Reasons Hospitals Use Social Media (and What They Should Be Doing Next)

SoMe phone appsAccording to a survey last fall by CSC (PDF), some of the reasons hospitals use Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and LinkedIn include (via FierceHealthIT):

  • Build greater brand recognition (70%)
  • Promote wellness and health behaviors (≈60%)
  • Conduct marketing services, workforce recruitment and reputation management (≈50%)

I might quibble with the wording: What, exactly, are the social media “marketing services” that are separate from building brand recognition and doing reputation management? This could encompass many different kinds of marketing—SEO, paid advertising, marketing automation—but the larger point is why are reputation management and branding divorced from some general, anonymous marketing services?

Either way, the majority of the 36 hospitals and health systems answering this survey use social media for various marketing purposes and promoting health and wellness, which is in itself a form of indirect marketing insofar as healthcare consumers appreciate and trust general health information from healthcare providers and associate positive values with those that share it.

The survey’s author, Jared Rhoads, argued for hospitals to go beyond their initial familiarity with social media to the next level in order to achieve their strategic goals. This more advanced stage of social media usage includes activities like:

  • “Connecting consumers and providers”
  • “Gaining insights to inform product development”
  • “Responding to patient needs more rapidly”

The survey also showed that Facebook was the most widely used social media platform at 76%, followed by Twitter (65%), YouTube (51%) and a trailing LinkedIn (41%).


Check out Fathom’s white paper on social media in the top 15 health systems.

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Photo courtesy of Jason Howie via Flickr.

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