Digital health communication must reach hearts and minds to influence behaviour

#IMPACTinsights series features a panel discussion on how health brands and organisations can keep pace with the ever-changing digital landscape.

Earned, owned and paid media all play roles in digital health communications; but engaging, authentic stories must be at the heart of all, reveals IMPACT Communications Australia (IMPACT).

The comments come from the third #IMPACTinsights breakfast, hosted in Sydney on June 18, which brought together a panel of four experts from government, industry and not-for-profit, to discuss the challenges and opportunities for health and wellness brands in 2015.

The panel included John Vineburg from NSW Health, Lucy Coggan from Bupa Australia and New Zealand, Rob Kain from Anytime Fitness Australia, and Krystal Barter from breast and ovarian cancer prevention charity Pink Hope.

All panellists agreed digital communication tools had made targeting their audiences easier and more effective but said with greater opportunity came greater risk.

“I have seen a lot of health and charity brands spend up big on digital campaigns, but they don’t get the return on investment … you can’t pay for authentic social media engagement,” Pink Hope founder Krystal Barter said.

IMPACT group account director, Frances Dwyer, says, “High-performing businesses in the health and wellness sector innovate, collaborate and have an acute understanding of the digital consumer. They are adapting to customer needs, investing in emerging markets and digitally transforming their operating models.”

For organisations to ensure their brands’ digital health communication efforts resonates with the wellness-conscious consumer beyond the 15-minute fad; IMPACT suggests they employ three core principles in their approach:

  1. Transparency: Brands should ensure they are transparent with consumers about their relationships with health care professionals, ambassadors and other influential stakeholders. This will demonstrate that the brand has nothing to hide; mitigating the risk of negative backlash or ‘cash for comment’ criticism.
  2. Alignment: Consumer spending is growing in this category because individuals are seeking out healthy habits, practices, products and offerings that prevent disease, improve health, enhance quality of life, and bring them to closer to an optimal state of well-being. Brands should consider how their organisation or offering aligns with consumer and community sentiment and focus on the areas in which they have expertise and ‘permission to speak’ to ensure communications cut-through and prompt a call-to-action from an engaged target market.
  3. Altruism: Many of the products, services and offerings in the health and wellness industry are borne out of genuine, altruistic intentions and have affiliations with worthy causes. With one in two Australians believing it is very important that a company shows a high level of social and/or environmental responsibility; brand communications and campaigns that reflect and create social value can be far more powerful, and successful, than those solely aimed at driving commercial gain.
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