I’m not embarrassed to admit that when Twitter first became a “thing,” I didn’t quite get it. I didn’t understand why anyone would care what I was eating for dinner, and I certainly didn’t care (at least most of the time) what other people were eating for dinner. When Twitter was a mere baby in the world of social media, those types of updates seemed to be what the “cool kids” were doing. But slowly, I began to come around to Twitter, and now I truly understand it to be the powerful social media tool that it is. In particular, it has been interesting to see how Twitter can be used for health care marketing, promotion, and awareness.
We all watched last year as everything from #ebola to #Icebucketchallenge/#ALS spread news and awareness on Twitter. It is easy to see that Twitter has emerged as a legitimate way to share information, including health care information. However, it is much more difficult to measure the effect even the most popular hashtags have on health education—or even better, health outcomes.
Moreover, if you are a health communicator or a health care marketer, it is often challenging to figure out where the conversations are happening on Twitter. With more than 500 million users, tracking conversations on health topics can feel like finding the proverbial needle in a haystack. Enter Symplur and in particular, Symplur’s Healthcare Hashtag Project.
According to Symplur’s website, “the goal of the Healthcare Hashtag Project is to make the use of Twitter more accessible for providers and the health care community as a whole.” To do this, the project created a database of relevant hashtags that people inside and outside of the industry can follow.
Currently tracking more than 1 billion tweets, nearly 15,000 topics, and more than 7,500 hashtags, the Healthcare Hashtag Project is sustained by nearly 3,000 contributors who report into the project’s database information about tweet chats, health care conferences, diseases, and general health care topics. With the goal of synthesizing big data analytics regarding social media, Symplur focuses exclusively on health care and serves as a one-stop shop for finding where these social media conversations are taking place.
In particular, you can use Symplur to track hashtags to see what people are talking about on Twitter. For instance, according to the Healthcare Hashtag Project, as of last week, #CopingCancer was the top trending tweet chat, #migraine was the top trending disease, and #hospital was the top trending general health care term.
Figuring out how to use Twitter as part of your health communication plan can be tricky, but it is definitely worth the effort. Using a site like Symplur to help you determine where and how to contribute to conversations about health and health care can make the process a little easier.
Check out Symplur and the Healthcare Hashtag Project and see how your current plan for incorporating social media into your communication efforts measures up. Track hashtags that are relevant to your organization and mission and see what happens next!