By: Melissa Gonzalez
I was recently tasked with determining how relevant localized social marketing like Four Square, Groupon and Facebook Places is to the healthcare industry. As an engager, it’s easy to overlook the obvious progression of social media changes, but through a marketing lens the changes and patterns that are beginning to shape and drive consumer habits are quite enlightening.
We all know the healthcare industry has been slow to adopt social media; for an often very conservative industry it’s uncharted territory. But recently the industry is beginning to accept its importance and get involved, realizing it’s vital to continue to engage with consumers/patients where they are – and right now, they’re online.
Here are some recent social media trends on the rise. Don’t be surprised if you find healthcare joining the ranks of the many small businesses that are using these resources to get their brand in front of the computer and most of all, move the needle.
Group-Buying Websites: Groupon and Living Social
Group-buying sites like Living Social and Groupon grew ten-fold in the last year. Living Social had 7 million unique visitors in March alone, up 27 percent from the previous month according to ABC News, April 2011. With Facebook small business accounts growing daily, users are able to share local deals sent to their email with online friends and social media networks.
Tim O’Shaughnessy, the CEO of LivingSocial says, “The business model is based on two fundamentals: People can’t resist a bargain; and small businesses are always looking for more customers.” It’s astonishing how one little email can generate more business than some could have ever possibly imagined and it’s because of the ease of use to share these deals with friends over social media.
Healthcare providers that would work the best with Groupon include dentists and optometrists who can perform a routine service that is often paid out of pocket. Groupon could be considered a strong alternative to the typical couponing they might otherwise do.
Targeted Localized Marketing: Foursquare, Facebook Check-ins and Google Places
When trying to engage and interact with your consumers/ patients within their community, healthcare providers will need to take a more localized approach.
Targeted localized marketing in a more defined geographic area can benefit consumer engagement, especially in day-to-day transactions that surround family life such as grocery shopping, getting an oil change or going to the doctor’s office. Web searches for products and services in specific geographic regions or neighborhoods done on the computer or smart phone are growing increasingly common; i.e. “Dentist Summerlin Las Vegas.” If you are a dentist in the Summerlin area of Las Vegas, you want to make sure your practice shows up in search results such as Google Maps.
Applications such as Foursquare, Facebook Check-ins and Google Places lets consumers share their whereabouts with the ability to comment. In fact, some businesses have gone as far as to incentivize checking-in with coupons codes for discounts on products and services. Facebook Places has benefited from this high level of adoption, soaring past Foursquare to reach a 32 percent current usage rate; while Foursquare’s location-based service has remained steady over the past two quarters.
It appears that the important message for healthcare is this – stay current with localized social media and how your consumers engage with it, and make sure you’re brand is involved.