How Your Medical Practice Can Stand Out on Social Media in 2021

Some not-so-breaking news to kick off your 2021—your medical practice should be using social media as a tool to acquire new patients, engage with existing patients and foster a relationship with your community. While that statement shouldn’t come as a shock to you given the latest trends in healthcare digital marketing, for many healthcare organizations, the social media world is still largely an untapped mystery.

If your practice is ready to make 2021 the year you master and stand out on social channels, here’s what you need to know.

Why Healthcare Brands Must Embrace Social Media in 2021

The nature of the health industry—with HIPAA compliance and privacy laws to uphold to protect personal information—means medical practices and healthcare providers have been slower to fully adopt promotional social media usage. But, as we see patients turn to the Internet and social media more and more to gather health information and discuss health topics, it’s time for healthcare brands to capture the opportunity to engage with those patients.  

Social media offers healthcare practices the opportunity to:

  • Listen to what current and potential patients are saying using online channels. This doesn’t just include what they share about your practice, but also their overall health concerns, what they look for in health professionals, the services they are searching for, and more.
  • Educate patients and the community on their most talked-about topics and interact with them on common ground, establishing your practice as a trusted, reliable source of information.
  • Build a stronger reputation within the community, ultimately extending the impact of social media beyond online metrics to provide bottom-line results.

2021 Social Media Trends for Healthcare Marketers

The social landscape is always changing, with trending content updating by the hour. Staying up-to-the-minute on emerging trends calls for a full-time staff of social marketing experts. However, there are overarching guides to ensure your 2021 social media efforts remain relevant. Here are three ways to help your medical practice stand out on social this year. 

Prioritizing Video Content on TikTok and Instagram Reels

Video reigned in 2020, and 2021 is shaping up to be no different. On platforms like Instagram and Facebook, video consistently produces higher engagement rates than both organic and paid static posts. For healthcare brands, the continued consumption of video content means marketers must prioritize video production, particularly when it comes to Instagram Reels and TikTok.

In recent years, our healthcare marketing strategists may not have recommended a platform like TikTok for a hospital system or medical practice in favor of channels with a more adult demographic makeup. However, social media is no longer exclusive to younger generations. Chances are, your audience is actively using apps like TikTok, with 19.4% of the app’s users over the age of 40. In contrast, only 4% of social media marketers are currently advertising on TikTok.

Beyond TikTok, “snackable” videos—15- to 30-second content like that found on Instagram Reels—dominate across a variety of audiences. Further, Instagram actively pushes Reels content to users, meaning more of your existing followers will see your videos. Plus, with Instagram’s search and discover features expanding beyond hashtags to include topics such as “Nutrition,” the potential for organic exposure is even higher.

Creating video content around a specific niche helps categorize your account as a source of information on that topic in Instagram’s eyes. The app’s algorithm will then recommend your videos and posts to users interested in those topics or those engaging with similar accounts.

Virtual Events on Live platforms

With social distancing practices largely still in place today and for the foreseeable future, the virtual event trend of 2020 is going strong into 2021. From Zoom parties to live streaming on social, people have found ways to “be together” without being together, and it wasn’t long before brands caught on, playing the role of the virtual host.

According to Facebook, daily watch time for Facebook Live grew 4x in one year, with one in five videos on the platform now being a Live broadcast. Along the same lines, the number of organizations planning a virtual event doubled in 2020. Lifestyle brands in particular saw success with this approach, going as far as partnering with celebrities and influencers to draw in more viewers. It’s time for healthcare marketers to take on this opportunity.

In 2021, healthcare brands can capitalize on the popularity of live streaming and virtual events by hosting online gatherings focused on health and wellness topics. Whether it is a Q&A session with a nutritionist, a tour of your facilities, or a chance to “meet the doctors,” there is no shortage of engaging ideas when planning a live, yet not in-person, event. In healthcare specifically, this type of “content” allows current and potential patients to interact with healthcare professionals, ask questions and get a feel for your expertise, all without leaving home.

Connecting with Patients on Online Communities

Over 1.8 billion people use Facebook Groups, with tens of millions of groups on the platform. The events of 2020 fueled even more growth for these online communities, with membership increasing 3.3x from February to May as users tried to connect with their communities while spending more time at home.

Of relevance to healthcare marketers, caregivers, and family members of those with a medical condition, in particular, tend to be heavily involved in social media groups and online communities, turning to these pages for support, guidance, and recommendations on everything from treatment options to local clinics.

In 2021, we can expect the continued growth of Facebook groups, creating opportunities for healthcare brands to start and manage their own online communities to better connect with their patients. These communities can be used to answer patient questions, announce community or clinic events, post exclusive content and bring your practice and your patients closer.

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to healthcare marketing or how to integrate a robust social media strategy into your efforts while keeping a focus on patient experience. Understanding how to create engaging organic content for social platforms is a good starting point, and one from which your practice can eventually branch out to paid efforts targeted advertising campaigns, and the many other powerful marketing features offered by social media platforms. And if you need a bit of help, our healthcare marketing team is always here to help.

Want to hear more from our healthcare marketing agency? Sign up for our healthcare newsletter for monthly insights on driving appointment requests, marketing for patient retention, and what’s trending in healthcare marketing.