The How-To’s on Social Listening

You need to listen

In the healthcare industry, there’s no lack of conversation taking place on social media. Consumers are producing and sharing articles/blogs, discussing healthcare changes, expressing their opinions concerning their experience with your hospital, and that’s just the beginning. Are you listening to what is being said about your hospital on social media and millions of printed media pieces?

Social media listening, also known as social media monitoring, is the process of identifying and assessing what’s being said about a company, an individual, a product or a brand on the internet and all media outlets. It lets you keep your fingers on the public pulse. By paying very close attention to what’s being said about your hospital, across all social media platforms and publications, you can get closer to the people you serve. A proactive approach to social listening can not only protect your brand, but enhance it.

Ponder these pain points

As a healthcare marketer, you and your team need to have a clear understanding of each of your audiences. A great way to start is by leveraging marketing tools that provide an easy-to-understand picture of your current and prospective patients’ questions, concerns and pain points. Social listening provides that opportunity and also identifies ways to join the conversation.

A hospital’s most important asset is its brand and how it is perceived in the marketplace. What distinguishes one hospital from another is its reputation—positive or negative, correct or incorrect. You need to know what that perceived reputation is.

People are using social media more and more to complain and say negative things when they are dissatisfied with something. When they choose a particular hospital, they expect a retail-like experience every step of the way. If their expectations aren’t met, it’s very easy for them to spread the word online. So it’s essential for hospital marketers and communicators to pay attention to this unsolicited feedback.

What you don’t know can hurt you. And you’ll learn things from social media listening you may never hear if you’re still relying on people to fill out a customer service survey.

Join the conversation

Patients, potential patients and referral sources are scouting, WebMD, Vitals, Yelp, Google, Facebook, Twitter and other online sources to find ratings and opinions. Consumers are writing articles and blogs, discussing healthcare changes, and expressing their personal views. With insights into this audience, you can join the conversation and discover areas of opportunity for marketing initiatives.

It’s not just about marketing, though. Having a conversation with audiences via social can reinforce your hospital’s thought leadership. When there’s buzz around a particular issue that your hospital addresses very well, you have an opportunity to quote your experts, cite their current research or highlight your facility’s best practices.

Social conversations also create positive visibility in the community. Those conversations can help you build a community of advocates and brand influencers.

Measuring the impact of a hospital event or campaign is another good use of social listening. It’s important to know how effective your outreach efforts are, whether you are promoting breast cancer awareness month, enlisting patients for a study, or alerting the community to a public health emergency.

How to bring it all together

The enormity of the social media universe can be daunting. It’s a very real challenge for a marketing team to aggregate, analyze and then act on social media activity. Add to that complexity the essential need to have a hospital’s online activity align with its overall communication and marketing efforts.

Until recently, hospitals weren’t paying that much attention to social, or it was haphazard at best. Today, streamlining patient outreach, listening and engaging is essential. Customers expect to be able to communicate online. Until recently, there were only limited tools to aggregate all of the social platforms into one useful, actionable system.

A marketing platform like Salesforce can automate many of the tasks of listening, publishing, and creating a highly-tailored experience for each potential patient. The Salesforce Social Studio, for example, puts it all in one place. It takes into account brand management, security and compliance issues and makes it possible to listen for patient experience in real time, across all social media platforms. It allows planned content to be published and responses measured. It also provides additional ways to engage audiences. At minimum, the system you choose for your organization should have these capabilities.

A social listening system can connect you to audiences and opportunities that could not have been reached or leveraged before. It can keep your hospital’s brand relevant and top-of-mind, and reinforce its leadership position in the community it serves.


About the author:

David League is an expert in marketing solutions for some of the largest providers and life science companies in the United States. His specialties include delivering personalized patient experiences at all digital touchpoints. As a Vice President of Salesforce for Marketing, he helps clients get the most from every customer interaction, creating personalized, cross-channel customer journeys that deliver exceptional brand experience. David can be reached at


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