Alison Woo

Alison Woo on making social content patient-centric at Bristol-Myers Squibb

“People never think of themselves as patients.”

A good story is a good story, no matter the channel.

Alison Woo, Director of Social Media at Bristol-Myers Squibb says, “They're people going through healthcare conditions. And that's what we try to espouse at BMS.” Alison's a member of, and at our Member Meeting in New York, she talked about how that idea shifted the social content strategy at BMS.

“We talk about this meeting being a homecoming,” she says to an audience of other social media leaders at big brands. “I joined five years ago, so I know that all of you in this room have had those battle scars from getting your company on board with social media.”

Now, her role was to get BMS on board with a new strategy: patient-centric social content.

She says the journey started with making sure they had an appropriate social channel mix.

They began by determining their audience types: patients, physicians, policymakers, the media, and patient advocacy groups.

“We wanted to learn: Where are our patients, what do they need, what are their questions, what platforms do they use, and what kind of content can we create that will fill the empty space,” she says.

Through social listening, Alison's team landed on Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter for their patient-centric focus. Each channel plays a different role. For example, since Facebook is a place where people go to connect, their Facebook strategy would focus on the human side of the company.

They also determined their content should meet these specific challenges:

  • Solve a problems
  • Share news on medical advances
  • Focus on families

Then, she rallied employees around the idea of patient-first content.

“We knew who we wanted to talk to and what types of content they wanted. Now, we had to set out to make that content,” she says. So they created an internal campaign to solidify a patient-first strategy with BMS employees.

The Working Together for Patients campaign included:

  • A new site with a better user experience for people looking for clinical trials
  • A Facebook initiative for patient advocacy groups to raise a flag for awareness of certain health care conditions
  • A YouTube video series featuring BMS employees


The last of those initiatives saw significantly more success now that the content focused on the patient.

“We made the content social first.”

In this Working Together for Patients YouTube series, 28 employees shared emotional stories of their own experiences as patients, why they work for Bristol-Myers Squibb, and what inspires them to come to work every day.

Alison explains, “Instead of just telling the traditional patient story, we made them social first and social friendly.” With shorter, better stories, interesting titles, and some paid social support, the views increased 100-fold compared to the year before.

And while Alison admits that paid social played a role in that success, she says, “A good story is a good story, no matter the channel.”

Alison's been a member of since 2011. Find her on LinkedIn, and watch the full presentation from her case study at our Member Meeting in New York here.