Scalpel or sledgehammer? Targeting HCPs on social media

Written by Louis de Rivoire, Social Media Lead on Tuesday 1st June 2021

One of the most exciting benefits of social media has long been using paid promotion to directly target your audience. The options to do this constantly change, highlighting the need to stay close to the platforms to be on top of any updates, but the general principle is straightforward. You can use the information that people share about themselves on social media to target your content towards people who are more likely to be interested. Sometimes this can be quite broad brush, for example you want to target middle-aged people with disease awareness content. Sometimes however you want to be much more precise in terms of your targeting. So how can this be done?

Firstly, there are direct routes to targeting. This is where the platform gives you the ability to directly target people based on an attribute, and where you have a reasonable degree of confidence that this attribution is accurate. For example, LinkedIn is an excellent platform for targeting HCPs because you can specify the role that you want to target. Developing content for respiratory specialists? No problem, you can target this group specifically meaning that cardiologists don’t receive irrelevant content. You can be pretty confident that your audience describe themselves accurately on a professional networking site, so there will be less chance of reaching people outside of your target audience.

What about targeting HCPs on other platforms? This can be a lot more difficult to do directly. It can be impossible to directly identify HCPs through simple targeting of paid content. Instead, there are more subtle ways of being sure you are reaching your audience.

A classic example is to target people based on the accounts they follow. An account following the RCGP, GP Magazine and the BMA’s GP newsfeed would be more likely to be someone involved in primary healthcare than your average account. This gives you a good start to reaching the right audience.

Another effective tactic for reaching more niche audiences is something we call ‘signposting’. This can be very effective in reaching core groups over the course of a campaign, but it works much better when you have a series of useful content to post over a period of time so you can start to build a following among the group and receive the benefits of organic sharing between peers.

In signposting, you do your best in terms of targeting your paid content and combine this with clear messaging in terms of who the content is for. The more niche this is, the better. You really want to make it immediately obvious that this will be of significant interest to your target audience but of pretty much no interest to anyone else. Through tracking engagement with this content over time, you can start to see how your audience starts to reveal itself through their interactions with the content. Over time, this can provide you with a reliable means to target a reasonable proportion of very niche audiences online.

It’s crucial to understand what can and can’t be done when it comes to targeting your social media content, as there are a lot of wild claims out there. We have always made targeting a core part of our social media activities so please do get in touch if you would like to find out more.

Our PR team are passionate about telling healthcare stories, and we pride ourselves on going that extra mile for our clients. All our clients have access to our experienced senior team, who ensure excellent strategic counsel and tactical delivery with a smile.


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