Jenn Thai discusses how Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital found success with a recent Facebook Live highlighting the hospital’s simulation center

Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital Social Media Specialist Jenn Thai and her team recently executed a Facebook Live video highlighting their state-of-the-art simulation center that featured Medical Director of Simulation and reality TV star Dr. Jennifer Arnold.

The video has been a huge success — garnering over 39,000 views and receiving a 3.6% engagement rate.

Facebook Live videos play a key role in the hospital’s overall social strategy, and Jenn’s team produces them entirely in-house.

She said they aim to execute one or two Facebook Live streams per month to highlight different service lines, physicians, and relevant events happening at the hospital related to trending topics in pediatric health care.

“Sometimes there are certain health holidays or monthly recognitions that we can base our Facebook Lives around and find topics that pertain to those,” Jenn said.

The team continuously evaluates past videos to optimize their Facebook Live strategy.

We want to be able to provide our patient families and community with the answers to their questions. Jenn Thai
In general, they examine which types of live streams work and which don’t and tend to see the most success when they focus on exciting hospital events or feature physicians with existing fan bases.

She said they typically find a lift in reach and engagement when they hone in on their physician influencers — and Dr. Arnold was no different.

“She’s very well known for her presence on the TLC show ‘The Little Couple,’ and she’s doing a lot of great things with our simulation center,” Jenn said.

To get the live stream off the ground, Jenn’s team first had to collaborate with other internal groups to brainstorm ideas.

“A Facebook Live idea can come from a variety of different places,” she said.

The team holds weekly meetings to discuss what they’d like to see highlighted within the hospital. They also have weekly storyboard meetings with the editorial and PR teams as well as their marketing liaisons — who are essentially account managers for different service lines.

Jenn said the team had also received an influx of people asking about the hospital’s simulation center.

“We’ve had a lot of requests for tours from donors and other visitors coming to our hospital. We thought it would be a great opportunity to shine a light on what’s happening in our simulation center,” she said.

Once the team decides on a topic, Jenn’s colleague Ashley, who does the on-camera interviews, reaches out to staff members within the service line they intend to feature. Sometimes she meets with them to discuss the visuals of the video first, and then she puts together a script and sends it to the staff member for feedback.

The day of the live stream involved a lot of moving parts and required multiple practice run-throughs.

It always pays to do a thorough production and planning phase to highlight what visual elements we can pull out of this and get people involved. Jenn Thai
According to Jenn, the video’s topic and interview type can determine whether it will be produced with a camera and computer or simply filmed on a phone. Because this live stream featured a tour of the simulation center, the team chose to film it on a phone for mobility — however, it still required in-depth production and preparation on the day of filming.

“Once we identify whether we’re shooting on a phone or camera, we make a list of the equipment we’ll need to execute it,” Jenn said. “We’ll get to the location at least 30 minutes early depending on how long it’s going to be and how much prep work is involved. Then we run through the script one more time with the expert who’s going to be interviewed to make sure everything runs smoothly.”

Connection issues happen frequently, so it’s important to prepare for every type of scenario ahead of time, Jenn said.

Her team doesn’t rely on a video production team to shoot their Facebook Live streams, so they’ve had to learn how to figure out issues themselves.

“There are so many moving parts within Facebook Lives, so being able to do it ourselves is one less thing we have to worry about,” she said. “And it’s helped to make them more seamless.”

Jenn said great communication between team members during filming is key.

There are so many moving parts within Facebook Lives, so being able to do it ourselves is one less thing we have to worry about. Jenn Thai
Aside from the host, Ashley, there’s one person shooting the video and another guiding them as they walk backward to avoid bumping into walls or equipment.

The team also includes someone to write down comments on a whiteboard as they come in.

“We highlight the first name of the person leaving the comment and their question, and then just lift up the board where the camera lens is so Ashley can read it out loud,” said Jenn. “It really contributes to the ‘live’ aspect of the Facebook Live.”

Once the video ends, the team promotes it across their social platforms and continues responding to comments.

Jenn emphasized the importance of keeping a relationship with the expert who they interviewed, so the community management team can reach out for help responding to additional questions in a timely manner.

“We want to be able to provide our patient families and community with the answers to their questions,” she said.

Jenn said because they had experience working with Dr. Arnold in the past, they knew this video would be a success.

We've had a lot of requests for tours from donors and other visitors coming to our hospital. We thought it would be a great opportunity to shine a light on what's happening in our simulation center. Jenn Thai
“Two years ago, Dr. Arnold joined our organization. And when we made that initial announcement, there were thousands of comments and lots of community management that had to happen as a result,” she said. “Going into this one, we definitely expected there would be a lot of positive engagement involved.”

Jenn’s team also worked with Dr. Arnold to ensure she helped promote the Facebook Live across her social platforms ahead of time to drive traffic.

“We had a couple of technical difficulties, and people were asking when we’d be live, and Dr. Arnold responded to those comments herself,” she said.

According to Jenn, the major groups that engaged with the video were Dr. Arnold’s fans, clinical staff involved in simulation at their health systems, Johns Hopkins’ existing followers and patients, and people who were intrigued by the idea of medical simulation.

After analyzing this live stream, the team has begun to focus on the importance of including visual elements, no matter how small.

They always conclude their videos with a call-to-action to visit their website, but unless the webpage is linked on Facebook, there’s no way for followers to see what it looks like.

“At the very end of the video, Ashley comes over to a touchscreen board and goes to our website to show people the webpage for the simulation center,” said Jenn.

This video was particularly visual but not all of them will be, so small touches like that can go a long way, Jenn said.

“It always pays to do a thorough production and planning phase to highlight what visual elements we can pull out of this and get people involved,” she said.

For Jenn, the success of this live stream has inspired the team, and she’s excited about what the future holds for Facebook Live at Johns Hopkins.

Moving forward, they hope to include more gamification elements into their videos to engage audiences with polls and questions.

“We want to include resources from the top of the video and then implement ways the audience can interact with us,” she said. “We’ve been playing around with the polls feature on Facebook videos where you can select a time code where you’d like to ask somebody a multiple choice or yes-or-no question, and they in turn can answer and view the survey results on Facebook.”

Jenn said it’s important to not let a small budget deter you from executing live streams.

When they first started producing Facebook Lives, she said they didn’t require a lot of equipment.

“We bought a simple mic kit where each person in the video can clip on a mic to what they’re wearing, and we hooked it up to our phones,” she said. “It made a huge difference in audio quality.”

She also advised taking time to produce and plan beforehand and write down the types of things that could happen to help anticipate technical issues.

“When we get to the location where we’re shooting, we make sure to test the internet and decide whether we want to connect to WiFi or go straight from our wireless network,” she said.

And if people are asking questions after the live stream ends, she emphasized the importance of keeping them engaged with good community management.

“That will help increase your reach and get that momentum going on the Facebook Live stream, even if it’s days after it already aired,” Jenn said.

Jenn Thai has been a member of SocialMedia.org Health since 2019. You can connect with her on LinkedIn.