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Do Facebook likes really result in higher patient volume for your urgent care center? If you find the value of a Facebook “like” elusive, you’re not alone. That’s why a team at Harvard Business School (HBS) decided to conduct an in-depth study on whether simply “liking” a brand on Facebook actually influences purchasing behavior.
The results may surprise you.
HBS conducted 23 experiments over four years involving 18,000 participants. They used A/B testing to explore an interesting counterfactual: what followers would have done had they not followed a brand on Facebook. What did they find? Social media endorsements alone don’t influence real life behavior in any meaningful way.
It turns out marketers are muddling Facebook likes into a metric that means something that it doesn’t.
HBS found that marketers were confusing cause with causation. In other words, marketers assumed Facebook likes directly lead to purchases. However, what marketers failed to take into account was that the endorsers already had a favorable opinion of the brand, which is the real reason why they were making purchases after liking a brand’s Facebook page.
So are Facebook likes a meaningless metric? Not exactly.
Just because social media endorsements don’t work the way marketers think they do doesn’t mean they can’t be used to drive sales – or in the case of your urgent care center, drive patient volume. In HBS’ final experiment, they studied whether targeting content to “liking” and “non-liking” groups would impact conversion rates. HBS used two groups of Discovery Vitality customers: one that liked the brand’s Facebook page and one that didn’t. They then targeted content to both groups on Facebook and found that the conversion rate was higher in the group that liked the brand on Facebook. Why did targeting to the “liking” group work? It effectively uses the push/pull marketing technique.
Traditional marketing is all push marketing, blasting out ads to consumers. Pull marketing via social media channels asks consumers to come to marketers. With the explosion of social media marketing, marketers had essentially abandoned push marketing in lieu of less pushy marketing techniques. However, the HBS study demonstrates that combining the two techniques by targeting content to receptive consumers is the most effective means of reaching consumers.
Urgent care centers can capitalize on this push/pull marketing strategy by:
Although there’s no direct connection between a Facebook like and a sale, the HBS team’s research shows social media connects your urgent care with highly engaged consumers. The struggle marketers have in demonstrating the ROI of social media marketing stems from using the tool incorrectly. Rather than casting a wide net and wasting your marketing dollars, use social media to target your messaging to people who actually want what you’re selling.
Urgent Care Consultants specializes in starting urgent care centers from the ground up. Let us connect you with one of our experts today.