Social media’s growing influence over everything means it has extended to the healthcare system too. In 2005, just 5% of adults were using social networking sites, compared to over 50% in 2015. Facebook, Pintrest, and Twitter have grown by the millions and adding more users everyday. Integrating social media into a health organization’s daily activities has become a more standard practice for many companies as they look to become part of the online conversation.
Using Social Media to Take a More Active Role in Health and Healthcare Decisions
Organizations understand that social media provides a way to take a more active and engaged role in managing people’s health and healthcare decisions.
Integrate and Engage in More Meaningful Ways
It provides health organizations an opportunity to integrate social media information into more meaningful ways to connect with current patients and potential consumers.
Get Faster, More Robust Insight and Feedback
It also provides instant feedback and insight about products and services that can to be incorporated into new designs and operations. Plus, in the past couple years, it provides some businesses with an avenue for revenue growth.
Pitfalls to Watch in Social Media
That last point has been a new dynamic associated with social media. And prompted a recent Federal Trade Commission reminder, cautioning businesses and social media “influencers” those with large social media followings – to clearly disclose relationships with brands they are promoting. The reminders could affect certain healthcare companies such as pharmaceutical and dietary supplement organizations that use Instagram and other social media networks to promote their products and services.
Improving Healthcare Decision Making with Social Media
Research by PwC’s Health Research Institute has found that indeed consumers are increasingly using context from social media in their healthcare decision-making. For example, more than 40% of consumers said social media information would impact the way they cope with a chronic condition, their approach to diet and exercise and their selection of a specific doctor. They trust information the most from a physician (61%), next from a hospital (55%), then an insurer (42%) and finally from a drug company (37%). They’re likely to share information in the same order.
Going a step further, healthcare organizations see the potential of partnering with influential social media users to reach a more targeted audience. They need to ensure such activities like sponsored posts plainly and properly disclose relationships and adhere to all federal standards, including those of the FTC, SEC, FDA, and other regulators. Otherwise they could face bad publicity in today’s online environment, as well as possible fines or legal action. Social media relationships are too important to let that happen as is the importance of using these networks to establish trust and credibility.