I ever heard came from other patients and their doctors – like this amazing story from bile-duct cancer patient at the Mayo Clinic, or this one from a ten year-old Crohns disease patient from the National Institutes of Health.

The problem is that not many of these stories are being told – for obvious reasons. Meanwhile more and more people are turning to the Internet (48%) and social media (32%) to find information to make decisions about their healthcare.

PwCreport Healthcaresocialmedia How Healthy is Content Marketing in the Healthcare Industry

These are good signs. And there are more – healthcare providers have been active in the online conversation with more than 60% of US physicians already using or interested in using professional networks such as Sermo, Medscape, and Physician Connect. However their conversations remain ‘safe’, focusing primarily on educating patients on the use of drugs, disease awareness and so on.

It would be great to see more medical companies and healthcare organizations getting involved in the social media conversation; It would be great to see healthcare professionals engaging with patients ‘one-on-one’ and sincerely focusing on their pains and problems – talking to them like real people.

But I won’t hold my breath on that one since regulators are still trying to define the rules of online engagement.

At the very least healthcare professionals could start by focusing on what they CAN say on their websites, rather than what cannot say.

Certainly times have changed and healthcare marketers will have to rethink the way they have traditionally engaged with consumers. But the same rules and regulations that muzzle their voices could present an opportunity to innovate the social media conversation in the healthcare industry.

Over to you: Do you work in the healthcare industry? How do you think the industry will overcome the challenges of having a social media conversation? Speak your mind.

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