Although many healthcare providers in private practice have implemented some form of social media marketing, determining return on investment (ROI) for these strategies can prove difficult. As digital healthcare and marketing continue to evolve, it becomes more important than ever to determine the optimal way to reach a larger audience without distracting from critical core healthcare practices.

In a 2020 Health Marketing Quarterly study, it was determined that the effective use of social media by hospitals had the potential to improve financial performance by facilitating customer service and providing hospitals with a low-cost marketing platform. In the cross-sectional study, the relationship between Facebook engagement and patient revenue was explored. Interestingly, a positive relationship was found between Facebook engagement and hospital revenue for rural hospitals, but not for urban hospitals, which is indicative of the many variables present when trying to develop an effective social media strategy that delivers an ROI.

According to a Practice Builders article, “How to Improve Physician Social Media Marketing ROI,” today’s healthcare marketers face four main social media challenges:

  1. Measuring ROI: Because social media is still a relatively new marketing channel, it can be difficult to determine its influence on revenue.
  2. Publishing content: Many medical practices have limited resources to put toward creating content. Plus, creating engaging content can be a challenge, especially for time-strapped physicians.
  3. Developing a physical social media marketing strategy: For healthcare marketing to be successful on social media, it must go beyond simple posts to crafting entire campaigns to fully engage their target markets.
  4. Tying social media marketing to business goals: It can be a struggle to align your social media goals with your medical and business goals to create a cohesive overall strategy.

These challenges, however, are worth overcoming, as quantifiable benefits of social media marketing for businesses have been observed that can also be broadly applied to healthcare practices, including:

  • 71% of consumers with a positive interaction on social media are likely to recommend that organization to family and friends. Positive commentary on social media and other websites can also be essential to attracting new patients to your practice. One assessment showed that almost 75% of patients use online reviews as a first step in finding a new physician.
  • 90% of consumers are more likely to engage with posts that embrace an organization’s personality. Subsequently, it is not surprising that many physicians have carved out names for themselves on social media, amassing thousands if not hundreds of thousands of followers on some social media platforms.
  • Social media enables a wide demographic to be reached. Instagram has an estimated 864 million user accounts, with over 200 million people visiting at least one Instagram business page every day, and 91% of millennials can be reached through YouTube. Therefore, it is easy to see how such platforms can provide major opportunities to target a whole new set of potential patients.

Although it can be difficult at times to measure engagement, traffic, and leads to get a wholly accurate measure of ROI, it’s clear that even a modest social media strategy is important to implement. Even with limited data, the benefits in patient flow, engagement, and growth are clear.