Facebook marketing for health and wellness brands can be incredibly powerful when it’s executed properly. While I want to laud the companies that have jumped in and are trying to connect with their customers, some the brands are posting cringe-worthy posts that they borrowed from the days of direct sales and shove-the-message-in-your-face marketing.
Please put your direct-sale marketing messaging back in the closet. It doesn’t belong on Facebook. It’s ridiculous to think that anyone would ever just decide to “like” your Facebook Page and then, without any warming up or information, see a link that says “check out this product!” and decide to buy. It just doesn’t happen that way anymore. People need a lot of good reasons to buy. They need a lot of good reasons to even click. Half the battle on social media is writing good headlines that will cut through the clutter. If you simply post: “Check out this product (link)” then you are simply posting an ad you didn’t pay for and people don’t want to see.
Instead, you need to feed your Facebook fans. They need information. They want to feel entertained and loved. They want to feel a part of a community. You’re delirious if you think you can get customers to convert without any effort these days. Every brand is out there courting new customers and doing everything they can to win their hearts (and wallets). You think you can just ask people for the conversion right out of the gate? Not a chance.
The brands that are winning on social media are the brands that are providing relevant information, acting as a go-to resource, surprising & delighting their fans, listening with empathy, providing customer service, and engaging with users to create a community.
Here are the 5 winning formulas to use for health marketing on Facebook:
1. Bring Great Offline Ideas Online
Industry: Medical Device
OneTouch did a great job bringing an offline event, the Children with Diabetes Friends for Life Conference, online. Here’s what they did right:
- They tapped into their Facebook fan base to raise awareness for the event
- They built hype for the event by giving clues as to what fans could look forward to at the event
- They showed a humanistic side of their brand by being playful
- They documented the event with lots of photos
- They published the photos to Facebook so that a larger audience could view the photos
One of the unique benefits provided by social media here is that more people were reached than if the event only lived offline. By sharing what they did online, more people were able to experience the fun that they created. In addition, instead of people just interacting with OneTouch at the conference, leaving, and forgetting about it, OneTouch was able to use social media as reminder advertising. People could not only have a good experience at the event, but they could relive it and share it with the rest of their friends on social media.
The Benefits of Social Media for Tradeshows and Conferences:
- Get more mileage out of your marketing campaigns
- Raise awareness with a bigger audience
- Leverage networks – people sharing their content showed it to their whole network of friends and family
- Extend the life of your campaign beyond a single event
How OneTouch Could Step Up Their Game
They did so well with connecting their online and offline channels but there still isn’t multichannel consistency. Consistency across social platforms and channels is important for branding. If you view the OneTouch website, you wouldn’t even know that they had a “Secret Mission” at the event. This is a problem, because even though the large majority of people use social media, there are still people who might go to a website first. All of your channels should reflect your marketing efforts to maximize the brand awareness and brand equity you are gaining from a marketing initiative.
2. Alert your fans about industry-relevant news
Industry: Healthcare IT
Qliqsoft could have just posted a message on Facebook that said something like “Don’t get HIPAA violations, use our secure messaging solution for iPhone, iPad, Android devices, Windows and Mac.” But guess what? No one would really care. People have gotten really good at tuning out those kind of messages. But by sharing a news story about a company that was recently fined $1.7 million, the company was providing relevant, valuable information for companies in the industry. They didn’t add anything to the message either. They didn’t say, “WellPoint just got fined $1.7 million, avoid situations like this with our secure
communications software.” That’s because this is still the kind of message people tune out. They don’t need to say anything like that because just presenting the idea that your company can be fined millions of dollars for HIPAA violations is powerful enough. Another great part about this post is that the link lead to an article on their blog written by someone with a Juris Doctor (J.D.). What does this say about the company? They are on top of industry news and know what’s going on. They understand the delicate issues surrounding HIPAA compliance. They have an expert with a J.D. in their company that can provide the legal insights that are important for health care companies to know.
The Benefits of Social Media for Industry News
- Show that your company is up to date with current issues affecting the industry
- Show your company’s expertise in a particular subject
- Give your company credibility in a particular subject
- Drive traffic back to your website
- Highlight your company’s solution
What Qliqsoft Could Do To Step Up Their Game
If someone has clicked on a link to go to your website, then you can assume that they are at least a little bit interested. Don’t let them just wander back into the cyberspace, give them a reason to stay and learn more. They could do this with a variety of different tactics:
- Show related articles on their blog at the end of the post
- Give a CTA at the end of the blog to get people to comment
- Link to other inside sources within the blog post: They missed an opportunity to elaborate about this issue on another page of their blog where they could have further informed consumers about the issues around HIPAA that might have motivated someone to further explore the Qliqsoft technology. I would recommend that they link to further educational information here:
“During its investigation, OCR found that WellPoint had not enacted the appropriate administrative, technical, and physical safeguards mandated under HIPAA.”
- This is an opportunity to describe what these appropriate “administrative, technical, and physical safeguards” are that health care companies must be particularly conscientious of. Get technical; this is supposed to be your area of expertise.
3. Tell great stories about your employees
GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) did a great job highlighting an employee here. By putting the focus on the employee story, we felt connected to Laura and her story instead of
feeling like they were pushing us to hear about how the Queen of England came to
their exhibition to learn about GSK’s technology. They could have easily posted messages saying “Amazing news! GSK was visited by the Queen of England!” and while this would have been somewhat exciting to see on Facebook, people are much more interested in hearing the stories of real people than hearing a billion dollar pharmaceutical company brag about meeting the queen.
The Benefits of Spotlighting Employees Using Social Media
- Let your employees tell the story of your successes and people will be much more receptive to what you have to say
- It’s more relatable to learn about a company’s employees – people just like us – then it is just to hear about how a company is doing well. We can share in the successes of people to whom we can relate to, but there’s nothing human about a giant corporation. The human-ness is all within the people who work there
- People feel good about supporting companies that treat their employees well and give people opportunities to succeed
- There’s an HR benefit of having other potential candidates seeing what their life could be like at your company in a positive light and having more people interested in working for your company
- The post motivated other employees to get involved and comment about how GSK was their first job and how much they liked working at the company – it’s good for internal company culture
What GSK Could Do To Step Up Their Game
GSK is all over social media but doesn’t have a blog. Your blog should be the anchor of your social media strategy. In the case of GSK, they are a very large corporation that already has a lot of existing brand awareness. They may feel like a blog isn’t as valuable for them since they are so well established and it may not outweigh the efforts it would take to keep it maintained. However, a blog would allow them to go into greater depth about the company and it is important to remember that a blog is the only place where you completely own and control the content you produce. If GSK were to have a PR crisis where something came up, they would be better off having a crisis management strategy anchored to their blog where they could update in real-time, and have better control over the conversation and the message they want to send. A blog would also be a more efficient way to spread messages in a crisis management situation because it would be the central hub for information, instead of updating the individual channels first.
4. Spotlight your fans so everyone can get to know them
Company: Cyberonics/Vagus Stimulation Therapy
Industry: Medical Device
It’s great to put your employees in the spotlight, but they’re still part of your organization. It’s great when an organization puts their fans in the spotlight. It shows that the organization is not consumed with their own news and information. Any healthy relationship is a two way street, and social media is no exception. People like to see other fans and read about their stories because it creates a sense of community, sends the message that you are not alone, and provides inspiration for other people with the same condition.
The Benefits of Using Social Media To Spotlight Fans
- Create the kind of content that users want to see
- Create content that builds a community and engages users
- Show consumers that other patients are doing well and that they can get help
- Create brand awareness in a positive light
What Vagus Nerve Stimulation Could Do To Step Up Their Game
I love what they did by showcasing their fans, but they could go one step further and use social media
to drive traffic back to their website by elaborating a little further about the fan in a blog post. Again, your blog should really be the center of your social media strategy. It’s great to use social media, but you’re much more likely to see conversions on your website where people can really learn about your product or service. If you don’t have a blog, you completely miss out on the opportunity to drive traffic to your website. People who were interested in the story were most likely either a sufferer of the condition, or a family or friend of someone who does, which means they’re already more qualified as a potential lead because they have a tie to the product and the solution it’s providing. They might be potential customers in the future, or a caregiver or concerned friend who may advocate to their loved one that they should explore the treatment option.
5. Have fun without being off-topic
Industry: Health, Wellness & Fitness
Every social media manager has probably had the urge to post an oh-so-adorable picture of a fluffy little puppy on the company page before. But it would get so many likes! Everybody would love it!
Don’t fall into this trap. Even if it would get likes, unless it’s related to the product or service you provide, it’s a waste. That’s why everyone who’s not Petco has to come up with creative ways to bring likes to their posts that do not include puppies. Bowflex did a great job here by tapping into the lifestyle of someone who might be interested in using the brand’s products while remaining light-hearted and playful. This is a feel good post. People like feel-good posts and the best part is that it is totally on topic for their company.
The Benefits of Using Social Media to Create Good Will
- When people like and share posts like this, your brand’s post gets more exposure in other newsfeeds where it might otherwise be seen and raise brand awareness
- People like to buy from companies like and enjoy interacting with
- It helps to create a lifestyle around your brand
How Bowflex Could Step Up Their Game
I hate to be the party pooper but technically you are not supposed to use these e-cards for commercial use. While they didn’t outright use it to sell their product, they would be better off if they created a branded version of these kinds of messages. A branded version would be much more valuable, because even though this message was shared a lot (558 times at the time I took this screenshot), most of the Bowflex branding is completely absent. If you create your own images to share these messages, you can control the branding and have your brand identified by all of the people who share it and see it. With that in mind though, I would recommend you don’t go overboard with the branding. It should still be very small and subtle. Otherwise people are going to put the brakes on sharing anything like that because the public tends to be weary of feeling like they’re a part of free advertising. Even though it obviously happens all the time you can’t be that blunt and overt about it, especially on social media where pushy selling is frowned upon.
The big idea here is that Facebook is not for the hard sell. You can’t go on Facebook and just post messages telling people to look at your product. Shouting at people no longer works. Demanding people’s attention without providing something of value, entertaining, informing does not work. People will not listen to brands that treat social media as a one-way street. The examples here show that health care companies can still accomplish their business objectives on Facebook without falling into the old habits of the direct sell.
- It’s not about your product
- You have to be human to connect with other humans
- Learn to be a good storyteller
- Learn to find the human emotions within your brand
- Find ways to be a helpful resource
- Establish your credibility as a thought leader within the industry
- Show your expertise
What are some examples you know of health brands using Facebook well? Share in the comments below.