Most people think of social media as a marketing tool, but it can be useful to achieve all sorts of objectives, including lobbying.
The Ontario’s Community Pharmacies have leveraged several social media tactics for lobbying purposes, and they are focusing on mainstream sites.
If you live in Ontario and have visited your FaceBook profile during the months of April and May, there are good chances that you would have noticed an ad stating that ‘Your Pharmacy is at Risk‘. In fact, during this period, I noticed at least 15 different versions of this ad. The copy was always the same, but the image was different. See all the ads that appeared on my personal FaceBook profile and ad board below;
On May 17, I noticed a similar ad, but with a more dramatic header: “Danger for Local Pharmacy”. I only saw this ad once and it seemed to have disappeared thereafter, having been replaced by the ads with the original header. I only saw this particular ad once, as the ads appeared to have quickly reverted back to the original header. In fact, all of the ads seemed to have disappeared completely sometime during the week of May 17th.
When you clicked on the ads, they linked to StopCuts.ca, a website by Ontario’s Community Pharmacies (which, by the way, contains a lot of similar content as what appears on the official Ontario’s Community Pharmacies website). The website, and associated social media tactics (RSS, FaceBook, Twitter, YouTube, and several methods to contact the government), were initiated as a strategy to counteract the threat of governmental cuts to community health care. This post is not meant to promote nor discredit the strategic objectives of the lobbying campaign, but rather to look at the social media components that make up the campaign.
Ontario’s Community Pharmacies has a rather popular FaceBook page, with 14,892 fans (`likes`) as of May 25 2010. The FaceBook page seems to be rallying a lot of support from pharmacists and consumers ready to lobby the government. The wall of the page is loaded with comments from supporters providing each other with tips and resources to assist with the lobbying activities and events.
The group also has a Twitter account with the username “ONPharmacies”, which has 325 followers and is listed 8 times as of May 25 2010. The discussion and chatter is constant and abundant on the FaceBook page, but it seems to be non-existent on the Twitter account. There is a hashtag for #stopcutsdotca, but when you look at the real-time usage of this hashtag, it seems to be almost solely used by the ONPharmacies account. This could be because Canadians, in general, have lagged in the adoption of Twitter.
And finally, there is a YouTube channel which boasts 31,346 views of all their videos since the channel was created on January 10 2010. According to a quick calculation, there have been approximately an average of 265 views of the Ontario Community Pharmacists’ videos on a daily basis (but I’m sure there were peak periods when large lobbying activities were taking place, and lull periods in between).
To find out if Ontario’s Community Pharmacies had any blogger outreach as part of this campaign, I searched IceRocket.com’s blog section to see if there were any blogs that either mentionned the organization’s name, or linked to the StopCuts.ca website. This search demonstrated that during the months of April and May, 9 blogs had covered a story that either included the organization’s name or linked to their website. The low number of blogs that included an article about the organization, as well as the fact that the blog posts ranged within a 2-month period, suggests that there was no active blog outreach as part of this campaign. This may have been a supportive tactic, but I think the group’s outreach has been very effective on FaceBook and YouTube, therefore they are probably better off to continue focusing on these two venues.
The one question that I am left with is whether most followers and fans of the Ontario’s Community Pharmacies’ groups are pharmacists and their employees, or whether there is a large consumer group rallying behind the Ontario’s Community Pharmacies in support of their cause. Based on the type of comments written on the FaceBook wall, my guess is that it is the former (but this group may just have been the most vocal). Either way, it is amazing to see a bunch of people who feel very passionately about a topic gather and communicate together in an open online forum.
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Filed under: Case Study: Canadian Healthcare Social Media, FaceBook healthcare ad, social media | Tagged: FaceBook ads, healthcare ads, healthcare social media, ontario community pharmacies, pharmacy at risk |