How Digital Health Startups Can Improve Their Twitter Impact

By / August 12, 2016 / Startup Stories

In this post we have a look at how Digital Health startups are approaching social media. We portray how they currently use Twitter and show how they can make that dozen of minutes worthwhile.

A Tweet a Day Keeps the Doctor Away

Let’s first have a look on how active Digital Health startups are on Twitter. We had a look at the activity from July 1st till August 9th and found out the following facts:

  • On average, Digital Health startups tweet almost every day (six tweets per week).
  • One out of five tweets is a retweet.
  • They get one like per day and five retweets a week.
  • They have on average 3178 followers which is more than double than the number of Twitter users they follow themwelves (1352).

The above stats are based on a list of 645 Digital Health startups which is by no means a complete list but does provide a good view on the overall activity and patterns. Out of the 645 startups which we followed 222 did not tweet at all during this 40 day period.

The statistics show around 65% of the Digital Health startups which are on Twitter, use Twitter quite actively.

This does not tell much on the effectiveness of the Twitter presence of these startups however. Early stage startups might be more interested in getting noticed by potential investors or influencers whereas scaleups are more actively addressing their target users.

There are number of ways to be more effective on Twitter such as using the right #hashtags and engaging in a conversation with relevant Twitter users. So how well are the startups we followed doing this? Let’s find out.

Settle Your Hashtag

Based on the 40 day analysis we noticed almost 75% of the active startups were using hashtags. Most popular hashtags were generic ones such as #digitalhealth, #healthcare and #mhealth. More specific ones were used as well as can be seen in the below tweet showing the 30 most frequently used hashtags.

If you want to get noticed as a startup active in a specific domain it’s advisable to combine more generic hashtags such as #digitalhealth with hashtags specific to your domain (e.g. #seniorcare).

So how can you find out which hashtags to use? There’s an open platform by Symplur which gives an overview of trending hashtags in healthcare on a diverse number of subjects. Use this to find out which hashtags are frequently used but are as well specific enough to the healthcare segment your startup targets.

Picking the right hashtag is only a means to increase the chance your message will be picked up by the right people. In the end, it’s still the message you bring across which determines whether you can really make a dent in the Twitter universe.

Influence the Influencers

Since a few years, a crowdsourced list of HealthIT influencers on Twitter is being published. Being noticed by one of these #HIT100 influencers, as the list is named, can help startups to get additional exposure. Furthermore, these influencers are typically quite interested in startups as well since the startups are exploring the boundaries of the domain the influencers know so well.

To get noticed, it helps to know which hashtags these influencers are using the most. Not surprisingly they are much more active on social media than the startups which is logically inherent to being an influencer. Besides the more generic hashtags such as #digitalhealth and #healthit it also shows some communities and twitter chats in which they are active (#hitsm,#hlcdr, #himsocial).

The biggest startup social media lesson is probably provided by Kareo, which is hosting its own chat (#kareochat) and is able to get quite some attention from the influencers with 126 tweets including their hashtag. Digital Health startups, watch and learn!

 An encouraging statistic for startups that want to get noticed by the influencers is that 62 or 10% of the startups we followed were mentioned by one of these 100 influencers during those 40 days.

Remember that after all, these influencers need something to tweet about as well. If you can trigger their curiosity by your startup story you firmly believe in, you have a chance to get the starring role in their next tweet.

Is this the definitive list of influencers you should target? Surely not, but it’s a good start. Try to compose your own list of influencers which are relevant for your healthcare domain and geographic target market.

Be Engaging

One last aspect to look at is how engaging the startups are. Twitter is a great forum to start a conversation and interact with your tweeps directly.

Is this something Digital Health startups frequently do?

It turns out half of the startups active on Twitter are engaging in a conversation about twice a week which is pretty minimal. Definitely when you take into account some conversations are automated “Thanks for following us!” tweets.

This low engagement level shows this is surely something which is underutilized. By engaging they can reach potential customers, users and influencers with little effort.

A well-known Digital Health company that really shows how this can be done is 23andMe. Although you could argue they are already past the startup phase, startups can still learn from how well they engage with their customers through Twitter. They engage with almost any tweet mentioning 23andMe.

The Magic Formula?

There is no such thing as a magic formula for Digital Health startups to get more exposure on Social Media. First and foremost you need qualitative content to share. Otherwise empty words will just fall into the bottomless Twitter pit anyway.

Once you have content to share, consider these takeaways to get extra exposure:

  1. By tweeting once a day you already surpass most of the other Digital Health startups. Consider scheduling your content tweets using tools likeHootsuite and Buffer.
  2. Use the hashtags that are both specific and relevant for your healthcare domain. Take a look at the Healthcare Hashtag Project to get you started.
  3. Know your influencers, including the influencers of your target audience, and know what they are talking about. The #HIT100 list is a good starting point.
  4. Engage with others: end users, (potential ) customers and influencers can all provide you with valuable feedback and increased exposure. A few engagements a week will make you already stand out from your startup peers.

Startups that are really serious about using social media should have a look at the more typical Twitter growth-hacking tips of which you can find plenty on the net.

About Author

Stijn Coolbrandt

Co-Founder & CTO ALMA.care

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