Commentary

First, Do No Wrong

There’s a distinct irony in the reality that consumers have endless opportunities to speak and be heard, thanks to social media—and yet fewer people seem to be listening. It’s happening with political discourse, and it’s happening as people withdraw into individual choices and away from mass experiences.

I got to thinking about all this while attending the BlogHer conference, which focused on the burgeoning world of health and wellness. It’s one area in which it’s important to listen, but it’s also necessary to be careful what you say, given what’s at stake with health-related offerings. 

The content showed that the energizing of the women's movement is here to stay, and it’s morphing into personal empowerment as well as the collective clout of women everywhere. Many topics revolved around “finding your voice” and “listening to your intuition.” Presenters encouraged attendees to think of themselves as “the client” in charge of their own healthcare and to be firm with doctors and other providers to ensure proper education and treatment.

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This includes more discussion around specific conditions, diagnoses, etc., at a time when an often-dizzying number of products and services are available. The crisis in healthcare management (insurance coverage, HMOs, the rising cost of medication) puts further onus on the consumer to stay informed.

This creates opportunity for influencers to become both a shortcut for consumers and an outlet for health marketers to convey their value. Brands can and should be part of this movement, but they need to tread carefully. Here are some key takeaways for health advertisers to consider. 

Get Your Facts Right: We work only with registered dieticians and professional practitioners. It’s vital before embarking on any partnership with an influencer that you ask and answer critical questions — and empower them with the right information. Ensure the influencer does enough research to know what they’re talking about. Botch this step and any fallout can damage your hard-earned rep. 

Stories Still Matter: There’s a great deal of connecting and sharing personal and promotional stories online. Platforms like Instagram and Facebook are giving women a place to find community, speak out and more. The influencers working around these communities feel very passionately and keep the conversation stimulating. This promotes opportunity to reach and engage women more meaningfully.

Listening is Key: It's not enough to have influencer partners or maintain a social presence. Brands need to pay attention to what content is resonating and with what groups of people. What's being said in the comments? What are people liking? Take the time to identify these things in order to help build loyalty and preference. 

Trust Your Influencer Partner: This ties back to my first point. No one knows their audience better than the Influencer who curated the community. If they’re good they’ve done their homework to ensure the information is accurate and responsible (I’m looking at you, Jenny McCarthy). Brands need to trust their Influencer partners to create content that will resonate with their audiences.

Eager Skeptics: While I felt an overall air of skepticism at the conference, it was clear that women are eager to become more active in making decisions for themselves and their families. Brands should look for ways to start two-way conversations and generally empower women to make informed choices. 

There’s a lot at stake in what’s estimated to be nearly a $200 billion wellness market in the U.S. These are just a few ways you can talk directly to the millions of women paying attention to health for their families and themselves. When in doubt, just remember the Hippocratic oath’s foundational thought: First, do no wrong.

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