Media platforms

How social media platforms have affected patient care

Cheryl Zapata is director of development at the Plano-based Texas Back Institute.

Ms. Zapata will participate in the panels “Orthopedic, Spine Practice Landscape in Two Years” and “Independent Spine Practices: The Big Threats and Even Bigger Opportunities to Thrive” at the 19th Annual ASC Conference on Spine, Orthopedics and Becker’s pain management. As part of an ongoing series, Becker’s speaks with healthcare leaders who plan to speak at the conference, which takes place in Chicago from June 16-18.

For more information and to register, click here.

Question: What issues do you spend the most time on today?

Cheryl Zapata: Like the rest of the world, the pandemic has dramatically changed the sales and marketing landscape. Change has forced us to be more agile, to adapt along the way, to use innovative strategies and to make quick decisions to best maximize resources.

We had to rethink how and where we reach consumers. More and more people are spending time online and social media platforms have seen an increase in usage over the past couple of years. We continued to ensure we were active on the right platforms with authentic and meaningful content. Since 2020, Instagram has seen a 6% increase in engagement, while other platforms have seen extreme spikes in engagement, but with user audiences outside of our target demographic. Ultimately, it’s about using the platforms that make the most sense for our ideal consumer and resources.

At the same time, content and video consumption have also changed dramatically. In 2020, the time people spend watching video content increased by 85%; however, they don’t just watch traditional YouTube video. They are consuming more videos on social media than ever before. Consumers use video content to find answers, explore new ideas and get advice in an easily digestible format. This shift has caused us to reassess how we film and produce content to meet consumer needs.

Q: What are your main challenges and how will they evolve over the next 12 months?

CZ: The biggest challenge is making sure we don’t overcompensate for the changes we see in the market. Over the years, the medical community has continued to turn to traditional media. We always try to balance what is considered traditional and how best to meet consumer wants, needs and expectations, especially when it comes to digital content.

Q: How do you see investments and growth over the next two years?

CZ: Due to the evolution of consumer video consumption and social media usage, we will continue to invest significantly in these areas. Our goal is to deliver content to our target audience in the right place, at the right time and with the information they are looking for.

Q: What are you most excited about right now?

CZ: Great things can come from change. With the inevitable change, I loved seeing the transformation in the authenticity of content, especially content that captures doctors in real-life moments versus traditional scripted video. As someone in the medical and marketing field, I think we have the opportunity to be more creative with our content and implement unique ways to connect with our target audience. More recently, some of our most successful campaigns were original ideas for medical media, but they worked. I am grateful that the Texas Back Institute allows us to have some freedom to try new things. It’s a new era in marketing and I’m excited to be a part of it.


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