Social Media Essay
The future of communication lies in social media, various internet based tools, and platforms that enhance and increase the transferring of information (Jue, Marr, & Kassotakis, 2009). Through social media platform, Internet users have a quick and easy way of networking, including sharing video, audio, text, photos, and information as a whole (Greysen, Kind, & Chretien, 2010). Because of networking, social media are not only important for personal communication but also facilitated marketing in business. The core issue of concern relates to how the boundless quantity of information obtainable from social media sites can be best used for social good and business advertising (Greysen et al., 2010). This paper discusses social media technologies, the advantages and disadvantages of using social media in healthcare marketing, including any ethical, legal, and security issues that should be considered. In addition, the social media essay presents the reasons for utilizing social media to complement traditional marketing in healthcare.
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Social Media Technologies
Initially, social media were developed as a personal tool for interaction between individuals and their family and peers. Later, entrepreneurs adopted them with the aim of taking advantage to reach out to consumers (Jue et al., 2009). Social media have enabled interaction with millions of people online. They rely on web-based and mobile technologies to create highly interactive platforms to ease information sharing (Jue et al., 2009). Furthermore, social media have brought changes in communication among people, communities, organizations, and businesses. Individuals can choose to share private information with other people in the online community (Greysen et al., 2010). Such platforms serve a perfect tool for sharing, creating, disputing, promoting, and searching information. Tagging and assigning individual sites with important words that are searchable make it simple to find websites, images, and precise information. Applications that have emerged around and within these tools, websites, and platforms, are infinite in functionality and number (Jue et al., 2009).
Advantages and Disadvantages of Social Media in Healthcare Marketing
A number of benefits exist with respect to social media healthcare marketing. The first benefit is that patients, both current and past, can give a positive feedback concerning the facility (Grier & Bryant, 2005).. They share their experience with the doctors, results and stay by mentioning and tagging one’s healthcare in their posts (Grier & Bryant, 2005). Therefore, a good relationship between the healthcare facility and patients is built through the organization responding to their posts and being on familiar terms with them (Grier & Bryant, 2005). Positive feedback encourages new patients to one’s facility, hence analyzing the active units.
Second, social media provides a constructive criticism (Grier & Bryant, 2005). Handling criticisms help one uphold confidence. When doctors reach their patients through communication channels, there is the potential of negative feedback, but in the end, patients are engaging with the healthcare organization (Grier & Bryant, 2005). It is upon the organization to direct the conversation by offering solutions to the problems. The healthcare organization can appreciate the organization’s followers for their negative or positive feedback, provide a solution, or address the criticism to improve the facility services (Grier & Bryant, 2005).
Third, the use of social media in healthcare help build personal connections with patients (Grier & Bryant, 2005). The organization can post videos and pictures of the facility happenings on the social media platform to help its followers to feel a personal connection to the facility (Grier & Bryant, 2005). For instance, if a healthcare posts a survival story on the social media platform, the followers will see the organization’s success and services firsthand. Furthermore, such information will encourage those with the same illness.
On the other hand, the use of social media has a detrimental impact on healthcare facilities as far as marketing is concerned. Firstly, healthcare does not have to control loose lips of their patients on social media platforms (Grier & Bryant, 2005). They may write something, whether true or not, that might destroy the image of the facility. Consequently, it may be difficult to recover the reputation because of the viral nature of social media. Internet users might be rubbed the wrong way through the writing of the organization employee (Grier & Bryant, 2005). False statements or something offensive might turn patients away.
Secondly, sharing of patients’ information and pictures encourages new patients with the same condition but violates the patients’ privacy. Medical employees might post a patient’s condition on their personal pages, but they run the possibility of causing privacy violation problems. It is difficult to ascertain the manner in which patients and their families will respond to a communication (Hawkins & Mothersbaugh, 2009).
The Reasons for Utilizing Social Media in Addition to Traditional Marketing Tactics
Health marketers experience the most difficulty when it comes to social media (Jue et al., 2009). They encounter barriers to building a successful social media presence because of increasing demands from patients, staff shortages, and privacy regulations. However, there are positive reasons healthcare marketing experts should consider getting social. First, healthcare organizations and hospitals are social. Research shows that 367 hospitals in the US use social media platforms and account for 267 Twitter accounts and 10000 tweets (Jue et al., 2009). Social media help most hospitals to connect and provide customer service to patients. Second, healthcare practitioners are increasingly going online. About 89% of the US physicians use the Internet in their daily work, 41% do research online and 64% use smartphones (Jue et al., 2009). In addition, physicians also have their social networks, for instance, Sermo. Third, patients are also increasingly becoming online. In this respect, about 67% of the global population connects on social media platforms (Jue et al., 2009). Healthcare marketers can monitor patients’ social media conversations and be aware of challenges medical doctors face during their everyday work to ensure the best solutions are offered. In addition, the use of social media helps healthcare marketers to have something to post, share, and discuss on the social media platform (Jue et al., 2009). Healthcare is in everyone’s minds; hence, changes are occurring rapidly such as discussions on healthcare mergers and acquisitions, electronic health records, and Affordable Care Act (Jue et al., 2009). Often, this information is interesting to both patients and professionals. Fifth, social media are cost-effective; therefore, any organization can afford them. Many tools are free, hence enabling a dedicated employee in any organization to thrive social media presence that helps to generate awareness, drive business goals, and strengthen the brand. For instance, some healthcare organizations, such as Mayo Clinic, have witnessed great results from using social media. Through leveraging YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook, Mayo has increased its podcast downloads by 8,000% (Greysen et al., 2010).
Despite the risks of using social media in healthcare marketing, it can be useful to healthcare organizations when utilized to communicate considerately and carefully. Healthcare facilities and organizations need special attention when posting online because they are dealing with the patients directly. Healthcare marketers should use social media to build an effective social media presence to meet the increasing patient demands, staff shortages, and privacy regulations.
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