Using Social Media Monitoring to Diagnose the Needs of Healthcare Consumers

Zachary Mesenbourg | October 21, 2015

Social Media Monitoring for Healthcare

Consumers are doing a lot more shopping for insurance these days, thanks in large part to the Affordable Care Act that came into effect January 1, 2014. Now more than ever, the public is tasked with not only securing their own insurance coverage, but also learning about and understanding complex legal and medical issues.

This shift also means that the insurance providers have to be smarter about how they communicate information about their plans. They need to educate consumers in ways that make sense to them. Providers also need to bring more efficiency to a system that is historically inefficient.

Given those challenges, insurance companies and healthcare professionals need to do more than simply blast out plan information en masse. They cannot sit back and hope that people “get it” and purchase one of their plans over a competitor plan. Companies need to be more connected with consumers at every stage of their decision journey, and they can accomplish that by staying connected.

Listen to and Identify Conversation Triggers

There is a world of information at the fingertips of all these providers. That information comes in the form of social media conversations. It is public. It is there for the taking. All they need to do is simply listen.

By instituting a strategic listening and monitoring plan, companies can stay ahead of the market by pinpointing precise consumer pain points and need states. They can then leverage that information by crafting messaging and creating digital assets that speak directly to those issues. Not only does this show consumers that a brand is paying attention, it also shows them that a brand is actively working on addressing their needs.

Defining Audiences

Once those conversation drivers and needs are uncovered, it is paramount to see how each fits with a particular audience segment. It goes without saying that when it comes to health, the needs of a millennial will vary drastically from someone in the Baby Boomer generation.

A brand cannot utilize a one-size-fits-all approach for its audiences. Consumers are smart. They will quickly see that a brand only cared to look at the surface level information. They want to be addressed on an individual level. They need personalized information that helps them make specific decisions. So if they are getting diluted or off-target messages that do not fit their needs, a brand has done them a great disservice. That is why engaging them becomes even more critical.

Engage Consumers Directly

It isn’t a mistake that people @mention companies every second of every day on Twitter. They seek an instant connection to a brand and expect a response. So even if companies had no intention of turning their social properties into a customer service channel, their consumers have done that for them.

Don’t take this desire for granted. Dedicate resources and allocate time to drive meaningful connections with these people. Not only can you quell emerging customer frustrations, you can also establish relationships, answer questions, provide information and turn them into advocates.

If a brand listens and takes action, it has started to win over its audience. Especially when it comes to complicated health insurance information. Engaging people on that one-to-one level could be the difference between consumer confusion proliferating online or a brand staying a step ahead.

Pay Attention to the Data

This should not be difficult, but many times it is. Health insurers deal with a wealth of health data and information on a daily basis already. However, they often overlook changes and shifts in another set of data – the social kind.

Yes it is important to listen. Yes it is crucial to engage audiences. But if companies are not assessing how conversations shift, trends change and behaviors transform, then they are not using consumer data to its full potential. So while it is important to know the steps someone took in tracking down insurance information six months ago, it is even more important to start predicting what they will want four weeks from now. That can be accomplished by staying on top of the data – watching for ebbs and flows over time.

Compliment Social With Offline

While there are amazing things that can be accomplished by leveraging social more effectively, it can all fall flat if there isn’t a complimentary offline strategy. Health is a very personal topic for many people. Not everyone will be comfortable engaging in open forums or even direct messages online. They will still want the direct human element.

Therefore, it is important to create assets that can be easily found online or on a brand’s website, while also giving people outlets they can go to in-person (or on the phone) to get more clarity. In doing so, you will have established a well thought out and comprehensive social strategy.

How to Gauge Success

The bad news – there is no standardized way to measure whether a company’s efforts have been successful or not. The good news – because there is no standardized way, a company can assess its success by seeing if it fulfilled designated marketing and business objectives.

With that said, here is a list of some common key performance indicators related to social intelligence and audience strategy efforts:

  • Increase in net favorability
  • Social community growth
  • More social engagement from custom content
  • Reduced response times on Twitter, Facebook, etc.
  • Increase in message resonance
  • Create more thought leadership
  • Higher social referrals to your site
  • More click-throughs to key sites/assets/documents
  • Increase in subscriber base
  • Reduction in complaints and confusion

The Value

At 7Summits, we know just how important it is to help healthcare organizations navigate their way through issues such as these. Whether it is through comprehensive social strategy work or through building unique customer communities, we make sure to align our plans and tactics with the known desires and needs states of key audience groups. Visit our Healthcare page to learn more about our healthcare solutions.

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