“Social” Medicine

Facebook is everywhere. It was the top-visited website of the year for the first time in 2010; Google came in second. Technology companies are integrating Facebook into their gadgets, pre-installing FB as a core function in such items as mobile phones, iPads, e-readers, TVs, cameras, and video game consoles. This dramatically expands the reach of the social networking site beyond the computer to all portable electronic devices making Facebook nearly ubiquitous.

So what does this mean for marketers? We know that Facebook has more than 600 million monthly active users, of whom more than 230 million access the site on mobile devices. We also know that consumer technology manufacturers are trying to build a social experience around their products. Meanwhile, 40% of online consumers use social media for health information!

However, hospitals and other health care delivery settings are not in the consumer product business. But they do provide services to help people get and stay well. So, the challenge is to take the natural human inclination to share information and experiences, and make it easier to build that around the health community. It can be as simple as posting job openings on Facebook, to inviting fans to watch together a broadcast on weight loss surgery.

So, while some health professionals are reluctant to join the conversation, Facebook will continue to proliferate as a means of communication, with health care consumers searching for emotional and informational support. What could be better than providing that support for your local online community?

Susan Lilly consumes vast amounts of health industry data so you don’t have to. She has worked in the healthcare field for 20 years – in both private and public sectors – and focuses on telling the story inspired by research findings to help health care clients grow and thrive.

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