Healthcare organizations have found that social media listening provides a potent tool during the Covid-19 epidemic. Pharmaceutical companies, hospitals and other healthcare organizations are tapping social media monitoring and measurement to bolster Covid-19 research, mobilize healthcare resources, and guide their healthcare and business decisions.
Discussions about the virus among healthcare professionals spiked earlier this year and still continue at a voluminous pace, according to an analysis by CMI, a healthcare marketing agency. Companies and non-profit organizations in healthcare can tap that social media treasure trove to update their marketing and educational materials, including their content for social media, websites and sales materials, Julie Hurvitz Aliaga, CMI/Compass vice president of social media, told Fierce Pharma. Ideally, they place the information in a prominent location in clear language.
Social Media Listening Helps Covid-19 Research
Social media listening can reveal medical impacts of the virus. For instance, healthcare professionals have mentioned that that COVID-19 may cause diabetes because the virus can damage insulin producing cells in the pancreas, according to CMI.
“We’ve always said ‘HCPs (healthcare professionals) are people too’ and now they’re acting as consumers and patients too. It’s in that same vein of everyone is experiencing this uncertainty together, and that’s what we’re seeing on social media as well,” Aliaga said.
Patients and their family members and the general public also comment frequently on social media about Covid-19 and its impact.. Some point out shortcomings of healthcare organizations, ask questions about symptoms and medications, and express concerns about the mental health impact of isolation during quarantines.
Healthcare organizations can respond to questions on social media. They can also use social media analytics to improve their healthcare procedures and marketing strategies.
Some healthcare professionals monitor social media to correct misinformation about Covid-19. Peter Hotez, professor of pediatrics and molecular and virology and microbiology at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, dispels incorrect information on Twitter and other platforms.
“I don’t go into long chats with people or try to use Twitter to dissuade a person,” Dr. Hotez told the American Medical Association. “Sometimes I’ll use this mechanism to point out obvious misinformation, but generally I will use it to explain my thinking about an important or emerging infection.”
Substantive advice from well-trained subject matter experts on social media can have a major positive impact on public understanding of Covid-19 and on the reputation of the expert’s organization.
While clarity is important, the news media often creates confusion by oversimplifying the nuanced reality of the problem, Dr. Hotez said. “The American people can have a much better understanding of things if you don’t try to simplify it too much,” he said.
Key Steps Social Media Listening for Healthcare Groups
Combining social media data with other resources can provide a more complete and accurate view of consumer sentiment. Comments about healthcare on social media and offline forums such as focus groups often differ substantially because of privacy concerns. “It’s very important to take your offline media and pair it with your online data or social listening to find the full story about what’s going on with your brand and how folks are behaving towards your brand,” Aliaga says.
Customized social media monitoring techniques that are now available provide pharmaceutical and other healthcare organizations analysis that’s better tailored to their needs than off-the-shelf solutions. They also provide actionable insights about particular product categories, brands, countries or disease states. Sharing results with all departments, including marketing, product management, country managers, customer service and sales, allows the entire enterprise to benefit from social media analytics.
Targeted social media monitoring queries can filter out irrelevant mentions and help contain the large amount of data that social media listening can produce. Monitoring a few key social platforms also controls data overload.
Healthcare companies may hesitate to embrace social media analytics due to regulatory concerns. However, those are overblown, experts say. The organizations can reap the substantial benefits of social media monitoring by overcoming their fears.
Bottom Line: Social media listening provides healthcare organizations a wealth of information that, in addition to improving their PR and marketing strategies, aids their Covid-19 research and patient treatment efforts.
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William J. Comcowich founded and served as CEO of CyberAlert LLC, the predecessor of Glean.info. He is currently serving as Interim CEO and member of the Board of Directors. Glean.info provides customized media monitoring, media measurement and analytics solutions across all types of traditional and social media.