A Match Made in Heaven: Patient Storytelling and Social Media

A Match Made in Heaven: Patient Storytelling and Social Media

Johanna Slivinske, a psychologist, explored the power of therapeutic storytelling on the Oxford University Press blog. In it she wrote:

Through storytelling, many people gain insight that leads to behavioral change, and improvements in the quality of their lives. Stories may be told through writing, through art, through photos, or verbally. There is more than one way to tell a story.

This also sums up why social media is such a successful medium for patients to tell their tales. From Facebook to Youtube, these digital channels allow people to open up to others like them about the challenges and choices they face in a multitude of ways.

Consider ABC’s Good Morning America’s weekly “Your 3 Words” segment that began back in 2012. Viewers were asked to send pictures or short clips that included three words to help explain the scenario. The resulting compilation videos were so wildly successful that it carried on for nearly a year and helped ABC seize the number one morning news show ratings position. Here’s just one example:

Why was it such an instant sensation? Two reasons.

• For Us, By Us: First, it put the power in the viewers’ hands. It was created for them by them with ABC acting as the facilitator. Because of this, it was inherently more authentic. From 100th birthdays to soldiers returning home from war, births to more light-hearted social commentary—it was all real. The grainy video footage, the perfectly imperfect subjects, and the chicken scratch writing made it all that much more endearing.

• Uber Portable: The videos and stills were easily combined into one video delivered with a single song. The end product was an easily consumable, easily sharable asset that gained even more traction as people selected for each week aggressively shared the video because they were part of it.

As a whole, pharma is still trying to figure out just how to leverage this dynamic approach, though there’s no question as to its necessity. Patient populations crave such connections and are that much more receptive when delivered on their terms, on their turf. This means meeting them where they are—like on social media—with content that is engaging and authentic.

And for patients daunted by feelings of isolation and aloneness, particularly rare-disease populations, the power of stories—whether as the listener or the narrator—creates a profound opportunity for both therapy and brand affinity.