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Don’t Be So Extra: How to Create Healthcare Content for Generation Z

“I just don’t know how to talk to these Generation-Zers.” I’ve heard this sort of sentiment from many healthcare clients. It’s come up more often in the last few years, as members of Generation Z (Gen Z) are engaging more with healthcare providers in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic. My colleague Marlana Voerster has written about how to speak to Gen X in your healthcare communications. However, by the sounds of some articles, Gen Z may as well be speaking another language entirely.

If so, it’s a language you and your healthcare organization need to learn how to speak. Gen Z isn’t just the future of healthcare — they’re its present. They’re the young adults who, if they’re not already your patients and members, soon will be.

The research about who this generation is can feel overwhelming. But a critical aspect of your marketing and outreach efforts must be to learn how these young adults want you to speak to them and with them. As we’ll see, that’s a straightforward proposition. But that doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy.

Start with a Generation-Z-specific healthcare persona

Whenever you’re writing to a group of people, it’s easy to generalize: “Gen-Zers like this,” or “No Gen-Zers do that anymore.” While we can see patterns and draw logical conclusions from them, generalization paints you into corners that it can be difficult to get out of. And it can hurt your standing with the very people you’re trying to appeal to.

Gen Z, like the other generational cohorts, is a broad base of potential users. The first step is to narrow your focus and understand your specific audience. It’s likely that Gen-Zers in San Francisco are going to have different thoughts about how they interact with their healthcare provider or payer than Gen-Zers in Boston. Drilling down with a deep, thoughtful persona, crafted from your real user base, is the key to knowing whom you’re writing for and how they want you to reach them — as well as where.

Mind the medium

Your end goal is likely to convert a portion of your potential Gen-Z user base to patients. To do that, you likely have (or need) a strategy of moving them through the marketing funnel. Taking your users from the beginnings of their research to the point of conversion — an appointment or an insurance plan purchase. Being mindful of how and when Gen-Zers use various platforms and media types can give you insights into where they are in the funnel:

  • If Gen-Zers are on YouTube, TikTok or Instagram — and they are — they’re likely looking for quick hits, entertainment or how-to tutorials. Your content here should focus on brand awareness, patient/member stories or brief mission-focused instructional videos. Make sure to link to deeper content, ideally on your website.
  • If Gen-Zers are on Twitter (or Threads), Facebook or other social media, they’re looking to connect with you on more than a superficial level. Tease your deeper-dive content — blog articles, promotions, events, classes and so on — and drive them to your site for more. Building an audience on social channels without directing that audience to conversion-focused content is like mixing a cake but not baking it. You’ve only done half the job.
  • If Gen-Zers are reading your blog articles, they’re doing the deeper dive you hoped they would. Something in the article resonates with them, and they’re interested in you. Make sure there are calls to action (CTAs) that pull users from your blog articles to your relevant service-line or product pages. Let them continue their journey at their pace, but make sure there’s somewhere for them to journey to.
  • If Gen-Zers are within your service-line or product content, they’re at the critical point in the marketing funnel. They’re evaluating their options and deciding whether you’re right for them. Let them know you understand their needs, and show them you’re the right choice for helping them achieve their goals. But be careful. You can push them away if they sense deception at this phase.

If you’re not sure what kind of content will resonate with your unique Gen Z consumer base, that’s OK! Let your personas and patient journeys guide you to what you should find or create. What concerns does the persona have? What questions are they hoping to get answers for? Then target your content-creation efforts to those areas.

Be real

I’m a millennial. I remember when the internet first started trickling into school, home and everyday life. Gen Z, on the other hand, is the first generation to never know a world without it. Its members have been bombarded by the falsehoods we all must account for online: fake messages and news, fake images, unrealistic standards of beauty and more.

This means Gen-Zers highly value truth and authenticity. And that means you can build rapport with your Gen-Z patients and members by showing them what they can really expect when they deal with you. Show authentic images of providers, patients and members. If you’re a provider organization, show them your hospitals, exam rooms, and even places like the gift shops and cafeterias.

Just like other users, many Gen-Zers are scared, nervous, angry and upset when they have to deal with healthcare providers and payers. Show them — don’t just tell them — that you’re here to help.

Healthcare providers do have one advantage in this regard as opposed to other industries: the inherent trust Gen-Zers have for professionals in this field. As the Forbes Agency Council found, when Gen-Zers were asked if they trust what companies tell them about health, only 35% said they do. However, when asked if they trust what healthcare professionals told them about health, 89% said they do.

Put your providers out there with honest, engaging messages. This generation will listen.

Show Generation Z what you believe in

Tied closely with authenticity, Gen-Zers strongly link their loyalty to brands, employers, service providers and more with their personal values. Members of this generation have watched organizations say they value certain things but behave in ways that indicate otherwise. Gen-Zers value truth and a commitment to causes they believe in, such as:

  • Being an ally and safe haven for LGBTQ+ people
  • Diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI)
  • Environmental, social and governance (ESG)

We know inclusive, diverse cultures have benefits for organizations’ bottom lines. And many Gen-Zers require these sorts of values as table stakes for their engagement. Showing where your organization stands can set you apart from others who are unable or unwilling to commit.

We’ll help you reach your consumers in Generation Z

Building loyalty and trust among your patients and members takes time and understanding. Start working to build bridges to your Gen-Z users now, and you can lay the groundwork for a healthy, successful consumer base for years to come.

We work with clients nationwide to help them understand and communicate with the consumers they need to reach. Contact us to learn more about our comprehensive healthcare content solutions.

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Michael Adkins, Senior Content Strategist, Digital Health Strategy

As part of Perficient's Digital Health Strategy team, Michael partners with healthcare organizations to create informative, conversion-centered content for a variety of applications, including websites and blogs. Michael writes content that highlights clients’ service-line offerings, expertise in unique treatments, differentiators in competitive markets and additional factors that are important to patients.

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