Digital and Social Media Impact of Zika Virus: Strategy Recommendations


There is increased search on Google for information about Zika virus, based on data supplied by Google Trends. Charleston, SC is leading the state geographically with increased Google search about the virus along with our neighboring state (Georgia) seeing an increased amount of search. Bottom-line, people are searching and seeking information.

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Should hospitals use social and digital to talk about Zika Virus?

I am watching the digital curve surrounding Zika virus from inside Google Trends alongside monitoring the amount of conversation on Facebook using the Signal product. It was just yesterday that we noticed that Zika Virus moved to the trending position in Facebook after the media covered President Obama’s announcement surrounding funding to attack Zika virus.


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Case Study: AccessHealth SC – Communicating A Healthy Conversation

Access to quality health care here in South Carolina has consumed the public conversation over the last few years. From the Affordable Care Act to hospitals seeking to find new and innovative ways to deal with the growing needs of the uninsured…we are surrounded by the groundswell of health care discourse.

For the past few years, I have been working with the South Carolina Hospital Association to find and tell the stories of the uninsured. Initiatives like AccessHealth SC are special, focusing on those uninsured individuals to not only provide access to quality health care but also a continuum of care.

Over the last 5 months, we have been capturing stories of the uninsured across South Carolina. We have also been working with AccessHealth SC providers and administrators explaining how this healthy initiative can be a model for health care reform.

Purpose of the Video Project (from AccessHealth SC):
“The motivation for capturing AccessHealth SC client and provider stories was two-fold. The primary purpose of the video was to communicate what exactly we are doing through AccessHealth. The idea of collaborative networks of care for the uninsured and underinsured is a bit cumbersome; it doesn’t slip neatly into conversations or presentations and the evidence-based, logical model can get lost on people. This project allowed us to really unpack what it is our networks do and the good sense that they make. A model of providing medical care that addresses social needs makes sense, but when you package it up in a few words with little explanation-lights go out.”

“The project also allowed us to highlight the human impact of our work, the individuals who are using medical services more appropriately, who are better able to manage their chronic diseases, and who are living healthier lives. Even more than putting a face to an outcome, it provided our clients an avenue to share their stories and their hope restored; as cliché as it sounds, this video was an opportunity for them to be heard. As we work to promote dignity and respect in the services our networks connect to, this was vital.”

As we were developing the story line (along with crafting the script), we began having this conversation whether to include statistics and numerical information explaining the economic impact of the program. In the world of video production, many times it is hard to visually showcase information in a compelling manor.

We used graphic animation to bring the numbers to life. You will notice the following video is a smaller section of the video above. We felt this could stand alone as a simple explanation of the AccessHealth SC model and the value it brings to the State of South Carolina.

Purpose of this Information Video (from AccessHealth SC):
“Communicating the economic impact our of our work was important to us because of the stakeholders we are/were hoping to engage. Most often, the individuals within organizations in communities that have the push or say to actually catalyze change speak in numbers and outcomes. Not only was this speaking their language-but drawing their attention to significant results.”

These videos have been launched online and for internal presentational purposes. AccessHealth SC will use these videos to share the visual context of their mission as they present to stakeholders, hospitals, community groups, legislators, and other individuals interested in building a healthier South Carolina.

These videos will also live on the AccessHealth SC section of the SCHA.org website. Our goal, to educate and advocate to those searching for information concerning programs like AccessHealth SC. We want to be a part of the digital paradigm as people search for content related to health in South Carolina.

Do we really want Pinterest to become the next Social Marketing Outlet?

How many of you are on Pinterest.? I know I am and have been for about a year…especially after my wife told me about this neat little social network. She had to send me an invite in-order to join and ever since then…I have been pinning away.

What do I use it for? Well, between creating a board for my favorite photography gadgets, my gift wish lists, books I want to read, and even vacation destinations for Sarah and I…I am hooked!

Lately, Pinterest is starting to get lots of interest with the mainstream media including USA Today and Mashable.com.

In October 2012, USA Today wrote an article about Pinterst, “Pinterest stands out in crowded social media field.” They state:

“Time magazine called Pinterest — a website where users post collections of images of their favorite food, clothes, places and everything else — one of the five best social media sites of 2011, along with Google-Plus and Klout. The company has raised $27 million in venture capital led by the firm Andreessen Horowitz, which several tech news outlets have reported as valuing Pinterest at $200 million.”

Mashable.com started posting articles about Pinterest this past June and ever since have been featuring articles about this social outlet, leveraging the holiday audience. To date, you still need an invite to join Pinterest…but if you have a friend, they can invite you to this “some what private” social outlet.

Is the Mashable Effect starting to set-in, since they are the online social media magazine. You can see articles listed headlines including “The Top Brands on Pinterest“, “5 Ways Brands Can Use Pinterest to Boost Consumer Engagement“, and my favorite “Pinterest: A Beginner’s Guide to the Hot New Social Network.”

If you are a growing social network and you want to grow to the masses, you want an online media outlet like Mashable to write about your organization…and write regularly.

But as social consumers and connectors, do we want Mashable to take interest? Do we want main stream media to take interest. Facebook is no longer Facebook with the slick marketing of brands. Twitter is becoming overwhelmed with daily satire of “he said” “she said” quickly jumping to headlines. Between athletes, political outlets, and other individuals…it has become the first place to find people in the match-up of “one-ups”.

Yes…many people are in social media overload. I know I have been…my Facebook page is overloaded with friends, family, and others ranting political discourse leveraging digital word-of-mouth. So…can we keep Pinterest closed…fun…private…and enjoyable?

Do I really want to be influenced inside Pinterest? Do I want brands trying to build an experience for me inside my digital repository of fun-ness? It is the next big un-tapped market…I guess. I have sat through many marketing meetings thinking and wondering if Pinterest is a place to build a brand presence.

Econsultancy.com writes in the article “Revealing the demographics behind Pinterest’s users“:

“comScore says that the blossoming social curation site has over 4m registered users and is growing rapidly, while Google Ad Planner shows that nearly 1.5m people visit Pinterest every day – spending 14 minutes on the site on average.”

Google Ad planner shows that Pinterest users are:
– Largely women (a 80% to 20% ratio)
– Aged mainly between 25 and 44 (accounting for 55% of the group, 30% are 25-34, 25% are 35 – 44)
– Just 25% of users have a bachelors degree or higher
– The majority live off a household income of $25-75k”

YES to this statement in the article: “So there’s some truth to Matt Buchanan’s post on Gizmodo yesterday that proclaims Pinterest as ‘a Tumblr for ladies’.”

No wonder brands and marketing staffs are trying to find an open path…this is a rich, wide open playing field. Even though these stats are wide in the bell curve, they seem every similar to the bell curve most healthcare marketers are looking for when connecting their brand to the end consumer.

Well, Facebook must see the value…now you can have a certain area to show off your pins in the new Facebook timeline. Yep…Facebook and Pinterest together connection people to brands. Hmm..

So…WHY. I want to keep it closed. PLEASE??? I want to enjoy pinning, sharing, and interacting with my little want lists. Well…I am not sure we can hold of the wolves, let’s get ready as brands and marketers like myself begin and continue to infiltrate Pinterest. Or maybe it has been open the whole time…we are pinning brands on our boards.


access to care…a simple idea?

According to AccessHealthSC.net, “According to the most recent data, roughly one in six South Carolinians has no health insurance. The number one reason they give for not having health insurance is that they cannot afford it.”

AccessHeathSC.net also states, “And that’s a problem for all South Carolinians. People without health insurance are more likely to delay needed medical care until they become very ill. They are more likely to go without screenings or preventive care. Often, emergency rooms are a primary – and not always appropriate – source of care. In 2007, South Carolina’s hospitals provided $1.3 billion in services for which they were not paid. Businesses with insurance are paying increasingly higher premiums to underwrite the cost of care to the uninsured. High costs are forcing many small businesses to stop offering health insurance. Today, only 33 percent of private sector employees with fewer than 50 workers offer insurance to employees.

According to a survey by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 46.3 million Americans, or about 15.4%, did not have health insurance coverage in 2009, representing a slight increase from 2008. Nearly 60 million, or one in five, had gaps in insurance coverage over the course of the year, according to the survey data.

They are all around us. They might be you and I. From small businesses, entrepreneurs, and even big-box companies; millions of Americans do not have access to care because the lack of insurance. These Americans are all around us…for every five people around you, one does not have insurance. They are in our emergency rooms, free medical clinics, places that offer services when they have no where else to go.  This hurts, it breaks my heart. I know…I had no insurance for close to six months and it was stressful.

As one of the most prosperous countries in the world, we cannot even provide affordable health care to those in need. As I worked with the Duke Endowment and the NC Association of Free Clinics to produce the video above, so may are scared. They are scared of hospitals and doctors offices not only because of the medical outcomes that surround them, but wondering if they will be turned away because of the lack of insurance or resources to afford the services.

The system is broken and there is need of reform. There are those that abuse systems with programs like Medicaid and Medicare. But for those who abuse the system, there are those that are flooding the Emergency Departments everyday with simple needs that have lingered so long it has turned into critical medical issues.

Let’s think for a second, if one person could have access to high blood pressure medication, it could save a hospital hundreds of thousands of dollars in unnecessary costs and resources. That preventative care could keep that person from a serious heart attack, which leads to CCU and ICU care in a hospital. That care for an uninsured individual could run hundred of thousands of dollars, and could be prevented with access to simple medication. This is just one of the many examples.

Did you know that in North Carolina $167,629,250 in free health care services were delivered to uninsured patients totaling more than 200,000 patient encounters during 2009, thanks to the efforts of 6,200+ volunteer health care professionals and other community volunteers donating more than 262,000 hours of service.

So how can you help?

  • Volunteer your time to Free Medical Clinics in your area.
  • Give your money to Free Medical Clinics in your area.
  • Educate yourself about how health care reform is really going to impact you and the people around.
  • Share this story with others using Facebook, Twitter, and any other outlets that you have access.
  • Write your representative on the local, state, and federal levels to let them know you care.

To learn more, go to AccessHealthSC.net or NCFreeClinics.org.

To read more about what the NC Association of Free Clinics is doing to help the uninsured, CLICK HERE to download their fact sheet.

Health Care C-Suites…have time to blog?

One of the hardest parts of getting health care organizations to engage with blogs, is finding the personnel to actually write the blogs. The idea behind the blog is easy to sell to an organization, even the organization gets excited about the idea of the blog, but it ultimately comes down to servicing the blog. This even transcends social media technologies…once  an organization engages, then it is all about servicing the social media platforms.

This comes down to personnel and fundamental problem beyond staffing, integrating something new in the marketing/pr strategy. Hospitals and health care organizations are typically large organizations with a marketing staff that is already stretched.

Social media strategies have to integrate obtainable goals simple strategies that make time management a feasible part of the current workload. This provides a couple of things, user engagement and simple ROI. Health care marketing professionals have to find some positive result to integrate a new strategy inside the organization and their respective silo.

Executive leadership loves the idea of blogs because it gives them the power to control the message. It is an effective pr engine that allows C-Suite professionals to combat out-of-context quotes in newspapers and other forms of media. It is also provides a tremendous platform for C-Suite professionals to take a stand of health care issues related to health care reform. This issue has brought many CEO’s to the blogger world to protect the market space and the hospital they represent…why, it is a political battle that affects a hospitals’ bottom-line and patient ratings.

“Once step at a time!” – This is what I tell health care marketing directors and C-Suite professionals. If you want to start a social media strategy or a blogging strategy…do not bite off more than you can chew.

Write a mission statement for the strategy and plan out when you will service these social medias. This is purely a time management issue…plan it out! Decide who will service the blog or social media. If the CEO is going to write his/her blog, then set a schedule for them to integrate within the busy schedule. This means, integrate the proper technology to facilitate this action. Make sure IT turns down the firewalls so the CEO and marketing professional can access these sites. Also, if a marketing professional is going to help the CEO or Executive to service the blog, set schedules and goals for posts. Be prepared to step away from the schedule if a topical event comes to the forefront that needs to be addressed by the executive.

Also…create a simple strategy to measure your success. Do this from the beginning. Decide what you are “tracking.” Basically, how many times you update, how many followers, how many hits are generated via links, etc. Set obtainable goals.

With C-Suites in health care tackling the blogging world, look at other executives who are blogging. Check out the length of the posts and frequency of the updates. Also, decide whether you want to allow your audience to respond to your posts. This is crucial, because if you allow those to comment on your posts…you need to make sure respond to each comment. Find other blogs that you can regularly read. This is a part of your time management schedule and it allows you to learn not only the “in’s & out’s” of blogging, but it gets you in the language of blogging.

Social media for health care organizations is a reality, but now it us up to the organization how they not integrate the strategy but service it long term.

Great Health Care CEO Blogs:
Running A Hospital – Paul Levy – President and CEO of Beth Israel
Thornton Kirby’s Blog – President & CEO of South Carolina Hospital Association
William L. Roper, MD, MPH – CEO, University of North Carolina Health Care System