The millennial generation, born between 1981 and 1996, now outnumber baby boomers by nearly 8 million. The youngest of the millennials turn 23 years old in 2019 and are becoming a central aspect of the healthcare market. Their generation accounts for a quarter of the U.S. population, which gives them significant influence, making it essential that healthcare providers understand how to effectively communicate with millennials.

Millennials grew up in an age of instant gratification – with streaming services and unlimited online resources – so they are used to information, including health information, always being readily available. They prefer to instantly look up their symptoms online over having to go through more traditional processes, such as calling a doctor and making an appointment. They are more likely to use online health tools and digital health applications. Millennials are twice as likely to be interested in the convenience of telehealth as baby boomers. Communicating about healthcare through traditional news outlets does not work as well for millennials. Oftentimes, they either fail to digest the information or don’t come across it at all. They consistently favor quicker, digital means, such as social media and the internet.

With all of these changes in mind, how can healthcare providers ensure that they are communicating effectively with millennials?

Reaching Millennials Through Social Media

Social media is an incredibly effective way to reach millennial consumers, considering that 88 percent of them use some form of social media. The majority of those millennials use social media as their source of news, with Facebook as the leading news source. These findings, combined with millennials leaning on an organization’s social media channels as a credible resource rather than the website, further prove the need for healthcare organizations to develop a robust social media presence.

When looking at the success of campaigns like the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, it is easy to see the value of harnessing social media for health-focused communication campaigns. Even if a campaign does not go viral (because let’s face it, most campaigns don’t) it is inherently valuable to engage with millennials on platforms that they already frequent. Lake Forest Hospital did a great job engaging with their Instagram followers during their moving day when they provided fun, hourly updates of the move. This is the kind of content that will attract a millennial audience.

One method of social media that has been incredibly successful has been influencer marketing. Influencer marketing utilizes a third party individual with a larger audience who acts as an ambassador to a brand or product. This is doubly effective as the organization is able to reach a greater number of people and also have third party validation through the influencer. Healthcare influencers are a great way for organizations to find an unconventional way to connect with millennials. Influencers can range from author and USA Today contributor Dr. Kevin Pho, who has over 150,000 Twitter followers, to Amanda Bisk, an Australian healthcare and fitness influencer with over 725,000 Instagram followers. There are so many social media influencers out there. The key is to identify the influencer that best aligns with your brand and objectives and who has notable engagement with a sizeable audience that you’re looking to target.

That being said, utilizing social media does come with drawbacks. The value of social media has become well-established, making it a very crowded space. Organizations of all kinds are on social media, and with organic reach steadily declining, it can be incredibly difficult to get your content out there. However, it also opens up more creative avenues. Organizations can still find success through organic content by engaging with their followers regularly, utilizing their employees’ networks, featuring user-generated content, and staying on top of the changing algorithms. By finding creative content that is valuable to your audience, while engaging them with personal touches, healthcare organizations can find success in social media just like Sunnybrook Health Sciences Center did when they live-tweeted a heart surgery or how a St. Louis hospital found success with their “Staff Spotlight”. Organizations can grow their social media presence by staying on message, posting consistently, and making sure they are communicating effectively to their audience. Additionally, adding budget to boost posts helps ensure that your posts are being seen by the right people.

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Engaging with Millennials Outside of Social Media

Digital health applications are a growing market in healthcare, in fact they are one of the major trends expected to take off in 2019, along with other telehealth solutions. Though not targeted specifically at millennials, they are aligned with the types of processes that millennials want: quick, easy and convenient. These healthcare applications can be used to book appointments, virtually chat with healthcare providers and fill prescriptions, among other things. Nurx, a birth control application, specifically targets millennial women with the tagline: “Here’s a radical thought: What if healthcare was easy, affordable, and made you feel good? We bring real doctors and real care to you, with or without insurance.” This is an excellent example of healthcare applications made to specifically target millennials.

Another thing to keep in mind when marketing to millennials is that they are more likely than previous generations to look up and listen to online reviews and comments. As a health organization, there should be a concerted effort into facilitating positive reviews, comments and engagement online. The internet is to millennials as small town word of mouth used to be to prior generations. An organization needs to show this generation that they are genuinely trying to connect with their customers, and social and digital tools are the ideal platforms to showcase that.

The Value of Marketing to Millennials

Organizations should create genuine engagement where millennials are already present; namely social media and online. They should also emphasize simplicity in their communication efforts. Millennials do not want to deal with a complicated healthcare system; they want ease, convenience and speed.

Have more questions about how to appeal to your target audience? Contact us and we’ll be happy to brainstorm with you or answer any questions you might have.

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