There is a lot of chatter out in cyberspace. If you market a pharmaceutical or biotechnology product, medical device, hospital, or other product or service in the medical field, you need to know what is being said about your market, your customers, your competitors…and you. And you need to use this information to help shape your healthcare advertising and other communications. To stay on top of the cyberbuzz, take advantage of web alerts, a very valuable, free service. Choose from multiple providers of this service, including:
- Set up a “News” alert to receive notice of recent news articles containing your search terms of choice. Make sure, of course, that your brand name is among your search terms.
- Set up a “Web” alert to receive notice of web pages using your search terms.
- A “Blog” alert informs you of blog posts using your terms.
- A “Video” alert notifies you of the latest videos matching your search.
- A “Comprehensive” alert aggregates results from all of the above sources
Google Alerts tips
If your search terms produce too many unwanted matches, narrow your focus. For example, put quotation marks around a phrase containing search terms. This directs Google to search only for that phrase in that order. For example, let’s say your company is called “Total Health Solutions.” Alerts using this phrase will produce only results that contain the exact phrase you placed in quotation marks vs. any match with “total,” “health,” and/or “solutions.”
One caveat: In its searches, Google ignores most punctuation. So your Google alert search for Total Health Solutions might also produce the following result-a web page or blog with the phrase: “Compensation for this service is $1,000 total. Health solutions of this type are still relatively rare.” Depending on your search terms-and how common they are in the sequence you designate-this can happen. But usually, putting quotation marks around your company name will suffice, especially if your name is less common than “Total Health Solutions.”
Still getting unwanted results? You can narrow your search further by following a search term with a minus sign. Not surprisingly, “Total Health Solutions” could produce results that have nothing to do with what you do. So eliminate any areas that are not of interest. Example: “Total Health Solutions” -fitness center.
Take advantage of other alerts as well:
Results are aggregated from top social media sources such as Flickr, YouTube, Digg, Delicious, Twitter, and more.
Icerocket lets you search for mentions of your brand across the web, blogs, Twitter, MySpace, news, online images, and so on.
SocialMention searches user-generated content such as blogs, comments, bookmarks, events, news, videos, and microblogging services. It allows you to track mentions of your brand across all of these areas.
If you have a blog, then it is essential for you to be on Technorati, the largest blog search engine in the world. When you register your blog, Technorati tracks “blog reactions,” or blogs that link to yours. Search for your brand on Technorati and subscribe to RSS alerts so when someone blogs about you, you find out.
Locate any mentions of your name in tweets and decide if you want to tweet back.
Yahoo! Alerts is a free, personalized service that instantly notifies you of news and information that you consider important-via email, instant message, or cell phone.
A few words about RSS
RSS (which stands for “Rich Site Summary” or “Really Simple Syndication,” depending on whom you ask) delivers syndicated news, blog entries, videos, and audio feeds from the web.
You specify the types and sources of feeds you wish to receive. For example, you can opt to get news on pharmaceuticals and biotechnology, medical devices, hospitals…any topic you choose. Most of your favorite news sites and blogs likely offer feeds you can subscribe to. On their websites, look for links with the term “RSS,” “XML” (which stands for “Extensible Markup Language”), “subscribe,” “syndicate,” or “feed.” You may also choose a free service such as Google Reader to manage your subscriptions.
When, why, and how to join the discussion
So you receive alerts of online discussion regarding your organization, or you see stories from your RSS feeds that relate to your brand. Now what? No matter what further action you take, keep monitoring the discussion and news updates. News travels fast, so don’t ignore alerts (that’s why they’re called “alerts”) or let them pile up. Stay on top of any news that could affect your brand.
Join the discussion when appropriate…and do it appropriately:
- Be activewhen you have a message to distribute and the web is the right medium, or in the mix of media, to do it.
- Be proactivewhen you anticipate questions or problems.
- Be reactivewhen questioned.
- Be regulatory-compliantand avoid disseminating any information that is potentially off-label or lacks the necessary fair balance.
And whether the situation calls for being active, proactive, or reactive…
- Be discreet.Ensure that the web is the appropriate forum to distribute your message. It will travel worldwide and endure. It will be open to comment and criticism.
- Be diplomatic.If you must disagree with a member of your target audience, do so politely. Never criticize your company, your people, or your competition. Your comments couldn’t be more public and, once made, can’t be suppressed.
- Be articulate.How well you craft your message is a reflection of the quality and integrity of your organization. Ensure your social media messages are professional-clear and compelling.
- Be brief.You’re busy. Show you know your audience is, too.
- And never-never-be defensive.Stay on message and state your position, not why you think you’re right and someone else is wrong.
Stay alert with web alerts
Use web alerts to know what’s being said about your market, your customers, your competitors…and you. Then partner with a healthcare advertising agency to use this information to help shape your strategic plans and your brand’s healthcare communications. Be sure to contact bryantBROWN Healthcare: bryantBROWN.com, (310) 406-2460, x101.