Case study: M.D. Anderson Cancer Center
In choosing which social media channels to be on, MD Anderson Cancer Center keeps in mind its target audience: cancer patients, caregivers, and survivors, says Laura Nathan-Garner, program manager of integrated media communications. Both are more likely to gravitate toward Facebook and Twitter, rather than Instagram and YouTube, which attract a younger audience.
"We almost don't have a choice" but to be on Facebook and Twitter, she says, because "that's where our patients are, and they are asking questions. We need to make sure we're answering them."
M.D. Anderson then tailors its social media content accordingly: Facebook provides a good medium to highlight survivor stories, because "we often hear is that individuals with a cancer diagnosis will go online to seek out people with stories similar to theirs," Nathan-Garner says. The stories that end up getting highlighted often are volunteered by patients, she adds.
Twitter, on the other hand, is useful to hold live chats with M.D. Anderson experts and provide patients with practical health advice.
Just as important to your social media strategy is knowing when not to share information, Nathan-Garner says. "We get requests from all over our institution, from 20,000 colleagues, asking us to share information about their clinical trials or an event," but when targeting a global audience of patients, caregivers, and survivors, your organization must be willing to "draw a line."