A report from Vision One Research found that Facebook is helping healthcare institutions engage with existing and potential patients.

Healthcare institutions are using social media marketing to expand their outreach to patients and potential patients before and after they require care, according to a study detailed by Vision One Research.

Sixty percent of the largest hospitals in the United States actively use Facebook to engage patients and provide social content on healthy lifestyles. Healthcare institutions have found social media is a good way to inform people about new programs, insurance news and facility updates.

The source cited a separate YouGov report that said 57 percent of people believe a hospital’s social media presence would have a “strong impact” on their decision to go to that institution over another. Marketing professionals in the healthcare industry should take this into consideration, and plan targeted social content accordingly.

An especially successful social marketing plan highlighted in the report featured a branded Facebook page with informational content aimed at a number of the hospital’s specific target demographics – new moms, seniors and cancer patients. Brafton recently reported pregnant women and new moms are especially active on the web and social media when searching for information or products. In fact, more than 23 million American women with children use Facebook every day.

Social has provided hospitals with the ability to answer questions regarding health quickly and failing to respond to social users’ questions can negatively impact healthcare institutions and other organizations. This is something marketers across industries must take to heart, as Brafton recently reported that two-thirds of companies are failing to respond to customers.

Joe Meloni is Brafton's former Executive News and Content Writer. He studied journalism at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and has written for a number of print and web-based publications.