In October of 2018, Social Media Coordinator Amy Wyrick and Social Media Strategist Stephanie Clemson began to roll out a new video series on BayCare Health System’s Facebook page called “BayCare Canine Cam.” The videos feature therapy dogs at different BayCare facilities outfitted with a GoPro camera, recording reactions from the patients and team members.
According to Amy and Stephanie, the series garnered some great results and drummed up organic social media relevance for the hospitals.
The idea for the series came from a similar project Amy had worked on in her previous role.
“That project was similar to this one, but not quite as fine-tuned,” Amy said. “The big lesson my team learned during that one was around the editing and how to make the content more usable and relatable.”
After joining BayCare, Amy pitched the idea for a creative pet therapy video series to the team. Then, they brought it to their communications leadership for approval and began working on the development process.
The first step was to socialize the BayCare Canine Cam idea and help leadership understand their vision.
Amy said they explained the plan to put a GoPro on a therapy dog to capture encounters with their patients and team members.
“It’s hard to visualize that without presenting a detailed plan,” she said. “So, we came up with one and shared our process with them.”
Stephanie added leadership was supportive of the idea and was instrumental in helping the team identify and acquire the tools they’d need to execute the videos. “They financed our GoPro camera and the editing software we used as well,” she said.
According to Amy, their regional communications coordinators were an essential piece in the planning process.
“We needed a team approach to make this work,” she said. “We worked with those regional communications coordinators to make sure we had consent from the patients to film.”
She explained their regional communications coordinators also helped them choose which pet therapy teams would be appropriate to feature in the videos.
“We reached out to them and I got a few responses back,” Amy said. “Then, it was just a matter of coordinating which teams were available.”
She said they found that Labradors and Golden Retrievers were the easiest to work with when it came to the GoPro. “The first pet therapy team we worked with, we put the GoPro on the canine, and we knew right away that he’d be really good for this,” said Amy.
They’ve shot at four hospitals so far, and Stephanie emphasized the importance of having a small team at each shoot.
On the day of each shoot, the team usually consists of Amy, a hospital communications coordinator, and the pet therapy team.
One person needs to be in charge of the GoPro camera and another person should be videotaping different angles from their phone, Stephanie and Amy explained. “That way, we can get the GoPro footage of what the dog is seeing as well as the reverse of what the people are seeing,” Stephanie said. “It makes the video a bit more dynamic.”
They also said the communications coordinator is also instrumental before the shoot, because they go into each consenting patient’s room to make sure he or she is comfortable with the process. “They also take some still images of the patients that we can use for thumbnails or incorporate into the editing to make the video more creative and engaging,” Amy said.
The team has made an effort to post one BayCare Canine Cam video a month since the project began — and they’ve shared eight so far.
“Editing each video only takes about a day or so,” said Amy. “But, we want to be as efficient as possible, so every time we go to one of the hospitals, we try to shoot enough content for at least two or three videos.”
According to Stephanie, Amy is great at capitalizing on the time she has during each shoot. “She makes sure to get footage of a few different patients and team members,” she said. “Because we’re working with dogs, there is a bit of extra legwork that goes into the shoots, so it’s important to try to get multiple videos out of each trip.”
According to Stephanie, the series has been a great way for the team to create more organic content their followers could engage with.
“Puppies and babies always perform the best,” she said. “We wanted to figure out another perspective instead of just a picture or video of a dog. We wanted the dog’s point of view so we could capture the patient’s facial expressions.”
She added because of how much work the team was putting into the series, they decided to boost some of the Facebook posts with ad dollars.
“We don’t have them all boosted because we wanted to experiment and see which ones would perform well organically versus ones with the boosted dollars,” said Stephanie.
Amy said coordinating schedules is the only challenge they’ve faced, but they have taken away a few key learnings from the process.
“We needed to be respectful of the pet therapy team and their canines’ time,” said Amy. “The dogs love getting attention and love from the patients and team members, but it can be tiring for them, too.”
For other hospitals considering executing a similar video series, Amy recommended testing out the GoPro with the dogs before shooting begins.
“If you have the ability to have the pet therapy team meet you somewhere or come by your office, test the canine with the camera,” she said. “You want to make sure the canine is comfortable.”
Amy said they’re continuing to look for potential opportunities to use the GoPro in new ways.
“We’re thinking about things like pet therapy events,” she said. “We want to change it up and make it new and fresh each time so we’re not posting the same videos over and over. Everyone has a story, and it’s special to see how they react to the therapy dogs. But, we want to come up with different ways to showcase that.”
The team recently filmed a young patient in speech therapy reading a book out loud to a dog at the hospital. “It was the sweetest encounter,” Stephanie said. “We’re looking forward to editing that video and posting it.”
Amy said she’s proud of the series because it goes to the heart of what they do at the hospital — help patients get well and be well.
“It just shows one of the amazing ways we care for patients and the great work our volunteers do,” she said. “Plus, it’s fun. It makes you feel good at the end of the day.”