Meaningful Interactions Build Trust with Patients Online

Published in Insight - April 2015

Just like in a doctor-patient relationship, trust is the most important element in social media marketing.

When it comes to connecting with potential patients online, smaller-scale campaigns are often the best. Instead of efforts focused on capturing the most eyes, Johns Hopkins Medicine’s Web marketing team is focused on meaningful interactions. This targeted approach to smaller and more relevant audiences may lead to a desired action, such as making an appointment, watching a video, registering for a seminar or subscribing to an e-newsletter.

The aim is to build trust.

“We want people to know that Johns Hopkins understands their needs and that when they have a problem or question, we will supply them with helpful information from our clinical and research experts,” says Therese Lockemy, director of Internet marketing and social engagement. “Understanding what our audience cares about enables us to deliver them meaningful content. When we do that, we see big increases in engagement.”

The key to success is twofold: First, know the audience. Second, build trust.

Let’s look at how Facebook’s sponsored posts work. “We start by understanding the audience,” says Lockemy. “We create helpful content and use smart targeting capabilities — that’s how you can create meaningful interactions. This turns a catchall approach into a data-driven digital marketing approach.”

So, instead of a sleep medicine billboard campaign on the highway, tailored posts go to a smaller number of people who, because they’ve posted about sleep issues in the past, are more inclined to be interested in Johns Hopkins-branded content, says Lockemy.

Social media site preferences offer insights into what people are interested in. “For example, on Facebook, we know the gender, age and location of our followers,” says Lockemy. “Even better, we know their health interests based on what they’ve liked, so we can see who’s most interested in heart health versus diabetes.”