The Coffey Blog

Healthcare marketing on Facebook: To pay or not to pay?

Posted on: Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Brian Novak, Assistant Editor

If you've been using Facebook for your hospital for a while, you've probably noticed that you aren't reaching as many people as you used to with your unpaid posts.

It's something we've noticed with Coffey's Facebook presence, and it's a challenge our clients face as well.

What's the answer?

Diversifying socially is certainly a good solution. Facebook shouldn't be the only channel you use, and social media shouldn't be the only way you reach out to healthcare consumers.

But Facebook is still a potentially valuable tool for hospitals and health organizations. According to the Pew Research Center, 71 percent of online adults used Facebook as of September 2014.

Reaching this audience requires a sound social media strategy. (Read more about that in our latest e-book.) It also requires a mix of paid and unpaid posts.

Your organic reach on Facebook

If you post something to your hospital's Facebook page and don't pay to promote it, the number of people who see that information is called your "organic reach."

How big this number is depends on a variety of factors, such as how many people like your page and how many of those people engage with the content—like, comment on or share the post.

One thing's certain: Not all of the people who follow you will see an organic post—even if they're logged in to Facebook when you put the post up.

Though organic reach is dropping on Facebook, unpaid posts can still be useful for healthcare marketers. For example, an organic approach may be best if you're sharing content that:

  • Doesn't point back to your website. If you share something from another source—say a local news agency—you probably don't want to pay for reach.
  • Doesn't have a measurable call to action. If you're not going to ask people to do something specific like sign up for a class or make an appointment, organic reach might be a better option than paying for an advertisement.
  • Is engaging and valuable enough that you think it will get likes or shares without payment. For example, health information that grabs attention—such as infographics, risk assessments and recipes—may generate enough shares, comments and likes to spread without the help of a paid promotion.

Paying for Facebook reach

To help you put your healthcare content in front of more people, Facebook offers a number of paid options. These can range from something as simple as boosting a post to creating ads that promote specific things like your Facebook page, an event at your hospital or your hospital's mobile app.

Paying for reach can be a good approach if you have:

  • A specific audience you want to reach. You can choose to deliver your message to specific groups of people based on factors like their location, age, sex and interests.
  • A measurable goal for the content you're sharing. For example, you may want to increase the number of people in your community who like your hospital's Facebook page or to urge healthcare consumers near you to sign up for an event or class.

Before you launch a large Facebook ad campaign, take time to develop a strategy and decide how you'll measure success. Try different types of ads with smaller budgets among different types of audiences. Use the results to develop a larger ad campaign. Don't be discouraged if results vary. It may take time and trial to figure out what works best for your organization.

Pro tip: Get the most of your paid reach: Make sure each post provides friendly messaging, valuable info, and a clear, compelling call to action.

Need help with your hospital's social media content?

Coffey's content team can create social media content that gets read. We can also help you put together an editorial plan that includes paid and organic posting strategies. Want to learn more? Give us a call at 888.805.9101 or email us.