Social Listening for Healthcare Marketers: 4 Steps for Success

Are you in charge of managing social media at your healthcare organization?

Whether you’ve been around social media for a while or you’re new to the game, you’ve probably heard of the term ‘social listening.’

Social media listening is the continuous process of identifying and monitoring what’s being said about your organization online.

It’s not something that you do once (say at the beginning of your social media launch). It’s something that you do all the time – in the beginning, in the middle and throughout your social media campaign.

Why Listen?

Social media listening is important for two reasons:

  • To identify unmet needs and respond quickly to those who need your help.
  • To uncover potential problems that could potentially hurt your brand.

But according to a report by McKinsey most healthcare organizations have not been able to capitalize on social media listening because the insights are not well understood or applied.

Benefits of Social Listening

The beauty of social listening (a.k.a social media monitoring) is that you don’t have to do the talking – all you’re required to do (at first!) is pay attention to what other people are saying.

Social listening helps you provide better responses because you understand:

  • Who is engaging in conversation on a brand or therapeutic topic;
  • Where they are engaging;
  • What treatment solutions they found helpful;
  • What are their unmet needs.

So how do you get started? Here are four steps to help you become successful in social media listening:

#1. Set up Policy

Set up internal regulations or guidelines to help you govern your social media activities. Involve your legal department to ensure that your social media policies are HIPPA compliant.

Although there’s a lot of work involved at this stage, it will save you some serious headaches down the road.

#2. Get Educated

Brush up on your social media literacy – Read relevant blogs, attend social media conferences and webinars, and become familiar with the language used in social media conversations and related analytics.

Keep in mind that social media platforms change often and it’s important for you to keep up with the latest trends so that you’re more effective in representing your organization.

#3. Get the Tools…Get to Work

Get the right tools and resources for listening. There are many free and paid resources for listening, understanding and helping you to apply the information you have gathered. As you start to dig deeper into the process, make sure you understand:

  • Where your patients are hanging out online e.g. online support groups, blogs etc.
  • The language that patients use to describe themselves. For example one pharmaceutical company was surprised to discover that rheumatoid arthritis patients refer to themselves as “rheumies.” As you do your keyword research, keep in mind that patients may not always use the same words that you do.
  • What their challenges or unmet needs are. For example you might discover that most diabetes patients hate pricking their fingers for blood-glucose monitoring.

#4. Integrate Insights

Integrate the insights you have gained to your planning process. For example in the above example about diabetes patients, your company can use those insights to launch a new pain-free product.

Quick Wrap Up

Social media listening is a great opportunity for healthcare marketers to gain deeper understanding about target audiences, and to uncover potential problems before they become serious.

But the real value happens when healthcare organizations can translate those insights into solutions that resonate deeply with patients, providers and other stakeholders.

Your Turn:

How do you use social listening to gain insights from target audiences, patients and consumers?

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