This past year, Assistant Director of Public Relations at Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS), Monique Irons, and her team started planning on a video series that would tie into their larger ‘How You Move' marketing campaign and messaging.
“The messaging there is that we wanted to get people back to doing what they love, regardless of what that is,” Monique explained.
And for the ‘How You Move' video series, Monique and her team decided that young athletes were a great fit.
She explained that, as the HSS main hospital is located in the Upper East Side, it's more urban and has the most recognition. But, through this series, they saw a way to boost the visibility of their physicians across their locations while raising awareness for the kind of work their outpatient centers do.
“Some of our outpatient centers are relatively new within the past five years,” she said. “And we really wanted awareness that we treat young high school athletes when they get injured.”
According to Monique, most people think about their work with joint replacement, so the videos were a perfect way to introduce them to other types of care they offer.
With the video series, Monique and her team wanted to be inclusive of different physicians, sports, types of athletes, and locations.
Monique said they looked specifically at common injuries that they treat often — including ACL tears and stress fractures.
“We wanted it to be relatable and something that's familiar to a lot of athletes,” she explained. “Once we identified those, we found corresponding patients and paired them up either with their own physician or other physicians who treat those injuries.”
Monique emphasized having all those voices present was important, because not all the students they featured had surgery — some of them had medical conditions they treated nonsurgically.
“Nonsurgical treatment is also a huge part of what we do even though surgery is in our name,” she said. “We wanted to spotlight that, and having that kind of mix really worked well in the videos.”
To kick off the series, they did a three-video pilot in Stamford, Connecticut.
Then, they rolled out the series to their other outpatient centers in Westchester, New York and Paramus, New Jersey. “Logistically, at each location, it was a matter of narrowing down which facility and which physicians would be best,” she said. “And then, asking around and looking for an athlete to put it all together.”
According to Monique, everyone they talked to was willing and excited to participate, because they believed in the same goal of raising awareness for their outpatient centers and services.
“It was definitely a team effort, while public relations and social media technically led the charge, we couldn't have done it without support across the hospital,” she said.
When shooting the footage, they worked with an external videographer and made sure they were prepared to boost the videos internally.
“But in terms of the video releases, we wanted them to be a little more spread apart,” Monique said. “We released the videos once a week during the series run and tried to publish the videos during the corresponding sport season they featured.”
Once the videos were ready to launch, Monique and her team worked with their digital marketing team to boost the content and put ad dollars behind them on social media to get the most mileage out of what they created. They also made a point to work with their internal web department to make sure the videos were being highlighted not only on social media, but on their actual website.
After creating seven videos featuring the student athletes, Monique and her team expanded the series to spotlight other hospital services.
“For our eighth video, we featured a middle-aged patient who had undergone a knee replacement surgery,” she said. “We knew this video could really highlight our joint replacement services, which is one of our most common services.”
“We used the same format, but tweaked it to help support those services for this,” she said.
Going forward, Monique and her team are looking at expanding that idea to other promotional plans for new centers they're opening or services they want to highlight.
The first seven videos received 2.2 million impressions and 64,000 views across both Facebook and YouTube — their primary channels for the series. “The full versions lived on YouTube, and we cut shorter versions for Facebook,” she explained.
She said finding the ideal video length for the platforms was initially a challenge.
“With almost an hour of footage per video, there's so much good content and it's challenging to cut down,” said Monique. “But no one's going to watch an hour-long video.” She said when they'd first started their Stamford pilot, they had a 20-minute cut they put on YouTube with a shorter version for Facebook. As they evolved the series, they cut those down even more, and now the full-length YouTube videos come in at six or seven minutes.
With Facebook, they tried to make them only one or two minutes. “The reason we did this was because we were constantly looking at the data from YouTube and Facebook to see what we've learned,” she explained. “People on YouTube were more likely to spend time watching more of it because they're there specifically to watch videos.”
But on Facebook, they noticed that their audience's watch time was much shorter and, even though people were viewing it, they weren't viewing all of it.
“So we made sure in those edits that what they were viewing was the part of the video we really wanted them to see,” she said. “Creating those two different versions definitely helped us maximize engagement on each channel.”
For Monique, this also gave her a great opportunity to connect with patients she wouldn't have known otherwise.
“These are young kids who are so passionate about their sport, and when an injury happens it's absolutely devastating — whether it's surgical or non-surgical — it's scary,” she said. “It's really fulfilling to see these success stories and be able to share them so their peers and teammates can see recovery is possible and an injury doesn't have to keep them from their dreams.”
For anyone looking to build out a similar series, Monique emphasized the importance of being flexible and not being afraid of change.
“Know that things can evolve and whatever you planned at the beginning of the process, may not be where you end up,” she said. “We had everything in place, but that doesn't mean we didn't change our process, how the video looks, or even targeting. Being able to be flexible and know that it may not be what you originally thought it was going to be and still be successful is so important.”
She also explained that, for them, the series was a great exercise in teamwork and how they can help complement the work other teams are doing.
“Because this was part of a greater marketing messaging strategy, there's a cohesiveness to all of our campaigns — it's not siloed,” she said. “It really drove home that working together with other teams under marketing can lead to a successful product.”
Monique has been a member of SocialMedia.org Health since 2016. You can connect with her on LinkedIn here.