One of my favorite blogs is Dr. Bryan Vartabedian’s 33 Charts. It always seems to me that Bryan has such a clear way of looking at things that others may find complicated. On November 9, 2013 he wrote a post titled “Why Hospitals Fail to Connect with Their Audience.” The message is right on! As a communicator you have two options: 1. You can talk about yourself (and not be relevant or interesting); or 2. You can talk about things that are helpful to your audience(s) and that they care about.
Bryan notes that most hospitals choose option #1. As Bryan points out, and my friend Chris Bevolo has always opined, most people don’t care about what’s going on at our institutions. They just aren’t interested. (Read Chris’ book, Joe Public Doesn’t Care About Your Hospital.) But many do care about some aspect of their health. There is the opportunity! That’s why I am such a huge advocate of online patient support communities. These are communities built around a specific health issue. They give your audience exactly what they want: access to information about their health condition and access to others who are facing the same health challenges. Through their experiences on these communities patients and family members find support, information, resources, friendship and solace, among other things.
Back to Bryan’s blog post, how do you figure out what interests your audience(s)? I recommend two tactics: 1. Listening (social listening is a great place to start); and 2. Asking (yes, we can use social media platforms to ask questions and then listen and learn from the responses).
The challenge for many of us is to stop spewing content about our institutions and start engaging individuals in conversations about their health. But it is a challenge well worth tackling.