How to engage your Facebook visitors and get them to Like you

What motivates people to "like" a company, brand or association on Facebook? Motivations vary, and there's no absolute formula. But here's our take on survey data -- and six useful tips -- as insight for healthcare marketing professionals.

Everyone likes to be liked. Psychologists could speak to the concept in academic terms, but let's just call it "human nature" for an individual to seek acceptance. There are exceptions of course. But in person-to-person terms, the process of being "liked" is a bit complex.

Now consider the marketing challenges for an "impersonal" hospital, business, brand or healthcare organization that wants to be "liked," "engaged" or "accepted" by an audience. It's not an easy thing to do online.

A while back Facebook provided a LIKE button for visitors to...well, signal a "like" or approval. And, as for motivation, a subsequent study of Facebook users by ExactTarget provides a few hints about why people "like" a brand. Here are some of the numbers, but remember that they are not specific to healthcare or any particular industry.

In response to, "What has motivated you to LIKE a company, brand or association on Facebook?"

40 percent -- To receive discounts and promotions
37 percent -- To show my support for the company to others
36 percent -- To get a "freebie" (free sample, coupon)
34 percent -- To stay informed about the activities of the company
33 percent -- To get updates on future products
30 percent -- To get updates on upcoming sales
29 percent -- For fun or entertainment
25 percent -- To get access to exclusive content
22 percent -- Someone recommended it to me
21 percent -- To learn more about the company
13 percent -- For education about company topics
13 percent -- To interact (share ideas; provide feedback)


And what do these numbers mean?
Mashable's Adam Ostrow observes in the Express OPEN Forum, "...ExactTarget concluded that 38 percent of online U.S. consumers "Like" (formerly "Fan") a brand on the social networking site. And the average fan Likes nine different brands, giving you plenty of opportunity to find your way into potential customers' news feeds."

But, Ostrow continues, "The news that presents a challenge to businesses looking to benefit from Facebook, however, is that just because someone has liked you doesn't mean they're ready to see your promotional messages. Citing an earlier study, ExactTarget reports that 70 percent of consumers don't think becoming a fan equates to opting in to marketing."

So...just how do you give your healthcare Facebook users a reason to Like you? Here are six tips to consider (in random order) as you plan your social/medical marketing on Facebook:

  • Be Likeable. The nature of social media is interactive and users are looking for something (or somebody) that they can relate to, learn about or benefit from through Facebook. If the page delivers the information in a friendly, personable or likeable way, the audience is likely to be receptive. Write as a person, not as a business. People relate to people, products, services and brands that make them feel better about themselves.
  • Offer something. Several of the response categories point to an expectation that the visitor might get a discount, free sample or exclusive inside information. Of course that's easier for consumer brands and products than it is for medical services, but you do have options to present value.
  • Keep it light. The "fun and entertainment" response suggests that Facebook users are likely to appreciate a casual or informal tone. Many medical topics can be pretty serious fare, but your presentation doesn't always need to be clinically cold or aloof. (See also “Be Likeable” above.)
  • Encourage referrals. A recommendation inspired some of the "likes," so encouraging referrals can be a benefit to both the visitor and the Facebook owner.
  • Be interesting. Facebook users expect interesting content and definitely will not like boring, stale or difficult-to-understand material. On the other hand, useful and attention-getting material is more likely to be shared or inspire referrals.
  • Listen. Comments, questions and other feedback via all social media channels can signal what people need, want and expect. Listen carefully to what's being said and consider adjustments where appropriate.

Taking a longer view, Facebook users are motivated to LIKE for various reasons, so consider how they see your Facebook page. And, as with most marketing motivation, find what's in it for them.

© Copyright Healthcare Success Strategies, Inc. Published with permission from the authors.

About the authors: 
Lonnie Hirsch and Stewart Gandolf, MBA, are two of America’s most experienced healthcare marketers. They have a combined 30 years experience, have written hundreds of articles and have consulted with over 3,500 healthcare clients, including medical groups, hospitals, doctors and corporations. Additionally, Lonnie and Stewart have spoken at hundreds of venues across North America to tens of thousands of healthcare executives and doctors. As co-founders of Healthcare Success Strategies, they lead a team of over 40 Healthcare Marketing All-Stars. You may reach either of them directly by calling 800-656-0907, through their website at or via email at .