Social Health Check | 4 Interesting Trends In Healthcare Social Media

Written by Jessica Reid, OgilvyHealthPR London.

A monthly snapshot of the latest news and trends in healthcare social media brought to you by the London Health PR Social@Ogilvy team. The aim is to inspire ideas, discussion and fresh thinking in this challenging yet ever exciting field.


Social media use skyrockets at medical congress

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Many in the healthcare industry are skeptical about how physicians use social media from a professional perspective, but a recent congress gives some insight.

The American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) annual meeting was held in Chicago from 30th May until 3rd June, with over 30,000 oncology professionals attending the meeting. However the congress news reached far more people via social media, with an estimated 69 million impressions generated on Twitter.

Social media activity at ASCO has grown exponentially over the past 4 years, with the official hashtag generating 39,000 tweets over the five day meeting – an increase of nearly 4000% compared with the 979 tweets sent at the 2010 congress.

Seven out of the top 10 influencers for mentions of #ASCO14 on Twitter were oncologists, highlighting that physicians are indeed embracing social media – and even open platforms such Twitter – as a means for sharing medical and scientific news.


A 300 year old approach to problem solving


You thought crowdsourcing was an innovative new way to solve problems? The Longitude Prize 2014, run by the UK innovation foundation Nesta, used a dedicated Facebook page and Twitter handle to drum up public votes to choose which pressing issue of our time (dementia, food, paralysis, flight, antibiotics and water) should be the focus of a £10 million prize fund.  The general public voted for antibiotics as the subject of the Longitude Prize and now submissions for solutions to prevent the rise of resistance to antibiotics will be voted on. Although using social media is a new way to generate and decide on solutions to complex problems, the first Longitude Prize used a similar crowd sourcing approach – back in 1714.


Have you seen Mike?

The impact of social media in connecting people and creating a national movement is nicely illustrated in this touching campaign. Jonny Benjamin launched a social media campaign with the help of charity Rethink Mental Illness to find the man who intervened when he was about to jump off Waterloo Bridge a few years previously.

Jonny started a Twitter campaign using the hashtag ‘#findmike’ to trace the mystery man. The hashtag went viral, trending not only in the UK but in Canada, South Africa and Australia, with celebrities and even the deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, getting involved. The success on social media generated widespread broadcast, print and online coverage, resulting in a high impact, multi channel campaign.  Neil Laybourn came forward as “Mike” after his fiancé spotted the campaign on Facebook. Rethink Mental Illness announced the news on Twitter with a photo of the pair captioned, “We #foundmike!”

The two men were reunited but the campaign has not ended there. Jonny, who works as a mental health campaigner and documentary maker, has recently made a film about his journey. What started as a near tragic story has fortunately got a happy ending with the input of Neil Laybourn and Jonny’s campaign. It just makes you think, what other stories are out there that can be shared?


Healthcare gets (Tweet) Chatty


TweetChats, live Twitter events, usually moderated and focused around a single topic at a specific time, are relatively commonplace in some industries  but it is only in the last year or so that healthcare has started to get involved. In particular, Boehringer Ingelheim, a privately owned German pharmaceutical company, has been at the forefront of this trend, holding six TweetChats since 2013.

These TweetChats have been incredibly successful in their engagement with healthcare professionals and healthcare media. For example, one of the first TweetChats in 2013 which discussed women, cardiovascular disease and thrombosis had over 120 participants and reached an estimated 206,000 Twitter users. Furthermore, the TweetChat generated over 200 new followers to the Twitter handle.

Boehringer Ingelheim’s successful TweetChats have been recognised by both the pharmaceutical industry and social media pundits, and have been highlighted by Twitter for business. For example, Daniel Ghinn has described Boehringer Ingelheim as “taken Twitter chats to new levels”; Len Starnes described their first TweetChat as “one small step for a pharma, one giant leap for the pharma industry”.

We hope that Boehringer Ingelheim has paved a way for pharma social media engagement so that what today is described as bravery is in future considered common practice.


Have you seen anything else interesting this month in healthcare social media? We’d love to hear!




Featured image via Digital Medicine blog

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