For years, I’ve had the opportunity to work to leverage social media to discuss the power of discovery. These platforms allow us to connect and engage with others in new and exciting ways.
But as a digital practitioner, I’ve always felt like my work was a continuation of the legacy of my company’s founder, Colonel Eli Lilly. He fought in the Civil War, and had a deep passion for helping others, and this quote of his has always embodied that for me:
"Take what you find here and make it better and better.”
To me, that statement means many things.
On the one hand, it represents the need to relentlessly pursue life-saving medicines. But on the other, it reminds me of the iterative evolution of social media. Emerging technologies have helped communicators and advocates in the health space for years. They have helped to raise awareness of diseases through viral videos, but have also crucially helped communities come together and mobilize digital grassroots movements.
And we don’t see any signs of the social media sphere getting any smaller.
What that means for us is that the people we want to reach online have already seen a lot of content. They've scrolled past Gorillas dancing in a baby pool just as easily as they've signed a petition to initiate a Sarcoma Awareness month. Savvy users curate their own feeds to match their interests and will happily cut content - so where can health communicators fit in?
The answer is shockingly simple: by sharing their unique stories – and showing that they are people, too.
For years, I've helped to run Lilly's digital channels. We've tested various approaches and invested in complex strategies. Throughout it all, we've found nothing compares to the power of letting our people tell our story. It makes sense. Why would anyone want to let a disembodied brand to tell them what to do? People are much more interesting.
Although it's an easy idea to grasp, it's not always an easy process to put in place. Getting a scientist to describe their work in simple terms isn't easy. Getting executives on social media can be a full-time job. And doing all of that while maintaining a consistent brand presence and voice is the real trick.
But it can happen, and I can't wait to tell you all about it at the #MCSMN 2017 Annual Conference this December.
Amy O’Connor leads the Digital & Social Media Communications team at Lilly. She is a graduate of the University of Notre Dame and Georgetown University. Amy’s goal is to develop Lilly's digital engagement to foster innovation, ensuring patients have access to safe and effective medicines. She leads Lilly's digital efforts around the world.