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47 The Impact of Social Media on Sharing Information About Healthcare



RawStory.com
Over the past decade, Twitter has grown to become one of the largest social media platforms in the world. With over 300 million monthly active users, people are able to send and receive information to and from others around the world.  Twitter has revolutionized the way a large proportion of Americans interact with each other. Twitter is also becoming a source for news, which is another feature that continues to attract more people to the social media application. With the influx of users over the past decade, educational accounts have been created to spread information.


A Well Managed Account Can Provide New Information to a Large Population


The purpose of a Twitter healthcare account is to distribute useful and interesting information about health to an audience. Accounts that are properly managed are more inclined to perform better. The Mayo Clinic Cardiovascular account has done a phenomenal job as they understand the interests of the audience they are providing information for. 

A well managed account follows the structure of Mayo Clinic's account as they develop predetermined tweets that are strategically sent around 8 a.m. and 4-6 p.m. During these times, Twitter has its highest volume of people using the application. When trying to spread messages and information, it is important to have it seen by as many people as possible. 


Another important aspect of having a well managed Twitter account is knowing who and where your audience is. Using Twitter Analytics, Mayo Clinic was able to see that 54% of their followers were male and 46% were female. Additionally, this program showed that 68% of their followers were from the United States. This is crucial information because the remaining 32% of their followers may be interested in information that correlates to their native country. 

Mayo Clinic makes an emphasis to have their tweets reach a global audience instead of a predominantly American one. Its important to diversify tweets to make the account as interactive as possible. Instead of sharing studies done by American's, Mayo Clinic makes a clear effort to provide to distribute information from multiple sources within and outside of the U.S. 


The Growth of Twitter Allows an Account to be Used for Marketing


Despite being limited to only 140 characters per tweet, Twitter has been used as a source of marketing. In order to meet the primary objective of spreading information, healthcare accounts need to gain followers. After the first year, the Mayo Clinic Cardiovascular Twitter account amassed 1,235 followers. This was done by scheduling preplanned tweets that overtime grew in popularity. 

Gaining followers is a key part of marketing for twitter. The Mayo Clinic account stresses on the importance of being consistent with tweets. Consistency often attracts people because they know what to expect. It is helpful to stay in the same frame and format tweets similarly, yet change the information in the text. 

Having policy in place helps the account stay focused. The Mayo Clinic account stresses on following individuals who are established in the medical industry or companies who bring forward relevant information about health. This forces the account to stay on track with its goal. 

By analyzing the audience growth rate, which is the follower count from today compared to a previous time or date, people are able to see the direction that the account is headed. As the overall follower count grows, the number of engagements per tweet steadily rise as well. This is crucial to providing information to the general public. If the information is not seen, the objective is not achieved. As an account gains followers, it can test marketing strategies and see what kind of tweets best relate to the greatest number of people. 



Understanding Analytics From Twitter Helps With Promoting a Social Media Account


In a study published by Liebert, Dr. R. Jay Widmer analyzes the impact that a Twitter healthcare account has. The chart demonstrates the level of interaction per tweet through Mayo Clinic's Twitter account. Engagements are the most frequent as they include clicks, link clicks, retweets (RTs), favorites, and replies. Analytics of a Twitter account provide necessary information to understand the best way to run an account. 

The engagement rate is the the sum of clicks, RTs, favorites, and replies divided by the total engagements. This is a useful measurement when looking at social media accounts as a higher engagement rate means that the account is providing great content. The mayo clinic account has a relatively high engagement rate during its first year. 

By looking at the analytics provided by these programs, Mayo Clinc was able to better gage what kind of tweets worked best for their intended audience. This allowed Mayo Clinc to see that tweets with embedded links to articles sparked the most clicks. Since clicks were the highest source of engagement per tweet, Mayo Clinic knew what tweets worked best for their cause. 


Using the Right Hashtag is Key for Healthcare


Hashtags are a great way to get information out to the general public. They allow people to search topics that help categorize tweets and find more information on them. However, they are often misused. When operating a Twitter healthcare account, it is crucial to use the right hashtag to gain more attention to the tweet. It is suggested that keeping hashtags to a maximum of three per tweet help attract more attention. When a tweet has too many hashtags, it can either get confusing or make the reader uninterested.


Consistency is of utmost importance when trying to establish and further a Twitter healthcare account. The study suggests that using a rotation of 10-15 hashtags is ideal. Frequently using specific hashtags builds more information related to that topic. If a tweet uses a different hashtag every time, the account is not being as effective as it should. The objective when operating a Twitter healthcare account is to gain attention so that more people are exposed to the messages trying to be distributed. 

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