Writing the script for healthcare brands on Threads

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social media, threads

Writing the script for healthcare brands on Threads

By Brittany Fryman

Like any thoughtful clinician will tell you, adequate testing is needed to make a proper diagnosis, and there’s never a one-size-fits-all approach to a good healthcare regime. Surprisingly, this advice can also be said about how brands should approach social media.

The launch of Threads, Meta’s answer to Twitter’s text-first social media platform, has proven itself a noble adversary in the fight for fleeting consumer attention. With more than 100 million sign-ups in its first week alone, the data implies there’s a new social media platform in town and brands need to take notice.

Many brands who fancy themselves early adopters are seeing success on Threads, but how success is measured is still undetermined. The reality is, for most companies and brands there is still a lot of trepidation on the best approach to the platform. So, we’re going to look at social media, and specifically Threads through the lens of a patient journey to explore the best approach to take when it comes to novel platforms. The journey will include symptom identification, diagnosis, treatment, and maintenance.

Let’s start out by identifying symptoms. Any brand inspired to join the social media conversation is likely feeling the cultural push of a nomadic and digitally dependent lifestyle. In essence, this means that the consumers who use your products or those who prescribe your products are using social media more and more in their daily lives. Therefore, they expect the brands in their ecosystem to follow suit. This provides brands with the catalyst to enter the space, but it does not always mean they should.

Regarding Threads, the cultural relevance is percolating across the globe, garnering hits on everything from traditional news cycles to memes. Now it is up to your company’s marketing team and social media managers to assess whether Threads is a brand-safe space.

Here are some questions to consider when you are in this phase:

  • What would my brand gain from having a voice on social media?
  • Do patients or HCPs expect for my brand to be on social media?
  • Is my brand at greater risk from being involved in the cultural conversation or by staying out of it? This is a particularly important point for pharmaceutical brands with black box warnings.
  • What social media platforms exist and what type of users are on each of those channels?

After you’ve felt the symptoms pushing your brand toward social media, you move into the diagnostic phase. Just as a patient would carefully consider both themselves as a unique individual and all the possible scenarios of their wellness journey, so too must you take into consideration your brand’s unique positioning and opportunities to enter a social platform, like Threads.

Each social platform offers a variety of different technological capabilities – whether it’s a video-first platform like YouTube or a text-first platform like Threads. It’s important to understand that audience behaviors on those platforms vary significantly too. All these things should be weighed during this pivotal part of the decision-making process. If you are at this stage of your journey, here are topics that warrant your thoughtful consideration:

  • In what ways do you want to share your messaging and which platforms offer those capabilities?
  • Of those platforms, which host a community that aligns with your target market?
  • How many platforms can your team successfully maintain at one time?
  • If applicable, what is the likelihood of my medical and legal review team approving content for this channel?

Your goal at this stage is to distinguish what platforms are most beneficial for your brand. Once you’ve reached a conclusion, it’s time to move on to the Treatment phase.

To determine if this is right for your brand, here are some of the aspects about Threads that may help your team evaluate if it’s the appropriate treatment:

  • You can only sign up for Threads if you have an Instagram Account.
  • You can post text, video, and images on Threads.
  • There is a 500-character word count per post.
  • Hashtags are not used on Threads.
  • Search functionality on the platform is limited.
  • Threads currently does not integrate with third-party management platforms like Sprout, Buffer, or Hootsuite.
  • There are currently no advertising options available on Threads so brands will need an organic approach to content. 

It is in the Treatment phase where your brand will do a lot of the hard work because this is when you really dive into each platform’s specifics. You need to educate yourself on the specific capabilities of the platform. If you’re just starting off, many platforms offer training programs such as LinkedIn Learning, Meta Blueprint, or Twitter Flight School, where the platforms themselves offer you ways to learn best practices. At the time of this publication, Threads does not offer this type of training. If it’s a platform you’re considering integrating into your activations, you will need to do most of the initial learning organically. Also be wary, at only a few weeks old, it would be hyperbole for anyone to claim they are a Threads specialist. At this stage, everyone is experimenting and figuring out the best approach for them. There’s just not enough data to support expertise in this area yet.

It’s also important to note that many medical, pharma, device, and healthcare brands have strict compliance and regulatory standards they must follow. Consult with your medical and legal team before posting anything to Threads or any other platform.

Here are questions to ask yourself as you move into this phase:

  • How often will I post on this platform?
  • What kind of monitoring and responses are necessary? Another way of asking, should comments be on or off?
  • How will I measure success on this platform?

You’ve finally arrived at the Maintenance phase. Here you need to be consistent in your approach and to adapt as platforms change, which happens often. In fact, Threads recently announced an integration with ActivityPub, which will provide decentralized capabilities like Mastodon. In their words, “Think of it like email: You can write to anyone with an email address, because it’s a decentralized system.”

With constant changes, staying informed is essential to peak performance because your community will quickly adapt to these evolving developments. This phase is about learning and altering approaches with the objective of long-term success and stability. To be successful in this part of the journey, ask yourself these questions:

  • Can I provide paid support for any of my activations? Remember, Threads specifically does not offer paid activations at this time.
  • When and how often will I review performance analytics?
  • Is my brand willing and able to try new things on the platform as they become available?
  • How can I educate myself and stay ahead of platform developments?

Ultimately social media should be a community-growing space where one-to-one communication is commonplace. Breaking through the clutter of endless scrolling will be a creative challenge on these platforms but they provide an incredible opportunity for those willing to try.

Our prescription for brands wanting to use Threads in their marketing mix must approach the emerging platform with cautious optimism. Success on any social platform is never guaranteed and Threads is no different. It takes a brand that is nimble, visionary, and bold to enter a new space in a thoughtful manner, but it can be done.

Brittany Fryman, ConcentricLife Brittany Fryman is VP, director of social media at ConcentricLife.