One in Five Millennials Follow a Healthcare Provider on Social Media
by Neil James – Digital Strategist
Intimate communication is a central component of healthcare. It’s why doctors’ offices are closed and private, and why patients are asked to keep their distance from the check-in desk while waiting in line. But millennials, the newest breed of healthcare consumers, are foregoing traditional methods of communication in favor of a method far more native and familiar – social media.
Russell Herder recently surveyed 1,000 U.S. adults and asked them a simple question: do you follow a healthcare provider (clinic, hospital or otherwise) on any social media site such as Facebook or Twitter?
The results were as follows:
Across all demographics, 11 percent reported that they followed a healthcare brand on social media. This average held relatively consistent across gender, most age brackets, incomes and regions.
Millennials, however, were significantly more likely to connect with their preferred healthcare brands via social media. Twenty-one percent of those ages 18-24, nearly twice as many as the average respondent, reported following a healthcare provider on social channels.
Interestingly, that percentage regressed almost immediately at higher age brackets. Only eleven percent of individuals ages 25 to 44 reported following hospitals or clinics on social channels. Unsurprisingly, individuals ages 55 and above were far less likely (3%) to turn to social to engage with their provider.
One factor likely influencing this response is millennials’ near-universal adoption of social media. As of August 2012, Pew Internet reported that 92 percent of those ages 18-29 used social networking sites compared to 73 percent of those ages 30-49 and 57 percent of those ages 50-64. Social media is still only used by one in three ages 65 and older.
Our survey found a number of other relationships between demographics and likelihood of following a healthcare brand via social media:
- Rural respondents (7.5%) were slightly less likely to follow a healthcare brand, while those in urban areas (12.8%) showed somewhat stronger inclination.
- Only eight percent of those reporting an income of $0-$24k reported following a healthcare brand, which is interesting considering Pew’s August 2012 research identifying those with an income of under $30k as heavier social users than those in more affluent brackets.
- Individuals from the southern United States (defined as TX, OK, AR, LA, KY, TN, MS, AL, FL, GA, SC, NC, VA, WV, MD, DC and DE) were somewhat less likely (8.9%) to follow a healthcare brand than the average respondent.
Despite what projects to be increasing demand for healthcare presences on sites such as Facebook and Twitter, 16 percent of hospitals and clinics still do not use social media according to an October 2012 research report from CSC. Only 76 percent of hospitals and clinics have a Facebook page, CSC reports, while just under two-thirds maintain a Twitter presence.
@NeilAndrewJames is the digital strategist at strategic marketing firm, Russell Herder