Still think social media is a fad? Check out this video…
How will social media play out in healthcare? One potential and powerful way is illustrated in the book, “Absolute Value,” a must-read for marketing and strategy folks. While it doesn’t address healthcare specifically, it has interesting implications for our industry. Absolute Value explores the impact of increased information and transparency on consumer decision-making and the consequences for marketing. In particular, the authors examine how people access and use information in this day of search engines, immediate access to friends and family and easier access to information and a broader network of experts and reviews.
With the explosion of information, consumers have a better idea of what to expect from a given product or service – for example, looking at reviews at Yelp before going to a restaurant – and they do not rely as much on either marketing messages about specific products or the company’s brand. With more information consumers will have better expectations of products and services and rely less on marketing driven cues to guide their decisions.
How does this relate to health and how we make decisions about our health, health insurance and health providers? For one, price has been a misleading signal in healthcare. We know that high priced providers are not necessarily the highest quality providers. We also know we have a PR problem in healthcare. Consumers don’t trust many of the players, including insurance companies and brokers. Matt Halle of WellTok said that in a survey they did, they found that consumers “trusted the guys who make cigarettes more than they trusted insurance companies.” So companies can’t rely on brand equity as a sustainable strategy to drive market share.
Finally, Castlight’s IPO demonstrated a few things, not least of which is the continued appetite for cost and quality transparency in health services. Likewise convenience care centers attract people because of their convenience, accessibility and price transparency. As social media grows in the healthcare space, we’re likely to see more reviews and commentaries from consumers of their health experiences. This information will play a bigger role in consumers’ decisions about their health.
More about Absolute Value from us in the future. The first learning: social media will play a greater role in consumer decision making, even in health. It is not a fad and we need to get ahead of this trend.