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BDI Gathers Social Media & Healthcare Pros to Share Best Practices

Victoria Harres, the voice of @prnewswire, leads PR Newswire’s Audience Development team which focuses on increasing the use of PR Newswire’s customers’ content, and is responsible for increasing the use of PR Newswire’s industry-leading distribution networks and platforms such as PR Newswire for Journalists and ProfNet.

I first met Vicky as a speaker at TWTRCON in San Francisco.  A frequent speaker and writer on how professionals are making use of Twitter and other social media platforms, Vicky was recently invited to lead a Roundtable at the BDI Social Communications & Healthcare conference and shares her perspective with us here.  (You can also follow Vicky via her personal Twitter account @victoriaharres.)

Those attending the Business Development Institute’s “Social Communications & Healthcare” conference May 11, 2010 in New York City apparently did not need to be given the obligatory top ten reasons to use social media.

This sold out event attracted the cream of the crop in healthcare communications.

Attendees were mostly folks already using social media professionally and wanting to share ideas and case studies of what works, and in some cases, being very candid about what doesn’t work. Those who were not already social practitioners spent the day taking furious notes and asking great questions.

So what works?

What I heard over and over in slightly different words is that healthcare companies need to make sure the door is open and welcome communication from patients and healthcare providers. Ray Kerins from Pfizer stressed that point especially as it concerns adverse events. Ray said we need to make it easy to report them and encourage detailed information for better understanding.

There was also a lot of talk around communities and how to facilitate discussion and participation. Rebecca Goberstein of Johnson & Johnson said you need engagement, fresh programs, call to action, and moderators with credentials that can add valuable input to conversations.

Side note: An interesting tidbit I heard from a LiveWorld (online community managers, among other things) rep is that their most successful moderators are women older than 35 who work from home. Apparently, they are more likely to listen intently and research a matter more carefully before engaging.

Louise Clemens from Within3 said something that should be obvious, but perhaps needs reminding: “in a professional community, it’s important that members be non-anonymous.” People are less likely to trust professional advice from an anonymous source.

Then again, Wikipedia may disprove that.

Many people in the audience seemed appalled (judging by their tweets) when keynote speaker, Marc Monseau from Johnson & Johnson said that according to a study 50% of physicians go to Wikipedia for information.

Side note: On Twitter, the same statement was reported as 50%, 60%, and 21%. The 50 and 60% versions got lots of retweeting. Interesting how we hear things slightly differently.

Some other very popular retweeted lines from the conference were: “You can’t copy-approve a conversation,” “Communities need to be accessible via mobile devices,” “Pfizer is successfully using Youtube and Facebook to recruit people for clinical trials.”

So what was my main take-away from the day?

Whether it’s healthcare, finance, commercial aviation or any other highly regulated industry, the principles of successful social media communications really aren’t much different from other industries that may be less regulated or not regulated at all. In the end, we all have to think carefully about the message we want to send and be receptive to feedback from our audiences, so that we can be better at what we do.

At the end of the day, being better at what we do will result in better relationships with the people that matter to us. And healthy relationships have always been the key to success in business.


For more details and slides from this event, check out these sites:

VeoMed (presentations) http://www.veomed.com/bdi

BlogTalkRadio (presentations) http://www.bdionline.com/socialhealthcare2010recording.html

Pixels and Pills (interviews) www.pixelsandpills.com

SlideShare (slides) http://www.slideshare.net/bdionline

Twitter transcript http://bit.ly/dxVvOf

Dosie Award winners announced at the conference http://ht.ly/1Mg2O

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5 responses to “BDI Gathers Social Media & Healthcare Pros to Share Best Practices”

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention Odom & Co » BDI Gathers Social Media & Healthcare Pros to Share Best Practices -- Topsy.com

  2. Hi Angela,
    As usual, another insightful posting.

    I would like to examine further one part of the comment made by Rebecca Goberstein of Johnson & Johnson. She said, “… you need … moderators with credentials that can add valuable input to conversations.”

    While your article does not define credentials, I would ask readers not to assume that this implies the necessity of medical professional credentials. Not all communities want/need a doctor or nurse as the mandatory moderator. I see a moderator as a facilitator, someone who guides and helps connects the participants to other participants or resources.

    As the community moderator of http://www.SharingStrength.ca, an online community and resource library for women with breast cancer, my role primarily consists of staying out of the way. Patient forums first and foremost support peer-to-peer conversations.

    For more thoughts on our 3-year experience moderating a patient forum, see my blog posting on doc2doc:

    Random musings of a cancer forum moderator

  3. Colleen, I think Rebecca would agree with you. She was talking about moderators needing to understand the subject to be able to be effective. I don’t think she was necessarily talking about having medical degrees. Hope that helps to clarify.


  4. Thanks Vicky. I suspected she might. Since the term “credentials” wasn’t defined, I thought I’d offer one possible scenario.

    As with other communications venues, it depends on the audience and their needs as to who is best suited to moderate a given community.

  5. Thank you very much Colleen for sharing your experience! As a well respected moderator and social media professional, your information serves as valuable resource information to our community of healthcare communications professionals who are trying to understand best practices. I enjoyed reading your post “Random musings of a cancer forum moderator” and learning more about what you do.

    Vicky, thank you for clarifying Rebecca’s comments so quickly and also for providing such great resource links in your post!
    The best healthcare communications professionals are always learning!
    Angela Dunn