Social Media Marketing in the Healthcare Industry



In this podcast, Shweiki Media Printing Company (a company that offers printing services in San Antonio, TX) chats with Ahava Leibtag. Ahava is the president and owner of Aha Media Group, a content strategy and content marketing consultancy founded in October of 2005. She also wrote a book about the intersection of content marketing and content strategy called ‘The Digital Crown: Winning at Content on the Web’. Today, we discuss creative social media marketing ideas for the health care industry.


Brands are starting to become aware that they need to focus more on the consumer than they do on the brand. There is not a huge difference between healthcare, or financial services, or insurance, where there’s a lot of jargon and people don’t have literacy on those topics until they start to develop them, but obviously, picking a doctor is a lot different than buying a skirt from The Gap. The challenges that are inherent in industries where people are making important decisions, and using content to do that, are different than the challenges faced by a retail, or other types of businesses.

What do people care about? People care about their health the most, and then after that probably they care about their money. The other thing about health care is that it’s not something people think about until they need it. As health care marketers are always trying to figure out, ‘How can we improve our brand awareness so that when people have a problem they come to us?’


Traditional media versus digital media – is it a mixture of both? There was a lot of frustration in healthcare marketing about five to seven years ago, older school marketers still wanted to stick with billboards, but you can’t measure their reach. People are thinking about CRMs a lot more, they’re really trying to modernize their marketing. But, the recommendation is to use as many touch points as you know your audiences touch. Ahava goes on to say, ‘Continue to use traditional media tools, people still respond to them it’s getting more and more crowded, your strategy is what’s going to set you apart’.

But, brands should be thinking about, ‘How do we tell a story about how we can help people be their best selves? What are the platforms that are most useful to where our future audiences are?’ What content marketing really does is, builds relationships with people, and social platforms give brands an opportunity to get in on the conversation early.


Take ten percent of your budget and try something new! Take Snapchat for instance. One idea around nutrition, ‘eat this, don’t eat this’, using a picture to grab somebody’s attention. Brands should spend three months watching what people are doing on Snapchat, don’t just jump in.

In a case study on Ahava’s blog, two healthcare marketers who were at the University of Utah. One is still there, one moved. They tried a Pinterest campaign, and it was unbelievably successful. They started with ads, but now they’re not running any ad campaigns, and they’re still growing exponentially. That’s what can happen when you use social media appropriately. By creating a ton of content for this channel, that they now can use in a lot of other places.

Think about things that you can do that are cool and fun. If they don’t work, fine, then you know they don’t work. But if they do work, what other doors do they open up for you that could potentially be huge? And how can you prove that this is doing something? The answer is brand awareness. You want people in your community to know that you care about them, you care about their health. When they’re ready to make a decision, they’ll think of you first.

Before you begin with a content marketing project, you have to make sure that the experts are in agreement with how they’re going to address a topic, and then subtly weave in your messaging. Anytime somebody reads your content, they know that they should use your brand. It’s storytelling. Using techniques in writing, videography, and photography make readers feel like they’re a part of that story and are great ways to use emotion and pull people in.

When you’re sitting down to plan your content, you’re trying to answer five questions.

  1. Who are we talking to?
  2. Who are we as a brand?
  3. What are we trying to say?
  4. How are we saying it?
  5. When and where do we say it?

That’s all you need to think about, and if you can answer those questions, and you have solid answers to those questions based on your research, then you will know what type of content you should be creating.


The first mistake is that companies talk about their brand, and they use their name constantly. Another major mistake is letting doctors dictate the way marketing should go. That’s not their area of expertise, and even though they’re front line and can give a lot of very important information about how patients are looking for information, they’re not strategists. The third mistake is that doctors don’t necessarily understand that the devil is in the details. They want to give big overviews of a disease, but you actually need to give people the details about surgical approaches, about the kinds of drugs that you use – these are the things patients really want to know about. They don’t want you to educate them about their disease, they can go to Web M.D. for that. They want to know ‘How are you going to treat me, and what are you gonna do that’s different from somewhere else?’


SEO best practices are always important. Your pages should be meta tagged appropriately, they should have links, they should have headings. But, if you want to stand out in the marketplace, you need online advertising.  Rank is decided by how much traffic goes to a page and finds it useful. Hospitals should absolutely have an SEO focus for specific diseases and procedures that they specialize in, like diabetes, heart disease, orthopedics, joint replacement, sports medicine.

Then there are reviews, reviews, reviews. People are going to put reviews wherever they want, you can’t control where the reviews are happening. So, you need to monitor. If somebody posts a bad review, you can go in and combat it. When a doctor gets a bad review, and it is addressed, many people will discredit that one star, because it shows that they are responsive, and they take their customers seriously. On the other hand, when there are a couple bad reviews, and no response from the brand, people will say, ‘I’m out of here’. You’re not going to stop people from reviewing you, but if you’re responsive to the reviews (negative or positive) you show transparency and build trust.


Organizations may have certain metrics that they wanted to measure, but now are shifting to a more strategic point of view. We are seeing the implementation of CRMs to prove the efficiency of marketing and will continue to move that direction over the course of the next five years. People used to talk about how many likes they had on Facebook. Who cares? If that’s helping your reach, great, but if people ignoring your content, it doesn’t matter how many likes you have. People are trying to define the metrics that define success, and it’s different everywhere. You have to look at all the different things you can measure and then decide what really is determining success. Get to know your audience and spend as much time with them as you can, because it’ll make you a better marketer.

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Ahava Leibtag

Ahava R. Leibtag has more than 15 years of experience in writing, messaging and marketing. She is a well-recognized content expert and the author of The Digital Crown: Winning at Content on the Web. Ahava is the President and owner of Aha Media Group, LLC, a content strategy and content marketing consultancy founded in October 2005. She’s also totally fun.
Ahava received her M.A. from Georgetown University and her B.A. from Stern College. She lives in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan region.

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