Leveraging Social Media for Healthcare Innovation


The Boring Company is an infrastructure and tunneling company founded by Elon Musk in late 2016. With this new company, founder of Tesla, SpaceX, and Paypal, Elon Musk proposes the building of a network of tunnels many levels deep that would alleviate traffic, be weatherproof, and enable travel from Washington DC to New York in 30 minutes or less. In theory, it is a more practical mode of transportation than the flying cars that may have inhabited our imaginations at some point in time. Although we may aspire to be as innovative as Elon, “Boring” is not a title that many of us would be proud to assign to our businesses.

Without a proper marketing strategy, startups in healthcare and life sciences are bound to live up to this title, losing out on profits and falling by the wayside in this entrepreneurial ecosystem. So how many of us are actually competing for this title in 2017, and how can we avoid winning? 

The answer can be found on the internet, but more specifically, on social media platforms.

From this info graphic alone, you can see that if Facebook were a country, it’d be the largest, most inhabited country on the planet.  Facebook is the number one social networking platform, and other platforms like Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube, are following suit. With that many users, it is apparent that social media is one of the most powerful marketing tools to ever exist and a key component to innovation in a realm that is incredibly desperate for innovation (healthcare). Medical professionals and experts in healthcare related fields have knowledge to share that can significantly enhance value and improve patient care.

When it comes to social media for businesses, one of the main goals is to educate the consumer and build trust in your brand on a large scale. Yet, as the digital marketing specialist for Ascendance Medical Marketing, what is apparent to me as the most consistent area of failure for physicians, startups in healthcare, and life science entrepreneurs, is their social media strategy. For any business model, the attention that’s given to your service or product can directly increase or decrease your profit margins, and the benefit of social media is that you are in constant control over how much attention you’re getting. So the question then becomes: what does it take to build a social media strategy for startups in healthcare and life sciences?

Strategic Development 

First, let’s define what a social media “strategy” really is. If you were to ask most social media strategists to define “strategy”, you would undoubtedly get a wishy-washy and borderline meaningless response that dodges the question. Taken from Dennis Yu of Blitzmetrics, strategy is best defined as “goals” + “content” + “targeting”. Violating HIPAA, posting irrelevant information, and failing to engage followers, is a phenomenal course of action to take for falling by the wayside and going out of business in record time.

The three major questions to ask when formulating an individualized social media strategy are:
What do I hope to accomplish with this business?
What story should my content tell that differentiates me from others?

Ideally, who do I want to receive this message?  

 So, before all else, define your ideal patient/customer. Then do research on that persona and similar personas. They will dictate what you’re ACTUALLY able to accomplish with your product or service, and how much you can impact the healthcare realm. A great way to define them is by constructing a customer avatar with a template like this. After defining your prospect, choose the correct social media platform to effectively communicate your message.

Different Platforms, Different Shoes

I was given the opportunity to present for SoPE’s National Capital Chapter in June 2017. Judging from the reactions, a lot of the information I was presenting was eye-opening. Having performed an audit for most of the entrepreneurs’ social media presences, the verdict was that YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook, presented the biggest challenges in terms of promoting their businesses and practices. Every platform has its own native language and set of unspoken rules. I will provide a succinct description of each.

YouTube is the best channel for long form marketing – whenever you have a marketing message that you need to get out, like the story of your brand, YouTube is the go-to platform. As an unspoken rule, any video over 5 minutes, such as client testimonials or interviews, belong here.

Twitter happens to be a LOUD tech entrepreneur haven, where a search for a business partner is an incredibly simple process that involves proactively reaching out and engaging others. “Loud” meaning that you can essentially spam this platform with 5-10 posts in a span of 60 minutes and not suffer for it (this behavior tends to be frowned upon by members on other social platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn). It’s best to use when you have updates within your business, an immediate action that you want your consumers to take, or simply to reach out and keep in touch with business contacts. 140 characters per post, this is where new market opportunities tend to be discussed in short blurbs – at length. You can search #healthcare and #startup to enter current, relevant conversations.

Our favorite giant, Facebook, happens to be the best and cheapest to advertise on, with Facebook Ads granting you the ability to target individuals on a granular level. Data is everything when it comes to advertising on Facebook and that’s because of the Facebook Algorithm. In layman’s terms, the Facebook algorithm is a massive computer database that uses the millions of data points gathered through human activity on Facebook to show your ad to the right person at the right time and to maximize your return on ad spend. For example, if you’re looking to reach employees of a specific healthcare organization, or business owners in Washington DC, you can set up the targeting of your advertisements within the Business Manager to reach those specific audiences immediately after they get off of work. Facebook Ads is a tool that takes time to master, as Facebook is constantly updating their algorithm and the functionality of their technology, but social advertising platforms like this are incredibly helpful for healthcare startups to reach the right audiences and scale their businesses. Outside of paid advertising, it’s best to brand yourself by creating a Facebook group to support and build your tribe of followers. That is your online community and boardroom where you go into detail about your product. For fan pages and business pages, Facebook only shows your content to about 3% or 4% of your total likes or followers. Gaining traction through organic posts on a Facebook fan/business page becomes more difficult as Facebook continues to tweak and push their advertising platform forward.

Building a tribe on whichever platform best aligns with your goals and your content is an evergreen “strategy” to avoid the “boring” title, future-proof your business, and continue the push for healthcare innovation.

Damani Jones

CEO-Digital Marketing Specialist

Ascendance Medical Marketing