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Anup Kumar Ghosh*

Ananya Sen **
Boston Consultancy Group has indicated that internet penetration in the BRICI countries
including India has been growing in a rapid pace and by 2015 the internet penetration will be
250% that of today. It is also being reported that a good chunk of this new penetration will be
through mobile telephony. Different other researches also forecasted that participation and use of
social media network by the Indians though PC based internet and mobile based web connections
will also be increased by 200% by 2020 as is evident from growth scenario for last two-three
years. The causes of popularity for social media usage are not only confined within friendship or
entertainment but also in knowledge sharing, better marketing of different products and services
and cross verification of gained knowledge from other different sources. One such area of
development of social networks is healthcare sector because they can be used to reach
stakeholders, aggregate information and leverage collaboration. From this prospective scenario,
this study tried to find out problems those are associated with social media marketing and its use
at health care sector at Chhattisgarh. Some suggestions have also been listed here to overcome
those barriers and utilize this untapped potential in an optimal way for the betterment of the state

Key words: Social media marketing, BRICI, Internet Penetration, Mobile Telephony, Healthcare, Chhattishgarh.

*Professor, School of Management, Disha Technical Campus, Raipur, India, email, Mob: 9752522006
**Assistant Professor in Management, CMD PG College , Bilaspur , Chhattissgarh, India,

Social media has been defined as A group of Internet-based applications that build on the
ideological and technological foundations of Web 2.0 and that allow the creation and exchange
of user-generated content (Kaplan,2010) . The emergence of Internet-based social media has
started a new kind of conversation among consumers and companies, challenging traditional
ideas about marketing and brand management while creating new opportunities for organizations
to understand customers and connect with them instantly. The proliferation of social media
channels is mind-boggling. Publishing tools like Type Pad and Word Press offer any company or
customer the chance to write a blog, while micro blogging on Twitter allows a rapid-fire stream
of real-time commentary, complaints, and recommendations. Social networking sites like Face
book and LinkedIn bring together friends, fans, and detractors, while wikis and social news sites
like Delicious and Digg quickly move links and ideas around the Web.
Realizing the ever-growing potential of social media in marketing and brand management, it has
been realized that there a gigantic opportunities of the social media in the healthcare industry as
well. Though its still in its infancy yet the daily increase of the online users projects the wider
applications of this media format in healthcare marketing. Not only this, but it has implications
in raising the awareness of patients and also an uninterrupted access to the consultants and
experts for healthcare advice globally.
Taking about the state Chhattisgarh, which is a newly formed state, is progressing with a
mammoth speed but yet the state has been facing challenges like lack of Social Infrastructure in
areas such as healthcare, civic amenities, and primary and technical education.
Therefore in order to combat with the challenges of meeting the needs of healthcare facilities as
well as training of medical, nursing and paramedical staff, along with a proper redressal of the
problems faced in terms of health, creating a medical awareness, social media in healthcare
marketing can be a good option. Therefore in this research article an attempt has been made to
unfold the utilities of social media in healthcare as well as to face the challenges which are
coming on the way of application of social media as a tool in Chhattisgarh.

According to Forrester Research, 75% of Internet surfers used Social Media in the second
quarter of 2008 by joining social networks, reading blogs, or contributing reviews to shopping
sites; this represents a significant rise from 56% in 2007. The growth is not limited to teenagers,
either; members of generation X, now 3544 years old, increasingly populate the ranks of
joiners, spectators, and critics. It is therefore reasonable to say that social media represent a
revolutionary new trend that should be of interest to companies operating in online space or any
space, for that matter.
Baker & Green (2008) were also of the opinion that social media marketing will ultimately
replace the normal marketing practices and that days are not so far. Kuzuma (2010), however,
argued that a discussion of social networking sites should be prefaced by a review of Web 2.0
tools. Web 2.0 tools are a platform on which innovative technologies and applications where
participants can be content creators to leverage collective intelligence of user groups, thus
turning the web into a kind of global brain, (Cormode and Krishnamurthy, 2008 and OReilly,
2007). This is different from Web 1.0 where users were usually fed information with little bidirection communication. Examples of Web 2.0 tools include: web content management systems,
wikis, blogs, image and video sharing (e.g., YouTube), (MySpace, Face book), news sharing and
ranking (Digg, Reddit), social bookmarking (e.g., delicious) and 3-D virtual worlds (e.g., Second
Life) (Merge, et. al., 2009). Social networks are one form of Web 2.0 tools.

Bernadette et al.(2011), had done their research on Social Media Marketing over the Youths in
India and given the conclusion that social media is a very important tool for networking among
Indian youngsters too. Indian youths are using social media in order to stay connected with their
family and friends, building in the professional contact, as well as it has applications in branding
and product awareness creation.
Jothi, Neelamalar and Prasad (2011) analyzed different social networking sites to identify their
brand development strategies and came to the conclusion that social networking sites users of
Face book, Twitter and Orkut have become a personal, product and corporate branding hub in
India nowadays in digital era. Every brand that exists on social networking sites has the same
core features and benefits, such as the ability to create a page, share resources, add multimedia
and much more.

Social networks are popular places for people of all different backgrounds and experiences to
meet. As observed by Bolotaeva and Cata, who had done their research on Marketing
Opportunities with Social Networks. They also identified that this social networks can be a
powerful tools for businesses to establish brand presence, build brand awareness, as well as save
advertising costs in economically dismal times.
According to Gupta & Udupa (2011), who had done their research on Social Media Marketing
by Pharmaceutical Industry: Perception and Attitudes of Key Stakeholders. They put that the
increasing positive response of the key consumer groups patients and doctors, especially in the
young age group, makes social media a powerful marketing tool, which can easily be explored
by the pharmaceutical industry. For the optimum use of this new, exciting medium, it is pertinent
that the medical professionals be taken into confidence and their insecurities answered.


Social media platforms are being studied by health researchers and mobilized for a variety of
purposes: recruitment for clinical trials; professional development and training for clinicians;
inter-professional communication and coordination; training simulations; health social networks
and health and illness support groups; health advocacy and fundraising for health organizations;
development of interactive, self-management tools and plugins to popular social media
platforms; public health messaging; infectious disease monitoring. The areas where social media
has brighter avenues are as follows:
a) Potential Applications, Current Uses, and Utility of Social Media for Health Communication :

Trends in consumer behaviors and expectations diverge significantly from norms of prescripted
experiences and rigid one-way communications to conversations mediated by peers and online
communities. Patients are frequently arriving at medical appointments having searched for health
information online, blogged about their concerns, and posted questions to both peer-and expertreviewed social networks. The consultation does not end once the health professional delivers
opinions and/or advice, nor will unresolved concerns or issues wait for a follow up appointment.
Reading the online posts are influencing the behavior of the patients as well as their access
towards medical opinion.
b) New Communication Objectives: From Push to Push/Pull: Most public health

organizations have already invested in Web 1.0 platforms, such as organization websites, which
are intended to provide a one-stop shop for local public health services and a platform for health

promotion, whether providing updates on food recalls, promoting clinics or educational seminars
on breast feeding, or offering smoking cessation resources.
c) The Promise of Improving Reach: The messages of healthcare and awareness can be reached to

a mass audience as the numbers of participants are found to be increasing on online forums. The
potential audiences of both online and social media applications far exceeds that of traditional
media, and the rate of penetration is accelerating for new media. . Populations that are difficult to
reach via traditional media (due to geographic remoteness or other social factors) can be targeted
and effectively reached via social media. Because of anonymity and accessibility of social media
most of the patients with stigmatizing illness particularly the patients of depression have been
increasing participating in online support groups.
d) Messages can be tailored as per the need: Web 2.0 interventions offer numerous advantages

over traditional communication campaigns because they can provide fine-grained demographic
information and continuous statistics on intervention-engagement, platform usage, sharing and
feedback behaviours.Messages can be tailored to specific groups and respond to changing
attitudes and behaviors over time depending upon the geographic, demographic and social
characteristics of viewers.
Collaborative Tools for Disease Surveillance and Knowledge-Exchange: Several grassroots
applications have emerged that take advantage of mashup technologies and the collaborative
tools of social media in order to create citizen-generated or self-reported health maps. Unlike
Health Map, the social media site Who is Sick?( on
empowering citizens to report on symptoms and illness and using zip codes maps the incidence
of these symptoms. The website provides users with the opportunity to post their own illness
experiences, search localities for similar experiences, enter into a discussion on disease or
symptom-specific forums and finally provides graphics and analysis tools to show sickness
trends and current outbreaks.
Rise of Physician-only Social Networking. There are a number of sites such as Sermo, Ozmosis
and SocialMD that offer physicians the chance to connect with others in their profession for
knowledge sharing, networking and support.
Increasing Utility of Pharma Customer Service Portals. Most large Pharma brands have their
own specific physician customer service portals (Merck Services, Pfizer Pro, and Novo Medlink)
where doctors can do everything from downloading samples or patient education information to
conducting live video conferencing with company representatives.

Medical Journals & Ongoing Education Are Moving Online. Social media is taking a larger
role in the information that physicians consume on an ongoing basis. Some medical journals are
moving to an online-only format, while others offer a more interactive experience for physicians
to engage with their content, this area is growing rapidly as an easy and convenient way for
physicians to continue learning and stay up to date on new developments and trends in their
Blogging Physicians Humanizing the Industry. There are an emerging group of top physician
blogs such as Kevin MD which are offering the physicians perspective on issues related to
To help understand the possible applications, consider these five examples of how the social web
can work for hospitals and others in the healthcare industry:
1. Tweet Live Procedures
In the past year, social media channels have helped open up an area of healthcare previously only
available to a select few: the operating room. Henry Ford Hospital became one of the first
hospitals to Tweet a live procedure from an operating room. Doctors, medical students and
curious non-medical personnel followed along as surgeons tweeted short updates on the kidney
surgery to remove a cancerous tumor.
2. Train Medical Personnel
Some healthcare organizations are beginning to recognize the potential impact of leveraging
social media channels to complement training efforts. Mayo Clinic Social Media Manager Lee
Aase, for example, incorporated social media into a recent training presentation for local
chapters of the American Heart Association. Weaving social media into healthcare training
initiatives can provide multiple benefits, including a faster way query and a faster way of
responsiveness, enabling the companies to complement healthcare marketing efforts by sharing
slideshows, video or pictures from training sessions on social sites like YouTube or Flickr
3. Reach Mainstream Media
As part of healthcare marketing efforts, organizations can use social media channels including
blogs, forums and micro blogs to share success stories from out-of-the-ordinary operations or
treatments, medical research or other significant achievements. For example, when Aurora
Health Care tweeted a knee operation in April, it received significant media attention, both from
mainstream media and industry publications including Good Morning America, the local
Milwaukee public radio network and Hospital Management Magazine.

4. Communicate in Times of Crisis

When disaster strikes whether it be a flood, an earthquake or a terrorist attack hospitals and
healthcare providers are at the center of it all. Healthcare providers can leverage social media
networks to provide real-time updates both for those directly affected by the crisis and those
watching from afar.
During the November Fort Hood shooting attack, Steven Widman of Scott & White Healthcare
one of the hospitals that treated Fort Hood victims, used Twitter to provide up-to-the-minute
5. Provide Accurate Information to Patients
By integrating social media into the healthcare marketing mix, organizations can share accurate,
timely information regarding symptoms, diseases, medications, treatments and more. Social sites
like Inspire are providing a forum for patients to share their health problems and questions about
treatments with other patients, as well as qualified medical personnel. Inspire, for instance,
partners with trusted health nonprofit organizations to ensure information is accurate and its
community is safe.
Challenges of social media applications in Chhattisgarh
As stated earlier that the state Chhattisgarh is a newly formed state, it comprises of many remote
areas where due to the lack of infra structure facilities, healthcare amenities are still inaccessible.
There has been a lack of trained medical staff like technicians and nurses along with the
midwives and paramedical staffs. Traditional media are far out of reach and accessibility to
discuss the health problems and have an expert opinion on the same is again a task of
challenge.The challenges which are likely to face on the implementation of social media are as
First, government agencies are risk-adverse and slow to change. Frequently, by the time they
navigate approval processes, adapt, develop and implement strategies for new media, users
behaviors on the platforms have evolved, and the public conversation shifts to new platforms.
Second, there are typically multiple layers of policies and processes governing information flow
which impairs rapid responses to public mood or individual information needs or requests.
People expect responses in hours or days, not weeks, or they will seek information elsewhere.
Third, poor technical infrastructure and internet access can impair some agencies ability to
interact with bandwidth-intensive sites. Fourth, security measures and other restrictions impair
professionals ability to engage with new media and the approval process to access some sites

may delay experimentation with new media. Finally, the governments official language
mandate adds a further complexity to executing rapid and interactive communications with the
public. As agencies are following English language more commonly not understood by the
people in the remote areas. Agencies dealing with linguistic minorities will face similar
Populations residing in Chhattisgarh with limited online access, poor literacy skills, and
disabilities that impair access to social media platforms. Specifically, those without internet
access (a large portion of whom may be without adequate health care access) are prevented from
gaining health information available on the Internet. There are also concerns that these
populations are precisely the most vulnerable and most in need of the attention of public health
agencies. Moreover the physicians who are belonging to the generation X are restricting
themselves to participate on the online forums and blogging which is again a challenging task.
Suggestions for implementation:
1. Government of Chhattisgarh should create online web portals and social networking
websites for the online access with the healthcare information to the patients. The patients
residing in the remote areas do not understand the English language moreover they are
not user friendly with software applications. Therefore in order to post their day to day
problems, a person should be appointed and he should work on their behalf where he can
understand and repost the problem on the online portals.
2. Moreover the social media networking websites should be provided in Chhattisgarhi
dialects. Online availability of healthcare opinions, relevant government schemes(viz
immunization,janani shishu surksha yojna,janani suraksha yojna,DOTS scheme for
TB,Multi drug therapy for leprosy patients under national leprosy control
programme,prevention of blindness and operation of cataract patients, diagnosis
and treatment of various sexually transmitted diseases and AIDS, family planning
programs, antenatal care and detection of high risk pregnancy cases, post natal
care, prevention and diagnosis of nutritional disorders in Children) and plans should
made available for 24/7 basis.

3. Technicians, paramedical staffs, nurses, midwives and mitanins should be trained to

have an access to the online social networking websites and YouTube

as well as

videoconferencing so that they can be readily be trained for providing healthcare facilities

and taking care of the patients. The government should take an initiative to train the
personnel as well as guide them with an expert opinion.
With increasing opportunities in the healthcare sector, whether we talk about the recruitments to
medicine and related professions, training of healthcare personnel, providing medical education
to the students, giving the updated awareness about healthcare to the patients on specific health
ailments, social media can be an excellent informative source of marketing as well as a
knowledge repository. This source has not only been a low cost source but at the same time its
viral and has quick dissemination and therefore must be used as tool by the marketers for the
promotion of health care services as well assist branding. Thus government should take an
initiative for the usage of such a viral media.

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