When your communications are shaped and controlled by regulations it is easy to become an automaton, broadcasting the same messages again and again with no consideration of the patients reaching out for help. No healthcare company wants that but it happens far too often.
Authentic communications in healthcare social isn’t easy but it is possible. The very first issue is actually being empathetic with your patient population. This can, at times, be a substantial challenge. Every person has obstacles to overcome in their life, but each person’s obstacles are different. It is hard for someone with a “neurotypical” brain to understand what a child with Autism goes through on a daily basis, or one set of parents understanding the issues that the child’s parents deal with.
Wego health created a white paper on this topic and provided a map using what Theresa Wiseman calls the Four Elements of Empathy:
Check out this white paper for a full description of these concepts and case studies of how empathy can help patients.
So, once we gain some empathy for our audience, are we actually able to act on it? Some of the best social channels in healthcare are in fact doing just that. Some of the tactics that social marketers can employ to encourage real empathy and engagement are:
If a conversation isn’t touching a brand it may not need a full regulatory review. Work with your MRL teams to see if there are cases, within strict guardrails, where engagement can be run by the marketing team alone. These tiered process plans need to have strict escalation paths and training so that everyone knows when to move up the ladder and bring in MRL but they can enable much more human-sounding responses for the less-risky conversations on social.
The editorial response plans should include multiple ways of saying the same thing, and the best ones will have different ways of replying based on the perceived emotional state of the speaker. For instance, a brand can have one canned response for posts that have a humorous tone, one for a scientific or matter-of-fact tone, and another for patients who are expressing distress or negative emotions. These responses should also have variables which can be changed without going back through MRL each time for items like “he / she” or “understand / relate / get it.”
This type of rich response set is important to avoid sounding like a bot and making each speaker know that real people are considering their words and the brand is truly engaging with them.
When reporting on social the “speeds and feeds” data is important but reports need to identify the more human elements of the social conversation as well. Joy, pain, frustration, relief… all of these have as much of a place in social reports as numbers of tweets, Facebook likes, and post amplification.
By unlocking the empathy in ourselves and our organizations we can more honestly engage with our patients, caregivers, and other stakeholders.