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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I first met Pat online several years ago on the #hcsmca (no longer active) Twitter chat.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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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 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 #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!

 

Posted in #HCSM

Do Online Health Seekers Trust Social Media? Surprising Results From A New Survey

A new survey profiling how American adults access, use and feel about health-related information finds that most Americans who regularly seek health information are concerned about incorrect or misleading medical information on social media, and few have found health information on social media to be accurate.

These findings are consistent across generations. The survey, The Great American Search for Healthcare Information, was conducted among 1,700 Americans 18 years of age and older. It was commissioned by global communications and marketing services firm Weber Shandwick in partnership with KRC Research.

I find the results of this survey very interesting for a number of reasons. 

Firstly, it’s interesting to learn that the majority of online health seekers are concerned about incorrect or misleading medical information. This reassures me in a way because it means that, contrary to the pervasive belief that the public believes everything they read online, people are actually far more discerning.

It also underscores for me that patients aren’t looking to supplant knowledge from healthcare professionals with the information they find online. They still look to their healthcare providers as the source of credible health information.

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Note that nurses, pharmacists, and eye doctors score higher than medical doctors in terms of satisfaction. This finding surprised me. The survey suggests that physicians may have a millennial problem.

The Millennial generation is least likely to be very satisfied with the information provided by medical doctors. In evaluating other attitudes toward physicians, the study suggests that doctors may be contending with a Millennial trust challenge. In addition to their lower satisfaction levels with information from doctors (on a basis relative to other generations), Millennials are the least likely generation to say they always listen to their doctor(s), the most likely to believe that online health-related information is as reliable as that from medical professionals and the most likely to say they trust their peers more than medical professionals.

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Secondly, I find it disheartening that survey respondents are not finding accurate health information online. We know for a fact that accurate health information does exist online, so why are people not rating it higher?  Medical information websites fall just below average in terms of satisfaction (39 percent).

Finally, I’m a little surprised to learn that concerns about the accuracy of social health information are consistent across generations, including digital natives.

Gen Z, is just as likely to be concerned about incorrect or misleading information as the much older Boomer generation (91 percent and 87 percent, respectively). This suggests that social media comfort and proficiency do not have a bearing on perceptions of legitimacy, leading to the conclusion that it is the content or channel that is the challenge for health-related information communicators.

All of this adds up to a trust and credibility problem we need to urgently address.

A Wake-up Call for Healthcare Professionals

The healthcare industry is still lagging behind in delivering credible and relevant information to patients when and where they need it most.  Healthcare has much to learn from other industries who are adept at mapping the customer journey and providing relevant and timely information at each stage of the journey.

Earning Trust From Online Health Information Seekers

Within each problem lies its solution. To address the trust gap, the authors suggest the following fixes:

Prove your online credibility from the outset

  • information should be cited by a medical professional
  • it should cite a scientific study
  • it should be associated with a trusted brand
  • it should be cited by a trusted school or research organization

Design your content for discovery

By building content that is discoverable across multiple channels – online and offline – you can intersect your customers across their journey and ensure that they find the credible information they’re looking for.

Use succinct, clear and plain language in your communications.

Recognise that people are swimming in information and overwhelmed by the volume, creating confusion and perceptions of conflicting facts.

I would add to this list that it’s important to talk to patients in your offices about the information they find online. For more on this read What’s the Influence of Patients’ Internet Health Information-Seeking Behaviour on the Patient-Physician Relationship?

A Wake-up Call for Healthcare Professionals

In a post published in Physician’s Weekly, primary care physician Mikhail Varshavski, DO, is unequivocal that healthcare professionals’ failure to influence social media is responsible for the rise of misinformation online.

I used to consider the absence of quality physicians online merely a problem of missed opportunity. Now I’ve realized it is much more than that. If misinformation has the power to call in to question the validity of something as grand as an American presidential election, it certainly has the power to influence our patients’ everyday health decisions. The healthcare industry as a whole needs to advocate for more education and focus on this burgeoning global communication platform.


According to a 2017 survey by PM360 Online, only 9% of physicians engage with patients and other health care providers — this includes physicians who reply to comments, join group discussions or share helpful information and links on social media platforms – and as low as 1% of all health care professionals use social media to be content creators — publishing original content via blogs, forums, and websites.

Click here for the full The Great American Search for Healthcare Information report and presentation. It includes additional findings such as the types of health information Americans seek, their use of new digital health services and apps and attitudes about the concerns vs. advantages of the state of healthcare information today.


You might also like to read 

Protecting the Value of Medical Science in the Age of Social Media and “Fake News”

An Opportunity To Build Patient Loyalty In An Era Of Social Media And Fake News

Posted in Cool Tool

Monday Morning Cool Tool: Google Dataset Search

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 Google Dataset Search.

For all you data-geeks, Google has launched a new search engine to help scientists, journalists, and the more data-centric content marketers among us find the datasets they need.

Here’s a snapshot of a search I did which didn’t exactly return what I was looking for, but it’s instructive to see it nonetheless.

 

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Posted in #HCSM

Why You Should Live-Tweet Your Next Conference

What is Live-Tweeting?

Live-tweeters use the hashtag relevant to the event they are tweeting about (which can usually be located on the conference’s website or Twitter profile). Twitter followers who cannot be at the event in person can follow along using the hashtag and this in turn expands the reach of the conference.

Live-tweeting enhances personal learning

Live-tweeting can also enhance your own personal learning as it requires you to listen more carefully and focus more sharply on the key details of a talk in order to better summarize what the speakers are saying. Furthermore, live-tweeting is a means of amplifying the conference experience, generating global reach and stimulating collaborative potential.

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This learning is further consolidated with an archive of tweets on which you can reflect further after the event.  Sarah Chapman, whose work at the UK Cochrane Centre focuses on disseminating Cochrane evidence through social media, observes how this in-the-moment tweeting captures the immediacy and energy of the event: “Live tweeting can convey the atmosphere generated by a controversial or entertaining presentation in a way that will be lost by the time you get to look at the slides uploaded on the internet”.

Many times the original tweet will be supplemented by pertinent comments on Twitter from other conference attendees and also from those listening in online.  For example, someone may respond to a tweet by questioning the strength of the clinical outcomes of a study, or a practicing physician might respond with their experiences treating patients.  As a review published in J. Clin. Med. states: “The diversity of expertise and backgrounds that can communicate on Twitter is unique, and this exchange of information can be extremely beneficial.”

Live-tweeting enhances virtual learning

Reporting live from a medical conference or event allows you to provide valuable insights to those who are unable to attend in person.  Due to rising costs, concern about our carbon footprint and increasing time commitments, virtual attendance is becoming more commonplace at healthcare events – hence the rise in live-tweeting.

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There are enumerate conferences and symposia to choose from these days, and that choice often becomes impossible due to the sheer diversity. Following attendees using meeting, hashtags permits in real-time remote access to the meeting, viewed through their interest / opinion spectrum. Wong, Wilkinson & Malbrain, Using social media in medicine to your advantage, with care!

Mark Brown, a UK-based mental health advocate, points out that “There have been many recent publications and events imploring us to have a national conversation about mental health.  Why then do so many fascinating discussions happen at conferences, uncaptured and inaccessible to people wanting to join them?”

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Brown believes “this democratisation of access is vital if we want to broaden our mental health discussions and raise the level of sophistication in our arguments and debates. For this to happen we need some brave souls who know how to cover an event via live tweeting and who are prepared to do so out of a sense of public service.”

You might also like to read Make Your Mark at Medical Meetings with Social Media


This is the first in a two-part guide to live-tweeting.  In part 2,  I will share my tips for best practice in live-tweeting. Whether you are a conference organizer, a speaker, or an attendee these tips will help you make the most of the opportunity to report live from your next event.   

Posted in social spotlight

Social Spotlight: Rod Ritchie

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This week it is my great pleasure to shine a social spotlight on Rod Ritchie. A 68-year-old, semi-retired, Australian print and web publisher, Rod uses social media to advocate for guys with breast cancer. His informative website MaleBC.org is a compilation of the latest diagnosis, treatment, and research on breast cancer in men.


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I first came across you through my own breast cancer advocacy work and you were keen to remind me that men get breast cancer too. While of course, I knew that to be a fact, male breast cancer is something that I’m less aware is spoken about on social media. How are you using social media to address this?

RR: Social media is at the core of the work I do. Being a publisher and writer, with plenty of media experience, I find the mediums work well for those with the time and inclination to feed the hungry beasts. With breast cancer, men are not always in the conversation. Let’s face it, they are typically loath to seek medical attention and often to even talk to family and friends about medical issues. Research has proved that their later diagnosis leads to a poorer prognosis.

But there are plenty of keen men and many amazing women, patients and medical professionals, who are willing to chime in, share information, and who are very supportive of guys dealing with this disease. I feel particularly privileged to be interacting with medical people and I really appreciate the professional way they share information, their humanity and concern for patients, and the insight they bring to the whole range of topics, particularly on Twitter.  With social media you can be both proactive and reactive.

I love that recognition that we are in this together – that social media can be a meeting point for health care professionals and patients. Can you tell me some more about how you are both proactive and reactive on social media in raising awareness of male breast cancer?

RR: Not so much these days, but a few years ago, most mainstream breast cancer websites were gender specific to women. It was as if they hadn’t heard about men. Every time I saw a Twitter post not gender neutral, I’d react and publicly draw attention to the fact.

Calling out gender blindness in breast cancer Tweets and Facebook blogs seems like a full-time job. I always think it’s a bit lazy of a writer to be neglectful or dismissive of the male perspective, since we go through equal hassles and tribulations during treatment, we have the same concerns about recurrence, and we feel more marginalized than is necessary.

When I see a study or a trial posted on ClinicalTrials.gov, I check out whether men are invited to apply. Then ask, if not, why not. Lack of research on men and breast cancer is holding our understanding and treatment back. It’s also often useful to post a quote from a research article, along with the link, so that my credibility is seen to be linked to scientific research. It’s only by raising your integrity that a social media reputation is consolidated and followers gained.

Correcting misinformation about male breast cancer and reporting on the latest research is most important to me. Since I completed my NBCC Project LEAD patient’s advocate course, I’ve been able to more critically examine scientific reports and technical papers. Where I see a useful study, I link it up on Twitter. I also keep a record of these trials and studies on my website MaleBC.org and my digital news magazine MaleBCReport and use social media to promote these outlets.

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Last month, we had Breast Cancer Awareness Month with all the attendant pink hoopla, which to my mind, reinforces the stereotype that breast cancer is a “woman’s disease”. How did you react to this? What did you do to counter-balance this gender stereotyping of breast cancer?

RR: October is a big month. My aim is to have a few memes to spread around and to counter all the pink hoopla that inevitably spreads at this time of year. It always amazes me that breast cancer has become the shopper’s disease and that the seriousness, concern, and anxiety of living with the disease gets swept aside for a sort of celebration of how well managed this incurable disease has become. And while men rightly feel marginalized, I feel very distraught for my metastatic friends who have to endure all the crap that gets posted at this time of the year. I curate the Pinktober Revolution page on Breastcancer.org and have published a specialist site on the topic at PinktoberSucks.com.

As a member of several Facebook breast cancer and prostate cancer patient pages, I’m supporting men (and women) who go there with questions about diagnosis and/or treatment. I’ve been amazed at the similarities between men discussing prostate cancer amongst themselves, and women discussing breast cancer. The men are very open talking about the myriad problems of prostate cancer including sexual side-effects. Just like women are when they talk about breast cancer.

You really do work social media to the max Rod! Take us back a little in time to when you first discovered that social media could be a tool in your activist armor?

RR: After finishing treatment for breast cancer four years ago, and deciding to spread the word that men get breast cancer too, I found my message falling on deaf ears in the mainstream media. Even the so-called “pink charities” were initially deaf to this inconvenient fact, and I discovered their websites were hardly acknowledging men, were very pink, and the institutional mindset was almost entirely women-centered. Alongside this, male breast cancer was an orphan disease, with a low profile and one that, upon diagnosis, left most men in a state of shock and more or less embarrassed to have a “woman’s disease”.

Little discussed, even among men, it soon became clear to me that more could be done to promote awareness. I mean, women had long been aware of and encouraged to do breast screening and self-examination, but men, especially those with a family history of breast cancer, were unaware of their risks. And when they were diagnosed, they were loath to even use the words “breast cancer”. I even know of several men who told their friends they had chest cancer!

I also discovered, that most men disappeared from view after initial treatment, and very often did not want to talk about their experiences to family, let alone in the public sphere. Even major public digital communities, such as Breastcancer.org with nearly 200,000 members, had very few men posting regularly when I turned to it for information four years ago. As in happens, I stayed with that community and now I’m the only man with the disease posting regularly there. Under the username Traveltext, I have made many cyber friends and feel very connected to members of forums such as Pinktober Revolution, IBC, and with the occasional man who comes to the almost moribund Male Breast Cancer boards. These are mostly young men worrying about breast lumps which almost always turn out to be cysts. I appeared in a video to support this charity.

Where men could be reached, however, was in the relative anonymity of social media spaces such as Twitter and on closed Facebook pages. And coming from Australia, where annually only around 150 cases are diagnosed, I had the chance of connecting with some of the 2,500 men diagnosed each year in the United States, and those from the United Kingdom, where 380 guys are diagnosed annually. I work as the stories editor for the Kansas-based Male Breast Cancer Coalition and get to read what dozens of men have been through in the diagnosis and treatment of this disease.

You’re a social media super-user – of all the social networks you use, which do you enjoy the most? 

RR: Twitter and Facebook in that order. All my interactions on Facebook are on closed groups because I don’t want my personal Facebook interactions to mingle with health communications since it is unnecessarily confusing and potentially distressing to friends and relatives to have the option of reading about all the matters that I bang on about. Facebook, without word limitations, allows people to discuss their issues, dispense advice, give treatment experiences, and generally cheer patients up. Some posts are a wealth of information, others are just chatty. But Twitter is no-frills, basic information sharing and is where medical professionals and patient advocates quickly exchange information, answer questions, and post links to sites that contain the full story. The rapid-fire nature of Tweets means it needs lots of attention, but you soon learn to scan and look out for people who regularly post interesting material and comments.

Breast cancer is obviously your main focus. Do you take part in any breast-cancer related twitter chats?

RR: I’m interested in all breast cancer topics, regardless of gender, since treatments for men and women pretty much identical using the same protocols which depend on patient’s staging and cancer type, etc. Notwithstanding this, I zero in on all discussions and research relating to breast cancer in men. I try to catch the weekly #bcsm Twitter chat, which runs for an hour from 8pm Monday EST in the United States. Because that’s 11am Tuesday where I live, it’s often not possible to tune in, but I’m certainly there when my favorite topics are up for discussion.

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

RR: I’d suggest spending time getting to know the lie of the land with the topics you are following and the people who are consistently making the best posts.

  • Post when you have something meaningful to say, not just for the sake of posting.
  • Always be polite, and don’t become embroiled in dramas that arise from conversations outside your experience.
  • Like comments that enlighten or interest you.
  • Proof your text, since errors reduce your credibility and because you can’t alter posts, only delete them.

I really like that advice, Rod. It reflects a measured and mature approach to engaging with social media that not everyone brings to the medium.  Speaking of mature, I get so tired of the argument that social media is only for young people, — you clearly prove that this isn’t so.

RR: I was in print publishing when the introduction of computers revolutionised the whole process, so I’ve been computer literate since the mid 1980s. As soon as the internet became a solid publishing format 20 years ago, I was there, applying my publishing and writing skills. At one time I owned over 100 web sites. So, age does not weary those of us techies who grow old! And since the average man gets breast cancer at 65, you’re unlikely to get many young guys with knowledge on this topic!

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

RR: Quotes are a big thing on social media, especially inspirational ones. But while I like many of them, and I certainly get their value, I feel, as patients, we are hard-wired to expect the worst from your disease and we sometimes need to pay more attention to medical professionals who have seen many hundreds of people in our situation.

Years ago, when I was trying to tell my breast cancer oncologist about my medical worries, she said:  “Never have any pre-conceived notions about any stage of this disease.”

That advice has stood me in good stead as I realized that most of my fears were baseless and I really needed to get on with my life in remission, rather than obsess over what might or might not become a medical issue.

Rod, that’s a wonderfully inspiring piece of wisdom for all of us to take on board.  Thank you so much for taking the time to share with us your social media story.  I enjoyed getting to know your work better and am in awe of all you do to raise awareness and support men with a diagnosis of breast cancer.



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

Six Content Marketing Lessons I Learned From A Simple Thanksgiving Tradition

Happy Thanksgiving!

Although I live outside the US, Thanksgiving’s one of those holidays I celebrate in spirit, if not in person. I’m always curious to learn more about Thanksgiving traditions and being a foodie I’m fascinated by what people eat at the dinner table.

While I still can’t get my head around that sweet potato and marshmallow combo, a green bean casserole is something I might be tempted to try. If you live in the US I guess you already know the story of how this dish came to be a Thanksgiving dinner staple, but for those who aren’t familiar, it’s such a great marketing story with lessons for all of us who want to improve our content marketing.

The casserole originated 63 years ago in the test kitchen at Campbell’s Soup, where Dorcas Reilly worked as a home economist. Dorcas invented a Green Bean Casserole recipe in response to a question from the Associated Press: “What’s a good Thanksgiving side dish that uses ingredients found in most American kitchens?”

The dish Dorcas invented went viral. Millions of Americans made the casserole that year. And today, over 60 years later, it’ll be served on an estimated 30 million Thanksgiving tables across the US, earning its place as one of the most beloved recipes in America.

So what lessons can this simple recipe teach us as content marketers? In my latest Medium post, I share six valuable lessons we can learn from Dorcas’s green bean casserole.

Click here to read

Posted in #HCSM, social media tools

18 Top Tools For Your Healthcare Blog

I love discovering new tools and apps which help make our social media marketing activities more manageable and more productive.  Each Monday  I share one of favourite social media management tools with you to try during the coming week. Today I want to put some of those tools together in this post organized around the theme of blogging. These tools will help you create, edit and promote your blog content more effectively.

So let’s get started right away with tool #1.

1.  Bit.ly

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Bit.ly is a tool which creates shortened links to track the performance of your content once you promote it. Use it to create a custom short link for each post you create and share.

2. Buzzsumo

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Buzzsumo is a useful tool to explore which pieces of content are popular on social media around a certain topic. Use it to brainstorm popular topic ideas based on keywords related to your topics. You can also input your own domain name (as I have done in the example above) into the search bar and see at a glance how often and where your content is most shared.

3. Canva

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While the quality of your content is a vital factor for successful blogging, how you present your information is also very important. Visuals are a key component of a successful blog. Canva is one of my every-day go-to tools when I am creating visuals. It’s so easy and quick to use it with a multitude of layout options, fonts, images and illustrations to choose from.  Use the pre-set blog template to create header images for your bog.

4. ClickToTweet

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Click to Tweet is a cool free tool which generates one-click tweet boxes or links that can be shared through your website, your blog, or via email. It’s a powerful way to increase social shares and highlight quotes, stats, and key takeaways for your content marketing. It’s also available as a handy Chrome extension.

5. Emotional Marketing Value (EMV) Headline Analyzer

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According to Copyblogger, on average, 8 out of 10 people will read headline copy, but only 2 out of 10 will read the rest. Your headline is the first (perhaps only) impression you make on a prospective reader.  Use the EMV headline analyzer to calculate the emotional value of your headlines to create titles which will resonate with your audience.

Bonus Tool: Download a list of 90 headline power words here.

6. FreePik

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FreePik offers users, high-quality graphic designs: exclusive illustrations and graphic resources. It operates on a freemium business model which means, the majority of the resources offered at Freepik can be used for free, only having to credit the author of the illustration to Freepik. In addition, for a small fee, you can subscribe to the Premium plan and use the illustrations without any accreditation whatsoever.

7. Hemingway Editor

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A proofreading tool which clears your copy of all unnecessary copy. Just paste your text into the editor and you’ll get an analysis that highlights lengthy, complex sentences, adverbs, passive voice, and common errors.

8.IM Free

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This site contains images (mostly from Flickr) organized by themes such as inspiration, recreation, and ambient. On the site, you’ll also find free templates, icons, button makers, and more.

9. Life of Pix  

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Life of Pix offers free, high-quality images that are available for personal and commercial use. Each comes with a helpful color palette so you can plan your visuals accordingly.

10. Lumen 5

This is a cool tool that enables you to turn your blog posts into slideshow-type videos in minutes. The free plan includes unlimited videos, access to 10 million video files, and 480p-quality video with the Lumen5 watermark. You can also upload your own logo. Upgrading to the Pro plan ($49/month) lets you remove the Lumen5 branding, upload your own watermark and outro, and more.

Simply input your blog post’s url and Lumen 5 will import the text and images from that post and auto-create your video. You can then edit it, swap out images, upload other images and add music before you hit publish.  The video above is one I created with  Lumen 5 from an original blog post

11. Pexels

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Pexels provides over 3,800 high-resolution photos, collated from other free image sites — making it one of the largest free image directories. Pexels has also added a large library of stock videos to its site also under the Creative Commons license. Use the site’s list of popular searches to find the most in-demand stock video.

12. Pikwizard

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Pikwizard hosts over 100,000 completely free images, with over 20,000 of those exclusive to the site. The site has a good selection of medical-themed images. The site is particularly good for aesthetic procedures and dentistry-related images.

13. Photofunio

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With PhotoFunia you can edit photos online for free in a matter of seconds resulting in high-quality photo collages. As the name suggests, this tool is a lot of fun to use. It helps you make a mark with your photos by incorporating your photos into mock-ups of background images including billboards, magazine covers, and movie posters.

14. Snip.ly

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Similar to Bit.ly, this url shortner tool allows you to enhance every link you share (whether your own content or someone else’s) with a call to action (CTA). When people click on the Sniply-generated link, they can view the article you shared and see a CTA.

15. Stencil

If you like sharing quotes on your blog you can take advantage of their ready to add quotes feature. It will save you a lot of time. You can save, download or share up to 10 images per month, for free.

16. Text Readability Consensus Calculator

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This tool takes a sample of your writing and calculates the number of sentences, words, syllables, and characters. It then takes the output of these numbers and plugs them into 7 popular readability formulas to help you find out the reading level and grade level of your materials and help you to determine if your audience can read what you have written.

17. Quora

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Quroa is a question and answer platform where you can either ask a question about your topic or simply do a search using your topic keyword to find what people are asking about that topic. It’s a super place for market research.

18.Unsplash

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Unsplash gives you access to a bank of 50,000+ free-to-use photos. All photos are licensed under Creative Commons Zero, which means you can copy, modify, distribute and use the photos for free, including commercial purposes, without asking permission from or providing attribution to the photographer or Unsplash.

Do you have any favourite tools to enhance your blogging? I’d love to hear about them if you do.

Posted in Cool Tool

Monday Morning Cool Tool: Anchor

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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 a super recording app called Anchor.

Anchor is an audio recording app for micro-podcasting, audio broadcasting, Q&As, and more. Features like sound clips and transcriptions make it simple to create audio for social media. Billed as “the easiest way to make a podcast, ever,” it lets you record a high-quality podcast, and distribute it everywhere (including Apple Podcasts) — all in one place. No fancy equipment or podcasting experience necessary, and it’s 100% free!

 

Posted in social spotlight

Social Spotlight: Sue Robins

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This week it is my great pleasure to shine a social spotlight on Sue Robins. 

I first came across Sue through her eponymous blog suerobins.com and was captivated by her writing. Her thoughts and opinions on the role of story in medicine and how to affect meaningful patient engagement chime with my own and I’ve been hooked on her writing ever since.

Sue is a New York Times published writer, speaker and mother of three.  Her youngest son has Down syndrome. Her work experience over the past decade includes paid family leadership positions with Kinsight, BC Children’s Hospital and the Stollery Children’s Hospital.  She is also the senior partner in Bird Communications, a health communications company in Vancouver & Edmonton.

Sue self- declares herself a” rabble-rouser” and “health care big mouth”, which tells you quite a lot about who she is both on and offline.  She is passionate (and outspoken) about family leadership, patient & family engagement, storytelling and nurturing compassion in health care, human services and education settings. Sue was diagnosed with breast cancer in February 2017 and has recently completed active treatment. This life experience grants her the unique perspective of being both a patient and caregiver in the health system.


Sue, I really admire your outspokenness, which I know comes from a place of deep commitment to the ideals you believe in. I’ve been personally inspired by your writings on patient engagement and how we seem to have strayed from the true meaning of the term. Could you tell us some more about the role that social media plays in your activism? 

SR: I participate in patient and caregiver activism and Twitter is one of my tools.  I deeply believe in storytelling, peer support, patient/family power and grassroots leadership in the worlds of health care and disability.  I have a son with Down syndrome and worked as a paid family member at children’s hospitals for many years to bring the family voice into the health care environment.  When I was diagnosed with breast cancer, I added patient advocacy to my basket.  Sadly, in my formal positions, I was never allowed to have an ‘official’ Twitter account – corporate communications departments in hospitals hold onto that power very tightly.

I consider myself a change agent and am always skirting around the edges with my own account, where I have autonomy and freedom to say what I want.  I refuse to be muzzled.

Now I’ve become deeply skeptical because of the professionalization of the ‘patient engagement’ movement.  I often share articles that offer constructive criticism of engagement (#hownottodoptengagement) and highlight the need for humanity in health care.  Twitter is my sharing mechanism.  I’m a writer by profession and also use my account to post essays from my own blog, www.suerobins.com.

I follow you on Twitter and you use it so effectively.  Was joining Twitter when you first started to use social media?

SR: I was an early adopter of Twitter.  When I first moved to Vancouver, I met family and patient leaders through Twitter who became treasured friends and colleagues in real life, like @seastarbatita, @tatterededge, @karencopeland3 and @couragesings.  I feel fortunate to have found these awesome women and we lift each other up every single day.

We hear so many negative things about Twitter these days through mainstream media so I love that sense of lifting each other up. That’s been my experience too.  Can you tell us some more about how you use Twitter in your work?

I have two personalities on Twitter – my health and caregiver advocacy (@suerobinsyvr), my health communications company (@birdcomm). I use Twitter to curate my own news and I’m ashamed to say that while I used to get three print newspapers delivered to our home, my Twitter feed has replaced that.  I try to follow a variety of accounts so I don’t just have the dreaded echo chamber – where I only read news that validates my own (admittedly left-wing, environmentalist) views.

Do you use other social media networks aside from Twitter? 

SR: I enjoy Instagram. I deactivated my Facebook account years ago.  It reminded me too much of high school and I had grave concerns about how Facebook shared people’s information.

I have three accounts on Instagram. I have a guilty pleasure of scrolling through photos of wedding dresses, as my daughter is getting married next summer.  I do carve off my different personas into three accounts.   One is my private family account and the other two are public – @healthsquawk, my rabble-rousing where I post about healing from breast cancer and @foodiesuz, which is a fun account where I post pictures of eating out.  My advocacy work tends to be heavy and often times dark, so it is important to have a joyful interest – food is that for me.

I like that sense of balancing the heavier work-side of Sue with the fun side.  You have a lot of different things going on in your life, so which topics particularly hold your interest? Do you take part in any regular health-related twitter chats?

SR: My topics change depending on what’s up in my life.  When I was deep in treatment for breast cancer, I was obsessed with following #BCSM and folks like @ninariggs, @cultperfectmoms and @adamslisa.  I miss the wisdom of all three of these powerful women.

Now that I’m in what I call cancer healing mode, I do follow those who talk about the gritty reality of breast cancer, including the life of our sisters with metastatic breast cancer, like @the_Underbelly and #breastcancerrealitycheck.

You’ve mentioned some great accounts to follow on Twitter which is so helpful for newbies starting out. Thinking back to my own first forays into Twitter, it can be quite overwhelming.  What advice would you share with others who are coming to social media for the first time?

SR: I’d suggest thinking about why you are on social media.  Being clear about your intention is important with any aspect of your life.  Is it to follow news?  Share articles?  Engage in conversation or debate?

I think it is okay to take a break.  I took a Twitter break for nine months earlier this year.  I had tipped into spending too much time looking at my stupid phone and I wanted to put my head up and be more present in ‘real life,’ especially with my son.  Those notifications are addictive and I had lost balance.  I also had experienced harassment from (white, privileged) men. Now I put my phone in the bedroom when I get home and limit my social media time to early mornings, which feels healthier to me.

That’s valuable advice for all of us Sue, whether we’re new or seasoned social media users!

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

SR: “Your silence will not protect you.” – Audre Lorde

That quote could be written for you!

Thank you so much Sue for taking the time to share with us your social media  story. I’ve picked up some tips and reminders about maintaining balance through listening to you. Wishing you continued success in the work 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 #HCSM

How To Create A Social Media Mission Statement For Your Healthcare Business

Following on from my previous post on the necessity to create a social media strategy for your healthcare marketing, today I want to show you how to turn that strategy into a focussed mission statement.

This statement should guide your social media activity and help you focus in on where you need to spend your time and efforts.  Here is a sample statement I use with my own clients.

Social Media Mission Statement

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Each time you create a new piece of content or make a decision to try a new social media tool or platform, see if it fits the mission statement. Doing so will help make your social media decisions more focused and effective.

Do you have a mission statement for your marketing? 

 

Posted in Cool Tool, Visual Marketing

Monday Morning Cool Tool: Pikwizard

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Image Source: Pikwizard

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 free stock photo site called Pikwizard . 

As regular readers know, I am obsessed with visuals in marketing, but it’s hard to find medical related stock images that haven’t been used ad infinitum.  I was really pleased to hear about Pikwizard and find a super selection of medical-themed images. The site is particularly good for aesthetic procedures and dentistry-related images.

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Image Source: Pikwizard

Pikwizard hosts over 100,000 completely free images, with over 20,000 of those exclusive to the site.  Adding new images to their stock library daily, the site’s ultimate goal is to get to more than 1 million images!

Visit  www.pikwizard.com next time you need an image to enhance your medical marketing. 

 

Posted in #HCSM

How To Develop A Social Media Strategy For Healthcare Marketing

In the past decade, social networks have evolved from “a nice to have” add-on to a necessity for healthcare marketers. 

When using social media for marketing purposes, it’s important to understand that social media marketing is more than just creating social accounts and posting updates once in a while. Nor is it merely a digital tool to broadcast updates. To make social media an effective means to reach patients you need to take a strategic approach.

Before diving into social media, you need to think about what you are actually trying to accomplish. The temptation is to start right away by building a following on one or more of the popular social media platforms. But actually, this is not where you should start.

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Image: Marie Ennis-O’Connor

You need to start with your “why” before your how. In a recent interview, Lee Aase, communications director for the Mayo Clinic Social Media Network (MCSMN), pointed out that “Everything starts with why you are using social media If you do not have that “why” out there, then it’s going to be easy to not be motivated enough to stay with it.”

When I take on a new client, I always start by working deeply with them to uncover their motivation for wanting to use social media.  I believe this step is so critical that on occasion I have to advise some clients that they are not ready to commit to social media.

Social media will only work for you if you are prepared to put the work in.

For those of you reading this who are ready for the challenge and willing to work at it, read on to find out the next steps you need to take to ensure the time and effort you spend on social media will pay off for you.

A Six-Step Approach To Developing A Social Media Strategy For Healthcare Marketing

Step #1 Set SMART Goals

Without goals, it’s hard to know exactly how well your social media strategy is performing. Clear goals will not only propel your strategy forward, but they will also serve as defined metrics when it comes to measuring your progress. Describe the specific goals and outcomes you’re seeking to accomplish with your social media activity. These should be aligned with your business goals and clinical priorities.

Do you want to attract more patients? Communicate more effectively with existing patients? Create and maintain an online reputation? Drive traffic to your website? Chances are you may want to do all of these things, but it’s best to identify your top two to three goals and focus on them first.  Whichever goal you wish to pursue, make it as detailed and specific as possible. The more trackable your goal is, the easier it’ll be in a few months to see if you have achieved it.

Take Action: For a goal to become a reality, it needs to be specific, measurable, attainable, and realistic, as well as time specific — these are often called SMART goals.

Step #2 Understand Your Audience

Before you jump into the tactical and practical details of your social media plan, it’s critical that you take the time to understand your audience.  Where do your patients go online for research? What health issues concern them the most? Which online communities inform or influence them? What times are they online? Consider your audience’s engagement time, not your work hours.

Take Action: Start by finding data on your existing audience. Use the Demographics and Interests sections of Google Analytics and the audience analytics features contained within Facebook Insights and Twitter to help you.

Step #3  Set Your Marketing Budget

The perception that social media is free is misguided. The days you could make an impact with a few tweets or Facebook posts are long gone. Running a social presence now requires an investment of resources.  You may need to buy-in services such as SEO (search engine optimisation), analytics software, content or creative support. You will also need to budget for paid advertising, particularly if you want to make an impact on Facebook, where organic reach has steadily declined over the past few years.

Take Action: Set a realistic budget and create a digital marketing strategy that works within it. Whatever you decide to spend money or time on, be sure to track how your content performs on social media relative to the amount of time and money you put against it. This is your social media return of investment (ROI) and it is closely linked to the goals you set at step #1.

Step #4 Choose Your Social Channels

Armed with information on who makes up your audience, the next step is to determine which social media platforms they use and direct your efforts accordingly. Most marketing efforts are focused on the trifecta of Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, but visual platforms such as Pinterest, Snapchat, and Instagram are also very popular for healthcare marketing.  This doesn’t mean that you have to be everywhere at once. It’s important, especially if your resources are limited, that you’re focusing your social media efforts in places that will generate the most return for your time online.

Take Action: Do your research to determine where best to focus your social media efforts to be successful.  Read Which Social Network Is The Right One For Your Medical Practice? for more advice.

Step #5 Create A Content Strategy

If patients are searching for health information online you need to be creating and sharing what they are searching for.  Tune into the health stories patients are reading about and be ready to provide context, counter misinformation and dispel myths with medically factual information.

When creating a content strategy for your medical practice consider the following points.

What makes you uniquely you? What values does your organization stand for? Use social media to communicate the “who” and “why” of your practice. What unique qualities make you stand out?

Consider your social media tone and voice. How do you wish to communicate on social media? Do you wish to be seen as authoritative, inspiring, friendly, approachable, or helpful? Authentic communication and engagement are highly valued traits online as much as offline.  Look to build and strengthen trust and credibility in all your online interactions. The tone and voice you use should be consistent through all social channels. Your patients should be able to instantly recognize the tone in your social media messages as identifiably you.  Establishing a clear and identifiable voice can also make it easier for others in your office to post on social media for your practice.

Consider the type of content that works best on each platform. Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest require high-quality visuals to stand out. A blog, on the other hand, is better suited to long-form thought pieces. Think about how you can vary your message delivery to complement how people like to consume online information. Alternate between written content, video, infographics, and podcasts to match your audience’s preferences.

Take Action: Create content that truly resonates with your patients. Generally speaking, patients are less interested in your brand, your physicians or your technology, than they are in how you can help them solve their problems. Great content is not about you, but about what you can do for your patients to improve their quality of life. Use a mix of original content and content curated from highly credible evidence-based sources.

Step #6 Track And Measure Social Media Activities

How will you know if you achieve your social media goals? To determine how effective your social media efforts are, you will need to measure your results. Some key metrics to track are the number of followers you attract and retain, what people are saying about you, your company, or brand, and which social media channels drive the most traffic to your website. Social media metrics should always be tied to your social media marketing goals and your target audience.

Take Action: Use built-in tools such as Facebook Insights and Twitter Analytics, third-party tools, and measurement of social traffic and conversion with Google Analytics to track and measure your progress.

With currently 2.8 billion social media users globally, expected to rise to almost 3 billion users by 2020, social media’s influence has still not reached its peak. It’s a dynamic environment in which new networks emerge, old networks evolve, and user bases continue to grow exponentially. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by this rapidly moving landscape and unsure of your progress. By building your social media strategy on a solid foundation you are less likely to become distracted by shiny new tools, and more likely to see results over the long-term.


Need help creating a social media strategy for your business?

Get in touch with us to discuss your needs. 

Posted in #HCSM

What’s the Influence of Patients’ Internet Health Information-Seeking Behaviour on the Patient-Physician Relationship?

How and in what ways does patients’ Internet health information-seeking behaviour influence the patient-physician relationship?

The rapid proliferation of health information on the Internet has resulted in more patients turning to the Internet as their first source of health information and acquiring knowledge on their health conditions before seeking a professional diagnosis.

This is changing the ways that patients interact with healthcare providers. Gone are the days when individuals passively received health information and interventions, assuming that a doctor held all the answers. Nowadays, it’s increasingly common for patients to find resources and/or seek out additional information online.

With online health information becoming increasingly popular among patients, this may change the way in which patients interact with and participate in consultations with their physicians and how they feel about their relationship with their physicians.

When researchers Sharon Swee-Lin Tan and Nadee Goonawarden systematically reviewed existing research on patients’ Internet health information seeking and its influence on the patient-physician relationship, they found that it can improve the patient-physician relationship depending on whether the patient discusses the information with the physician and on their prior relationship.

The impact of patients seeking online-heath information on the clinical encounter

In their review, Swee-Lin Tan and Goonawarden point to two over-arching concerns.

(1) Misinformation on the web

With the quality of medical information on the web ranging from peer-reviewed to personal blogs and anecdotes of other patients, patients may not possess the necessary skills to evaluate medical information and relate it to their own health circumstances. Therefore encouraging patients to discuss their Internet information searches is increasingly important, given that acquiring information on the Internet has the potential to misguide patients with inaccurate information.

(2) Satisfaction and trust in physician

When patients’ online findings do not align with physicians’ diagnosis or treatments, concerns have been raised as to how a patient’s appointment satisfaction and trust in the physician would be affected, and how conflicts could occur between the physician and patient – physicians could feel threatened by the information and respond defensively by asserting their “expert opinion.” This may then result in dissatisfied patients who may seek a second opinion, change the physician, change their treatment plan, or self-medicate using recommendations found on the Internet.

A study published in the Journal of Family Practice reported that eighty percent of patients went online post-visit. Dissatisfaction with the physician’s performance motivated information seeking for 40% .jpg
A study published in the Journal of Family Practice reported that eighty percent of patients went online post-visit.  Dissatisfaction with the physician’s performance motivated information seeking for 40% of respondents.

Facilitators of discussion of online findings during consultations

The review highlighted 3 facilitating factors that encouraged patients to discuss online health information with their physicians:

(1) Having a family member present at doctor visits

Having a family member present would help patients remember what to ask and made the context more comfortable to share online findings.

(2) Doctor-initiated inquiries

Some patients reported incidences of doctors’ positively encouraging patients to search the Internet for information.

(3) Encountering a treatment-related advertisement that suggested talking with a doctor.

Online advertisements or recommendations about certain medications and treatment prompted some patients to initiate a conversation with their physicians.

Barriers to discussion

(1) Concerns over how physicians would react

The most common barrier to patients’ willingness to discuss their online findings was that patients were skeptical of how physicians would react: “patients were afraid doctors would perceive them as “challenging” and  “confrontational” if they discussed their health condition from a more informed point of view during consultations.”

(2) Physician resistance to discussion of Internet information

The second most common barrier for patients was “the resistance or discouragement from physicians encountered when patients tried to discuss their Internet information research during consultations.”

Conflicts arising from physicians and patients having different interpretations of the online information (when patients valued this information more) had adverse implications for the patient-physician relationship, resulting in higher levels of patient anxiety, confusion, and frustration.

Patients also felt that some physicians reacted in a way that “implicitly or explicitly discredited the patients’ ability to become informed via the Internet, presenting serious barriers to shared decision making during consultations, with the physicians asserting their authority by dismissing patient-acquired knowledge.”  As a result, “patients carefully observed their physicians before deciding whether to reveal their Internet research, and patients would only bring up their Internet health searches if they felt the situation was right.”

(3) Fear of embarrassment

A third major barrier was the fear of embarrassment. Patients who identified this to be a barrier felt “they did not possess the required skill set to evaluate online medical information. They had a lower level of confidence in the trustworthiness and the credibility of online information. They manifested a sense of being unsure of how to explain the information they found and how to relate it to their own condition, and hence did not want to mention it to their physicians.”

Other than these three main barriers, some patients did not discuss their findings during consultations because “they did not think the information was important enough and they searched the Internet just to be informed.”  Other reasons cited were “a reluctance to interfere with physicians’ diagnostic process and lack of time during doctor visits.”

Implications for the patient-physician relationship

Patients experienced a better patient-physician relationship when they had the opportunity to discuss their online health information with their physicians, and their physicians were receptive to disc (1).jpg

In the studies reviewed by the authors, most patients felt that “Internet health information seeking prior to consultations had improved their communication with doctors and the effectiveness of their consultations.”

Patients felt more in control and confident during the consultation as a result of bringing information to their physicians. Patients also felt more confident in their physicians’ diagnosis once they had discussed their online findings.

Patients used the information to help them prepare for their visit, ask better questions, and understand what the physicians told them (they believed the patient-physician communication had improved because they could understand their doctors and the jargon they used better).

By discussing information they had accessed on the Internet or setting questions in advance, “patients were able to better understand and participate in consultation sessions with their doctors.” Thus patients “felt better equipped to communicate with their physicians during the consultations” resulting in “greater clarity, orientation, and certainty.”

A majority of patients had felt more comfortable with information from health care providers because of their Internet searches and felt more confident with the doctor’s advice.  Interestingly, patients who shared online information felt that they received more attention from their physician, compared with non-sharers.

The patients’ sense of empowerment was dependent on how receptive providers and specialists were to the patients’ desire to take part in the decision-making process. The review showed that “the effect of online information on the patient-physician relationship depended on several factors.”

(1) The positive influence of online information was stronger when patients had an opportunity to discuss their online findings.

Patients who perceived their information search to have improved their relationship with physicians saw the Internet as an additional resource that supported doctors’ advice and enhanced the relationship with doctors. On the other hand, when patients valued the information they found on the Internet above their physicians’, this information led patients to ignore physicians’ expertise.

Not disclosing their Internet information searches could erode patients’ trust in their physicians if the diagnosis or the recommendations are different from their Internet research findings.

(2) Physicians’ reaction to patients when they shared their online findings could determine the positive or negative effect on the relationship’s quality.

When patients perceived physicians to be threatened by their bringing online information, 49% of the patients were seriously dissatisfied with the consultation and 4% believed their relationship was worsened. Conversely, patients felt that the relationship was strengthened “when physicians displayed adequate communication skills in discussing patients’ queries.”

(3) The quality of the existing relationship with physicians

Patients judged their physicians’ reactions as “mostly positive when they had a good prior relationship, even when the doctors’ replies were evasive or openly critical of the patients’ Internet search.”

Conclusion

It’s important to note that patients don’t see their information searches as a substitute for clinical advice.  Patients typically see the Internet as an additional resource that can help them to better understand doctors’ recommendations and advice.  They still value traditional doctor-patient consultations as important to their understanding of online health information, and their trust in physicians remained very high. Under this model of care, the physician acts as a teacher or a friend by engaging patients in a dialogue through the decision-making process.

When physicians embrace openness to online information and encourage patients to discuss the online information they have, patients’ perception of physician resistance and fear of embarrassment could be reduced and patients are more likely to discuss online information with their physicians.

In contrast to the belief that patients’ Internet research can erode the patient-physician relationship, our findings show that patients’ Internet health information seeking has the potential to improve the relationship.

The authors conclude that as patients have better access to health information through the Internet and expect to be more engaged in health decision making, traditional models of the patient-physician relationship need to be adapted to patients’ changing needs by incorporating their perspective into a relationship-centered medical paradigm.


Tan SSL, Goonawardene N. Internet Health Information Seeking and the Patient-Physician Relationship: A Systematic Review. J Med Internet Res 2017;19(1):e9

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Posted in social spotlight

Social Spotlight: Jo Taylor

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This week I am thrilled to kick off the social spotlight interview series again with one of my favourite people – Jo Taylor.  Founder of After Breast Cancer Diagnosis, Jo is a straight-talking Northerner and a force of nature. A fearless patient advocate and campaigner living with secondary breast cancer, she inspires me every day with her energy and passion.


Jo, I am in awe of the work you do. I know you have several projects on the go, so can you tell us a little about some that are close to your heart right now?

JT:  Currently I’m working on my #abcdretreat .  I held 3 this year and the plan is to get sustainable funding that can support 5 residential a year and other additional ones but not redirecting.  I want to be able to franchise the model as people have now asked my advice in replicating.  I know it works and I can inject the right ideas and know how into producing them in different areas.

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A lady from the last retreat wants the franchise in the Isle of Wight!  I’ve also had interest from America and Canada.  Social media reaches the places others can’t.  It’s unbelievable how it’s grown in the last 2 years.  I did a pilot 2 years ago with 9 breast cancer people.  I now know how it works best and people gain so much out of it!  There’s lots of ideas but can’t say too much at the moment.  A business plan is in the process and there are two other grant funds that again I can’t talk about that I’ve applied for.  Only time will tell if these things work out.  Fingers crossed.

I’m also involved in the #busylivingwithmets campaign that started last month in Breast Cancer Awareness Month. While metastatic breast cancer is terminal and cannot be cured, because of improved treatments more women are living longer than ever with it. Even so, many misconceptions and lack of information about this diagnosis persist.    A stranger called Elizabeth Richards contacted me and like many other women she knew very little about MBC, yet the more she found out, the more angry and amazed she became that the illness was side-lined. Elizabeth’s view was that as long as metastatic cancer wasn’t mainstream people would not be aware of the limited treatment options available to them. If they knew, they’d demand more.

NICE, NHS, charities there’s so much not happening and it should be.  Secondary breast cancer patients need a real voice to push policy and make changes – patients need early diagnosis of mets, better treatments and surgeries.  If the government really want the life expectancy to improve and the U.K. world cancer ranking to improve from 17th position, these are the things that are needed to make this happen.

I also am the founder of METUPUK who are looking at the aims and objectives detailed in the graphic below, and we’re committed to turning metastatic (secondary) breast cancer into a chronic disease instead of a terminal disease.

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I’m also involved in steering groups for Experimental Cancer Medicine Centre (ECMC) in Greater Manchester and in the Greater Manchester User Involvement programme working in partnership with clinical groups and boards like the Greater Manchester Breast Pathway Board which I attend as Secondary Breast Cancer patient representative.

I truly am in awe of all that you do Jo! So, tell us what role social media plays in all of this work. How did you get started with social media?

JT: All these things use social media to push their profile. I was on Twitter with my own personal account and wanted to see how Twitter worked and how I could use it after creating my website After Breast Cancer Diagnosis – I spent a good year or so researching and understanding how it worked to be able to replicate this with my @abcdiagnosis Twitter account. I didn’t want to just take followers over from a personal account. Many did follow me from my personal account but it grew from there to what it is today.

Which platform(s) do you enjoy using the most?

JT:  I use Twitter as my main platform. I have a Facebook page as well which I then expand on the information from Twitter as FB is wordier. I don’t link one media to the other as I feel it doesn’t work for me. I don’t use Instagram as I don’t feel this is a worthwhile medium for abcd. I find it unrealistic and more of a “celebrity” medium that just isn’t what I want to promote. Life isn’t all about the perfect photo and I am a real person not a posed and promoted one. I also feel this is damaging to people and our children. I don’t feel my “brand” is right on that medium.

I agree that Instagram is all about the filters and the projection of a perfect image, but I wonder if it might be worth experimenting a little to see if you could do something to shake this up? We should put our heads together sometime and see what we can come up with 😉 

I ask all my guests the following question – but I probably should know the answer to the next question already. Which topics interest you – eg do you take part in any particular twitter chats?

JT: Any topics to do with breast cancer, secondary BC, patient involvement, advocacy interest me. I’m also massively interested in exercise with and after cancer so get involved in things to do with these subjects. I want to make a difference for other patients and people living with and beyond cancer. Exercise is something we can all do and at very little cost so I like to motivate people to do this.

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I have a closed FB group for people who have been on the retreats and it’s great for them to keep motivated. We also have WhatsApp groups that keep them motivated and connected.

What advice would you give someone just starting out on social media?

JT: Connecting with people and actually chat with them! This is the one thing people don’t always do, they think they will just get followers by no interaction, I’ve seen it. You have to be part of the conversation, don’t be shy, talk, get involved, do Twitter chats, lurk until you feel comfortable in speaking but we all have an opinion and that’s the thing, we don’t have to agree. Don’t feel silly to stick your head above the parapet and have an opinion. Be kind – many people have cancer and sometimes things can be taken incorrectly too (Maybe my Northernness?!) I’ve been on the receiving end and sometimes easy to be misunderstood. Don’t feel silly to say I’m sorry I didn’t mean it that way also, I still can say something and the meaning isn’t taken in the right context. If something happens DM someone and there’s been times I’ve apologised or smoothed things over. Interaction is everything though, it’s just like speaking to someone face to face. Remember don’t say something to someone you wouldn’t face to face. There are real people behind these accounts (most of the time). Block anyone who is continually rude or upsetting. I’ve only had to block three people ever in the last 6 years and most of the time I’ve had only a good experience of social media.

I love that advice Jo, and I agree that is easy for misunderstandings to arise online. I appreciate that you care enough to smooth things over. It’s important that we build and nurture those online relationships we value too. 

So, finally, would you like to share a favourite quote with us?

Favourite quote – too many to choose from but this resonates – no, exercise won’t cure clinical depression but whatever disease or problem, it certainly can make you feel a whole lot better if you try it.

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That’s a powerful note to end on Jo, and as healthcare communicators, we both understand the value of a visual to get a key point across!


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

The Power of Social Media in Medicine and Medical Education: Opportunities, Risks, and Rewards

Earlier this year I contributed to a paper published in the journal, Clinical Chemistry, which explored the use of social media in medicine and medical education. You can read the full paper here –  it’s Open Access (yay!).

Both personal and professional use of social media by medical professionals is increasing. Some medical specialties have quickly adopted and embraced social media, particularly in the fields of family medicine, pediatrics, and emergency medicine.  Emergency and critical care medicine have embraced social media under the free open-access medical education (#FOAMEd) movement that seeks to share knowledge as widely as possible and for free. (Fun fact! The term FOAM was coined in June 2012 in a pub in Dublin, over a pint of Guinness).

Extracted highlights from the paper

Shannon Haymond, Professor of Pathology, sees social media as “a way to stay up to
date on rapidly changing fields and to connect with a diverse set of people who share your interests. This is particularly true for finding those interested in your area
of expertise but from a completely different perspective.”

I continually use social media to find and save ideas for improving the content and delivery of my lectures and educational sessions – Shannon Haymond

In response to the question of barriers to the adoption of social media among medical professionals, Haymond points to lack of time to tackle a steep learning  curve and notes “people are not sure of the value or level of professionalism (i.e., they assume it is all about pop culture and celebrity feuds) and  may be apprehensive to put their opinions out into the public conversation.”

Emergency medicine consultant, Professor Simon Carley considers that emergency medicine has adopted social media at a much faster pace than most specialties “owing to the ability of social media to engage individuals across the breadth of our specialty, despite the chronological and geographical challenges that typify our practice.”

I am more up to date than my peers who do not engage. I am a better physician as a result, and I truly believe that my patients receive better care because of this. Professionally I find it intellectually satisfying, as I am forced to constantly learn and reflect on my current practice. It has created opportunities to join research and educational groups across the globe with interactions through #FOAMed, leading to journal publications and numerous invitations to speak at national and international conferences. My personal learning network of experts is no longer limited to those in my department or hospital, and I regularly learn from those in other countries and health economies – Simon Carley

Although Carley thinks there still exists “a big gap between awareness and involvement”, clinical educator, Jonathan Sherbino, MD says “the novelty of social media as an emerging phenomenon is being replaced with lines of inquiry that take advantage of the principles of social media: open access, interconnectivity, asynchronous dialog, and crowdsourcing.”

We are now at a tipping point from the early adopters to the early majority, largely a function of a generational shift with early career educators promoting and modeling the professional use of social media – Jonathan Sherbino

Sherbino, an avid user of Twitter,  believes social media “allows an individual to participate in a richer community.”  He uses Twitter “as an aggregator to condense numerous online conversations relevant to health professions education into a single stream. He also says  he pays ” more attention to superusers (individuals or organizations with a personally vetted record of high-quality information) than any member within my network.”

Michael Berkwits, editor at The JAMA and JAMA Network also points to social media’s curatorial capabilities.

“Social media allows publishers to distribute information to readers in the workflow and spaces they are already using. With innumerable options, most people direct-access only a handful of website homepages and instead use social media platforms as a way to curate “tables of contents” of people, interests, and sources they want to keep up with – Michael Berkwits

Carley uses personal learning networks, curation sites, and apps to help him track and collate useful content.

I have developed a personal learning network of individuals who collate and curate special interest areas. You cannot follow everyone, so find and follow the high return, high-quality individuals or sites that filter content for you. I also follow sites that act as clearing houses for social media content, which create a weekly digest and e-mail it to your inbox – Simon Carley

Social media is an important mechanism for communicating about science with the public. As Haymond points out, “Despite the tremendous benefits, including free access and wide distribution of information, the quality of online scientific information
is variable.”

Stephen Smith, Professor of Emergency Medicine, is firm that medical professionals should be more discriminating about what they choose to post online.

Because there is so much information, we should try to limit what we post to only those things that are both important and accurate, to the best of our knowledge. We should not be posting things for our own ego, to be able to say how many followers one has, or how many posts one has put up – Stephen Smith

When it comes to risks, Sherbino points to trolling, Smith to patient identification, and Haymond to the risk of posting misleading or inaccurate information. Carley considers that the “risks are overstated.”

The only difference is that social media shares your views with a wider audience. If you act inappropriately and unprofessional in real life, then more people will know it. Similarly, if you are a diligent clinician, researcher, and academic, then more people will find out – Simon Carley

The future of social media in medicine

Social media is changing the ways that patients interact with healthcare providers and the healthcare system. It is increasingly common for patients to use information technology to gain access to information and control their own healthcare.  Increased access to the Internet and mobile communication will bring public health information to many more people, more quickly and directly than at any time in history. Social media will widen access to those who may not easily access health information via traditional methods, such as younger people, ethnic minorities, and lower socioeconomic groups.

Social media is also changing the face of medical education. Sherbino goes so far as to state, “No longer are the giants of the field identified by their textbooks, citation rates, or leadership roles; rather, my residents and fellows are influenced by the scope of an educator’s social media brand.”

Carley quotes Rob Rogers, “we will change from those who give out knowledge to those who coordinate it. Social media will develop us all into “learning choreographers.”


The Power of Social Media in Medicine and Medical Education: Opportunities, Risks, and Rewards, Published May 22, 2018 as doi:10.1373/clinchem.2018.288225

Posted in #HCSM

Which Social Network Is The Right One For Your Medical Practice?

Are you using the right social media platform to maximize your online reach? Not all social media is created equal. Read on find out more about choosing the right platform to enhance your medical marketing activities.

Most small practice owners I’ve talked to find themselves overwhelmed by social media because they feel they need to be active on all platforms.  It’s important, especially if your resources are limited, that you’re focusing your social media efforts in places that will generate the most return for your time online.  Don’t spread yourself too thin by trying to be everywhere at once.  Every additional platform your practice is active on means additional time and effort required to engage on and create tailored content for that platform.

Before becoming active on a social network, try answering the following questions to help you choose the platform that is right for your practice.

1. Will this platform help me achieve my marketing goals?

Setting SMART goals to which you can align your social media activity is a good guarantee of online marketing success. If you can’t explain how a particular social channel will help you to achieve your goals, then it may not be the right fit for you.

Recommend Reading: How To Set SMART Goals For Your Healthcare Marketing

2. Is my target audience active on this platform?

Different platforms attract different audiences. There’s no point spending your time on a particular social network if your audience isn’t there. Look at existing data to learn where a specific demographic spends their time online. For instance, if you’re targeting a younger demographic (25 years and under), then you should consider using Snapchat.

For the female-focused market, Pinterest is a good choice, because of its significant reach among women; 42% of online women are Pinterest users. 34% of users are between the ages of 18 – 29 and 28% are between 30 – 49, which creates a wide demographic of women who can be reached on this platform.

With an average of 1.47 billion daily active users, Facebook is still the king of all social networking sites (though we might see this predominance changing soon), so this is the most logical network to start with.

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Most popular social networks worldwide as of October 2018, ranked by number of active users (in millions) Source: Statista

However, the catch with Facebook is over 80 million businesses have a presence on the network which makes it a crowded and competitive landscape. And with organic Facebook Reach estimated to currently be as low as 1–3%, succeeding on the platform is more difficult than ever.

Certainly, you should create a presence on  Facebook for your practice,  but be realistic in terms of what you can achieve there.  To succeed you will need to include paid strategies for a successful Facebook marketing plan. The good news is that Facebook advertising allows for a high level of targeting right down to age, interests, income levels, geographic location etc. to ensure your message is delivered to the exact audience type you are looking to attract.

Recommended Reading: 10 Tips To Create More Engaging Content For Your Medical Practice Facebook Page

Look beyond Facebook to the many online groups and fora where your patients are also congregating. For example, Quora is a question and answer platform where you can either ask a question about your topic or simply do a search using your topic keyword to find what people are asking about that topic.

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3. Which social networks are my competitors using?

Which social networks are your competitors using? Are they active on networks you aren’t? Use a tool like Buzzsumo to identify the social channels on which your competitors get the most shares. Chances are if these channels match your demographics and are working well for your competitors, they will work well for you also.

Recommended Reading: Six Tools To Help You Perform A Competitor Audit

4. Will this platform match the content I create?

If you want your content to do well on social media, you’ve got to be strategic about what you publish and where you publish it. You need to create content that aligns with your audience’s expectations on each social channel.

Identify how, when, and where your specific audience likes to engage with content. For example, Instagram is the best platform for reaching millennials and users there will expect high-quality graphics and videos. It’s a great way to connect visually with your audience.

Twitter, on the other hand, has the most diversity in terms of audience penetration and is the best network for real-time communication. Due to its interactive, in-the-moment nature, it will require more of a commitment of time to participate in online conversations and chats and remain visible in the fast-moving stream of tweets.

Consider creating more video content for YouTube.

It’s no secret that video content is booming across all businesses, including healthcare. People around the world are now watching a billion hours of YouTube’s content every single day.

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YouTube is the second largest search engine in the world with added SEO potential due to its Google connection. As a form of patient education and health promotion, YouTube has great potential but is currently an under-utilized platform for healthcare.

5. Can I integrate this platform with another similar one?

It’s better to use fewer channels well than to stretch yourself thin trying to maintain a presence on every social network. There is a degree of reciprocity between certain platforms – for example, Facebook and Instagram – the key is to choose channels which integrate well with each other to create maximum impact.

6. Consider your existing resources

Do you have the skills or personnel to create the right content for the networks you’ve chosen? While it’s true, you don’t have to pay to sign up for a social media profile on most platforms, these days, the organic reach of most Facebook posts is less than three percent. Running a social presence now requires an investment of resources, both in terms of finances and time.

To Wrap Up

When choosing a social network always keep one eye on the bigger picture. Rather than being led by current trends, back up your decisions by aligning them with your goals and audience.

When assessing a platform ask yourself if it is the right fit for what you are trying to do and for whom you want to reach.  Faris K. Timimi, MD, medical director for the Mayo Clinic Social Media Network (MCSMN) and a practicing cardiologist in Rochester, Minnesota, advises physicians to “look at the demographics and the nature of the platform, the content of what you are putting out there, and what are the characteristics and how does it fit.”

My final piece of advice is to master one social network well before adding another to your strategy.  Regularly review what’s working and what’s not. After a period of say six months, ask yourself this platform is still working for you. If it, then focus on improving your reach on it.  If it’s not working, consider whether it’s worth investing any more time on. Remember you don’t have to be everywhere to make an impact.

 

 

Posted in Cool Tool

Monday Morning Cool Tool: IFFTT

This week’s cool tool recommendation is IFTTT.

IFTTT (an acronym for If This, Then That) allows you to sync up multiple apps so that when a certain activity happens, it kicks off a separate activity in another app. There are lots of ways to use this tool, for example, I use IFTTT to add my tweets to a Google Spreadsheet to create a Twitter Bank of tweets to draw on.

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I’m not a big fan of automating social media activity but used well, it is a boon to time-pressed social media marketers. The key to making it work is to spend time creating genuine, engaging content, and then maximizing its performance through the strategic use of automation tools.

For more time-saving tips like this, read 17 Tried and Tested Time-Saving Tips For Social Media

Posted in #HCSM

10 Smart Ways To Drive More Readers To Your Healthcare Blog

Blogs written by physicians, nurses, researchers, patients, and allied healthcare professionals add much to the richness and diversity of the online healthcare conversation.

But it’s not enough to write great content and hope that people will find it. You need to actively promote your blog to maximize opportunities for more people to find and learn from your content. In today’s post, I will share with you 10 tried and tested ways guaranteed to drive more traffic and increase engagement on your healthcare blog.

1. Tailor Your Content To Your Audience’s Needs

Firstly, every piece of content that you create should have an intended audience. What kind of healthcare information are your patients looking for? What problems can your content solve for them? Focusing more clearly on your audience will help you to create content that will draw more readers to your blog. The key here is to really know your audience and their pain-points and write content that specifically answers their particular needs.

2. Hook Your Readers With An Irresistible Headline

If content is king, then the headline is queen. Your headline is the first impression you make on a prospective reader. A good headline frames your content. No matter how amazing your content is, few people are going to click through to read it if they’re not immediately captivated by your headline.

Recommended Reading: 7 Tools To Find Inspiration For Your Headlines

3.  Use Keywords Strategically

It’s important to include keywords in your content if you want to rank higher for particular search terms and attract more readers to your blog. The Google Keyword Planner within Adwords is a useful tool to find ideas for content based on keyword search. Google also displays related search results at the bottom of the first page when you type in your Google search query. This is a super-helpful resource as it returns ideas that are relevant to your topic based on user interest and contextual words.

4. Create Evergreen Content

Evergreen content is the kind of content that is continually relevant and stays “fresh” for readers. A Moz case study defines evergreen posts as “content having a continued and sustained success” and also shows that evergreen posts can generate traffic years after their original publication. Some common evergreen formats include Lists, and How To’s.

5. Add Visual Appeal

Study after study confirms that how you create and share content matters
with visual content leading the way. When it comes to creating visual content, don’t be tempted to reach for the nearest stock image. These days there’s no excuse for using boring stock images. In this post, I share my best recommendations for sourcing images you can use for free to enhance your social media posts.

6. Maintain A Consistent Posting Schedule

To create and maintain interest with your audience you need to post consistently to stay in front of your audience’s eyes and keep growing. One of the best ways to do this is to create recurring content. Recurring content form hooks which keep readers interested in coming back to your site. Having specific days or times that you post content means followers will get into the habit of checking your social media to see if anything new has appeared. Examples could be creating a weekly round-up post on your blog.

7. Leverage Guest Blogging

Whether you invite a guest blogger to blog on your site, or you guest blog for someone else, guest blogging is one of the most effective ways to increase your blog’s traffic. Not only do you get the opportunity to build your authority and increase your visibility, you can also leverage the social following of your guest blogger when you mention them on social media.

8.  Drive More Traffic With Social Shares

By making it easy for visitors to your site to share your content, you increase the likelihood that they will take this action. When more people share your content, you increase the chance of driving more visitors to your blog. Make sure your social sharing buttons are clearly visible. Check out this advice on the best position to place share icons on a web page.

9. Send an e-Newsletter to Subscribers

Newsletters can help keep your content top of mind with readers and drive more traffic to your website. Consider sending an email digest of your most recent blog posts, or send a targeted email each time you publish new content.

10. Repurpose Your Existing Content

Repurposing content simply means taking one asset and reusing it somewhere else. By re-purposing content you have already written, you can expand the reach of your content and attract new audiences.  Identify your most popular content through your blog analytics tool and by using Google Analytics. You should aim to repurpose any content that consistently performs well.

These are just some of the ways in which you can drive more traffic to your website. Can you add more suggestions to this list?

Posted in #HCSM

Data Never Sleeps: Here’s What Happens In An Internet Minute (Infographic)

I never cease to be blown away by the sheer scale and acceleration of the Internet. The world is more connected than ever before.

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But just how much data is generated every minute? This fascinating infographic shows exactly how much data is created every single minute. From tweets to swipes, likes to shares, the digital world is exploding.

Stats At A Glance

  • 42,033,600,000 Facebook logins
  • 159,840,000,000 Google searches
  • 1,641,600,000,000 WhatsApp messages sent
  • 8,078,400,000,000 emails sent
Courtesy of: Visual Capitalist

 

Posted in Cool Tool

Monday Morning Cool Tool: Portent’s Content Idea Tool

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This week’s cool tool recommendation is Portent’s Content Idea Generator tool.

This tool allows you to generate headline ideas with just one keyword. Be prepared that the tool can throw up some quirky suggestions, but don’t let that put you off. Keep playing around with it until you find one you can work with. I also really like how it shows you best practice tips, such as using metaphors in your writing.

For more tools like this read  7 Tools To Find Inspiration For Your Headlines

Posted in #HCSM

10 Tips To Create More Engaging Content For Your Medical Practice Facebook Page

Worldwide, there are over 2.23 billion monthly active Facebook users and 1.47 billion people on average log onto Facebook daily (Source: Facebook 07/25/18). Statistically speaking, Facebook is too big to ignore but when it comes to social media marketing, is it actually delivering the results you’d hope to see?

Over 80 million businesses have a presence on the social network which makes it a crowded and competitive landscape. And at a time when organic Facebook Reach is estimated to currently be as low as 1–3%, succeeding on the platform is more difficult than ever.

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If you’re struggling to make an impact on Facebook, then this article is for you. In it, I will share some best practice tips to help you increase your organic reach and boost engagement.

So let’s get started with Tip #1

1. Grab attention with a compelling visual

Study after study confirms that how you create and share content matters — with visual content leading the way.

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According to research by Kissmetrics, photos get 53% more likes, 104% more comments and 84% more click-throughs on links than text-based posts. Facebook recommends each post you create should include some type of creative, like images, GIFs or videos.

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Make sure these creative assets are of high quality. Avoid using blurry images or videos or creative that doesn’t accurately reflect your brand or message. If you post any pictures of your patients, be sure to obtain their permission.

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.

2. Keep things simple

Facebook advises that “simple posts with clean creative are best at capturing an audience’s attention” and recommends the following tips:

· Keep your color scheme clean and consistent

· Include images that are recognizable

· Use minimal, concise and impactful text

3. Share a behind-the-scenes photo of your office

People love to see behind the scenes of your practice – so bring your camera to your next staff meeting, lunch or event. Sharing pictures of your employees (with their permission, of course) makes your practice so much more relatable.

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4. Post about cause awareness events

Whether it’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month or Healthy Weight Week, there is a cause awareness month you can write about at least once a month.

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5. Create holiday-themed posts

Christmas, Hanukah, Thanksgiving — they all provide an opportunity to share holiday themed advice or send best wishes to your followers.  You could also join in fun holidays like National Donut Day. Check out this calendar to keep you right up to date with ideas.

6. Post news and updates from your practice

Are you rolling out a new program, product or service? Have you acquired a new piece of equipment that affords better care? Let your followers know about it. Patients will appreciate you keeping them informed.

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7. Share videos

Video has become the predominant way we consume information. The average video post generates 135% greater organic reach when compared to photo posts according to research from Social Bakers.

Here are some tips to use video more effectively on Facebook

8. Go Live

Facebook Live videos get three times the engagement of traditional videos shared on the platform and it draws 10 times as many comments as regular video. Facebook actively prioritizes live video by placing it at the top of the News Feed, as well as sending notifications to potentially interested audience members. Additionally, Facebook Live videos are archived on Facebook and can be viewed and shared after the live broadcast.

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Tips for going live (via AAP News)

  • Consider making a regular time for your show if you plan on frequent live videos.
  • Choose topics that will engage your audience and provide valuable education.
  • Tell viewers ahead of time when you are going live.
  • Greet your viewers and respond to their questions and comments by name.
  • Promote your live video on multiple social media platforms to increase engagement.
  • Be prepared. Create an outline of key points and questions.
  • Make sure you have a strong internet connection and no institutional firewall blocking your broadcast.

Recommended: Social Media Marketing: How To Master The Art Of Going Live

9. Create Facebook Stories

Facebook Stories — user-generated slideshows and video collections — are short (around 20-seconds) pieces of content created on your smartphone and available for up to 24 hours. After this time your story automatically deletes itself, although there is an option to save your content.

10. Post When Your Followers Are Online

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.

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Facebook makes it easy to find out your optimal posting times by navigating to the Insights Tab and selecting Posts. Here you will get data about when your Facebook Page fans are online for each day of the week.  Once you’ve determined your optimal posting times, make use of Facebook’s post scheduling feature to post at just the right time.

To Wrap Up

While I have focussed on increasing organic reach on Facebook, the reality is that Facebook is a pay-to-play environment now. You will need to include paid strategies for a successful Facebook marketing plan. Use organic content to analyze and test to see what works best with your audience. You can then use these insights for paid ads. Your top-performing posts are proven content. With the right ad targeting, these posts can continue to reach and engage more people.

 

Posted in #HCSM

Six Tips To Get The Most From Google Search

The Internet is changing the nature and speed of healthcare interaction between individuals and health organizations. Nowadays one in every 20 Google searches is related to health. A basic Google search will usually help you find what you are looking for; but for those times when it falls short, you will need to turn to some advanced search techniques. Here are six tips to help you zone in on the exact information you need next time you turn to Google.

Tip #1 Use The Exact Phrase

Using “quotation” marks around a phrase or name allows you to search for those exact words in that exact order, thereby excluding more common but less relevant results. This is especially useful if you’re trying to find results containing a specific phrase.

Tip #2 Exclude A Particular Term

Try expanding your search parameters by excluding certain words using the minus (-) symbol. This is useful when your search generates a lot of results that aren’t relevant to you. Re-run the search excluding the words that you don’t want to be included.

Tip #3 Search Using “OR”

By using the OR term you can search for web pages that might use one of several words.

E.g. competition OR match

Tip #4 Use An Asterix

The asterisk symbol works as a wildcard within searches. It can be used in place of a missing word or part of a word when you are not sure what the entire phrase is.

Tip #5 Search Between Two Values

By using (..) in between a set of values you can search for results that include numbers within a range.

Tip #6 Search Related Sites

Find sites that are similar to a web address you already know.

Using these Google tricks will lead you to more focused searches in the future.

You might also like to read Dr. Google Turns 20: How Has It Changed Healthcare?

Posted in Cool Tool

Monday Morning Cool Tool: Quuu

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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 favourite tools with you at the start of each week. This week’s cool tool recommendation is Quuu, a hand-curated content suggestion platform that connects to your Buffer queue.

How It Works 

Select from over 300 interest categories to receive suggestions that matter to you and your audience. With the free account, you can choose up to 5 interest categories, get suggestions automatically sent to your connected accounts two times a day (six for a paid account).  Relevant suggestions will be queued to your Buffer where you can choose to manually curate posts yourself or Quuu will post for you.

Check it out at http://www.quuu.co

Posted in Cool Tool

Monday Morning Cool Tool: HubSpot’s Blog Topic Generator 

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This week’s cool tool recommendation is HubSpot’s Blog Topic Generator tool.

HubSpot’s Blog Topic Generator tool lets you input up to three different nouns and returns five blog topic ideas.

Here are the suggestions generated for me when I input the terms “social media” and “marketing” into the tool.

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For more tools like this read  7 Tools To Find Inspiration For Your Headlines

Posted in #HCSM

As Google Turns 20, What’s Next For Health Information Searching Online?

Twenty years ago, two Stanford Ph.D. students launched a new search engine with a bold mission to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful. Now two decades later, at the first sign of a symptom, patients instinctively turn first to “Dr. Google” to find answers to their health questions.

One in every 20 Google searches is related to health. 

The Internet age has dramatically changed how people seek out and find medical information. In a recent article, Susannah Fox, former CTO for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, points out that 87 percent of 14- to 22-year-olds report that they research health questions online.

According to the most recent Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project, thirty-five percent of U.S. adults say that at one time or another they have gone online specifically to try to figure out what medical condition they or someone else might have. 63 percent of online health seekers were looking for information about specific diseases or medical problems. 47 percent were looking for information about a specific treatment or medical procedure. Additionally, 44 percent searched diet information, and 36 percent were looking for information about exercise and fitness.

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Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project

Why A Mobile-First Strategy Is A Must

Most people aren’t looking searching for information on a desktop or laptop anymore. They are looking at it on a phone or tablet. Recent studies show 52% of smartphone users gather health-related information on their phones. This means that your website needs to be easy to read no matter where your patient may access it.

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Just over a year ago, Google announced a major change to the way its search index will rank sites: it will go mobile-first. As the company explained at the time, Google’s algorithms will eventually primarily use the mobile version of a website’s content to rank its pages.

Having a mobile-responsive site (ie one that automatically changes its layout and placements of certain menus and buttons automatically) is important because firstly, not only are over half of patients searching online for health information on their smartphone, but secondly, Google now gives ranking priority to those sites that are mobile friendly.  In fact, Google has stated that it will penalize websites that aren’t mobile-responsive, so if your site isn’t optimized for mobile devices, you’ll likely lose out significantly in the organic search rankings.  To check if your site’s design is responsive, enter its URL into this Google tool.

Optimize Your Content For Google Search

If you want more people to find you online, you need to optimize your website through good search engine optimization practices. SEO (the ability to optimize your site for search engines),  is a detailed and sometimes confusing process, and you may want to hire an SEO expert to do it for you. If you don’t want to hire someone, there are search engine optimization tools available to help you do your own SEO — and many of them are free. I’ve put together this list of the best free SEO tools out there to help you instantly improve your online marketing.

Optimize Your Content For Voice Search

The majority of patients searching for information on the web still trust search engines but the way people search for information online is changing. Increasingly, people are using voice search on their smartphones, tablets or voice assistants (like the Amazon Echo or Google Home devices) to search for information on the internet (yet another compelling reason to make sure that your site is optimized for mobile).  According to comScore’s forecasting, 50 percent of searches will be performed through voice functions in 2020 and the majority will be done without even looking at a screen.

In essence, voice searches are largely about answering questions, not about focusing on individual keywords. SEO is fast becoming AEO (Answer Engine Optimisation).  To quote NewsCred, “If you’re a marketer, “What’s the Alexa strategy?” will be a question you’ll be expected to answer.”

Optimise Your Website For Local Search

If you want more people to find you online, you need to optimize your website through good search engine optimization practices. And if you want to attract new patients, your website also needs to be optimized for your local area. When someone uses the internet to locate a Medical Practice nearby, it’s critical that your website appears in those results (searches on mobile devices containing the phrase “near me” has skyrocketed in recent years).

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Recommended Reading:  Why and How You Should Optimise Your Medical Website For Local Search

In a relatively short space of time, Google has fulfilled its mission to make information universally accessible and useful. We know of course, that not all of the information on the Internet is useful, and some of it is downright dangerous. All the more reason, therefore, to make sure that the information you provide to patients is accurate, useful and easily accessible. Why not set your own ambitious goal to be at the top of Google’s Search Page when patients google health information. Following the tips in this post will help you achieve this goal over the coming months and years.

Posted in Cool Tool

Monday Morning Cool Tool: Inbound’s Title Generator

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This week’s cool tool recommendation is Inbound Now’s Blog Title Idea Generator tool. 

Sometimes all you need to get those creative juices flowing again is a title and this is where Inbound Now’s Blog Title Idea Generator comes in. You don’t even need to input a keyword — keep clicking on the generate title button until you find the inspiration you need.

For more tools like this read  7 Tools To Find Inspiration For Your Headlines

Posted in #HCSM

YouTube: A Missed Opportunity For Patient Education

YouTube has more than 1.8 billion monthly active users, and remains the online video leader. 

People around the world are now watching a billion hours of YouTube’s content every single day.  That’s a huge amount of time spent watching diverse content on the channel.  Here are some more staggering stats to consider.

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YouTube is the second largest search engine in the world with added SEO potential due to its Google connection.  YouTube also has live-streaming options and social tools, which it’s expanding as it works to keep in line with evolving consumer trends.

Mobile devices now account for 70% of all time spent on YouTube by adults in the US, according to research from comScore. Audience reach is bigger on mobile than on desktop for 99 of the top 100 YouTube channels in the United States.

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Mobile viewing is especially popular with younger adults (age 18-34) and women, the analysis found. YouTube mobile viewers tend to watch shorter-form videos than desktop viewers do. However, mobile viewers watch nearly three times as many videos per month, on average.

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YouTube is a platform that people are searching every day for how to solve their problems and get their questions answered. As a form of patient education and health promotion, it has great potential but recent studies show it is not being used to its full potential.

A 2013 study which examined the effectiveness of YouTube as a source of medical information on heart transplantation found it time-consuming to find high-quality videos and recommended that more authoritative videos by trusted sources should be posted for the dissemination of reliable information. Similarly, a 2015 study found that in YouTube videos related to skin cancer, there was a missed opportunity for cancer prevention and control.

These findings notwithstanding, there are some good examples of medical organizations who are already using YouTube to communicate health information. Mayo Clinic, in particular, stands out, with 50,917 subscribers to its channel and over 31,000,000 video views. 

If you don’t already have a YouTube channel for your practice, perhaps now is the time to consider it. Check out this article by Sendible which has some useful tips on how to optimise your YouTube channel for success.

Related Reading

Posted in #HCSM

New Google Page Speed Ranking For Mobile Searches: What You Should Know

With mobile overtaking desktop as customers’ primary website-viewing platform, it’s more important than ever to optimize your website for mobile functionality.

Although speed has been used in Google ranking for some time, that signal was focused on desktop searches. Earlier this year Google announced that starting in July 2018, page speed will be a ranking factor for mobile searches too.  This marks an important shift in Google’s approach to measuring page speed while stressing the importance of mobile user experiences.

Determine How Mobile Friendly Your Site Is

Although there is no tool that directly indicates whether a page is affected by this new ranking factor, Google recommends the following resources can be used to evaluate a page’s performance.

  • Chrome User Experience Report, a public dataset of key user experience metrics for popular destinations on the web, as experienced by Chrome users under real-world conditions
  • Lighthouse, an automated tool and a part of Chrome Developer Tools for auditing the quality (performance, accessibility, and more) of web pages
  • PageSpeed Insights, a tool that indicates how well a page performs on the Chrome UX Report and suggests performance optimizations

Related Reading 

Digital Health Checkup: 10 Signs It’s Time To Redesign Your Medical Practice Website

Posted in #HCSM, SlideShare

Healthcare Innovation: Made With Patients

This week I was in Basel, Switzerland, to deliver a keynote presentation at the DayOne Conference, Shaping The Future of Health.  It was a great experience and heartening to meet so many start-up companies with a real interest in working with patients in codesigning healthcare solutions.

I believe that a genuine partnership model with patients and their families and carers, will not just improve outcomes for patients but can transform the healthcare industry.  I urged the audience to go beyond the patient label and engage with patients as people with valuable lived experience and expertise that they can learn from.

But even with the best intentions, it’s easy to get it wrong. So I shared a model of patient engagement based on a true partnership model that does justice to people as unique, multi-dimensional individuals who want to live the best lives they can.

As always I posted my presentation on SlideShare so please feel free to flip through the deck and if you have any questions or comments to make, I’d love to hear them.

Posted in Cool Tool

Monday Morning Cool Tool: Emotional Marketing Value Headline Analyzer

This week’s cool tool recommendation is the Emotional Marketing Value (EMV) Headline Analyzer.

This headline analyzer is a free tool from the Advanced Marketing Institute that you can use to calculate the EMV of your own headlines. It scores the EMV of your headline with a breakdown of why it scored that value. A perfect score would be 100%, but don’t despair if yours doesn’t match up. According to the Institute, “most professional copywriters’ headlines will have 30%-40% EMV Words in their headlines, while the most gifted copywriters will have 50%-75% EMV words in headlines.”

Here’s how it works. 

Enter your headline in the space provided and choose the industry you are targeting your message to.

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Click Submit. 

Here’s my score:

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While the score is low on EMV, I am still happy with it, as it fulfills my aim of arousing curiosity in the reader.

Your headline carries words that predominantly appeal to most people’s intellectual sphere. Intellectual impact words are especially effective when your goal is to arouse curiosity.

For more headline tools like this, read: 7 Tools To Find Inspiration For Your Headlines

Posted in Infographics

How To Handle Comments On Social Media [Infographic]

Salesforce do super infographics – here’s one on handling different types of comments on social media. 

First up, a flow-chart for dealing with positive, negative or neutral comments.

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Source: Jeff Bullas

Positive and neutral comments are easily dealt with, but negative comments require a considered approach. If it’s a genuine complaint, acknowledge the complaint, but move it to private communication as quickly as possible.

Trolls are more challenging.  Received wisdom is don’t feed the trolls. Ignore them, but do not attract their attention further by deleting their comment – this only fuels their fire. However, it’s perfectly ok to remove offensive or spam comments, and comments with legal or criminal implications  should be reported to  the relevant authorities.

Finally, some general advice. You should  always personalise your interactions online. Reach out to and engage with your followers regularly.

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Related

How Should You Handle Trolls On Social Media?

Posted in Cool Tool

Monday Morning Cool Tool: Freerange

download-24This week’s cool tool recommendation is Freerange which provides free high res stock photos for commercial and non-commercial use.

The photos either come directly from in-house photographers and archives or they are contributed by a growing community of photographers. Images provided directly (in-house) by Freerange Stock originate one of two ways. They are either digitally photographed on Canon DSLR cameras or they are a high resolution (4000 dpi) Nikon scan of an original 35mm slide. Once the image is acquired, the photo is sharpened, color corrected, cropped and keyworded. Some images are manipulated in Photoshop to make them more effective. Then the original is archived and a 2400×1600 version is optimized and output, then posted on the live site.

It’s certainly one of the best sources of stock photos I’ve come across – and it’s free! Try it today.

 

 

Posted in #HCSM, Infographics

The 11 Most Common Website SEO Issues [Infographic]

SEO (the acronym stands for Search Engine Optimization) is the process of getting traffic from “organic” listings on search engines in order to improve your website’s search engine ranking.

Did you know that 39% of total global web traffic comes from search, with Google receiving over 63,000 searches per second on any given day?

But 75% of users never click past the first page of search results.

In this infographic, you can see at a glance some of the most common on-site SEO issues, with duplicate content being the worst offender.

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Want to optimize your website? Check out these tools.

Posted in Cool Tool

Monday Morning Cool Tool: Infogram

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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 favourite tools with you at the start of each week. This week I’m recommending Infogram, a free infographic and data visualization tool.

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Infogram’s Basic (free) plan is intended only for non-commercial use, such as personal projects, blogs and presentations, within the limits of fair use. Its Business plan allows you to remove Infogram’s branding and add your own logo (it offers a reduced price for nonprofit and educational organizations.) The Basic plan includes 37 chart templates and allows users to generate up to 10 three-page projects based on their data.

Visit https://infogram.com and try it for yourself.

 

Posted in #HCSM

How NOT To Do Blogger Outreach

I received this email today and it made me mad.

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I run several blogs and get emailed pitches on a daily basis. The majority of these pitches are ill-thought-out and go straight into the Junk folder without ever being read. It’s clear from the first line that these emails are generic –  the writers haven’t taken any time to actually read the content of my blog to see if their pitch is a good fit. In the example above, the pitcher didn’t even bother to specify a blog – just “wordpress.com”! (According to the latest WordPress stats, there are 76.5 million blogs on WordPress so I am not sure which of the 76.5 million blogs hosted by WP she is even referring to.)

I don’t normally single out a bad pitch like this, but this is one is so woefully lazy and spammy, it actually made me angry. This person is writing to me representing an addiction clinic and is doing damage to that clinic’s reputation by reaching out in this poorly-executed way.  This is what happens when you “do” social media the wrong way. This is why I say to clients if you aren’t going to approach social media as you would any other aspect of your business (ie in a professional manner). then it’s better to stay right away from social media.

How To Do Blogger Outreach The Right Way

Ok, rant over!

For those who are serious about their social media outreach here’s a checklist for reaching out to bloggers.

  1. Identifying the right bloggers is the first step in your outreach strategy. Use a blog directory tool like Alltop or Technorati to help you search by topic for blogs related to your topic or niche.
  2. Always address the blogger by their first name.
  3. Reference something from the blog that makes it clear you actually read it.
  4. Become familiar with the blog’s readership and how it matches your offer. If it’s not a natural fit, then please don’t waste the blogger’s time.
  5. Introduce yourself in a personal and friendly way. Provide a brief background on you and your brand, client, product or service.
  6. Explain how exactly you would like to work with the blogger. Make your pitch as concise and clear as possible.
  7. Provide hyperlinks to your website, product or service, so the blogger doesn’t have to search for you online.

Over To You

I’m curious to know if blogger outreach is part of your social media strategy and if so, do you have any best practice tips to share with us? Or do you think we should be over this kind of strategy? Is it a practice that has had its day?

Featured Image: Gratistography

Recommended Reading: 4 Steps to Create Enviable Guest Blogging Success

 

 

Posted in #HCSM

How To Better Manage Social Media With Hootsuite

Juggling several social media accounts across multiple platforms can be quite the challenge. I rely on a variety of digital marketing tools to streamline my social media activity, and top of the list is Hootsuite.

What Is Hootsuite?

Hootsuite is a very useful application for managing all your social media channels in one place.   The basic Hootsuite plan is free. It enables you to view and monitor multiple streams in a single dashboard and allows you to keep tabs on key phrases, terms, keywords, brand mentions, etc.

What are the Benefits of Using Hootsuite?

Among the many benefits of using Hootsuite (either as part of a team or as an individual) is the ability to save time by scheduling your social updates in advance. Simply pick a day and time of your own choosing. This enables you to create a social media schedule that includes optimal times when your audience is online – even when you aren’t.

How To Use Hootsuite.

In today’s post, I am going to take you step-by-step through the process of setting up a Hootsuite account, and how to get the most from it.

Step 1: Create a Hootsuite account

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Go to https://hootsuite.com and click Sign Up in the top-right corner.

Click to select the plan type that fits your needs.  If you’re looking for a free plan, scroll down the page until you come to this:

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A free plan is perfect for an individual just getting started.

Enter your information.

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Once you set up an account and log in, Hootsuite will guide you through the basics of connecting networks and organizing streams.

Step 2: Add social networks

Hootsuite is optimized for managing Twitter accounts, but you can also post to your personal Facebook and LinkedIn accounts, as well as to pages and groups of which you’re a member or administrator. You can manage up to three social networks with Hootsuite Free.

In the Hootsuite dashboard, select Streams  from the launch menu.

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Click Add Social Network

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Select a social network from the list.

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Click Connect – you will then be asked to authorize your accounts to connect to the Hootsuite dashboard.

Step 3: Set up tabs and streams

Now that you’ve added social networks to your dashboard, set up streams for each one to monitor conversations and engage with your followers.

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Select Streams  from the launch menu.

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Click Add Tab  in the top-left corner, give it a name, and then press ENTER.

Inside each tab, click Add Stream.

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Click the streams you want to add for that profile.

Below is a screenshot of how my own Hootsuite dashboard looks with just three streams added.

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You can add more streams and you can drag and drop the order of each stream to suit you.

Add a Search Stream

Search streams are especially valuable for finding social activity around specific users, locations, hashtags or keywords.

To add a search stream

Select Streams  from the launch menu.

Select a social network from the list on the left, and then select a profile from the drop-down list. I’ve chosen to search for keywords on Twitter in this example.

Enter a search term. You can enter up to 3 words or phrases you would like to track.
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Twitter searches can include more complex queries. Click Show examples to see how to format search queries. (It’s not essential to include this step unless you want to do a  more robust search.)

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Click Add Stream when you are done.

This will create a real-time stream of people who are tweeting using that keyword.

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For more detailed information on adding Search Streams, visit Hootsuite’s Guide. 

Step 4: Publish messages

When you want to publish an update, follow these steps. Click New Post New_post.png in the top-right corner of the dashboard.

This brings up a full-screen Composer window which lets you preview your posts on each social network before you send or schedule them.

Click Select social networks, and then select the social profiles to post your message to. You can search by social network or profile name to surface the right profile.

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In the Text field, enter the content of your message. The character count for each social network selected will display above the Text field.  To mention a Twitter user, enter @ followed by their username, and then select the correct user from the list that populates.

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Enter or paste links right into the Text field. You will also be given the option to shorten your link.  

A link preview will appear on the right of the Composer screen.

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To upload an image, drag and drop files into the Media box or click select a file to upload to attach your own images or a video to your post. Hootsuite will also suggest images it has found in your post to you.

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Or, you can click Open Media Library to search free stock images or GIFs to include in your message. Click an image to attach it to your post (you can choose up to 4 images).

download (85)Click Close Media Library in the top-right corner when you’ve chosen an image.

On any attached image, you have the ability to edit, crop, add overlays and text, or make other adjustments to it by clicking on Edit with Creative Cloud.

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Click Save when you are done editing.

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Find more details about posting images click here.

To post the message right away, click Send Now in the bottom-right corner.

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To schedule the message, click Schedule for later, select a date and time to publish the post, click Done, and then click Schedule.

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You can view your scheduled posts in an easy-to-read calendar format.

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Other Features To Try

Hootsuite on Mobile

You can manage your social media on the go with the Hootsuite mobile apps for Android and iPhone, iPad & iPod Touch. These can be downloaded from your device’s app store.

Advanced Hootsuite

The Hootsuite App Directory is a library of free and paid third-party apps developed to extend the functionality of the Hootsuite dashboard.

  1. Select App Directory App_Directory.png from the launch menu.
  2. Click Install App beside the app.
  3. Click Finish.

See Install Apps for more details.

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in #HCSM

10 Places To Find The Best Free Images For Your Healthcare Marketing

Do you want your content to stand out in today’s crowded social media landscape? Then it’s time to get visual with social media.

You probably don’t need me to tell you that great visuals make for great marketing. Visual content can be an incredibly powerful marketing tool, one that increases message association, brand awareness, and encourages engagement and shares. The brain processes visual data 60,000 times faster than text. Additionally, 90% of information transmitted to the brain is visual.

The continuing growth of visual platforms, such as Pinterest and Instagram, confirm that incorporating visual content into your social media strategy is a must. Not only do these platforms drive more traffic and shares, but research has also shown that tweets and Facebook posts with images encourage more engagement.  You should also add an image to every single blog post you write and use images to break up the tedium of text.

Whether it’s growing your brand identity or improving medication adherence through instructions, visuals are a key to interacting with and empowering patients. But when it comes to using images don’t be tempted to reach for the nearest stock photo.

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These days there’s no excuse for using boring stock images you can find all over the web. In this article, you’ll learn my favorite recommendations for sourcing images you can use to enhance your social media posts – and best of all they’re free!

1. Freepik offers users, high-quality graphic designs: exclusive illustrations and graphics resources. It operates on a freemium business model which means, the majority of the resources offered at Freepik can be used for free, only having to credit the author of the illustration to Freepik. In addition, for a small fee, you can subscribe to the Premium plan and use the illustrations without any accreditation whatsoever.

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2. Gratisography is a collection of free high-resolution pictures you can use on your personal and commercial projects, free of copyright restrictions.

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Image Source: Gratistography

What I really like about this site is many of the images are quirky and fun — no cheesy stock images here!

3. ISO Republic provides over 3,000 images under the Creative Commons Zero (CC0) license. This means the pictures are completely free to be used for personal or commercial purposes with no attribution required.

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Image Source: ISO Republic

4. Life of Pix is a collection of free high resolution stock images donated to the public domain by the Leeroy Advertising Agency in Montreal.

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Image Source: Life of Pix

Their sister site Life of Vids offers royalty-free videos, clips, and loops for you to use to your heart’s content.

5. Morguefile is a free photo archive “for creatives, by creatives.” The photos have been contributed by a wide range of creatives from around the world, ranging from amateur photo hobbyists to professionals.

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Image Source: Morgue File

6. Pexels provides over 3,800 high-resolution photos, collated from other free image sites — making it one of the largest free image directories.

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Image Source: Pexels

Pexels has also added a large library of stock videos to its site under Creative Commons license. Use the site’s list of popular searches to find the most in-demand stock videos.

7.  Picjumbo is free stock photo site created by designer and photographer Viktor Hanacek in 2013.

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Image Source: PicJumbo

Users can click through the different categories of over 600 free high-resolution photos, with the option of upgrading to Premium for new unpublished images to power your social media marketing. No attribution is required.

8. Pixabay hosts over 650,000 free stock photos, vectors, and art illustrations free of copyrights under Creative Commons. On the home page, you’ll find a small, curated collection of images and a search bar for more targeted results.

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Image Source: Pixabay

Pixabay also has a collection of stock videos for use in your marketing.

9. Rawpixel prides itself on having the most diverse collection of stock photos on the web. It wants to change the face of stock photography by creating design resources that reflect today’s society as it really is. To this end, it has started the (one) world face project with the ultimate goal of photographing people from every nation in the world.

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Image Source: Rawpixel

10. Unsplash gives you access to a bank of 50,000+ free-to-use photos. You can subscribe to receive ten new images every ten days directly into your inbox.

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Image Source: Unsplash

Creating compelling visual content can be a powerful way to connect with your audience. People connect more emotionally with images than text, and in an increasingly crowded digital landscape, when our minds are attracted more readily to content that draws our eye, images can break through the online content clutter to quickly communicate your marketing messages.

Spend some time this week perusing these sites and download a selection of your favorite images to your desktop. Then get creative with the help of an image editing tool such as Canva and edit your chosen images into something more interesting for your brand. Save these images to a Dropbox folder so you now have your own library of unique images to draw on each time you write a new piece of content or post something to social media.

For more image editing tools check out my weekly cool tool recommendations.

You might also like to read How to Add Visual Appeal to Your Social Media Campaign

Posted in Cool Tool

Monday Morning Cool Tool: Fotor

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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 favourite tools with you at the start of each week. This week I’m recommending Fotor, a free image editing tool.

Fotor is quick and easy to use (A paid version is available that contains more features and is ad-free.)  You can use it to create a variety of images, including photo collages for social media, making as many edits as you need from an extensive menu of edits. Fotor even provides an area where you can experiment to the side of your canvas. It includes ready to go graphics, icons and studio-quality video templates.

Visit www.Fotor.com and try it for yourself.

 

Posted in Cool Tool

Monday Morning Cool Tool: Photofunio

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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 favourite tools with you at the start of each week. This week I’m recommending Photofunio an image editing tool.

With PhotoFunia you can edit photos online for free in a matter of seconds resulting in high quality photo collages. As the name suggests, this tool is a lot of fun to use. It helps you make a mark with your photos by incorporating your photos into mock-ups of background images including billboards, magazine covers, and movie posters.

Here I am as a magic playing card  🙂

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Visit http://photofunia.com and try it for yourself.

 

Posted in #HCSM

50 Power Words To Super Charge Your Content Marketing

 

Did you know that on average, 8 out of 10 people will read headline copy, but only 2 out of 10 will read the rest? Your headline is the first impression you make on a prospective reader. An eye-catching headline is a key factor in getting readers to click through to your article.

An attention-getting headline will capture the reader’s attention right away and compel them to want to find out more. Clear, concise, and original content is important, but words that appeal to their emotions is the magic ingredient to giving your visitors a reason to want to diver deeper.
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Trigger words can entice readers to your content, but use these words with caution because they can also trigger skepticism and distrust. Make sure your content carries through on the promise in the headline and always avoid click-baiting.  Clickbait headlines typically aim to exploit the “curiosity gap”, providing just enough information to make the reader curious, but not enough to satisfy their curiosity without clicking through to the linked content. Always craft a headline that links to authentic and relevant content.

Download a list of 90 headline power words here.

For a deep dive into which words and phrases drive the most shares and engagement, Buzzsumo analyzed 100 million article headlines and reported their findings here.

Further Related Reading

 

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 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