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Using social media to build healthcare communities

There are tens of thousands of health communities online, ranging from the most-visited health websites (WebMD, Drugs.com, National Institutes of Health, etc.), to user-run sites focussed on a single topic or disease.

Whether they’re big commercial endeavors or small sites providing support and information to a specific group, members and visitors to these online health communities want the same things: relevant, credible information and a way to connect with other people with similar questions or conditions. 

As a healthcare company, should you consider sharing your knowledge and expertise through the creation of an online healthcare community?

It all depends on your marketing and business goals

If your objectives include educating, sharing information and building goodwill with specific stakeholder groups, then an online community offers a targeted way to achieve your objectives.

But before you jump in, keep in mind that launching a full-fledged online community is a big commitment in terms of resources and time. And probably the worst thing you can do is to launch one, but fail to keep it updated. If you look at the information needs of your target groups, they likely would prefer something more targeted anyway. Rather than trying to meet the needs of all your stakeholders with a big-budget initiative, think specific and targeted.

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Social media platforms are perfect for building an online healthcare community

They offer lots of ways to build communities that are not so time- or budget-intensive.

Facebook is an ideal platform on which to create a community for people with a specific condition or disease. For example, a healthcare company that develops diabetes care products and solutions launched a community on Facebook. The Facebook group offers a place for people with diabetes to access information, as well as share suggestions on how to manage diabetes, for example while exercising, travelling, etc.

In terms of resources, once the page is populated with information, all it takes is a community manager to oversee and promote the group, manage membership, and ensure that the content is topical and accurate.

LinkedIn is also an excellent place to focus your efforts. This is where you’ll find health executives and clinicians, more so than on the other social media platforms.

For suggestions on how to maximize your efforts on LinkedIn, check out The Guide to Healthcare Marketing, our comprehensive e-book for healthcare marketers. The Guide also has suggestions for how to ramp up your social media activities by posting about your recruiting and charitable initiatives, as an easy and low-budget way to get started.

Learn more here, or contact Anne-Mie Vansteelant at Living Stone, at +32 55 591 007 or anne-mie.vansteelant@livingstone.eu, to find out how an online healthcare community could boost your marketing strategies.

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Anne-Mie Vansteelant
Anne-Mie Vansteelant
COO | Managing Partner at Living Stone

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