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Discussions around mental health, sexual health, reproductive health, and substance abuse were once considered taboo. Yet today, more healthcare brands and consumers are being open about these important sensitive healthcare topics on social media.

Speaking openly about once-stigmatized healthcare topics can be a powerful way to build a like-minded community while helping to connect individuals with the support they need.

Healthcare is a universal concern, yet its significance resonates uniquely with each individual. That’s why when discussing sensitive topics on social media, it’s important for healthcare marketers to be thoughtful in their approach.

Below, we share three tips on how to create and share digital marketing content that relates to sensitive healthcare topics.


Social Media Tip #1: Be Smart About The Content You’re Creating

Be kind. Be thoughtful. Be authentic. Be compassionate. It’s easy enough to say, but in reality it’s much harder to do.

It goes without saying that healthcare marketers should avoid sharing social media content that may be harmful or offensive. This includes:

  • Stigmatizing or derogatory language about an individual’s health condition or illness
  • Content that crosses the line to mock individuals about their health
  • Misinformation or fear mongering that may cause confusion
  • Social media posts that shift blame onto victims or patients
  • Harmful stereotypes about certain groups or communities
  • Exploitative or graphic imagery
  • Insensitive humor that makes light of serious health issues

Sometimes, what seems like an innocuous concept for a digital marketing campaign might turn out to be quite problematic.

Back in 2019, Peloton released a Christmas ad featuring a woman receiving an exercise bike from her partner. Titled “The Gift That Gives Back,” the video was widely panned, with viewers describing the ad as “dystopian” and “sexist.” The company even lost $1.5 billion in valuation following the backlash. As the article points out, there was the “implication that her partner thinks she needs to get fitter and lose weight” which made the ad “patronizing and damaging.”

Keeping the same idea of gifting an exercise bike for Christmas, what if Pelaton’s ad concept was different? For example, consider an ad that showed a woman working out throughout the year on an old bike. As the seasons change outside, the bike starts to break down even more. Then, the scene shifts to Christmas Day as her partner gifts her with a new Peloton-branded bike. This establishes the woman as someone who already works out and is an avid biker, and positions the gift as something she needs and already has interest in.

To avoid potential issues, healthcare marketers may want to conduct focus groups, consult with diversity and inclusion experts, or test their content with a sample audience.


Social Media Tip #2: Be Resourceful And Leverage Available Tools

There are a lot of social media platforms out there, each with their own unique features and audiences. Be sure to check them all out to see which one you can leverage effectively for your healthcare-related content!

In some cases, talking about sensitive topics requires a different approach as compared to a mainstream healthcare topic. Instead of a short post, consider using long-form articles, such as LinkedIn’s article or newsletter feature or a blog on your healthcare brand’s website. Articles can be an excellent way to educate and engage your audience on a particular topic (and here’s a bonus: websites that are consistently updated tend to rank better on Google search results plus blogs are a great way to improve your SEO!).

Another format to consider is video. Healthcare is personal. At times, reading a short social media post can feel impersonal, which makes it hard for your audience to connect emotionally with your healthcare brand. Video, particularly those featuring people speaking, is an effective way to share information in a way that’s digestible and more authentic. Learn more in our previous article, The Role of Video Marketing in Healthcare Education and Engagement.

Last but not least, many social media platforms offer interactive or real-time features, such as polls and live video. Sharing posts that give your audience a voice is important to making them feel heard. And that relates to our final tip below!


Social Media Tip #3: Be Inclusive And Create A Community

Your social media audience is more than a group of existing and potential customers — they’re also a community with similar health-related needs and concerns. Yet, many still struggle with being open about their own healthcare needs. In one study by YoungMinds, a third of young people said that despite struggling with mental health, they felt too embarrassed about seeking help. In another study, almost 50% of men in the survey said they worried about negative comments from colleagues if they discussed mental health issues at work.

When creating and developing your healthcare brand’s online presence, consider the ways in which you can use social media to build an inclusive community. When discussions around healthcare topics are normalized and are no longer seen as taboo, this encourages people to seek support.

User-generated content (UGC) and testimonials can be powerful resources. These stories from real people add more authenticity to a healthcare brand’s social media page. For your audience, hearing from someone like them is much more relatable than getting the same content from a faceless brand post.

On a similar note, influencer marketing can also add a level of authenticity to your healthcare brand. Just be sure to partner with the right influencer who can not only share their personal story but your brand story as well.

Whether it’s an organic post on your Instagram page or a carousel ad on LinkedIn, it’s important that the content you’re sharing is reflective of your audience. Be sure to feature a diverse range of voices, perspectives, and backgrounds to ensure that representation.


Build A Patient-Centric Digital Marketing Strategy

Ultimately, it comes down to developing a patient-centric digital marketing strategy. This is where all of your marketing efforts focus on the patient or customer. It’s about engaging them at every touch point, whether it’s an organic post about acceptance on your Facebook page, an email linking to your latest blog post, or an ad that addresses their pain points.

If you’re ready to take the next step with your healthcare brand’s digital marketing efforts, we can help! We enabled one of our clients in the medical device space to transition their marketing efforts from a traditional approach to one that is patient-centric.

Book a consultation with an expert!