50 Social Media Healthcare Statistics to Watch

Every healthcare company should be taking notice of social media trends. It’s true that social media is a rapidly evolving landscape, but all signs point to its continued dominance over traditional media when it comes to reaching targeted audiences. Ad spending on social media has grown exponentially over the last several years, but healthcare companies have been more sluggish in this area than other industries.

Ignoring social media is to the healthcare company’s detriment, as people’s attention is no longer on traditional media and is largely focused on social media instead. One reason healthcare has been slow to get on board might be that healthcare often faces regulatory challenges and other compliance issues. Despite these hurdles, Adweek predicts that pharma will be one of the industries that will dominate social media in 2018.

Social media offers a higher ROI as well as other benefits like improved satisfaction and possibly even better patient outcomes. Although some worry about a bursting bubble or are afraid that the consumer’s attention will be fleeting, projections for the future of social media remain robust. Here are some social media statistics that deserve attention.


The Social Networks Patients and Caregivers are Using

It’s important to note that the overwhelming majority of people are visiting social media networks with some degree of frequency, and this is true across all demographics. According to research by the Global Web Index, 97% of adults between the ages 16 and 64 say they logged onto at least one social network in the past month.

Only 3% of the population is not using social media – source


While most people are using social media at least occasionally, it’s even more eye-opening to note that a huge number of people are visiting social media platforms daily or even several times a day. PEW Research shows that a majority of Facebook, Snapchat, and Instagram users are engaging with the platforms on at least a daily basis.

More than half of Facebook users say they visit Facebook several times a day – nearly half say the same about Snapchat.

38% of Instagram users are opening the app several times a day, and just over a quarter of Twitter and YouTube users are using the platforms several times a day.

Across all platforms, social media is visited with great frequency – source


When it comes to healthcare specifically, a WEGO Health behavioral intent study found that Facebook was the most popular platform:

  • 87% of study participants say they share health information via
    Facebook posts
  • 81% of study participants say they share health information via
    Facebook message

Of significance is the fact that 91% of participants said online communities play a role in their health decisions.

With social media, the statistics specifically about engagement are even more interesting. According to Sprout, Instagram leads in terms of engagement. People are actively engaging on Instagram by commenting, liking, and sharing at a rate 84 times more than Twitter, 54 times more than Pinterest, and 10 times more than Facebook.

On Facebook, recent changes to the platform’s news feed feature have led to Patient Leaders seeing a boost to their overall engagement. In a WEGO Health Case Study of the Alzheimer’s Reading Room, it was found that while only 3% of posts had an engagement rate of over 10% before the news feed changes, 79% of posts had an engagement rate of over 10% after the changes.

The organic reach and engagement is improving for Patient Leaders – source


Caregivers are especially active in using the web and social media as a resource for gathering health information and support. Research from PEW found that 52% of caregivers had participated in an online social activity related to health in the past year, and 70% were seeking out information and support online for their loved one.

Caregivers are particularly engaged online – source


Mobile accounts for nearly 80% of time spent on social media networks, and more than half of YouTube views are from mobile.

Apps outside of the traditional social media platform apps like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are also gaining more and more traction. There are over 200,000 health and medical apps, and the number continues to grow. Among these are social networks for people living with a specific disease or condition.

Around 19% of smartphone users have at least one health app on their phone, and many have more than one. These numbers are even higher for patients and caregivers.


Video is King

Not every social media healthcare stat will be relevant to every healthcare company, but the stats specifically about video are worth noting.

According to internal data from Facebook, 100 million hours of video are watched on the social media platform each day. Mark Zuckerberg has said that he thinks 90% of all content on Facebook will be video-based by 2019. But Facebook is just one of the places people are consuming video content.

In a Wibbitz survey of US internet users:

  • 73.9% watch video content on YouTube or Vimeo
  • 59.7% watch video content on Facebook
  • 25.8% watch video content on Instagram

Video is everywhere – source


Engagement with video content is quite high, with 65% of respondents engaging by sharing, commenting, or liking, and 10% engaging with nearly every video they watch.

On YouTube, the over one billion users are watching over one billion hours of content each day.

The amount of video content consumed each day on YouTube is staggering – source


The popularity of video on social media is only expected to grow. Cisco predicts that by 2019, 80% of all online traffic will be driven by video.


Healthcare Video Examples

Live video is particularly popular on social media sites like Facebook and Instagram. Some examples of how live video is being used in healthcare are:

  • Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health regularly broadcasts on Facebook Live, like their recent live broadcast of a forum with Jill Goldstein of Mass General Hospital talking about the risk of depression and heart disease in women.

Facebook Live can be used to educate people about health issues – source


  • A pair of North Carolina mothers chose to live stream their efforts to connect with their representative about health policy issues.

Facebook Live is being used to influence healthcare policy – source


  • MS patient leader Cat chooses to use Facebook live while she is receiving her monthly disease-modifying drug infusion. She uses it as an opportunity to talk about her experience with the disease and to answer questions posed by her viewers.

Patient Leaders are using Facebook Live to share the patient experience – source


  • Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals has used Facebook Live to offer educational programming such as an interview with an idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis specialist to obtain engagement in views, shares, and comments.

Live video allows pharma to offer value to patients – source


Live streaming was a $30 billion industry in 2016, and it is expected to more than double in size by 2021 to become a $70 billion industry.


User-Generated Content and Influencer Marketing

Social media is really just a massive collection of user-generated content, and healthcare companies should take advantage of this. As already mentioned above, patients and caregivers are engaging with and creating content at a high rate.

Patient communities and groups have 24 times more social media activity on average than health industry companies, according to research from PwC. These healthcare companies can, and should, take steps to engage more with these patient communities.

The healthcare consumer is engaging with health industry companies, but not as much as they are engaging within their own patient communities – source


Patients are using social media for a variety of reasons when it comes to healthcare. Among the most common reasons are to gather information, to read reviews, to share reviews, and to post about a personal health experience or engage with others about a health experience.

Patients are using social media for many different purposes – source


There can be great value for patients in using social media. A study published in Surgery found that a Facebook support group created for liver transplant patients by surgeons led to a 95% of survey respondents reporting that joining the group had a positive impact on their care.

When a healthcare company engages with Patient Leaders for influencer marketing, they can expect a cost savings over traditional marketing and a much higher return on investment.

A Nielsen survey suggests that influencer marketing results in 11 times the ROI.

A Tomoson survey found that businesses are making $6.50 for every $1 spent on influencer marketing.

Over 40% of consumers say information found on social media affects how they take care of their health, so the responsible health professional should not ignore social media.

Patient Leaders featured in educational campaigns are a good way for a healthcare company to make sure accurate health information that provides value to the patient gets out there.

Research from Twitter found that the role of influencers is very important. 49% of consumers rely on product recommendations shared by influencers, and nearly 40% of Twitter users say they’ve made a purchase based on a tweet from an influencer recommending the product.


Social Media is a Preferred Method of Engagement

When it comes to engaging with a company, social media is now the preferred method of interaction for many users. 34.5% of consumers would rather interact with a company via social media, compared to just 16.1% by telephone, and 5.3% in person.

Healthcare companies should engage with patients online and on social media – source


Chatbots and Messaging Apps are a big trend in social media, and many companies are using them to engage with consumers.

There are 100,000 active bots on Facebook Messenger every month where  2 billion messages are exchanged between businesses and their customers. These chatbots and messaging tools provide an opportunity for healthcare companies to improve the patient experience.

There are currently over 150 health chatbots on Facebook. Some healthcare companies are using these Facebook bots to great effect. These include bots for answering general health questions, bots that provide mental health support, and bots to help users achieve their fitness and nutrition goals.


Closing Thoughts

The statistics make clear that every healthcare company should be considering their social media strategy. Video content – including live video – might be particularly important. Engaging with Patient Leaders can also offer a lot of value.

How are you using social media as part of your overall strategy?

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