Twitter use in the healthcare sector

Marketing & new consumption

publication date 17/05/2017

Communication is critical in business markets, not least because it supports a firm’s position in the marketplace and also its management of customer relationships. Since the introduction of Web 2.0, we have seen advances in the use of social media and new channels of communication as companies seek to engage customers on a more personal, one-to-one, basis. While understanding of the use of social media in consumer markets is developing, insight into social media practices in B2B markets is limited. An article recently published in Industrial Marketing Management helps to fill this gap by looking specifically at the use of Twitter in the healthcare sector.

KEDGE Professor Louise Canning and her colleagues examine the types of behaviour manifested in Twitter activity, specifically the communication tasks for which tweets were used as well as the responses to those messages. Results show that broadly speaking, the tasks can be split into 3 categories: information sharing, problem solving and PR. The limited character content of Twitter messages mean that in performing these tasks, tweets invariably contain links to related content such as brochures, blogs, closed-groups, videos and company websites. In terms of audience interaction, our results show relatively low levels of interaction in response to Twitter messages themselves. However, follower engagement is higher as evidenced by the click-through rates to content via links included in tweets.

This is important for business marketing and communications managers. The restricted nature of a Twitter feed and the low response rate to those messages means that the business marketer should use embedded content to provide more in-depth information and to include multiple cues. This can enhance the richness of Twitter as a communication channel, but decisions on embedded media need to take account of information volume and content specificity so that followers receive sufficient information but without being overloaded.

Learn more

Leek, S, Canning, L. Houghton, D. (2016) Revisiting the Task Media Fit Model in the era of Web 2.0: Twitter use and interaction in the healthcare sector. Industrial Marketing Management, 54: 25-32.

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