Why Knowing Your Audience Is Critical To Healthcare Social Media Marketing
EXCLUSIVE POST - More than any other form of marketing, social media is a conversation with your audience. It may seem like I have just stated the obvious, but it is amazing how often the audience gets left out of the healthcare social media marketing plan.
Stop for a moment and ask yourself if you truly know your audience and their requirements. Are you serving up what they really want? Or have you fallen into the trap of putting the social media tools at your disposal before your audience’s needs? The answer to this question will tell you if you are hitting your online communications target, or falling short.
The engine of social media is fuelled by engagement and conversation. If this isn’t happening, it is time to look at new ways to inspire your audience to connect with you. You need to really zero in on who they are, what their expectations and needs are, what motivates them and what problems they have which you can provide a solution for.
Here is a 3 step plan to effectively identify and listen to your audience.
(1) Identify your audience
Your healthcare marketing efforts will be much stronger if you can identify your target market and segment it so that you can tailor your content more specifically for them. Unless you take this first step, your social media marketing activities will remain unfocussed. If you can clearly identify your target market, then you can plan the best combination of email marketing, social networking strategies, SEO, Pay Per Click, Banner ads, etc.
A simple Google search will bring up plenty of articles and guidelines on how to segment your online audience. Be as specific as possible. You are looking to drill down deeper to discover their geographic location, their gender, level of education, family status, which social media sites they use, what conversations they are having online, how they are engaging with you, your competition and your online partners.
(2) Plan accordingly
Armed with this information you will now be able to plan which social media channels are most suited to your target market and direct your efforts accordingly. For example, if you identify that your audience is predominately female, you might direct some of your healthcare marketing efforts to Pinterest, a site whose rapid growth and success has been driven by women.
(3) Listen to your audience
Now that you have identified your audience and directed your social media marketing efforts accordingly, it is time for the final step. It is important to monitor the conversations happening online about the healthcare industry, your brand, and your service. There are many free monitoring tools which include Google Alerts, Twitter Search, Twitalizer, HootSuite, Bit.ly, Storify, and Google Analytics. You can also use a paid for service which will help automate the process further. Whichever method you choose, make sure you monitor online conversations on an ongoing basis, analyze the information, and take action where appropriate.
Only when you have a clearer image of who your audience is and what they are saying about you, will you be able to create compelling, relevant and valuable content to fuel the social media engine. When it comes to healthcare social media, focusing on the needs of your audience is key to the success of your marketing plan.
Marie Ennis-O’Connor is a PR consultant and web marketing and communications specialist, with a passionate interest in healthcare social media. Marie has experience of working with healthcare practitioners and patient advocates and is interested in how both can engage and learn from each other at the level of social media. Marie is a featured blogger on Webicina, an online service that ...