The new rapidly growing Threads social media platform, with comparisons to Twitter, poses the opportunity for healthcare organizations and brands to newly establish or cement their standing as a trusted source of health information.
Threads quickly became the most downloaded social media app ever and continues to grow exponentially daily. This tremendous influx of users includes many healthcare organizations, doctors, nurses, and a litany of other people who work in healthcare. The similarities to Twitter make the platform both a valuable method of sharing information and a potentially harmful one. There are things healthcare brands can do to ensure their brand quickly identifies as a trusted source of information.
A significant issue that both organizational and individual brands need to address from the start is how health professionals are utilized. Health professionals are seen as trustworthy but can affect how an organization is perceived when they share protected patient information or post ideas that don’t align with the brand’s values. Healthcare organizations need to educate staff regarding social media presence with information on avoiding HIPPA violations, not ranting about patient care, and self-identifying that information provided is an opinion not intended to be used as medical advice when posting. Going one step further, organizations should encourage, if not require, staff to use “professional” handles separate from the personal ones that highlight their professionalism and expertise while avoiding negative comments about patients or organizational problems.
Healthcare organizations moving to Threads can use the platform to their advantage by humanizing and transforming care. Using the platform to interact with patients can create a sense of community by appealing to their specific needs with targeted resources and information that resonates with the reader. Using word-filtering tools, brands can guide the content they provide on Threads with backlinks to their websites and other platforms. Using curated and original content with quick tips, links to blogs, and content from recognized health experts, health brands have the ability to be a source patients will repeatedly look to for their health information.
Motivating patients in their own healthcare can be done using department-specific handles to interact with patients. By connecting patients with an individual resource, like gynecology, cardiology, or any other niche area, patients will engage for up-to-date information relevant to their own health concerns. Department-specific handles can post content on new research or events pertinent to the reader to promote ongoing engagement.
The larger number of 500 characters available on Threads gives more space for accurate and well-thought-out ideas instead of the abbreviated information with the 280 character limit on Twitter. Twitter’s smaller character display has the unfortunate issue of leaving essential information out of posts, which increases the risk of misinterpreting information. The problem of misinformation on Twitter is high, with one study indicating 20% of posted tweets sharing misinformation. Additionally, Meta indicates the new platform allows for more restriction of misinformation with tools they tout for providing a more positive environment. Organizations can use these tools to ensure only evidence-based information is linked to their brand, making their content a more trustworthy source of information. Health brands can further reduce misinformation by sharing and spreading accurate and evidence-based information with other health brands and influential healthcare professionals.
Threads can be a powerful tool for healthcare organizations. By using the Threads platform as a source of positive engagement that Meta hopes to achieve, healthcare brands can establish themselves as trustworthy sources of information. Organizations and health professionals have the opportunity to develop new industry expectations for social media by spreading quality information in the form of content readers are interested in, informs, and provides a better understanding of healthcare for the average consumer.