My bet is that most of you are familiar with Match.com. It is an internet dating site where singles can meet their perfect match. Lately I’ve been intrigued by TV commercials promoting a new aspect of Match.com – The Stir. These are real life events and mixers sponsored by Match.com. Here’s how they describe The Stir on their blog:
Match.com is once again stirring up singles’ social lives with the launch of thousands of live events for members across the country! Forget having to wonder who’s single and who’s not at a bar or hot spot. When you go to a Stir event, everyone will be single, everyone will be looking to meet someone, and each event will be customized through our group matching algorithms in terms of age, gender and interests. Here’s a preview of the types of events to look forward to: Happy hours, Cooking classes, Wine & tequila tastings, Bowling nights and Dance lessons. (Source: http://blog.match.com)
What does The Stir have to do with healthcare marketing? I think it’s a great reminder that online experiences and social media do not replace the need for real life events and real contact with brand constituents. I don’t want us to get lulled into a mindset where the only interaction we have with our target audience is virtual – and we think that’s okay. Nothing is better than an in-person brand experience, if it goes well. There should be a nice marriage between your online marketing and your IRL (in real life) marketing. Events, screening and health fairs are nothing new to healthcare marketers. Today, these events give you an opportunity to activate and engage the members of your online communities, and deepen their connection to your brand. My firm’s clients have held social media seminars for parents struggling with managing and overseeing their child’s use of Facebook, YouTube and other platforms. We’ve also held gathering where clinicians speak to parents about using the Internet to gather health information. What are reliable sources? Where to go for trustworthy information? These are events that speak directly to the experience of today’s healthcare consumer. And they let consumers know that we recognize the complexities they face navigating these waters.
In this world of social networks and online communities, the real world still matters! Let’s use the social platforms to do more with real world engagement of our brand constituents. Maybe then we can create a Stir of our own.