Trust in healthcare providers has risen during the pandemic, and vaccines are on the horizon. So, healthcare organizations and local providers will be essential in communicating with their communities about these vaccines.
Roughly half of Americans say they would get vaccinated for COVID-19, according to a new AP-NORC poll, but many are uncertain or would refuse to do so. The poll found 67% of people over age 60 say they’d get vaccinated, compared with 40% who are younger.
The survey suggests a vaccine would be no more popular than the yearly flu shot. Yet, healthcare marketers and communicators need to promote information and options for both this winter.
As local authorities on the topic, healthcare brands need to include content and keywords about vaccines and flu shots in marketing content, business listings, review responses and social media.
Your messaging will evolve as flu season progresses and vaccines are allocated and distributed. This article will cover the “where” and “how” your messaging on immunization can reach the right patient populations.
In this post, we offer useful tips to promote vaccine information online, inform healthcare consumers about vaccination options, and ultimately connect patients to your providers.
1. Promote Vaccine Information on Your Website
More than half of consumers use a provider, hospital or physician website to find care, according to Binary Fountain’s 2020 Healthcare Consumer Insight Survey. Your homepage, provider profile pages, and local landing pages need to stress the importance of vaccinations and flu shots – along with appointment scheduling options.
Early on, the education piece is important. Consider building FAQs about vaccines and linking to resources like the CDC Digital Media Toolkit for 2020-21 flu season. It includes details on events/activities, sample social media and newsletter content, graphics, web assets, and media prep material.
Transparency is equally important to earn the trust of patients who are hesitant about a quickly developed vaccine. Post verified star ratings and patient feedback to your website’s provider profile pages, and update each page with information about that provider’s vaccine and flu shot services.
2. Update Listings on Google My Business and Google Maps
When you need in-person medical services, like a flu shot or vaccine, local search is your first stop.
According to Binary Fountain client data, there are now about 8% fewer monthly searches for healthcare clients than in February, but totals are climbing. Clicks on healthcare companies’ Google My Business (GMB) profiles rebounded more rapidly, however, now up 17% from late-February click volume. Meanwhile, clicks to phone calls have increased by 45% from pre-outbreak levels.
Healthcare marketers should seize opportunities to mention flu shots and coronavirus vaccine information in your local listings. Every local business listing on Google My Business and Google Maps should include immunization information – even if that means saying you don’t have them.
To create the most engaging content, use search data to see what pulls consumers into your website and directly address their frequent questions.
Recent trending coronavirus questions on Google in the U.S. are related to vaccines, lockdowns and the virus’ spread.
- Is there a vaccine for coronavirus?
- What states are on lockdown?
- When will coronavirus vaccine be ready?
- Why are Covid cases increasing?
- Who is most at risk for the coronavirus disease?
“These are specific questions,” Aha Media Group President Ahava Leibtag said in a recent webinar. “People are drilling down into what matters for them, so in your content, be as specific as possible answering their questions.”
Google has a current feature – in partnership with Castlight – allowing healthcare facilities to display COVID-19 testing availability. It’s possible it will create a similar feature for coronavirus vaccine availability.
3. Send Vaccine Information Through Text Message Campaigns
Preventative health vaccines have dropped off during the pandemic. Engaging those hesitant patients once again is both a challenge and an opportunity. Text messages are one of the best ways to get their attention.
With click-through rates up to 39%, SMS messaging is a powerful and underutilized tool. Not to mention, nearly one-third of respondents in our 2020 Healthcare Consumer Insight Survey say they prefer receiving information from local healthcare providers via text.
Using mass text messaging campaigns, you can stress the importance of immunizations to different segments of your patient population. Provide links to local landing pages with informational materials, educational videos, physician information, available services, hours and appointment booking options.
Willis-Knighton Health System used text messaging campaigns to send immunization reminders to 45,000+ parents/guardians for its pediatric clinics. The texts were sent out in minutes, but helped increase immunization appointment bookings for months.
4. Leverage Social Media Networks to Promote Vaccine Info
Social media is essential for taking control of your brand narrative and promoting vaccine information. With little upfront cost and effort, you can disperse positive and factual information encouraging people to protect themselves through immunization.
Of course, vaccine marketing messages will flood media channels this winter. It won’t be easy to stand out, as pharmaceutical companies, industry groups and government agencies publish information about vaccine availability and safety.
Connecting your brand with these social media movements, national marketing campaigns and hashtags will bring you success on social media this winter. For example, you can retweet Pfizer’s upcoming COVID-19 shot safety campaign or support campaigns like “Stronger” that are supported by your industry’s trade association. You could also use videos, infographics or social post templates from the American Association of Pediatrics.
Some organizations use a social listening platform to target keywords, helping them engage at the right moments, with the right audience. That way, they know where patients spend time online, which campaigns they engage with on social media, and how to join those conversations.
Even when you promote crucial vaccine information, social media content should be short and visual. The infographic approach, Ahava Leibtag says, is easily usable on Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest. And since a large portion of your flu-focused audience will have a caretaker role, they will frequently surf those and similar sites.
5. Monitor Reviews and Prepare Review Responses
According to our healthcare consumer survey, 60% of people have changed their outlook on patient reviews following the COVID-19 outbreak. Marketers need to use reviews this winter to alleviate fears in a digital, highly visible public forum.
Your reputation management strategy, especially with review monitoring, is key to controlling your brand’s image online as COVID-19 vaccines roll out. After all, patients read an average of nine reviews before choosing a provider. Responding to reviews with helpful, forward-looking information can effectively counter misconceptions and answer questions for future readers.
“It’s all about parents wanting to feel like they have a say in the matter,” Pete Harvey, creative director/partner at advertising agency barrettSF, told Time. “If you say they shouldn’t, they dig their heels further.”
Make sure to have review response templates ready for vaccine-related and flu shot-related reviews – both positive and negative. You might also link to a coronavirus FAQ page in responses to reviews with common concerns, to save time for your staff. Furthermore, using review management tools with assignment and approval features can keep messaging consistent across your brand’s listings.
6. Expect Some Pushback About Vaccines
The AP-NORC survey found 31% of people weren’t sure if they’d get vaccinated. Another one in five said they’d refuse. There is clearly room to convince people through high-quality marketing content.
Consider partnering with influencers to promote vaccine information to skeptical audiences. Even Elvis helped out with a vaccine campaign. You can also take small, everyday actions like blocking, reporting and warning others about vaccine misinformation.
Of course, not every negative review or PR crisis can be avoided as winter comes and COVID-19 vaccines are distributed. Monitoring the online conversation around immunizations and around your brand, along with proactively addressing customer concerns, can prevent things from boiling over.
Sort through potential crises with review monitoring and social media listening tools to determine the urgency and tone of responses. Engage your communities quickly regarding vaccines, and understand the root cause of patient experience problems to add a protective layer to your online reputation.
Read more about healthcare marketing and protecting your online reputation:
- Willis-Knighton Text Messaging Campaign Boosts Immunization Awareness During COVID-19
- Tips for 2021: Listings & Local Search with Ben Fisher
- 2020 Healthcare Consumer Insight & Digital Engagement Survey
- Checklist: COVID-19 Features for Online Healthcare Listings
About the Author
SVP of Marketing