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Nov 17, 2017 · Building Relationships on YouTube

Editor’s Note: This essay is part of our weekly #TimeLessWisdom series, in which we’re highlighting one of the contributions from our 2012 book, Bringing the Social Media Revolution to Health CareLearn more about the series.

Bringing the Social Media #Revolution to Health Care coverOur four most-viewed videos are not the compelling patient stories most likely to end up shared on Facebook or talked about over dinner. They’re didactic talking-head videos with hand surgeons about rare conditions and traumas—and they make up half our channel’s traffic.

Lots of people, it turns out, seek medical advice on YouTube. We pour good resources into our Web site, and I spend hours every week on our Facebook page, but neither venue gets anywhere near the mail our YouTube channel does. Virtually all our channel’s comments and direct messages are about these four conditions. These patients are looking for advice from us.

Before they searched for this information, they probably didn’t know us from lonelygirl15. But there’s so little available on these conditions, and our videos present real people who clearly know exactly what these patients are going through. As a result, visitors feel comfortable asking, “Should I have the surgery?” “Do you think it’s broken?” or, “Should I have someone look at it?” Some simply want us to reply with phone numbers and directions.

They could get this information by visiting our Web site, but choose to post comments and wait for our reply. Replying with the information they request goes a long way toward building the relationships that were the impetus for our starting the channel in the first place.

As it would be unethical and irresponsible to offer medical advice, my ever-present challenge is finding new ways to answer the same question over and over without looking like I’m cutting and pasting. Our most popular video has elicited dozens of virtually identical comments. Of course, patients are not identical. They are, however, in pain and desperate enough to seek help from strangers, so they deserve my most thoughtful, helpful reply within the confines of my role as YouTube administrator.

If they want information that may be useful to other viewers, I’ll forward the comment to the doctor who was in the video, and post the reply. Mostly, they want our advice, and that’s where I have to keep urging them to get checked out in person because we can’t diagnose without an exam.

Our channel is changing as we cultivate our fledgling social media program. Until recently, it’s been a repository of marketing content: patient stories, provider interviews, location tours, and event coverage. Seeking deeper engagement with our audiences on the social level, we’re now learning how
to add videos on the fly in ways better suited to the space: more often, more diverse, less formal. It’s a natural shift, given how viewers are using content. We’ll be bringing more providers to our channel more frequently in different ways, such as with video extras we’ve added to our podcast series.

People seek help in familiar places. They’re used to the tone and format of forums like Facebook and YouTube. Meeting them there, as opposed to the howling uncertainty of the larger Internet, can be a great service to someone in pain. I think of it as a virtual house call.

I often get messages that end, as a recent one did, “I am desperate.” As professionals bridging the space between the provider and the patient, we can use the ubiquity of YouTube to reach ever-wider audiences—not so that we can coat the virtual world with our brands, but so we can get help for
those who haven’t found it yet.

And I know it makes a difference. One woman said of her son, “After watching your video, I think he may have childhood absence epilepsy.” Another viewer said, “This video gives me hope, Thank you.” Measure that ROI.

Sep 20, 2013 · Requests for viral videos using licensed music in Strategy, Policy & Best Practices

And your video sent a new message, rather than echoing an old one. The earworm quality of the song helped hammer it home and make it even more effective; I’ll never hear the original version of that song again without thinking, “Blood pressure, lipids and BMI-i-i-i-i.” Thanks, Mayo! 😉

Sep 11, 2013 · Requests for viral videos using licensed music in Strategy, Policy & Best Practices

I experienced this too. A department wanted to do the Pink Glove dance TWO YEARS after the first one came out (but about ten minutes after the chair discovered it. New to them!) We would get quite a few requests for “viral” videos throughout the hospital (because that’s how it works, right?) and I was happy to sit down with them each time to explain that what made them viral was accidental exposure, no ulterior motive, and usually, no budget. (Cowans on piano, anyone?)

But of course, that’s never what they want to hear. Viral videos are tempting because they net huge return for minimal investment, so let’s do that! It’s much harder to make your intentional content compelling, but the fact is that while it’s fun to think about planning these projects, a viral video doesn’t help the chemo patient learn more about her upcoming treatment; or find the department more easily; or learn about her physician.

She might share a viral video on Facebook, but after she posts it, she’ll be right back on the site trying to learn more about what’s going to happen to her. Hospital 1, patient 0.

By spending their creative energy on things that really make a difference in patients’ lives (perhaps in innovative ways that may even go viral, if they do it right), the department will be doing them a great service.

Jul 18, 2013 · I'm leaving my job and going freelance! in Share

Thank you, Ahava! I’ll be in touch.

Jul 16, 2013 · I'm leaving my job and going freelance! in Share

For those of you who don’t already know, Thursday the 18th is my last day at Dartmouth-Hitchcock as I leave to start a career in freelance writing. I’ll be staying on with the network and the Mayo board, though, and look forward to having a lot more time and energy for this group!

I’ll spend part of my time writing a book – my main reason for the shift – but I’ll also be doing web and print writing, social media consulting and editorial work.

Thank you all for the support, feedback and amazing energy you gave me while I worked at DH. I’m looking forward to giving back.

Apr 3, 2013 · Tips on creating a Facebook chat? in Platforms, Software, and Tools

I have a couple of groups who want to do a Facebook chat on our page. Having not been on either end of one before, is it simply a matter of soliciting comments and messages, and answering them as they come in (along with tweets and emails)? Or is there a tidier way to do it that won’t deluge our non-participating Facebook fans with posts? I know we could use CoverItLive or a plugin like that, but I’m always wary of plugins’ reliability across all platforms.

Your thoughts, please!

Mar 16, 2013 · New study: How hospitals are using social media

That’s what I’m trying to figure out myself. Would love tips for identifying which patient populations use it and how, and which patients need better access.

Feb 21, 2013 · Social media groups for expectant moms in Strategy, Policy & Best Practices

We’re starting a series of group appointments for pregnant moms that will start monthly and go through their pregnancies. They want a way to stay in touch socially between and beyond classes, and aside from exchanging email/social information as they’ve always done, it would be great if we had an easier, ready-made way for these moms to do it. I’m thinking private groups, not public.

Having said that, there will be twelve groups of these moms per year, and our midwives aren’t equipped to be Facebook admins, so we wouldn’t want to create groups willy-nilly without oversight.

What have you all done in the past for discrete groups of patients who want to stay in touch socially?