Last week I led a webinar on the topic of “Healthcare Marketing as Online Community Building.” My message was that healthcare marketing is facing a crisis of relevance. The healthcare environment is “undergoing radical transformation.” Meanwhile, the world of marketing is being transformed by the adoption of new digital platforms and technologies. Yet, most healthcare organizations continue to market as they always have.
Traditional service line marketing cannot meet the challenges we face within the new healthcare ecosystem. And the traditional model of healthcare marketing, where we primarily push content in the direction of the consumer, is not sustainable. The traditional model is short on value and holds little relevance for patients and consumers.
Healthcare marketing could benefit greatly from a “community building” mindset. What a dramatic shift that would be away from our current content production and distribution mindset! Here’s one quick example: A community building frame-of-mind would positively impact the ways in which we use social media to engage patients and prospective patients. Currently, most of us use social media the same way we’ve always used print, radio or TV advertising: It is one way communication. We use these amazing listening and engagement platforms to simply push out content. Moving forward, that will not prove to be a viable practice.
Based on consumer behavior and the success of online patient support communities (for example, inspire.com and PatientLikeMe), we should look to online community development as a foundational element of any engagement strategy. We need to build niche online communities of shared interest, organized around specific topics, conditions or diseases, that our patients can join and where they can interact with others facing similar health challenges. Moving forward, community building needs to be a significant focus for healthcare marketers, understanding that an investment in community should lead to a significant return for the organization.
Check out the presentation video below: