So, what do you do?

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My first post, and what better way to start than to answer that question that I think every single one of my friends and family has asked at some point over the last few years, “so what do you actually do?” I started explaining this to my best friend a few months ago, and after a number of minutes of my rambling and chucking in the odd PR-y word (of course) she stopped me and asked, “What do you mean by social media?”

This surprised me. I assumed it was a given. Common knowledge. But alas not! And so I started thinking about what social media means in my life and how it affects the work we do in our world of PR. In the healthcare world specifically, social media is about people with a common interest – be it a recent personal diagnosis, caring for a family member, or living with a condition – coming together to share concerns, share advice and share experiences. And that, to me, is the point right there – share.

No one likes to suffer in silence; everyone sometimes needs some anonymity. Social media allows people to ask questions without judgement, talk about what it’s like to feel defined by a disease, share treatment experiences and feel informed to make the right choices.

So, what do I do?  I take social media beyond the ‘like’ and ‘follow’ – because let’s face it those are just vanity metrics (thanks to Steven Shattuck for that nice little phrase!) – and create a platform for meaningful discussion; give patients a voice and a reason to be heard.

Then of course not forgetting the other person in this relationship – the medical professional. If one half of the relationship is clued up from all angles, so too must the other. And this is where we see the healthcare professional communities like and the BMJ’s doc2doc, come in. Patients connect to understand, healthcare professional connect to be able to provide context. What was once wading through volume after volume of medical journal, can now be a ‘whip out the iPad, ask a question, get a peer’s perspective and view some case notes.’ Et voila, all parties have a means to connect in their respective communities.

And that is the beauty of a social media ecosystem.  A ‘surround sound’ of current, relevant, insightful and engaging content that is platform independent, yet audience specific.  And this is where we, as PR and social media pros, work our magic.

Read, love, share.