Social media refer to mobile technologies, which make communication interactive between individuals and organizations. It can be a set of internet-based applications that enhance the technological foundations. Social media takes a variety of forms which include magazines, books, articles and social blogs. According to Hillestad and Berkowitz, social media has a number of categories which include: collaborative projects, such as Twitter and content communities such as social networking sites e.g. Face book. Common social media sites include sites such as facebook, Twitter, Bebo and MySpace. Social media aims at meeting the needs of the audience such as identity, reputation, and relationships.
Tools used in Social Media
There are a number of tools used in social media. These include blogs such as Facebook and Twitter. These may be used in a variety of ways which include enhancing communication between people or organizations. Social media tools are of immense importance in the healthcare system. This is because they allow and give room for doctors and health scientists to conduct research and share information about inventions on drugs or various forms of treatment and medication (Linda, Peter and Ginter, 2006). They also give the patients room for interaction with other patients and people in and out of their environment.
Advantages of Social media
Sites such as Facebook provide people with updates of new ideas and how to avoid them. This plays a prominent role in reducing the number of sick people each day hence enhancing the health status of most people. It also helps health officers to organize care and information around the patient. This helps the patients to recover fast. This is because they can be able to acquire information based on their illnesses and how they can prevent future such situations in the future.
An example is the case of HIV and AIDs, whereby social media takes up the role of warning people about the dangers of contracting the disease and how best they can avoid it. Education and updates about how the disease gets spread also help people to avoid habits that may lead to the contraction of the disease. It also equips the patients with ideas about ideas they can implement to prevent the disease from spreading further. The same case applies to cancer patients who receive advice from a variety of sources concerning ways and means of managing the illness. This helps in encouraging the patients that they can still live long with proper management of the illness.
Social media can be of immense importance in healthcare marketing. This is because it has a wide and ready market. Social sites such as Twitter and facebook hold a large number of members who log into the sites frequently. This acts as a target for the advertisement and marketing of healthcare products. Advertisements and marketing of a variety of these products provide the audience with a lot of information concerning them, a fact that leads to high sales volumes.
Knowledge of upcoming diseases also provides a basis for research. This helps the scientist to come up with new medications and treatments for the diseases. It also helps in encouraging more people to join the medical field to help in curbing ailments that may be a threat to the world. It also helps health organizations to focus on new trends in the medical field, and focus on certain key areas that could be prominent and demand concentration at a given point in time. This leads to proper management of ailments and treatment in the medical field.
Disadvantages of Social media
Social media may, however, have some negative effects on the marketing of healthcare. This involves cases of fake medicines and treatments. Some people may pretend to be experts in this field whereby they produce imitations of drugs and sell them to patients at a cheap price. These drugs may affect the patients seriously and may lead to death. Some people may also use information about drugs and medication from social sites to exploit their counterparts. This could be done by using such medicines for other purposes e.g. addictives. This may hinder the proper and intended function of the drugs leading to the suffering of many patients.
Reasons for using Social Media in Healthcare Marketing
Social media may be essential in healthcare as it helps in the transmission of knowledge from one person to another. Though it has a number of advantages, people using social sites for medical purposes need to be careful and on the lookout for people with evil intentions. As a person in the medical field, I would use social media to market healthcare and its products. This is because it is much easier to conduct healthcare services through social sites as it eliminates extra costs such as transport.
People may also be able to negotiate prices and come to terms. Social media also provides opportunities for people with disabilities as they get the opportunity to communicate with different people and contribute to the activities taking place in everyday life. Such people get the chance to receive valuable information regarding healthcare through social sites.
Social media enhances communication among individuals and provides opportunities for new information to be put across and get delivered to many individuals. Social sites such as facebook can be effectively used in healthcare marketing. This is because it tends to reach a high population as compared to other forms of marketing or advertisement. It is essential, however, that social sites be handled with utmost seriousness and care as they may lead to disruption of information leading to misunderstandings.
Hillestad, S. & Berkowitz, E. (2004). Heath care market strategy: From planning to action (3rd ed.). Sudbury, MA: Jones and Bartlett.
Linda, E. S., Walter, J. L., Peter, M. G. (2006). Strategic Management Of Health Care Organizations. Victoria: Blackwell Publishing.