Social media is a relatively recent marketing tool, which is exploited by commercial companies and individuals for promotion and interaction with a potentially global audience. However, healthcare marketing services have a greater responsibility to uphold the regulations that govern the industry and as such, utilising social media in healthcare SEO can be a tricky prospect if you are without guidance.
Modern healthcare search engine optimisation techniques have to take into account the fact that social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter can be used to engage with relevant communities and improve business, so understanding healthcare SEO in this context is essential to a successful marketing campaign.
It is first useful to discuss how healthcare marketing might be adversely affected if social media is used incorrectly and in a manner that is detrimental to the company involved. There are many high profile cases of the reputation of companies suffering damage as a result of poor social media use, either by rogue employees or due to unexpected backlash to a sanctioned promotion. Of course, experts who are keen to promote social media in the search engine optimisation process for healthcare companies are keen to point out that any hesitancy about adoption can be equally damaging. Adapting and enabling a level of interaction and conversation expected by modern medical professionals and patients will quash concerns over negative effects, provided the tools are leveraged in the correct manner.
One statistic that should help persuade the sceptical that investing in healthcare marketing and modern social media SEO is worthwhile comes from Europe. According to InParm.com, around 85 per cent of all patients use the web to search for information about medical treatment and prescriptions. The offshoot of this is that regardless of how immersed your company may be in social media, there are already conversations occurring about your brand online via a number of different forums. This means you can either keep social media at arm’s length and have no control over how these conversations play out, or get involved and start to expand your influence so that the wider community can be symbiotically integrated into your SEO strategy by healthcare marketing services.
Often, it is necessary for healthcare marketing services to make sure that companies in the medical industry that want to leverage social media in their healthcare SEO campaign are in possession of all the facts. A reluctance to use social media can stem not only from regulation but also from ignorance, which means training or at least a degree of transparency is required when embarking upon any new strategy.
For example, if you want a presence on Facebook, you will need to carefully consider the fact that the website itself has specific rules governing pharmaceutical companies and how they can operate a page for the 750 million site users to view. Recent regulation changes mean that you will need to ensure pages promoting specific prescription drugs make this fact obvious in the name of the page or group. In addition, Facebook may disable commenting or liking on posts originating from particular pages and indeed has the power to remove pages at its own discretion. This means adhering to the rules and most importantly, keeping up with them as they shift. You should look to your healthcare marketing service to provide support in this area.
Another important aspect of using social media in healthcare search engine optimisation is that you can use it to publicise and share digital content with your clients and customers in a way that was previously impossible. You Tube has 180 million regular users as well as millions more casual viewers across the world. 32 per cent of these people watch videos relating to health, which eclipses other popular categories such as food and celebrity in terms of viewing figures. Major medical companies including Pfizer have embraced You Tube and similar portals because they allow them to distribute content and build a brand image that is easily accessible to anyone interested in learning more. Given the size of the audience at your fingertips it would seem sensible for firms large and small to use social media in their healthcare SEO to move forward rather than holding back and stagnating as a result.
Because of the checks and balances that are in operation to ensure medical companies are sticking to industry rules and regulations, there is no doubt that a lot more work goes into the process of creating a social media presence than you might expect. Deloitte reported in 2010 that 53 per cent of those in the medical industry and healthcare marketing services will remain uncertain about just how to use social networking even after the FDA publishes guidelines. This means that the real challenge is not only to use social media sites correctly, but also to integrate them into your professional site via healthcare SEO as well as create a unique presence on individual services. It is, in fact, overcoming the disconnect that exists between the digital content creators who do not understand restrictions within the medical market and healthcare professionals who are sceptical of the benefits of social media.
At the moment there is a tendency amongst medical companies to look to the multitude of regulatory bodies for instruction on the correct use of social media, taking the black and white approach of assuming that there are things you can do and things you cannot do with no middle ground. As such, experts are encouraging companies not to wait for regulations to catch up with the fast-paced world of social media and instead tweak their own in-house regulations so as to stay ahead of the curve. There is a movement to retain the ethical principles that have been built to govern the industry in recent years and then apply them to healthcare SEO via social media in a flexible way that takes into account the constantly shifting digital landscape. In short, ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ are still well defined and largely immutable tenets of the industry. You can either get hung up on the cautious approach, which stifles social media usage or get out there and jump on the healthcare search engine optimisation bandwagon to power forward to a brighter future.