State of Healthcare Social Media

Is healthcare social media dying? Has it been the fad that everyone predicted in the early days, or has social media become an integral part of the healthcare landscape? How has your use of social platforms evolved? I’m interested in hearing opinions from the #hcldr community on this topic.

This past week, I had the opportunity to meet Amy Ma @Ctzen_Improver for a coffee in Montreal. I was on my way back home to Toronto and was fortunate that Amy was free on a Sunday morning. It was so great to meet her in-person and it’s a friendship that would not have been possible without Twitter.

Since I started using Twitter, I have made hundreds of deep and lasting connections with people through the platform. I’ve been fortunate to meet many of them in-person too! These connections have had an enormous impact on my personal life and professional career. I would literally not be doing what I do now if not for Twitter.

However, over the past two years, I have noticed a significant drop in the number of new connections I am making via Twitter. It’s as if a switch was turned off. I lamented this fact with Amy over coffee. She was quick to point out that Twitter is still a great place to hear about the latest news and developments in any industry – including healthcare.

Twitter is also a great place to draw the attention of people and organizations who would normally overlook individuals like us. Consumer brands, for example, do a very good job at responding to people who post negative experiences on Twitter. I’ve done it several times with airlines and gotten very quick responses. The question is, are healthcare organizations monitoring their Twitter feeds and responding to patients? I don’t think many of them are. I fear most are using Twitter as a distribution channel for their news and announcements.

LinkedIn has emerged as the preferred platform to build personal work-related brands. Over the past few years, my posts and comments on LinkedIn have generated more interaction than on Twitter. Has that been the case for you? I have also connected with more people via LinkedIn than ever before.

One thing I love reading on LinkedIn are in-depth analysis of news stories and industry trends. I find that platform the perfect place for that kind of thing. I don’t turn to LinkedIn for the news, but I do look there for commentary about the news.

I don’t use Facebook, Instagram, or TikTok regularly enough to comment on those platforms.

According to Hootsuite, the top 5 social trends for 2022 are:

  1. Brands finally get community right (with the help of creators)
  2. Marketers get creative as consumers wise up to social ads
  3. Social quietly matures out of the marketing department
  4. Social becomes the heart of the post-pandemic shopping experience
  5. Social marketers save their brands from customer service apocalypse

While I believe these trends are true for consumer brands that use social media, I’m not sure that all of them apply to healthcare. I certainly have not seen many organizations engage with patients on social media – other than those that are making a public complaint. Hootsuite does have a special report on the healthcare social media trends. You will need to enter your information to download the report.

Where do I think healthcare social media is heading?

  • Clinicians will continue to use closed social media platforms like Figure1, Sermo, and Doximity to connect with peers and share knowledge.
  • Twitter will continue to be the place for sharing healthcare related news, but live-tweeting from conferences will decline and in a few years it will no longer be the primary place to meet healthcare peers.
  • LinkedIn will emerge as the go-to place to meet people in healthcare
  • Discord will become a place for healthcare communities to converse and share information
  • TikTok will become an important part of healthcare social media – mostly for medical education and a fun way to humanize clinicians and healthcare in general
  • Facebook will continue to “tread-water” – neither growing nor shrinking in terms of healthcare social media use

What are your thoughts? Bring your opinions and comments to the next #HCLDR tweetchat on Tuesday August 23rd at 8:30pm ET (for your local time click here) where we will discuss the following:

  • Q1 How has your use of Twitter for healthcare-related topics/activities evolved since you started using it? What have you started or stopped using the platform for?
  • Q2 How do you use social media platforms (Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, TikTok, Discord, etc). What value do you get from them?
  • Q3 In hindsight, was it wrong of us to try to get clinicians and healthcare orgs to engage with patients on social media? Should our energies have been focused on other forms of engagement?
  • Q4 Where is healthcare social media heading over the next two years?

Resources

Barnhart, Brent. “41 of the most important social media marketing statistics for 2022”, SproutSocial, 22 March 2022, https://sproutsocial.com/insights/social-media-statistics/, accessed 22 August 2022

Reinberg, Steven. “Week Off Social Media Boosts Mental Health: Study”, USNews, 11 May 2022, https://www.usnews.com/news/health-news/articles/2022-05-11/week-off-social-media-boosts-mental-health-study, accessed 22 August 2022

Forgie EME, Lai H, Cao B, Stroulia E, Greenshaw AJ, Goez H. “Social Media and the Transformation of the Physician-Patient Relationship: Viewpoint”, Journal of Medical Internet Research, 23 October 2020, https://www.jmir.org/2021/12/e25230, accessed 22 August 2022

Marshall, Lisa. “‘Patient influencers’ are booming on social media. Is that good or bad?”, CU Boulder Today, 4 April 2022, https://www.colorado.edu/today/2022/04/04/patient-influencers-are-booming-social-media-good-or-bad, accessed 22 August 2022

Berg, Sara. “What doctors wish patients knew about social media’s toxic impact”, AMA, 17 December 2021, https://www.ama-assn.org/delivering-care/population-care/what-doctors-wish-patients-knew-about-social-media-s-toxic-impact, accessed 22 August 2022

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