Jenn Thai, a social media specialist at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital, explains how healthcare marketers can get started using Facebook Live.
In a recent episode of the Touch Point podcast, hosts Chris Boyer and Reed Smith beg the question: “Is Facebook still a thing?” A quick look at 2019 data from the Pew Research Center indicates that the answer is a resounding “Yes.”
Approximately 69% of adults in the U.S. report using Facebook—more than double the number of adults who report using Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn or Twitter. Furthermore, nearly two-thirds of Facebook users say that they log into the social media platform every day.
The episode further delves into the role of Facebook—particularly Facebook Live—through an “Ask the Expert” interview with Jenn Thai, a social media specialist at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital.
Q: How did you first decide to incorporate livestreaming into your digital marketing strategy?
Thai: I came from a broadcasting channel company that heavily utilized livestream to produce engagement with their audience in a more interactive way.
When I started at the hospital in early 2017, we implemented Facebook Live with a similar intent—to provide people with a live look into the things that are happening in the hospital, to give them the opportunity to ask our experts questions and to have those questions answered in real time. It gives an extra special look into the things that are happening that is quite different from your typical photo or commercially produced video.
Q: Livestreaming can obviously be more unpredictable than other forms of media, so how did you get people at the hospital comfortable with the idea?
Thai: I think everybody who was involved in the planning process of bringing livestream to the hospital was pretty on board with the idea from the beginning. They understood that there would need to be some privacy and HIPAA-related considerations taken for the people participating that would have to be managed in advance of the livestream. There were plenty of questions from the physicians and experts we recruited for the first few livestreams, too. However, as we started to get into a groove and had more and more videos to refer back to, people started to become a lot more comfortable with the concept and the flow of livestreaming.
I would definitely say that, particularly in the healthcare realm, production is key. There is a lot of preproduction work that goes into these videos. We begin looking at our content calendar, which highlights the various health-related recognition months and holidays, about one to two months before the livestream. Then, we reach out to the different departments and their leaders to see if there is someone who would be great on camera and interested in discussing a particular topic on Facebook Live.
For our Facebook Live events, we tell them that it will take anywhere between 15 to 20 minutes, depending on the questions, and then we schedule the interview and guide them through what we are going to talk about. We discuss any preplanned questions from the host and ask them if there are any questions about the particular topic that would be wise to steer away from. We ask those questions ahead of time so that, during the livestream, the person monitoring the questions from the audience in the comments knows to avoid certain topics or to have the expert address them offline at a later time.
Q: How easy is it for healthcare marketers to get started with livestreaming?
Thai: I would say that it is fairly easy, and that is one of the things that I did stress toward the end of my socialmedia.org interview. A lot of people get hung up on the equipment that they do not have, and that prevents them from starting when they, in fact, need fairly little to get going. I would say that, at a bare minimum, you need your phone. Next, I would recommend getting a selfie stick or something that you can use to hold the camera while you are shooting. This will help keep your arms from getting tired and provide a lot of extra stability during the livestream.
When we started venturing into more professional territory, we began borrowing equipment from our multimedia team. We started using lavalier microphones, for instance, which we learned how to hook up to our phones through a simple Google search.
Q: How important is it to interview experts who are comfortable being on camera?
Thai: It is very important because, when you are livestreaming, you can sense their level of comfort. That is part of the reason that, when we are selecting physicians and other experts to be involved in these livestreams, we make sure they are comfortable speaking on camera and that they have received media training prior to the interview.
Q: If I am considering getting started with Facebook Live at a hospital, what are some of the things that I need to look out for as I venture into this space?
Thai: First and foremost, you need to prepare with technical issues in mind. When you are planning a livestream, choose the location and test the internet at that location beforehand. We have had our fair share Facebook Live streams cut out in the middle due to internet issues.
I would also say that, again, the preproduction work is very important. Have a discussion with the person you are interviewing ahead of time about what questions or topics you might want to stay away from if they come up during the livestream.
Lastly, the biggest thing to your overall social media strategy is not leaving the conversation after the livestream ends. There are tidbits you can pull from a Facebook Live video that you can use to create future content for social media, and there are more opportunities for engagement within the comments of the original video itself.
Many of the comments are going to roll in after the initial livestream ends, so it is really important to keep engagement going and reach out to the experts via email with any new questions that come up. Oftentimes, we see our reach for a video continue to grow exponentially up to a week after the livestream ends because people are still discovering it on their newsfeeds, watching it and commenting for the first time.
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