As the grey squirrels frolicked in the trees above and a soothing breeze gently rocked my hammock, I pondered a possible scenario for social media in health care.
I envisioned a lively blog, with super-interesting posts from healthcare leaders. Doctors, nurses, psychologists, therapists, nutritionists and others shared their wisdom on a variety of timely topics. They helped people understand the most compelling — and often complex — issues of our time. They spoke about everything from how to make healthcare more affordable to steps you can take to prevent serious health problems. They kept a pulse on hot topics and made valuable contributions to the conversation.
In addition to the written word, they communicated via concise videos on a YouTube channel. They got to the point quickly for those who only had a minute or two to spare to absorb the information.
The blog posts and channel videos appeared on a regular schedule planned in advance.
Audiences came to look forward to the posts. They subscribed for alerts so they wouldn’t miss the week’s or month’s newest addition. They liked Facebook and LinkedIn pages and followed Twitter accounts tied to the blog and channel. They shared posts with their friends and followers because the info was too good to keep to themselves.
Over time, they developed connections with the experts. They asked them questions on their blogs and video channels, as well as live online chats, Google+ hangouts and webinars that followed. They began to see them speak on TV and radio. They went to see them speak in person.
They felt a deep connection. They wanted to turn to them when health questions or challenges occurred.
Behind the scenes, a social media strategist worked with a team of writers, videographers, web developers and graphic designers to help the experts polish up their content. The strategist developed an editorial calendar and measured views and interactions. As time went on, the strategist tracked visits to landing pages on websites and conversions such as making an appointment with a doctor.
The scenario didn’t just include owned and earned media. It was supported by paid media such as boosted Facebook posts and promoted tweets.
In the end, the experts were very pleased to tap the power of social media to connect with key audiences in a scale never before possible. And those in the audiences got to know, like and trust the experts to the point that they made appointments with their organization when they needed health assistance.
Wow, it was fun thinking about the possibilities! Amazing where the mind can go on a relaxing Saturday in the back yard.
Took a 6 a.m. flight out of Cincinnati earlier this week to get to Rochester, Minn., in time for a pre-conference workshop called How to Use Video to Spread Your Health Care Messages to the Public and the Media with Vince Golla , digital media and syndication director at Kaiser Permanente, which serves 9 million members in nine states and the District of Columbia. The 3-hour session took place the afternoon before the Health Care Social Media Summit and Social Media Health Network meeting.
It was well worth the loss of sleep. Besides, there was lots of coffee to perk me up!
Here are a few highlights from Golla’s workshop:
* Video equipment, and editing and publishing tools have become so affordable and easy-to-use that it’s a no-brainer for PR people to take advantage of them. At the same time, the threshold for production quality has come down. CNN even laid off a number of videographers because its viewers were supplying news videos acceptable to watchers. On top of that, a Pew study shows that people are getting more news via social media. This presents a tremendous opportunity.
* Keep your online videos concise, usually under three minutes. YouTube metrics will give you a good understanding of how long to make a video — and the topics that hold your audience’s attention.
* Documentary style works well. For example, patients telling their stories unscripted and uncompensated to an interviewer at a 15% angle from the camera. Focus on storytelling. Be sure to have them sign a HIPAA waiver. These videos make for good viewing in waiting rooms and embedding in e-newsletters. One video in a Kaiser Permanente newsletter led to 50-plus viewers asking for colon cancer screening kits.
* Devote appropriate time to preparation, especially scouting a location with an ear on sounds and eye on lighting. Interview your subject off-camera, make her comfortable, then turn on the camera and make it more conversational. Use there rule-of-three when framing — include something visually interesting in the shot along with the person speaking.
* Be strategic. Ask how a planned video fits into your message architecture and ties to your organization’s goals and objectives. Maybe a newsletter article or podcast would work better.
* Supplement embargoed press releases about study results with private links to videos of experts quoted in the announcements. These help draw coverage and end up being used by mainstream media.
* External mics, tripods and lenses, such as those sold on Photojojo, are a necessity. (Check out The Glif, which allows you to put an iPhone on a tripod.) They make a big difference when using an iPhone, Droid or other smaller camera.
* A do-it-yourself video outfit can be assembled for $2,475, while the cost of a single professionally produced video of three minutes. costs $3,500-$5,000. Good argument for investing in equipment.
* Hire an intern to do video editing using Final Cut Pro 10 — and have the intern train you how to edit. Or pay a professional video editor to teach your team the basics.
* If asked to do a “viral video,” say: “You don’t make viral videos. You make videos that go viral. There is a difference.”
These are just a few of the nuggets from the comprehensive pre-conference workshop as I wind down on the Friday evening after a big week at the Summit. Hope you found them helpful.
One week ago today, I was sitting in front of our home PC with this laptop — livestreaming video of myself from laptop to PC screen on www.ustream.tv.
I had spent three hours on a Saturday morning reacquainting myself with Ustream. I felt a great sense of accomplishment at having figured out how to stream, and a bit of amusement at what a computer nerd I’d become.
That afternoon, I quizzed several friends at New Media Cincinnati about their use of Ustream.
I did all of this in preparation of livestreaming the annual “mass adoption day” from Hamilton County Probate Court. The day is held each year during National Adoption Month to build awareness about the need for adoptive parents. This year, three families adopted a total of seven kids.
I’m happy to report that the livestream went well. You can take a look here. Start at the 28-minute mark, unless you want to watch us setting up and local TV crews getting ready to record the event.
Here are some lessons learned in this livestream adventure:
* Test, test, test. Jim Prues, a videographer under contract with Hamilton County Department of Job and Family Services, and I did three test broadcasts to work out technical issues and get comfortable with the technology.
* Use the location’s Internet connection, if possible, and not the wifi. Probate Court graciously allowed us to plug into its Internet port. This ensures a more robust broadcast and helps avoid fluctuating connection of wifi. But it also leads to…
* Enlist the help of the location’s Information Systems experts to help you set up your laptop so you aren’t blocked by a firewall. That was major headache — getting the laptop configured so we could connect to the Internet.
* Guide people to your Ustream account’s show page. You can e-mail a link to the show page, tell people to go to Ustream and search for the title of your show page, or embed code on a HTML page on your website. I did all three, just to be sure.
* Have a team of three to do the broadcast — the videographer, the laptop/Ustream person, and an on-camera announcer to introduce the livestream.
* Treat your livestream more like CSPAN than CNN. We started streaming 15 minutes before the event just to make sure everything worked. Last year, we made the mistake of treating it like a TV news update — and turned off the stream when nothing was happening. This gave viewers a blank screen.
* Use a professional-quality camera if possible. Jim was able to zoom in on some great moments, thanks to his expertise and a good camera.
* Promote the stream using traditional and new methods. We did a press release and e-mailed info to our newsletter subscriber list. I did updates on Facebook and Twitter. It was really cool to see more viewers join the stream when people retweeted the tweets sent from my Droid.
* Have fun. Look at this as an adventure, not something to stress about. As we like to say in our house, “it’s not cancer.”
Have you had any experience with Ustream or other livestreaming tools. I’d love to hear them in the comments section.
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