Tag Archive for: healthcare social media

The Patient Advocate’s Guide to Social Media Content Planning

In our role as patient advocates, social media is an important tool that we use for sharing information, connecting with others, and amplifying our voices. Managing social media effectively can be challenging in and of itself, but it can be even more challenging when you are undergoing cancer treatment. To minimize your workload, content planning is key.

In this article, we will explore why social media content planning is a valuable strategy and how to do it effectively.

Why You Should Plan Your Social Media Content In Advance

Creates Consistency:

Content planning allows you to maintain a consistent presence on social media. Consistency builds trust and makes your advocacy efforts more visible.

Algorithm Visibility:

Social media algorithms love content that engages users consistently. By keeping a consistent schedule and planning your posts in advance, you’ll get more visibility from the algorithms.

Proactive Advocacy:

By planning your content, you position yourself as a proactive advocate. By getting ahead of key moments, awareness campaigns, and significant dates, you can amplify your advocacy message rather than reacting haphazardly.

Enhances Collaboration:

When working with other advocates on a campaign, content planning keeps everyone on the same page. This simplifies collaboration and ensures a consistent message across all channels.

Alleviates Burnout:

The demands of patient advocacy can be emotionally and mentally taxing, especially when managing health issues. Content planning allows you to allocate specific blocks of time for content creation and scheduling, freeing you from the pressure of daily posting.  With a well-thought-out calendar, you can work at your own pace and avoid burnout.

Now that we’ve explored the rationale behind content planning, let’s look at how to implement it effectively.

1. Create a Content Calendar

Creating a content calendar is the foundation of good content planning.

Here are some tips to help you create your content calendar:

Choose a Calendar Format

Choose the format that will work best for you. You can use digital tools like Google Calendar, Microsoft Excel, or specific social media management platforms. Alternatively, a physical planner or whiteboard can work if you prefer a tangible approach.

Set a Time Frame

Determine the time frame your content calendar will cover. Ideally, plan your content at least one month in advance. This allows time for content creation, revisions, and scheduling, reducing last-minute stress.

Identify Key Dates and Events

Note down key dates, events, and awareness months relevant to your advocacy cause. These can include World Health Days, national observances, or local events.

Include a mix of both evergreen content (relevant year-round) and timely content (related to current events or trends).

Plan Content Distribution

Mark on your calendar how you’ll distribute your content across different social media platforms. Each platform may require slightly different content formats and messaging to optimize engagement.

Maintain Flexibility

While a content calendar provides structure and helps you plan ahead, advocacy often revolves around societal, political, and healthcare issues that are subject to rapid change. Emerging issues may require you to pivot your content strategy to address the most pressing matters, ensuring that your advocacy remains relevant and impactful. When creating your content calendar, leave some slots open or designate them as “flexible.” These slots can be used for addressing emergent issues as they arise without disrupting your overall schedule.

2. Allocate A Mix of Content Types

Decide on the types of content you’ll create. You will add more depth and dynamism to your social media advocacy by diversifying your content.

Here are some ideas for a mix of content types you can use:

  • Use text-based posts to deliver key takeaways, prompt discussions, or provide brief updates. Craft compelling headlines and captions to capture attention.
  • Share impactful images, illustrations, or memes that resonate with your advocacy cause.
  • Create video content that highlights personal stories, interviews experts, or explains complex concepts. Pay attention to video quality and subtitles for accessibility.
  • Pose questions related to your cause, gather feedback, and involve your audience by using poll features. Share poll results and discuss their implications in follow up posts.
  • Curate informative articles that educates your audience about relevant topics, research findings, or treatment options.

3. Plan Posting Frequency

Determine how often you’ll post on each platform. Different social media platforms have varying recommended posting frequencies due to their algorithms and user behaviors. For instance, X’s (formerly known as Twitter) fast-paced nature often requires more frequent updates.

Focus on the quality of your content rather than sheer volume. Posting too frequently with low-quality or repetitive content can lead to audience fatigue and unfollows. It’s always better to offer valuable, relevant content that resonates with your audience.

4. Schedule Posts

The ability to schedule your social media content in advance is a game-changer for effective content planning. You can schedule posts for specific dates and times, ensuring your content goes live when your audience is most active. For advocacy with a global audience, you can schedule posts according to different time zones, ensuring your content reaches a worldwide audience at the right times.

There are many social media management tools, such as Buffer and HootSuite, that support a variety of platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and others. This multi-platform capability simplifies the task of managing content across different channels. Rather than posting manually at specific times, you can plan and schedule content for multiple platforms all at once.

5. Monitor and Adapt

Continuously monitor the performance of your content calendar. Use analytics to track engagement, reach, and other relevant metrics.

Here are some key metrics to track:

Engagement Metrics:

Likes, shares, comments, and retweets. These indicators reflect how actively your audience is interacting with your content.

Reach and Impressions:

How many people are seeing your content (reach) and how often it’s being displayed (impressions). This data gives you an idea of your content’s visibility.

Click-Through Rates (CTR):

The percentage of people who click on links within your posts. CTR is crucial for tracking conversions, such as website visits or signing up for newsletters.

Armed with these data-driven insights, spend some time analyzing which posts or content types consistently perform well. Understand what elements contribute to their success, and consider creating more content in a similar vein. Conversely, if certain posts or content types consistently underperform, reassess their relevance and value. Are there adjustments you can make to improve their engagement potential?

In summary, dedicating time to strategic content planning transcends good practice; it stands as the cornerstone of your online advocacy. As outlined in this article, taking a systematic approach to your social media content can enhance your advocacy efforts. Follow these steps and incorporate these tips into your online advocacy to achieve even greater success in the future.

Patient Advocacy: How To Increase Twitter Engagement

While Twitter might not be as popular as other social networks such as Facebook, Instagram, or YouTube, it nevertheless has a large following among healthcare professionals and patient communities. Twitter has the potential to be a powerful tool that keeps you informed, encourages collaboration, amplifies advocacy activity, and raises awareness of your cause.

When Twitter first launched in 2006, gaining traffic from it was easy. Since there wasn’t much competition among users and the concept of tweets was still relatively new, people were curious to click on the links users tweeted.

Today, gaining followers and increasing engagement is harder. But there are ways once you understand how Twitter’s algorithm works. In this article, we’ll cover some tips and techniques you can use to improve your engagement rate and make a bigger impact with your advocacy campaigns on the platform.

How Twitter’s Algorithm Works Today


Since 2018, Twitter’s main timeline is no longer chronological. This means an older tweet may appear alongside a tweet from two minutes ago and one from ten minutes ago. Twitter’s algorithm sorts the tweets you see based on your interests, which is why Twitter may sometimes show you a tweet from someone you don’t follow.

What this means for you: Because Twitter shows you content it thinks will be of interest to users, you should check that the people you follow and those who follow you share the same interests.

2. Timeliness

Twitter’s algorithm is heavily weighted by time so timing is one of the most crucial factors that influence how well your Tweet performs and how many people engage with your content.

What this means for you:  You need to post at a time when people are active online for a better chance of visibility. Based on research by social listening platform Sprout Social the best times to post on Twitter are around mid-mornings and mostly on weekdays (Central Time). This will of course vary depending on location. Therefore, it is best to experiment with your timings to discover what works best for you. By tweeting at various times, you can determine when your audience is most active on Twitter and use this information to identify the optimal  times to increase visiblity for your tweets.

3. Credibility

Twitter’s algorithm favors credible accounts. Even if someone doesn’t read a single tweet, they’ll see your bio. They will decide quickly whether or not to follow you when they do.

What this means for you:  In order to make your profile look credible be sure to fill out every detail, such as your profile photo, bio, location, credentials, and so on. Your Twitter profile should be regarded as an important part of your professional advocacy activities. When people encounter your online profile, what will be their first impression of you? What might motivate them to follow you?   Do you need a more professional picture to represent yourself online? Do you have an image for your header? As an example, you could use a picture of yourself holding a sign with a strong message. Maybe you’re working on a campaign or a project right now. In that case, why not include an image that represents this in the header.

How To Increase Your Twitter Engagement

We’ve looked at Twitter’s algorithmic elements, now let’s see how we can take advantage of this information to boost engagement on the platform.

What is Twitter engagement?

Simply put Twitter engagement is when someone engages with the content that you post. It includes:

  • Mentions of your Twitter handle
  • Comments on your Tweets
  • Likes of your tweets
  • Retweets of your tweets
  • Clicks on links you included in your tweets

Furthermore, Twitter followers and activity are positively correlated. A Twitter user who is active will have more followers, increasing the likelihood that they will be engaged.

What is a good engagement rate on Twitter?

Twitter’s average (high) engagement rate is currently 0.33 percent, significantly lower than that of Facebook, which stands at around 1 percent.

Engaging content is something people will see, like and retweet.  Early engagement is especially important. Tweets have a half-life of around 18-24 minutes, meaning that half of the engagement will be received in a little under half an hour. If your tweet doesn’t get much engagement within the first couple of hours, it won’t be shown to more people.

The following pointers will help you get the most out of your tweets, and if you use them consistently, you should see a boost in engagement.

Respond to engagement

The simplest way to get more engagement is to get in the habit of monitoring your notifications tab and responding to each person who @mentions, comments and retweets you. If you’re having trouble getting people to engage with you, be the one to start the discussion. Reciprocity is a big reason why people want to follow and interact with you. To start a conversation, ask a question, reference other accounts in your tweets, repost others’ tweets utilizing the quote tweet tool to add your own thoughts, or create a poll. Polls are a Twitter feature with built-in engagement – and not utilized as much as they could be.

Include a Relevant Hashtag

Hashtags, like Instagram, are an important aspect of Twitter usage. Tweets with hashtags have a 100 percent increase in engagement, according to Twitter’s own findings.

Tip: Visit symplur.com to find relevant hashtags for your disease area. If you can’t find a hashtag related to your topic, you might consider creating your own. For more information on using hashtags strategically read Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Hashtags in Healthcare…But Were Afraid To Ask!

Take Part In Twitter Chats

Joining a Twitter chat is a fantastic way to meet new people and engage in conversation. People will come to know you if you attend a Twitter chat on a regular basis, and you’ll be able to swiftly create and grow your own network of supporters. Again, you can find a list of disease-specific chats at Symplur. A great place to start is by joining the Empowered Patient Chat  #PatientChat held every other Friday at 10:00 am Pacific / 1:00 pm Eastern.

Add Images To Tweets

You’ve surely heard this before, but it’s worth reiterating: images matter — a lot.  People connect more emotionally with images than text, and in an increasingly crowded digital landscape images can break through the online content clutter. Adding visual appeal to your tweet is a smart way to make your content stand out among a sea of tweets. Not only does adding an image increase the visibility of a tweet, but tweets with images also get more retweets and likes (according to Twitter, a whopping 313% more engagement.)

The type of visual assets you can create include images, videos, infographics, quotes, and GIFs. Take advantage of the fact that you may add up to 4 images to your tweets (all you have to do is click on the photo icon after you’ve added your first image, then add up to 3 more images) and build a carousel of images to draw the reader’s eye.

Tip: Stick to the same colors, typefaces, and layouts in all of your photographs to establish a strong visual identity.

Reshare your best content

Twitter is a fast-paced environment where messages are quickly buried. As mentioned already because a tweet’s shelf life is so brief, you’ll need to publish your best content on Twitter several times to boost visibility. To find your top-performing tweets, use Twitter’s built-in analytics tool (analyticstwitter.com). It’s likely that if this content did well once, it’ll do so again.

Tip: Change things up by adding a powerful graphic, highlighting a crucial statistic, or converting a statement into a question. Experiment with publishing at various times and on various days to see how this affects your engagement rate.

Ask people to share your content

A simple “Please Retweet” can increase the likelihood that people will reshare your content. Yes, it sounds simple, but it works!

As always, thanks for reading. I hope you learned something new today.

#ASH15 Hosts Discussion on Social Media

At the recent American Society of Hematology annual meeting, Joseph Mikhael, MD, MEd, FRCPC (@jmikhaelmd) hosted a panel discussion on the importance of social media . The panel included Michael A. Thompson, MD PhD (@MTMDPhD), Cindy Chmielewski, BA (@MyelomaTeacher),  Navheet S Majhail, MD, MS, (@BldCancerDoc), Laura C. Michaelis, MD, (@lauracmichaelis), Jeff Szer, MB, BS, FRACP, (@marrow), and Amber M. Yates, MD, (@sicklecelldoc).

The panel discussed how social media can be used for research, education, patient information and patient advocacy. The great advantage of using social media is that it is not demanding and its use is flexible. The individual can tailor it to suit his own needs.

The panel focused on the use of twitter and the benefits it provides in the healthcare industry. Twitter is an unique way to share information quickly, rapidly, in real time, and across borders.During the panel discussion, the twitter hashtag for the session, #ASHSM was trending on twitter and the twitter stream was running strong.

One panel member, Cindy Chmielewski had this to say about social media and twitter:

“Social Media is a tool in medicine that shouldn’t be overlooked.  It’s a source of education.  Social media has helped me evolve from a passive bystander to an active partner on my healthcare team.  I use social media to share resources and important information, promote myeloma awareness, advocate for cancer friendly public policies, form communities, but most importantly to learn.
Twitter is one of my classrooms and doctors who tweet are my teachers. The power of Twitter should not be underestimated.  If you educate one patient advocate you can reach thousands of other patients. Studies show that educated, empowered patients have the best possible outcomes. Isn’t that what we all want?  It’s a win-win situation.” 
Watch the video below to learn more about this important panel discussion on the use of social media in medicine.

Using Social Media to Inform Patients in Real Time

Interview With Dr. Michael Thompson (@MTMDPhD), Medical Director, Early Phase Cancer Research Program, University of Wisconsin

Alongside interviewer Carol Preston, Dr. Michael Thompson explores some of the new and exciting technology utilized in healthcare and the benefits it presents. To make medical meetings and conferences accessible to all patients, real time feeds are used to “attend” meetings from around the world. The types of feeds available to patients include twitter feeds, blog posts, and even live streams with apps Meerkat and Periscope. This allows patients a valuable insight into what is happening at the national level and makes information easier to find when researching their disease. Watch the clip below as Dr. Thompson explains more fully:

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Using Social Media to Inform Patients in Real Time from Patient Empowerment Network on Vimeo.

Knocking Down Barriers to Accrual Using Social Media

Social Media uses powerful tools that can be used to dispel myths about clinical trials and to engage patients.

(Editor’s Note: Cindy Chmielewski, a myeloma patient, member of the PEN Advisory Board, and longtime patient advocate and teacher, presented a poster exhibit at the recent 2015 AACR conference on the use of social media for clinical trial accrual. Below is the poster description and an image of the poster)

Multiple Myeloma is an INCURABLE cancer of plasma cells. Many researchers feel that a cure can be found in the near future if clinical trials which test their hypotheses are properly designed, fully enrolled and completed in a timely fashion. As a myeloma patient it is frustrating to hear that less than 5 % percent of adult cancer patients participate in clinical trials and that 24.4% of cancer clinical trials close early because they fail to complete enrollment. As an independent patient advocate I have made it my mission to use Social Media to knock down barriers to trial accrual.  Social Media provides powerful tools such as online patient communities, Twitter, podcasts, Facebook, patient blogs, and YouTube that can be used to dispel myths about clinical trials, excite the population about the successes of recent research and educate potential participants and physicians about clinical trial options.  According to the Center for Information and Study on Clinical Research Participation (CISCRP) an overwhelming majority of people (77%), say that they would consider getting involved in an appropriate clinical research study if asked. Since many doctors aren’t asking patients to participate in clinical trials patients need to be educated and empowered to question their doctors about ALL their treatment options, including trial participation. Social Media has helped me evolve from a passive by-stander in my medical care to an engaged partner and it is my mission to use it to help fellow patients.

Social Media and Clinical Trial Accrual