For years, marketers have been searching for the precise digital and social media messages to reach the Gen-Xers, millennials and Generation Z.

We’ve been breaking our backs trying to find the perfect way to reach and target these groups in all industries, from food and beverage to technology, and health care marketing is no exception. However, the same digital and social media strategies do not necessarily follow the newest, “hottest” platforms trending on a broader level.

Some health care audiences—those who can be motivated to seek out providers and pharmaceutical products—are not likely posting on Snapchat or Instagram. They’re swapping health care stories on some of the more traditional channels like Facebook or Twitter.

Millennials—one of the largest digital target groups on the planet—may have surpassed baby boomers in population numbers, yet Americans born between 1946 and 1964 are also online and are projected to have an enormous impact on the purchase of heath care services for many marketing years to come.

Health care marketers will need to develop digital and social strategies that will target the 74.9 million baby boomers. By 2020, this group will account for a 74 percent increase in the population aged 65 and up, according to census bureau estimates. What’s more, this group spends more money on technology than any other group, and two-thirds of them are active on social media.

Baby boomers are just one example of why it’s critical that we have a deep understanding of our key audiences and finding the right digital and social spaces to reach them.

Some critical questions to ask are: Have you taken a deep strategic dive to discover where patients (or health care professionals) are searching? What motivates them to go online for information for hospitals, drugs, doctors? Are you using the right tools to reach them? Do you have a SEO strategy that takes your messages to them? Are your valuable digital dollars being spent in the most strategic ways?

The Internet is often the first place consumers go for health care information. It’s a new norm among physicians and other health professionals’ for clinical practice, education and research. And each group goes online for often very different reasons.

It’s crucial to make sure we’re sending the right messages to the right people and via the right digital and social channels. We do this, in part, by:

  • Knowing Our Audience: Define your target health care audience—the group that has a special need for your hospital, health services, prescriptions or other products and services.
  • Go Where They Go: Make absolutely sure your online strategies ensure you are reaching your targets; go where they actually seek and want to find health care information.
  • Using the “Social” in Social Media: Make sure the platforms you use encourage sharing. Develop compelling information that will encourage audiences to share.
  • Tailoring Tools That Matter: What online digital and social tools will stand out from the pack, e.g. highly emotional video or infographics that take them to your company website.

Digital and social media are game changers in health care, making it critical for marketers to use research and strategy before striking out on an online tactical plan.  Health care audiences will consume online media in unique ways, so the best thing you can do for your audience is: make it easy for them to find you.