Social Media: The Secret to Engaging Millennial Healthcare Consumers
Many healthcare marketers make the mistake of marketing to broad generational characteristics and expecting such messaging to be uniformly effective across a given cohort. But are all Baby Boomers exactly alike? Are all Millennials motivated by the same words or images? Of course not. Every generation (or, indeed, patient population of any kind) can be subdivided into different psychographic segments.
That said, there is a generational lens that consumers look through and a place for generationally-targeted marketing.
One would not expect that web-based marketing would be very effective with octogenarians, for example. Sure, there are undoubtedly some tech-savvy eighty-somethings out there, but it can be easily demonstrated that the return on engagement for a fully digital campaign toward elderly patients will be minimal.
And while Millennials — those patients born roughly between 1980 and 2000 — may not be a cohort of homogenous drivers and behaviors, there is still one single platform that is the best forum for engaging with this diverse group of healthcare consumers: social media.
Millennials have grown up in a highly digital world. The vast majority of them are comfortable with — and frankly expect you to rely on — exclusively electronic means of communication.
But healthcare providers must understand how this cohort uses social media before they can effectively communicate with them on these platforms. Only once you understand how the generation as a whole uses social media, can you effectively use psychographic segmentation data to tailor the messages you will deliver (via social media) in an effort to impact the various behavioral subdivisions within the Millennial population.
Are social media platforms the new "news?"
A 2015 survey of Millennials' digital media consumption conducted by the Institute in partnership with the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research found that the vast majority of young, American adults report getting their news over social media: 88 percent from Facebook, 83 percent on YouTube, 33 percent on Twitter and so on.
Millennials increasingly believe posts shared by their peers to be vetted, verified information. One could, of course, make the argument that peers are hardly qualified, in most cases, as the best available resources for passing judgment on what information is reliable and what is not. But the finding does speak to Millennials' propensity for seeking out and engaging in digital, platform-based discussions.
Interestingly, the API study found that about 70 percent of young adults report clicking on and viewing news content posted by their Facebook connections, although less than half report logging on to the site with that intent. This means that engagement is, at least to some extent, often a chance encounter.
It also suggests that making efforts to achieve a critical mass of social media shares, comments and likes may be the single best way to see a return on engagement across all segments within the cohort.
Millennials are more engaged with the "news" than previously thought. In short, the Facebook feed has become the new water cooler.
Social media posts are in and of themselves a motivator for many Millennials.
According to AdWeek, 68 percent of Millennials report peers' social media posts are at least "somewhat likely" to tip them toward making a purchase. That is an important insight into Millennial characteristics.
The 2015 c2b Consumer Diagnostic found that Millennials are statistically more likely (at 95% confidence) than Gen Xers, Baby Boomers, or members of the Greatest/Silent Generation to do the following:
- Post positive or negative feedback on a social networking website (e.g., Facebook, Twitter)
- Post positive or negative feedback on a specific healthcare provider’s website
- Stated their opinion about a healthcare provider in their own blog
- Read a blog posted on a healthcare provider’s website
- …plus many more social media activities
Such stats would seem to indicate that Millennials, as a cohort, are more likely to be influenced by Internet-based information sources.
But those findings also come with questions. What about the remaining 32 percent of Millennials whose purchases are not likely to be influenced by the social media posts they see?
If the overwhelming majority of young adults view social media as an information-gathering source, but only 68 percent report that information found therein will influence their purchase decisions, there remains the suggestion of a passive Millennial segment — one that receives information via social media, but isn't motivated enough to act upon it.
In other words, your healthcare organization can market to those more passive young adults over social media until it is blue in the face, and it can know that the information is likely being viewed, but it won't see a return on engagement among that subgroup because it's not delivering the information in a way its members are likely to respond to.
And that's the real value of psychographic segmentation — the ability to determine (and speak in) a language your targeted healthcare consumer doesn’t just hear, but responds to.