Best Digital Practices in the Health Industry

Healthcare insurance, reform, H1N1, food contamination and countless stories that pull on our heartstrings are daily discussion topics in newsrooms, blogs and dining room tables across the nation. It should come as no surprise that many of the top 50 digital social-cause influencers are related to health. Health is clearly on the American mind. Now the question is why have these health causes made it to our digital influencers ranking? Why so much buzz around them and why are people so willing to endorse seemingly personal health related causes on public social media? We turn here to examine what makes the health social cause companies on our list the most influential. In assessing the success of these health companies, we learn universal lessons that extend to brands in other categories: Lesson 1: Tell me a story. When you think of a social cause “health” company like those on our Digital Influencer list, the last brand association you want to have is “sickness”, “sadness” or “isolation”. These health associations are sterile and negative. However, the health companies on our social cause list realize that health anything BUT impersonal; health is human, alive, and dynamic. Health is about connections and people, so utilizing social media should be natural for the category. Of course one’s health is serious and tenuous, but why dwell on the negative when you can try to move forward with recovery. Indeed, these health social cause companies are partially on our digital influencer list because they are so successful at personalizing their brand and creating that warm fuzzy feel. They are able to do this through the stories they tell. By sharing stories of the patients they help, supporters can connect to the brand in a warm and meaningful way. We see this in the case of our companies’ strong presence on Facebook and other social media. Komen, for example, prominently features a “share a story” function. The American Cancer Society also effectively gathers its following with its upbeat “circle of sharing” and “stories of hope” tools. This emotional bond will then encourage more sharing and word of mouth support. Lesson 2: Mobilize a community Komen Breast Cancer Walk has been called a “global movement”. Indeed, one can call it a movement because of the mass support financially and emotionally for the cause, and also literally because of the mass physical movement it mobilizes. The Komen Breast Cancer walk encourages supporters to hit the road in active support of the cause—while encouraging physical exercise to stay healthy. Indeed, it has been said that those who do good, feel good. With over a million participants since 2005, the Komen walk makes a whole lot of people feel good. Besides, gaining press coverage and honoring the survivors and the deceased, the walk raises significant funds for the company. The walk leads to a lot of referrals in recruiting people to sponsor the walkers. This activity often takes place online. The digital influence continues after the walk, as participants proudly display their Komen badge of honor for completing the walk and, in doing so, further endorse the brand and extend its digital influence. Lesson 3: Define your market AARP deserves its spot on the digital influencer list because it has managed to re-frame perceptions around its target audience and, in doing so, create intense loyalty. Instead of the “old people” brand, AARP rebranded itself to be more of a club for those mature enough to be “in the know”. AARP’s communication also reflects this: “feeling groovy” language now makes it cool and influential to be a member of this club “leading positive social change”. Moreover...

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