Guest Blog 3: Engagement
July 1, 2011
In previous posts, I've mentioned some of the challenges facing doctors due to widespread access to health information on the Web. But what do we mean when we talk about 'doctors'? Do we really mean all doctors? Is there a typical doctor? Obviously they all wear stethoscopes, but apart from that?!
We must be careful not to define our target audience solely by their profession.
Firstly, a GP is quite a different type of doctor to a hospital surgeon, who is quite different to a psychiatrist. Yes, they are all medical doctors, but what they do is so different, and their professional interests so far apart, they may as well be in different professions. So why would you communicate to them as if they are all the same?
Secondly, an individual's profession may be the reason an organisation is trying to communicate with them, but their profession does not define them. Would you be happy to be defined purely by your job? HCPs care for, treat, and fix other people, but they themselves are also people.
Knowing how to communicate and connect with your target audience is where engagement starts. Like its marital equivalent, engagement means a relationship. Like most relationships, if only one party is putting the effort in, it's not going to last long.
Simply putting something online for your users to see is not engagement. They might love it, they might hate it, they might want more, they might ask questions. If you're not ready to deal with that, you're not ready to engage.
Ask yourself how far you want to take your relationship. Is this going to lead to marriage and kids, or is it a brief affair?
Engagement, especially with social media, often means developing a complex and in-depth relationship. It requires a lot of your input and energy.
However, this level of engagement is not always right, or feasible, for everyone. Engagement can be more controlled and can work just as well, but you need to set expectations clearly from the start. It will involve some level of interaction with your users, but don't go creating a discussion forum if you're not prepared to take part in it yourself. What is your voice? What is your personality? Establish these things first and communicate your identity to your audience. Then they will know what to expect from you.
About the Author
Jon is considered to be one of Europe's leading digital editors in healthcare. He is the former editor of Doctors.net.uk, where he was responsible for content and the digital marketing strategy of the largest online network of doctors in Europe. Prior to this, Jon was editor of the Chief Medical Officer’s website at the Department of Health.
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