Posted in social spotlight

Social Spotlight: Ross McCreery

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This week my social spotlight is shining brightly on rare disease patient advocate Ross McCreery.

Ross is the founder of CRPS (Complex Regional Pain Syndrome) Awareness Day in the Province of Saskatchewan, Canada.  This is an initiative designed to educate and raise awareness for CRPS, a rare autoimmune disease which Ross was diagnosed with in  2006.  His diagnosis of CRPS was followed a few years later by a secondary diagnosis of Osteoarthritis.

Ross is also involved in initiatives with the Rare Disease Foundation to help establish Peer2Peer support.  He is a tireless advocate for research and treatments that he hopes will one day lead towards a cure.


Hi Ross, I’d like to start off by asking you to tell us something about the role that social media plays in your work.

RMC: For the last thirteen years I have lived with and advocated for the rare disease CRPS (Complex Regional Pain Syndrome). For those of us living with this disease, there are very few treatments, no cure, and very few resources. It is known as the most painful chronic pain condition there is, and some people refer to it as the suicide disease.

The basis of the work I do is to try and educate and raise awareness for this disease. The scope of my work is extensive from working with other patients and researchers to the healthcare system and government. I was successful three years ago in lobbying our government in creating a CRPS Awareness Day here in the Province of Saskatchewan.

I am also involved in various online projects the main being my blog called Painfully Optomistic which I started as a way to support, teach, and raise awareness for CRPS.  And I work with organizations such as iPain Foundation ( NERVEmber ), Clara Health (BreakthroughCrew), WEGO Health (Patient Leader), and Color The World Orange to take part in numerous online initiatives that they run.

When did you start using social media – what prompted you to get started?

RMC: I started using social media within the first two years of my diagnosis for two reasons. One was because I live in a Province that has very little support for those of us diagnosed with CRPS. No physician in my city could diagnose me, and I went through two incredibly difficult years finally getting diagnosed in another province.

It was really the whole experience of how I had to be diagnosed and everything I went through that caused me to create my blog Painfully Optomistic. I didn’t want others to have to go through all of that, so the purpose of this site was to try and be a support at the same time as trying to educate others on what I already knew about the disease.

The other reason I started online though was because I needed a community around me that I didn’t have that at the time. Getting involved in communities on Twitter, Facebook, and through my blog gave me that. I now have a network of not only patient/advocates but friends who I can rely on for support and to ask questions when I need to.

I think that feeling of isolation, particularly when you are a rare disease patient, and the desire to be part of a community who really “gets you” is a big motivator in many patients and advocates turning to social media.  You’ve mentioned your blog along with Twitter and Facebook communities as key resources for you.  Which of these is your preferred platform to communicate on? 

RMC: The platform that I seem to use the most is Twitter. Although I am using Facebook more and more as I become more involved in my advocacy work. I tend to use the Facebook Live aspect of the platform the most. These platforms allow me the opportunity to come together with other patients/advocates, medicals professionals, and caregivers to grow and learn from one another.

This kind of peer-to-peer learning is a vital part of online advocacy. How about health-related twitter chats? Are there any regular chats you take part in?

RMC: I participate in regular chats such as #wegohealthchat, #PatientsHavePower, #patientchat,  #CreakyChats, and sometimes #hcdlr on Twitter. All of these chats allow me to be a more effective and empowered patient leader through learning from a variety of perspectives. I can stay informed on new treatment options, clinical trials, or even how to work with medical professionals as part of working towards a common goal which is to find treatments and cures.

It isn’t really about being interested in just one thing but what can I learn from these different patient/advocates, professionals, caregivers, or whoever it might be. It’s about “how can I change things within myself and the work that I do to better help others including myself”.

Social media obviously plays a vital role in your advocacy work so what advice would you give to others who are just starting out with social media?

RMC: The advice that I would have for someone starting with social media is to really think about what your needs when it comes to social media. Start by using the form of social media that is going to best serve your needs. The social media world is huge and we don’t always need every platform that is available to us. Ask yourself why you are using that platform? Are you using it just because everyone else is? Or does it really serve a purpose for what I really need it for? Streamline and make sure that you are using that platform effectively and that your message isn’t getting lost.

I really like this advice Ross. It’s easy to feel as if we need to be everywhere at once to make an impact, but knowing where to be to make maximum impact is more important.

So, I like to end these interviews by asking for a favorite quote. Do you have one you’d like to share with us?

RMC: One of my favorite quotes:

 Obstacles don’t have to stop you. If you run into a wall, don’t turn around and give up. Figure out how to climb it, go through it, or work around it

                                                   -Michael Jordan-             

What a great quote! Thanks so much Ross for taking the time to share the many ways in which you are making a difference using social media. 

If you’d like to learn more about the work that Ross is doing in raising awareness of CRPS, you can follow him @Rossco006 and check out his blog, Painfully Optomistic.


This post is part of an ongoing conversation that explores how patients, healthcare professionals, and researchers use social media to communicate their work. For more interviews, click here

Posted in Cool Tool

Monday Morning Cool Tool: The De-Jargonizer

I love learning about new tools to make social media marketing more creative and effective, so I’ve decided to share some of my favorite tools with you at the start of each week. This week I’m recommending The De-Jargonizer.

The De-Jargonizer is an automated jargon identification program aimed at helping science communicators adapt vocabulary use for a variety of audiences. The tool is highly applicable to healthcare marketers, particularly when we need to communicate scientific-based medical information.

The program determines the level of vocabulary and terms in a text and divides the words into three levels: high frequency/common words; mid-frequency/normal words; and jargon – rare and technical words.

It couldn’t be simpler to use. Choose the file you wish to evaluate or copy and paste it in the empty text box. Then press “START.”

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The text will then be presented on the screen, and results are displayed both by color and by percentage. Words in black are common words, words in orange are mid-frequency words, and words in red are jargon. The table on the right presents the number of words in the text and the results: the number of words and the percentage of words for each frequency (high, mid and jargon).

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Posted in social spotlight

Social Spotlight: Pat Rich

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This week it’s my great pleasure to chat with Pat Rich, an Ottawa-based medical writer, editor and content curator. 

I first met Pat online several years ago on the #hcsmca (no longer active) Twitter chat. I was captivated by his insightful and intelligent contribution to this and other weekly healthcare chats.

Since then, I’ve had the delight of meeting Pat in real life, most recently at HIMSS Europe this year, where he was reporting live from the conference.

Despite, in his own words, becoming grey in beard and long in tooth, Pat maintains a keen interest and presence on social media, especially Twitter.


I’d like to start off by asking you to tell us something about the role that social media plays in your work.

PR: I spend a few hours daily on social media, usually Twitter, and have done so for the last several years. In addition to my responsibilities in helping manage the Twitter and LinkedIn accounts and blog for Ontario’s health quality agency – Health Quality Ontario – and acting as social media correspondent for the Journal of Cutaneous Medicine and Surgery (Canada’s dermatology journal) I maintain an active role in live tweeting and blogging from my personal accounts (@pat_health) and Days of Past Futures and in curating health information. I have also served as a social media ambassador for digital health conferences in Europe, Canada and the US. I continue to lecture, when asked, on the professional use of social media by physicians and other health care professionals.

When did you start using social media – what prompted you to get started?

PR: I started using social media about a decade ago to help the Canadian Medical Association (who I worked for at the time) decide how to use the platforms most strategically. It was a natural evolution from my role in managing content on their website. In this role I was able to help the CMA develop the first balanced social media guidelines for Canadian physicians. I was also prompted to become more actively involved in Twitter through my participation with the #hcsmca community and the excellent work of Colleen Young.

You were quite the early adopter Pat. I always think of Twitter when I think of your social media activity. Is this your favorite platform? Are there any others you enjoy using? 

PR: I am all about Twitter. I find this is the platform that fits me best and I hope it remains a viable communications medium until I retire. Through Twitter I have met the most wonderful people from around the world – patients, physicians and many others. However, I still enjoy exploring other social media as well as writing extensively for print. Through my work with Health Quality Ontario I have recently hosted and provided all technical support for a podcast Quality Matters – which has been quite a learning experience.

I first met you on the #hcsmca Twitter chat. Are there any other chats you take part in?

PR:  I am a huge fan of #healthxph, #hcldr, and #Irishmed – which I consider to be the triumvirate of surviving, regular, health oriented tweetchats for health care professionals and patient advocates. I have been lucky enough to meet the hosts of all of these chats personally and strongly admire their commitment and dedication to these volunteer efforts.

I love that you are such a loyal long-term supporter of these chats. The vibrancy and sustainability of this medium is driven by the dedication of the organizers for sure, but also the ongoing support of participants.

You’ve been using social media for a considerable time now – what advice would you give to others who are just starting out with social media?

PR: Start slow. Pick a platform or two that appeals to you and observe before jumping into the conversation. While incredibly useful as information sources and networking platforms, social media continues to become a darker and uglier place, so you need to consider whether it is for you. By picking your platforms and connections carefully, I believe social media still has a lot to offer. And my one big piece of advice to those starting on Twitter: “Never tweet from the pub after 9 pm” (in other words, always have control of all your faculties and think carefully about what you are saying in Twitter)

I think this is great advice Pat even for those of us who are seasoned social media users.  And it’s important that we acknowledge the darker side of social media. Much as it pains me to admit it, there is an uglier side to things online, and we need to protect ourselves as much as we can from malign actors.

So, I like to end these interviews by asking for a favorite quote. Do you have one you’d like to share with us?

PR: I have been hugely influenced by the Australian health quality expert Dr. Jeffrey Braithwaite who recently wrote that:  “Healthcare is a complex adaptive system, meaning that the system’s performance and behaviour changes over time and cannot be completely understood by simply knowing about the individual components.” This has huge implications for those who think they can change health care systems by implementing reforms from above as things just aren’t that easy.

You’ve certainly given us something to think about there Pat. In fact, you always give me something to think about when I interact with you.   For those readers who wish to become more informed on global healthcare topics,  I highly recommend you get on over to Twitter and follow Pat @pat_health. I promise you’ll be wiser for it. 

Thanks for taking the time to share these thoughts with us Pat. Wishing you continued success in all that you do. 


This post is part of an ongoing conversation that explores how patients, healthcare professionals, and researchers use social media to communicate their work. For more interviews, click here

Posted in Cool Tool

Monday Morning Cool Tool: Buffer Stories Creator

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I love learning about new tools to make social media marketing more creative and effective, so I’ve decided to share some of my favorite tools with you at the start of each week. This week I’m recommending Buffer Stories Creator.

Using Stories Creator, you can create the foundation of your Stories with customizable text, graphics, and a background image or color. A quick way to create and download images for your Instagram Stories, it’s a totally free, standalone tool that anyone can use.

How to design great Stories images – advice from Buffer

1. Keep it simple

To tell a powerful story, simplicity is best. The Guardian found that, for their Instagram Stories, simple static graphics and quick explainer videos outperformed their professionally-produced videos.

  1. Use a background image to quickly tell a story
  2. Add a short copy to convey your message
  3. Decorate with up to three graphics

2. Maintain a consistent theme

The second principle is to be consistent. Keeping to a consistent theme makes it easier to create Stories images as you do not have to re-invent the wheel every time you create a new one. It also helps you create a style that will help your followers recognize your brand instantly.

Here are a few things to pay attention to:

  1. Style of images or videos
  2. Color combinations
  3. Layout
  4. Fonts

3. Experiment with interactive features

Instagram offers three cool stickers that you can use to drive engagement on your Instagram Stories:

  1. Poll
  2. Emoji slider
  3. Questions

These features make it super easy for your followers to interact with you. Test them in your Instagram Stories to see what engagement you can get. Here are a few examples:

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2 ideas to increase your Stories reach


1. Use hashtags and location tag

Instagram aggregates selected Instagram Stories to display on hashtag and location pages. When you follow a hashtag, the selected Instagram Stories will also appear in your Instagram Stories feed.

2. Add to your highlights

Your Instagram Stories don’t have to disappear after 24 hours. Add them to your Story Highlights on your profile so that they are viewable forever!

Do you create Stories? Have you used this tool for your Instagram Stories? 

 

Posted in #HCSM, Thursday Tip

#ThursdayTip: Do These 4 Things Before You Post To Social Media

Welcome to this week’s social media tip. Today I want you to think about how you can do more than just add to the online chatter.

Here are four questions to ask yourself before you post to your social media channels.

1. Is this post valuable to my social media followers?

Ask yourself why your followers (and not just you, personally) would find the content to be valuable.

Better still, ask your audience.

Go right to your audience and ask them what kind of content they’d like to see from you. You can create quick polls on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram or go deeper with a survey. Survey MonkeyPolldaddy and Google’s own survey forms are all simple tools of the trade which have been around for ages and they still work really well.

Recommended Reading7 Places To Discover What Your Audience Wants To Read (So You Can Write It For Them!)

2. Which channel is best suited for this post?

Now that you are certain the information adds value,  it’s time to decide which channel would be best suited to convey this message.

If you have already created a mission statement for each of your brand’s social media profiles, this step is easy: just see which channel’s mission statement best describes the post.

Recommended ReadingHow To Create A Social Media Mission Statement For Your Healthcare Business

3. Is this post optimized for the social network I’ve selected?

While the quality of your content is a key factor for successful social sharing, how you present your information is also very important.

Study after study confirms that how you create and share content matters — with visual content leading the way. According to research by Kissmetrics, photos get 53% more likes, 104% more comments and 84% more click-throughs on links than text-based posts.

Obviously, if you’re sharing on a visual channel, like Instagram, you’ll want to add high-quality visuals, but consider adding visuals also to more text-based channels like Twitter. Tweets with photos give a boost to engagement rates. 

Pro Tip: You can easily create your own images with drag-and-drop tools, like Canva and Ribbet.  They will also automatically create the right sizes for your Facebook page, so you don’t need to worry about it.

Recommended Reading10 Places To Find The Best Free Images For Your Healthcare Marketing

Other things to consider when it comes to optimizing your posts are using the correct hashtags and creating an impactful headline.

Recommended Reading: 50 Power Words To Super Charge Your Content Marketing

4. Am I posting this at the best time?

To optimize your engagement and reach, you want to share content when your audience is online. If you search for optimal posting times, you will find many guides online. You can follow these recommendations as a starting point, but it’s best to do your own testing to see which days and times work best for your own audience.

Once you’ve determined the right posting times for each social channel, schedule your posts to hit those times. Use a scheduling tool like Buffer or Hootsuite.

Recommended ReadingHow To Better Manage Social Media With Hootsuite

Putting it all together

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I’ve been sharing this graphic for the past three years from Hootsuite and I still love it. The questions above are based on this flowchart. Keep it close to you and refer to it often.

Here’s to your social media success!

 

Posted in #HCSM

How to Care for the Millennial Patient

Millennials (aged 20-35) are often called the “C” generation, “C” standing for “connected.” They are the first generation to be born in today’s digital environment where they’ve had 24/7 access to streams of information and constant connection via technology.   Along with this shift in demographics comes changes in experiences, attitudes, and expectations, all of which have implications for health care providers.

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2012 study from ZocDoc and Harris Interactive found that 51 percent of millennials surveyed visit a physician less than once per year. They believe seeing a doctor is too much of a “pain.”  According to a Salesforce’s State of the Connected Patient report, millennials are generally frustrated with filling out repetitive forms, and the time wasted waiting in a doctor’s waiting room.  Seeing a doctor is an unwieldy, expensive and unwelcome errand.

Understand that millennials are heavily invested in technology, and then get your own technology in order.

In contrast to authority-driven customer communication modes, nearly half of all millennials want their healthcare experience to feel more accessible and engaging.  While millennials have different and sometimes non-existent relationships with their doctors, they believe digital health has the potential to change that.

Digital healthcare that gives a greater sense of control is of great value to millennials.  Commonly cited examples of digital health include health tracking devices like Fitbit, self-diagnosing websites like WebMD, and apps that make it easier to make appointments, order medication, store individual health data, and recommend preventative health measures.

Millennials Turn Online For Health Information

Millennials are driven by information. It is how they make buying decisions and decisions about their own health.  Unlike previous generations, millennials don’t rely on a strong relationship with their doctor.  They are mistrustful of authority (in a study conducted by Greyhealth Group and Kantar Health, only 58 percent of millennials said they trust their doctors), preferring to google their symptoms and self-diagnose prior to scheduling a doctor’s appointment

Compared to any other generation, they default to — and prefer — information corroborated by multiple channels and influencers. In fact, before even meeting with a healthcare professional, 54% of Millennials have consulted as many as seven information sources for purposes of self-diagnosis from blogs to medical message boards, ratings and reviews and more.

Become The Trusted Online Source

Making a practice accessible online is essential to attract millennial patients.

Take a look at how you deliver information to your patients, as well as how you offer appointment scheduling.  Millennials want health information to be readily available and easily understandable.

Review your website. Weed out any industry jargon and hard-to-digest information.  Make forms available on your site so patients can fill them out ahead of time online.

Embrace social media and content marketing. Create and share high-quality content that provides engaging, important information about self-care.

While millennials are glued to their smartphones, few actually use the device to make a call –  so use more email and automated text messaging (a 2014 Gallup poll shows that 68% of people ages 18-29 utilize text messaging)  to communicate. with them.

Embracing The Future of Healthcare

Millennials are the first of a technologically-savvy generation of health seekers – closely followed by Generation Z (born between 1995 and 2010).  Embracing the future of healthcare means embracing communication channels that reflect millennials’ wants and expectations.  Regardless of specialty, ensuring your practice offers the accommodations younger patients seek out should become a higher priority in 2019.

Further Reading

Posted in Cool Tool, Visual Marketing

Monday Morning Cool Tool: Ribbet

I love learning about new tools to make social media marketing more creative and effective, so I’ve decided to share some of my favorite tools with you at the start of each week. This week I’m recommending a photo-editing app called Ribbet.

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Ribbet is a free online photo editor and collage maker with beautiful filters, seasonal effects, touch-ups, stickers, and fonts.  You can quickly improve sharpness, crop, resize and rotate your images.  You can also upload up to 5 photos at once to create a collage effect.

The interface is simple and intuitive and I really like that Ribbet is easy to use but provides all of the essential photo editing functions.  If you’re looking for a quick and easy way to edit your photos then I highly recommend you check out this tool.

 

 

 

Posted in #HCSM

How To Create A YouTube Channel for Your Medical Practice

Earlier this year I wrote a post about the missed opportunity in healthcare to use YouTube as a patient education tool.

As a form of patient education and health promotion, YouTube has great potential but currently, it’s not being used to its full potential.

Aside from patient education, YouTube is a significant addition to your marketing toolkit. Owned by Google, it’s the second largest search engine in the world with added SEO potential due to its Google connection.

YouTube At A Glance

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If you don’t already have a YouTube channel for your practice, perhaps now is the time to consider it.

A Step By Step Guide To Creating Your YouTube Channel

Follow these simple steps and you will have your own YouTube channel up running and ready to reap rewards.

Step #1 You’ll need a Google account to sign-in to YouTube

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Step #2 Next click on “My Channel”

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Step #3 Now add your business name or your own name 

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Step #4 Create a title for your channel

Your channel title should be descriptive and briefly tell viewers what your channel is about.

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Step #5 Select Customize Channel to fill in more details 

Add a link to your website and a description of your practice.  Adding your location to your YouTube videos will make them geographically searchable,

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Step #6 Add a thumbnail image (e.g your logo) and banner (channel art)

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I  recommend you use the same picture across all online media: Facebook, Twitter, website, YouTube, etc. Aligning your video branding with that of your business creates a consistent experience for your audience. When existing and potential customers visit your YouTube channel, they need to feel that it is part of a greater whole.

The recommended size for channel art is 2560 px by 1440 px.

Pro Tip: Canva can help you create correctly-sized thumbnail and channel art.

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Step #7 Connect your social media accounts

Add in your social media accounts.

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These can be overlayed on your banner image.

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As you can see it’s super simple to set up your own YouTube channel. In my next post, I’ll show you how to upload your first video and optimize it for viewing. 


Subscribe to my YouTube channel here. I’ll be uploading new videos in 2019

Posted in social spotlight

Social Spotlight: Isabel Jordan

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This week I am delighted to interview Isabel Jordan, a founding member and Chair of the Rare Disease Foundation.  Under her leadership, the organization has built partnerships between families and researchers through their Research Micro-Grant Program.

Isabel is the mother of a young man living with a rare disease and has drawn on her post-secondary degree in biology to become a strong advocate for patient partnership in research.  


I am a huge admirer of the work you do in forging closer links between clinical researchers and patients and their families, Isabel. Can you tell us some more about the role that social media plays in your work?

IJ: What a great question. I feel like everything I do right now uses social media because I’m fully myself on social media. The project that I feel has used social media the best and where I’ve learned the most has been the #ItDoesntHaveToHurt project with Dr. Christine Chambers.

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I talk about this one a lot because she and I met on Twitter – and in fact, she found a lot of her collaborators online. And the point of the whole project was to use social media to get the best evidence-based paediatric pain information directly to parents and families. What information, you may ask? Well, the subjects were chosen based on the input from the parent panel she recruited – I was a part of that panel. While I had been using social media for a long time, I felt like this project used so many platforms – Twitter, Facebook, Instagram to really engage different people where they are. I felt like a real collaborator, not a token.

So you’re a long-time user of social media but can you remember back to the time when you realized that it could be much more than just a way to keep up with family and friends?

IJ: Like most people, I started using Facebook to connect with family and friends far away. But the real magic moment came for me on Twitter. I signed on to it because I had the feeling it could be important for my foundation, the  Rare Disease Foundation, but wasn’t sure what to do with it. I started off anonymous because I didn’t really understand the nature of the platform or what I could do with it. But what got exciting for me was when I began to realize that there were whole communities of people out there that I could connect with. There were parts of me that were feeling really isolated – the part of me that couldn’t work any more as my caregiving duties for a child with a rare disease prevented that, the part of me that lived in a small town and wanted to connect with a greater rare disease community, and of course, the part of me that wanted to find other nerdy adults to enjoy and share all of our science and science-fiction fun online. When I started to thank other people for posting things that I found useful, helpful, funny, uplifting, suddenly, conversations started happening. Suddenly, strangers became acquaintances became friends.

Is Twitter your favorite social media platform or are there others you enjoy using? 

IJ: Definitely Twitter although I also enjoy Instagram as well. I love taking photos and love art and seeing a visual insight into other people’s worlds is enriching. I find Facebook off-putting a bit, although some community spaces within Facebook have been very really helpful in navigating specific rare disease issues.

I first met you on the #hcsmca Twitter chat (no longer active). Are there any other chats you take part in?

IJ: I loved #hcsmca while it lasted – that’s one of the things that really drew me into Twitter and led to a lot of wonderful connections. I also take part in #hcldr, but the timing is just terrible for those of us on the west coast. And I absolutely adore Liam Farrell’s #irishmed. I’m finding taking part in any of the tweet chats more and more difficult. It’s hard to make time and it always seems like they’re either at dinner time or when we have a medical appointment!

What advice would you share with others who are just starting out with social media?

IJ: It’s interesting – I’ve met quite a few people in person now that I first met on Twitter. And here’s the thing, for the most part, they’ve turned out to be pretty much the same in person as they are online. The people I choose to engage with, the people who get the authentic interactions are those that bring their real selves. So yes, talk about your professional lives, talk about your work, but bring in the other things that give you joy, entertainment, humour. Those are the things that make us human and relatable. And one more thing, recently I’ve come to realize that there seems to be a generational divide, those in my kids’ generation are pretty clear on understanding that the things they put on social media are permanent and potentially public, even if they are on private forums. I think that those that are in my generations (X) and those even younger than me could stand to learn that lesson. If you wouldn’t shout it while standing on a soapbox with others watching, you might want to think twice before posting it on social media.

Super advice Isabel. It seems we still need reminding of this. I also really like your advice about bringing some personality and relatability to social media. We connect with each on a human level, even when that connection is digital.  So, I like to end these interviews by asking for a favorite quote. Do you have one you’d like to share with us?

IJ: Well my email signature has included this quote for the past 10 years. And I believe it just as strongly now as I ever did

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed it is the only thing that ever has.” Margaret Mead

I love that quote too and I’ve seen it play out enough in our communities to believe the infinite wisdom of those words.

Thanks so much for taking the time to share your social media story with us, Isabel. I continue to be inspired and learn from you and highly recommend others do the same, particularly those who want to learn more about how to engage patients in equal partnership.

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Follow Isabel on Twitter @seastarbatita on Instagram seastarbatita_photography and check out her writings on her blog Modelling Change.


This post is part of an ongoing conversation that explores how patients, healthcare professionals, and researchers use social media to communicate their work. For more interviews, click here

Posted in #HCSM, Thursday Tip

#ThursdayTip: How To Create Content With Emotional Resonance

Welcome to this week’s social media tip. Today I want you to think about how you can create emotional resonance through your content marketing.

The word “emotion” is a combination of the prefix e-, meaning “away,” and the Latin word movere, meaning “to move.” In this sense, emotions break us away from our standstills, moving us in new directions and prompting us to take action.

Numerous studies have found emotional arousal plays a key role in driving social sharing. In 2012, researchers Jonah Berger and Katherine Milkman published research based on an analysis of 7,000 articles from the New York Times to see which types of articles were most shared by email.

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The results indicate that virality is partially driven by physiological arousal.

“Content that evokes high-arousal positive (awe) or negative (anger or anxiety) emotions is more viral. Content that evokes low-arousal, or deactivating, emotions (e.g., sadness) is less viral.” — What Makes Online Content Viral?

The Harvard Business Review released research in 2016 which showed that creating a powerful emotional experience increases the chances of going viral. The research, based on an analysis by Frac.tl of the top 100 images of the year from imgur.com, as voted on Reddit.com, found:

  • A significant correlation between content views and positive feelings (specifically joy, interest, anticipation, and trust).
  • Negative emotions were less commonly found in highly viral content than positive emotions, but viral success was still possible when negative emotion also evoked anticipation and surprise.
  • The emotion of admiration was very commonly found in highly shared content, an unexpected result.
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Heatmap of the aggregate emotional data, representing the totals compiled (HBR)

One way to create emotional resonance is to tell a heartwarming story.

Effective stories inspire people by creating human connection and emotional resonance. In 2015, an article about a husband and wife celebrating 82 years of marriage, topped USA Today’s most shared content. Not only was the story uplifting and inspirational, but it also shared insights on reaching over 100 years of age (if you’re interested — the couple describes a healthy diet and frequent naps as the secret to growing old).

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Marie Yoland Eveillard speaks with her father Duranord Veillard, who will celebrate his 108th birthday on Saturday, and mother Jeanne Veillard, who turns 105 in May. The couple got married in Haiti in 1932. Tania Savayan/The Journal News

Once you understand how to strike the right emotional chords with your message, you can greatly increase your chance of getting your content widely shared.

Here’s to your social media success!