Sunday, March 21, 2010

Quality of Online Communication

A commentary on the quality of communication on “newage” communication platforms may be better understood with a short description of their niche audience and their unique characteristics. Typically communications via social and professional networks are more of a conversation, extension of every day interaction, not well organized content and driven by a group. YouTube has been elevated to a #2 search engine status and has been leading the transition between push and collaborative models. Key observation is that the secret sauce to get more viewers is to provide more details. Since the entry barrier is low, it is the easiest and safest for hospital to renew exposure to existing and new consumers. Facebook has the largest audience with 200m active users. The user demographics is shifting to match that of the real population. Even though it can be a confusing place, it has been emerging as a great place for patients to share stories. Twitter is the new kid in the block. It had generated quite an amount of media attention. It is simple to understand and start using. It is best used for conversation and not to push communication. It has evolved into gaining the fastest acceptance by hospitals. Typically the discussion earlier covers many other players in similar domains. Overall these communication platforms are efficient and effective in Community outreach, Real time education, Referring physicians and Crisis communication. ePatients (who are proficient on these tools) typically play an active role seeking out information, partner in their healthcare and is more participatory in their medicine (when compared to their paternalistic peers).

Typical areas of improvement on the quality of online communication (Blog and Facebook) are:

  • Blog: Blog requires the right target audience to be successful. The author needs to depict a blog “personality” that caters to the right audience. This can be accomplished by including a tagline with a logo and/or including a paragraph/phrase that depicts to the audience what this blog is and who it is for (Please refer for a list of examples)
  • Facebook: Facebook success is all about reader participation. Configure Facebook Page Settings to allow more participation. Raise questions that can spark conversation and activity. Adding a Twitter Tab and YouTube Tab can further expand participation. Limit the frequency of Status Updates to an optimal level (may be once a day). Using TwtPoll can engage the audience. Embedding the Facebook Page into a e-newsletter and requesting your current audience to suggest to Friends frequently can expand the audience pool.

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