The art of conversation and the elevation of health in society

An interesting thing happened during this awful pandemic.

We began talking to each other again. Actually, talking to each other. And the topic of course was COVID-19.

When the vaccines became available, conversations around science, health and efficacy increased. Of course, utilizing social and digital platforms to seek and find information was critical in our quest for answers, but they were used to complement not substitute for discussion, dialogue and debate. The key attribute we learned in rediscovering personal connectivity is context. What we are experiencing today is the resurgence of science in our lives based on conversation and context.

Healthcare companies – especially pharma companies – have often communicated above and around consumers thinking that other stakeholders carried more import or influence. But COVID-19 leveled the playing field so to speak, uncovering the power of consumer engagement and empowerment. Instead of social and digital technology becoming a crutch for companies, they became a means to an end – a conversation.

Now, it’s about information being ubiquitous and citizen journalism rampant. People’s appetite for more is growing – for context, rationale, meaning, purpose. They want a peek behind the curtain to comprehend the “how” and “why” companies took certain actions, made certain choices, and operated in a manner that was appropriate.

In Science, Context Matters

Context can be seen everywhere. Reality TV is a direct by-product of society’s increasing appetite to comprehend and experience the real dimensions of life, not the ideal placed on us. It’s the same inside organizations. Employees want to be involved with and aware of the choices that leadership is wrestling with or the options that lead to a key decision. Not just the decision itself, but the information and choices that inform it.

In science, context is multi-faceted. It speaks to breadth and depth. It relates to both thinking and emotion. It establishes a point in time and points of reference. Context strengthens arguments and disarms criticism.

It used to be common practice for public communications to be viewed in a vacuum – going from announcement to announcement, and from action to action, without necessarily thinking or worrying much about explaining the interconnectivity. Today, information on the internet lives forever. As a corporate spokesperson, you need to put your opinions, actions and decisions in perspective to mitigate negative or inaccurate interpretations later. You need to “put the past in context with the present and put the present  in context with the future.”

Being an “Insider”

More importantly, context allows for consumers, patients, customers and employees alike to be “insiders” about the organization’s mission, purpose, aspirations, challenges, politics and, in the case of COVID-19, treatment. In so doing, companies can turn adversaries into advocates while gaining new perspectives and insights to inform decision-making. Being an insider is probably the most important benefit an employee strives for today.

Similarly, from a customer perspective, context reinforces benefit of the doubt, while lack of context generates doubt. Context helps pre-empt crises, lack of context fuels crises. Context helps tell a logical, cohesive story about a company’s choices and direction; lack of context paints a picture of a rudderless, leaderless organization.

For all these reasons, the melding factions of language and intent – context – is central to a company’s ability to engage. Decisions are no longer “one and done,” particularly in the age of the internet. The social nature of the internet means that dialogue around your company continues in perpetuity, and few are shy about referencing your seemingly innocuous comments from three years ago to support their argument – comments that can potentially support either side if they lack context. In a world in which people turn to a variety of  sources for information – friends, employees, media, bloggers, politicians – context is what enables you to influence how that information  gets presented and interpreted.

This can sound academic on the surface, but the implications are practical if not critical. More than ever, it’s crucial that your past actions be brought together with your decision-making – to form a complete picture.

Context, in the end, is as much about substance as it is about intent. Bringing details, nuance and connectivity to communications, context widens the aperture and broadens the argument.

A Test for Healthcare Leaders and Communications

Context puts even more pressure on leaders, who may be stronger pure communicators than their forebearers, but who may not be used to connecting the dots between past, current and anticipated future actions. It also puts more pressure on communicators, who more than ever need to understand potentially foreign topics – clinical trials, manufacturing, purchasing, regulations – to be more conversant about the big picture, and to offer better counsel to senior leadership.

Ultimately, everyone involved must be adept at nimbly offering insight and rationale. Business pages and magazines are filled with any number of organizations that have recently done or not done an adequate job at this.

Context and Storytelling in Science

For science-based organizations, an unspoken element to this point has been the relationship between creating context and storytelling. Establishing context is comparable to telling the ongoing story of your endeavor – conveying all its successes and failures in a manner that makes sense based on past events and future expectations.

Accomplishing this requires several considerations:

  • Recognizing that consumers are the primary stakeholder and influencer in the war on disease and a healthy lifestyle.
  • Providing information and data with empathy and emotion.
  • Orchestrating communications from content to context to dissemination to result in dialogue, discussion and debate or conversation.
  • Understanding that social and digital should complement not substitute engagement.
  • Giving communicators full access to information and senior management; they can’t provide context without that.
  • Recognizing that “top down” communications by fiat is no longer beneficial. Today’s successful organizations communicate on a horizontal axis, drawing on numerous voices and numerous communication platforms.
  • Staying current and telling your story in ways large and small. Creating context is an everyday effort, not one that takes place only when there’s a pandemic.
  • Being dynamic – relating information to the audience to make it personally meaningful.
  • Recognizing the organization no longer controls the narrative. Know your influence ecosystem.
  • Employing peripheral vision. Connecting things large and small, in view and out of focus all work in
  • Constantly assessing consumers, patients, customers and employees to discern issues, trends, challenges, frustrations, lifestyle habits, etc.

In the healthcare industry, organizational leaders and communicators have a unique ability to accelerate the current positive perceptions of pharma and guide their companies in a manner that helps constituencies connect the dots among actions, decisions and events. This will create a cohesive, consistent context that makes sense and helps establish confidence.

Giving people a sense of being insiders engenders ownership, which leads to trust and engagement. In the end, a public that is inspired and engaged along with a patient, customer and employee base that is motivated and biased toward your work is perhaps the most sustainable competitive advantage one could hope for.


Mental health continues to be an unmet need, particularly among underserved populations, and the conventional ways of addressing it have not been successful. Otsuka, a leading pharmaceutical company with a focus on mental health, engaged Real Chemistry to address persistent gaps in treatment with new and innovative solutions.

Working alongside another Otsuka agency partner, Real Chemistry supported the creation of NEXUS (Neuroscience Experts and Cross-Sector Unconventional Stakeholders), comprised of a unique community of traditional and non-traditional mental health stakeholders who are bringing innovative solutions to address critical needs in mental health.

Through in-depth research, stakeholder interviews, and expert insights, Otsuka established a focus for NEXUS on three key areas of unmet need in mental health where Otsuka’s innovative approach could have the greatest impact: women, youth, and the justice system. While the needs of these groups are different, they share many similarities, such as the need for greater awareness, early intervention, a timely diagnosis, continuity of care, and support throughout life transitions. One of the goals of NEXUS is to work collaboratively to resolve the mental health challenges facing these groups at critical junctures, such as women becoming primary caregivers, youth moving schools, and individuals transitioning out of pre-incarceration community mental health services into the justice system.

To effect meaningful change, NEXUS is collaborating with 15 organizations, including mental health and caregiving groups, medical and government associations.

“Knowing it ‘takes a village’ to create meaningful change, we’re not just collaborating with traditional mental health stakeholders; we’re also engaging individuals and groups who are not typically associated with mental health but who bring relevant experience and insights – to shine a different light on issues and bring new ideas,” asserts Eli Perez, Otsuka’s Director of Congress & Stakeholder Management.

Real Chemistry and Otsuka’s collaboration on NEXUS is a continuation of joint initiatives the two have undertaken. Otsuka has created similar educational programs for other underserved groups, including the Global Council on Alzheimer’s Disease (GCAD), which focuses on patient-centered care. Real Chemistry supports this work by identifying audience segments including healthcare professionals and academics and leaders and influencers from advocacy groups and financial institutions who can share knowledge and ideas around the best ways to meet patient needs. Launched eight years ago, GCAD, is currently exploring the impact of untreated agitation with the goal of making meaningful progress in this overlooked aspect of Alzheimer’s, according to Mary Michael Otsuka’s VP of patient advocacy and stakeholder management.

“Otsuka places the audience’s voice at the center, listening and learning to address critical junctures in their experience,” explains Michelle Toscas, Managing Director, Otsuka Integration Lead at Real Chemistry. “Leveraging integrated digital and primary research helps us better understand the communities Otsuka serves and drives target activations.”

In April 2020, NEXUS launched a six-episode Building Mental Resiliency video series to support conversations and share resources to manage the uncertainness of the COVID-19 pandemic. The videos brought together experts to share information and ideas to build stronger mental health, particularly for those who are most vulnerable.  Episodes began with topics relevant to those most adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and expanded to cover issues ranging from COVID-19 support, caregiving challenges, the impact on Alzheimer’s patients, chronic conditions and systemic racism. Otsuka collaborated with the partner organizations and featured guests and used paid media to distribute the videos on a grassroots level. Episodes of the series also were circulated by PhRMA, BioNJ and MM&M.

Real Chemistry created a website and Facebook Page, which were particularly critical to disseminate NEXUS content during the COVID-19 pandemic. It shared additional research around the impact of COVID-19 on patients, caregivers, and healthcare professionals at a virtual blogger summit alongside partner institutions and key opinion leaders. In addition, Real Chemistry developed monthly social content, which was supported by earned and paid promotion.

“You hear from the experts that the mental health burden of COVID-19 could surpass the physical part of it,” said Mary Michael, “We’ll try to support as many people as possible and help build that mental resiliency.”

During 2020, 47,486 users engaged, watched, or visited NEXUS content. Because a campaign targeted to the communities NEXUS identified has never been done before, the team is using this result as a benchmark to create a year-two program that expands the voices and perspectives of NEXUS champions through added multi-channel content and an expanded NEXUS website, with key metrics in place that enable us to nimbly adjust and evolve our efforts.

“Otsuka and NEXUS are meeting a critical set of unconventional gaps in our system that often go uncovered and underserved within the complex mental health experience,” says Toscas. “We’re looking forward to helping more patients moving forward.”

Will Hargreaves, Otsuka CRL, Real Chemistry

Learn more about W2O via our About or Healthcare pages.

It is an honor to have Sandra Lindsay, a critical care nurse, and the first person in the US to receive the COVID-19 vaccine join our show. As a healthcare hero, she opens up about her frontline experience and the importance of vaccinations, plus she discusses her appreciation of Bob Marley. Take a listen below.

Don’t miss an episode of What2Know, subscribe to our podcast on iTunesStitcher or Spotify!

If you’re interested in learning about W2O, check out our About and Healthcare page.

At Real Chemistry, we want to create a diverse and inclusive work environment where we are authentic, feel psychologically safe, and can experience a sense of belonging – so all our colleagues can continue to thrive.

To support the growing need to create the most inclusive culture in the health innovation space and to celebrate Asian Pacific American Heritage Month during a time when Asian American Pacific Islanders (AAPI) have seen hate crimes spike during the COVID-19 pandemic and as Pacific Islanders fight for greater climate change awareness, we are proud to announce the launch of our Asian American Pacific Islanders business resource group (BRG), Enlight.

Co-chairs Lily Eng and Roshni Hemlani lead this BRG, with Anita Bose, Jill Dash and Jason Tse serving as executive sponsors. In celebration of its launch, Enlight hosted Joyful Planet’s Patrice Tanaka this month and will have another session in June with Kenji Yoshino, author of “Covering: The Hidden Assault on Our Civil Rights,” which will help foster growth and learning together.

As one of our 9 BRGs, Enlight promotes the professional and personal development of Real Chemistry’s Asian and Pacific Islander colleagues by building connections with each other, executing programs that enhance careers, and increasing awareness of challenges and opportunities related to the AAPI people. The AAPI community is comprised of individuals from 62 nations with distinct identities and social and economic realities, many times in conflict with one another. Even so, we believe this diversity should be illuminated and celebrated through honest dialogue, investment in communities, and removal of inflicted stereotypes, including those perpetuated by fellow AAPIs. Together, we can listen and learn from each other to support all communities of color.

Enlight supports members through four main focus areas: careers, connections, culture and communications.

  • Careers: Promotes mentoring, sponsorship awareness and career development through a combination of coaching initiatives, professional development programs, and technical workshops.
  • Connections: Encourages, supports and identifies service opportunities for Real Chemistry Diversity, Equity & Inclusion-approved community organizations, including philanthropic events and partnerships with schools, universities and other nonprofit organizations.
  • Culture: Develops cultural and heritage month programs and celebrations and partners with Real Chemistry’s DEI department to execute educational, informational seminars on key cultural, political or work-related issues that focus on creating awareness for culture, gender and diversity.
  • Communications: Facilitates partnerships with other Real Chemistry BRGs and organizations for conferences and workshops that increase visibility for Enlight, with a focus on social communication and internal messaging.

At Real Chemistry, our collective calling is to shape the future of health. We invite all employees and partners to join us as we make the world a healthier place for all.

Learn more about W2O via our About or Healthcare pages.


Doubling the survival rate of pancreatic cancer from 10% to 20%  is an ambitious but achievable goal. Julie Fleshman, President, and Founder of PanCAN joins the show to discuss how her organization is ensuring a world in which all pancreatic cancer patients will thrive.

Don’t miss an episode of What2Know, subscribe to our podcast on iTunesStitcher or Spotify!

If you’re interested in learning about W2O, check out our About and Healthcare page.

One of the biggest takeaways from a year of isolation, disruption, tragedy and distraction is just how well we fared through it all. To say that people have been resilient is an understatement. Recent events in Minneapolis and other parts of our nation have underscored the importance of accountability, while emphasizing how central health and well-being are to our ability to thrive and persevere.

While the recent acts of racism and hate have caused new trauma and opened the eyes and hearts of many, the reality is that communities of color experience this kind of trauma on a daily basis – and it is trauma that is rooted in systemic racism. For example, the Black community was anxious about the Chauvin trial outcome on many different levels, and many still have fears about driving, shopping or jogging while Black. For all of us in the BIPOC community, this has also been compounded by having to navigate the white spaces that are our workplaces, reinforcing the toll of the lack of diversity and inclusivity, a factor that can impact the stability of our organizations.

The prominence of mental health has also been highlighted by the havoc the pandemic has wreaked on our families, communities and life as we know it. Not only has COVID-19 shone a spotlight on the fragility of life and basic nature of relationships, it also has forced us to reexamine what’s truly meaningful in our lives.

The wounds of inequity – human, health, societal – that have been opened reinforce the importance of reimagining and rebuilding our processes and systems that reflect and serve everyone’s needs, especially the communities that have been ignored and left behind. Sound health produces resilience, building a more sustainable world and positive outlook for everyone.

As we start to contemplate life beyond COVID-19, we need to look inward and consider doing the following:

  • Discern your own health situation – physical and emotional. Dig into your personal biases, beliefs and worldview and challenge your thinking to ensure clarity of purpose, voice and commitment.
  • Put the voices of under-represented/under-served at the center of our world – see, hear and support their needs/issues. For those of us in healthcare, it’s time to consider their experience across the patient journey.
  • Commit to, embrace and ensure inclusion and diversity in all you do – move away from the easy check-the-box solutions and focus on the work of anti-racism. Take meaningful, purposeful steps that start to move the needle with change.
  • Rethink/recommit to allyship in a way that truly helps people rise and thrive. To be a true ally, dedicate yourself to mentorship, listening, educating and developing. Showing up and supporting those who have been under-served in a non-optical way is the path to real allyship

If we take anything positive from COVID-19 it is that society literally stopped long enough to view its deficits when it comes to race and essentials such as health. Our individual and collective resilience to move forward, as well as our openness about the gaps and ugliness of society, is making us stronger, wiser and hopefully better.

Health can possibly be the great equalizer.

Learn more about W2O via our About or Healthcare pages.


“What is ‘the new normal’” is a question we’re all figuring out together. So, we decided to turn last week’s look at post-pandemic marketing into a series we’ll update each time something notable hits the news cycle. See below for this week’s topic: health and fitness. On that note, one online publisher is building out its self-care/mental health vertical with a focus on navigating the “return to normalcy”, while more people traveling this summer will mean a different kind of vacation prep. Other news to note? Twitter is launching a campaign encouraging users to support local news and follow local journalists. P.S. May the 4th Be With you.

This Week in “The New Normal”: Health and Fitness

Despite the explosion of at-home, digital-first fitness this past year, a staggering 42% of adults reported “undesired weight gains due to COVID-19,” with an average increase of 29 pounds. At-home fitness brands such as Peloton say they expect the increase in digital workouts to stick. “It is the future of fitness, COVID or not,” said CEO John Foley. Moreover, Fitness companies including Barry’s and Orangetheory report notable increases in membership, and Crunch is revamping its marketing efforts, more than doubling its budget for customer reacquisition from 10% to 25%. Time will tell if we see at-home sticking around or if heading back to the gym causes dips in engagement, and how this dichotomy will affect other consumer activities such as grocery shopping…


What if AI Isn’t Intelligent?

We have all become accustomed to algorithms, but have we stopped to ask whether AI is intelligent after all? AI is designed by human engineers, leading to the introduction of bias into their code. As Kate Crawford describes in her new book, Atlas of AI, artificial intelligence isn’t artificial or intelligent as it isn’t able to discern things without extensive human training. This understanding is starting to take hold as people have begun questioning the usefulness of photo recognition services such as Clearview AI. Even Twitter is examining its own algorithms to understand potential bias in the platform. Now, policy makers are starting to get involved to try to limit AI use in high-risk systems such as employment or housing and potentially healthcare. Even though AI may help detect A-fib in some patients now, it may not be the future we were promised.


The Making of the Audio Room Underdog Story

Clubhouse continues to grow – even securing a new funding round valuing the app at $4 billion – despite increasing competition. The recent expansion of Twitter Spaces has highlighted an area Clubhouse lacks – reaching Android users – though the app is moving forward in that direction. Clubhouse also recently announced its first official sports partnership with the NFL, giving football fans a compelling reason to keep using the app and invite their friends to join the conversation. While impressive, this activity begs the question of whether the app will be able to continue its growth and remain a top choice for users when more options become available.


Don’t Forget About the Other Audio Boom: Updates in Podcasting

Every social media platform seems to be developing its own Clubhouse duplicate, but podcasting continues to grow in popularity, and its two biggest players are undergoing a major update. In 2021, 41% of the U.S. population age 12+ listened to a podcast at least once a month, and The Daily (from The New York Times) reached more people per day than primetime views of popular cable news networks. Apple recently added paid subscription capabilities, enhanced reporting metrics for creators, and a design revamp. Apple’s biggest podcast competitor, Spotify, is deepening its partnership with Facebook to integrate its player into the newsfeed, allowing users to listen to and comment on shows on the social network.


How Social Platforms Have Prepared for Apple’s IDFA Update

Apple’s new, highly talked-about App Tracking Transparency requirements are now live and part of the latest iOS14 update. New and existing apps must declare what form of tracking the app will use and share an explanation that can be included in the opt-in system prompt to explain why the app would like to track the user. It’s expected that many users will choose to opt out of data tracking, which will have a monumental impact on factors such as targeting and measurement for digital advertisers.

Here’s a collection of iOS14 resources from social platforms, outlining the anticipated impacts of Apple’s IDFA update:

  • Facebook shared guidance on how to prepare for iOS14 and has worked to inform advertisers on the update’s other impacts such as delayed Ads Manager reporting and limiting the number of website pixel events.
  • Twitter released an internal statement on how to prepare for iOS14’s IDFA updates and created an iOS14 resource center that provides information to help understand the impact the update will have on Twitter’s different advertising products from App install campaigns to audience targeting.
  • TikTok published a statement on how it plans to support its advertising partners, highlighting the anticipated impact the IDFA updates will have on app install and catalog sale objective campaigns.
  • Snapchat launched an iOS14 resource hub to detail the impact the update will have on its advertising products, including web campaign measurement, web campaign targeting, and web campaign optimization.


In Other News… 

Citizen Kane may be a cinematic classic, but it’s no longer on the top of Rotten Tomatoes. After a Twitter user found an 80-year-old negative review of the film, its perfect score on the Tomatometer dropped from 100% to 99% and made Paddington Bear 2 the top-rated film on the site.

When Josh Swain challenged strangers on the Internet (also named Josh Swain) to a Highlander-esque duel, he never imagined it would come to fruition in a Nebraska field. But what started as a joke ended up raising over $11,000 for Children’s Hospital & Medical Center Foundation, all thanks to a viral tweet.

Real Chemistry’s The Scoop is brought to you by an editorial collective, featuring industry updates and insights from subject matter experts across social media, digital and influencer activation teams.

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Dr. Omolola Salako, 5th Annual Grand Prize winner of the Astellas Oncology C3 Prize, joins the podcast to discuss her experience as an oncologist turned innovator and founder of a digital health tech startup. Learn about how she is working to empower patients in her home country of Nigeria. Take a listen below.

Don’t miss an episode of What2Know, subscribe to our podcast on iTunesStitcher or Spotify!

If you’re interested in learning about W2O, check out our About and Healthcare page.


Syracuse University’s W2O Emerging Insights Lab Signature Study Illuminates New Sources, Pathways in Health Fluency

Finding more information about your personal health or the health of your family has never been more meaningful than over the past year. For many individuals, patients and consumers, the need to address myriad questions and seek out additional areas of interest has become a quest. But in an age when information is ubiquitous and public health is top of mind, a new study on health fluency indicates that the road to such insight is now paved with multiple lanes and involves more than the traditional health care organizations and companies relied on before.

In a social era, the discourse is shifting quickly to include new, diverse voices.

A new, signature study, The Fluency Report: Health Literacy, released today by the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University and conducted by the Newhouse School’s W2O Emerging Insights Lab (EIL), which I lead, provides some incredible insight on the changing nature of consumer confidence regarding health care and the role of health care companies, marketers and communicators.

The study describes digital health literacy as encompassing a consumer’s understanding of topics such as insurance coverage, disease diagnoses, medication adherence, coordinated care and preventive care. The democratization of information was already changing the way the public sought out information on these topics, but trends accelerated in 2020 as a concrete set of issues dominated the headlines: the COVID-19 pandemic, the presidential election, health care policy, racial divides and equity and access.

The purpose of the research was to better understand consumer conversations occurring in the health space to comprehend the level and depth of knowledge and factual understanding leading to better solutions for individual and societal health outcomes. The EIL conducted the study with Real Chemistry (formerly W2O), a global health innovation company and long-standing partner with the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications.

Employing both digital and social research models to ascertain what online audiences were interested in, discussing/debating and concerned about, we were able to highlight key data that resonated. Additionally, AI (artificial intelligence) and machine learning allowed the research team to analyze text and identify themes.

Among key findings of the report:

  • Democratization of information and the plethora of social and digital platforms has led consumers to turn to a wider variety of health care sources. They now seek out authoritative sources for information about well-defined health care issues but use social media and crowdsourcing for information about less-understood topics and more authentic dialogue.
  • Consumers view search and earned media as a “tell me” interaction, and social media as a “talk with me” interaction. They crave engagement and conversation, rather than the pushing of information.
  • Consumers are looking for diverse voices who can speak authentically to historically underserved populations. They don’t always see companies as the best spokesperson but want companies to play the role of “creator and convener” and help elevate the spokespeople they value and trust.
  • Consumers consider themselves to be their own best health care advocates and will disregard sources that don’t respect and work with that perspective.

Given all the noise and misinformation regarding health, consumers are looking for authentic, trusted voices who speak to them and look like them. This leads to surrounding oneself with company data, influencer input, opinion and personal stories to round out one’s education.

This search for diverse voices means that health care organizations need to recalibrate their communications to fit into a consumer’s prism.


Regina Luttrell, Ph.D., is the associate dean for research and creative activity and the director of the W2O Emerging Insights Lab at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University.

Note: The W2O EIL Health Fluency Report is an annual study into consumer health confidence. A copy of the report is available at For more information, contact me at 315.443.3613 or

Learn more about W2O via our About or Healthcare pages.


We may be biased, but we’re loving this week’s Scoop, because it focuses on several ongoing key themes for 2021: the increased attention on the use of audio and accessibility within digital communities, connected TV’s insane rise in viewers and relevant ad campaigns within an industry that doesn’t usually get “positive” coverage ✈️.

We leave you with a taste of what’s bubbling up on the Gen Z front: Snack, a Gen Z specific dating app that seems a lot like TikTok. Stay tuned for more to come on Gen Z…

The Race is on to Retain Audio Users…

Clubhouse remains the go-to audio platform, but soon it won’t be the only game in town (and downloads are beginning to decline). Recent rumors have revealed that LinkedIn is developing its own audio rooms, joining Facebook in the race to potentially increase the time users spend on their respective platforms. Twitter is continuing to push its Spaces feature with an announcement that it is opening its current beta to users with Android devices, expanding to an area where currently Clubhouse has no stake. Twitter also has an upper hand, as Spaces will be available to all users when the feature is fully rolled out and will not require an invitation.


…But Clubhouse is Building a New Addition with Influencers in Mind

Amid reports that Clubhouse is seeking a new valuation of $4 billion, the audio-based platform has turned to its influencers to help keep audiences engaged, announcing that influencers in its accelerator program can now receive direct payments from their audiences. What’s more, Clubhouse will not take a cut of these payments (minus a small transaction fee via Stripe). While most companies would have grabbed onto this monetizing option, Clubhouse is embracing the new direct-to-consumer influencer model that has seen sites such as Patreon grow in recent years. Clubhouse benefits by building goodwill with influencers and appealing to those who enjoy the exclusivity, but this version of direct payments seems to be upping the ante with competitor features such as Twitter’s “Super Follows.”

Here’s how our team is reacting to the update:

This is a good first step by Clubhouse toward monetizing the platform. It’s clear that it hasn’t made any decisions on how best to allow companies to advertise, but providing the ability for content creators to get paid seems like a great way for Clubhouse to attract new users to its platform. – Chuck Hemann, Practice Leader, Integrated Intelligence & Activation

This “tipping” feature will benefit influential moderators in the short-term, but true financial gains will be made when Clubhouse facilitates connections between brands and moderators to support them in a more substantial and sustainable way. – Missy Voronyak, Managing Director, Social Media & Influencer Activation


With All that Audio, Accessibility on Social Media is More Important than Ever

Some social media apps are making moves to become more accessible for people who are hearing impaired, but there’s still work to be done. TikTok recently announced the launch of auto-captions on videos, and Instagram began testing closed captioning on Stories. But many creators and users who are deaf or blind say they are still often excluded from major updates, driving them to find complicated workarounds themselves. (For example, TikTok users, such as Andy Marks, provide tips to fellow creators to help make the platform more accessible.) In the meantime, brands should prioritize making their own content inclusive, whether by captioning videos or capitalizing the first letter of each word of a multiword hashtag for voice readers to read each word clearly. Doing so will not only help reach a wider audience but allow for an equitable experience for all users.

@andycmarks#SpreadTheWord #CapitalizeHashtags #Accessibility #FYP #Blind♬ original sound – Andy Marks


Digital Streaming Growth Beyond Just Netflix and Hulu

The increase in time spent streaming digital video at home during the pandemic has been well documented, but most discussions have centered on premium platforms such as Netflix and Prime video. However, ad-supported video on on-demand platforms (AVOD) have also experienced a boom with Roku’s channel gaining 63 million viewers, Pluto TV’s ad revenue surpassing $1 billion, and Tubi considering developing original content. This shows that streaming has a diverse, yet segmented, ecosystem with many unique opportunities to reach consumers while leveraging data targeting and cost efficiencies.


Airlines Offer Fresh Look at Evolution of Safety Messaging

Americans have long been ready for a return to normal, but last month’s emotional “Get back to what you love” video from Google (we’re not crying, you’re crying) made that seem more tangible than ever. Queries such as “round trip flights to Florida” surged 350% in the last 90 days, and airlines are evolving their messaging to match. What started as a social mandate for airlines to explain how they would ensure the safety of passengers has evolved to a declaration that airlines are ready to help consumers “reclaim their lives,” in which even discount codes – such as “BUCKETLIST” –  reflect the understanding that travelers are ready to make up for lost time. In a statement provided to Marketing Brew, Charuta Fadnis, SVP of research and product strategy at Phocuswright said, “We’ll still see some level of safety related messaging continue, at least for the near term. But it’ll shift from ‘It’s safe to fly’ to ‘Here’s how we are still keeping you safe.’”


In Other News… 

Celebrities are joining the push for vaccinations as NFL Star Russell Wilson hosted Roll Up Your Sleeves on NBC while Selena Gomez will host a Vax Live: The Concert to Reunite the World on May 8.

As Microsoft is set to buy healthcare speech transcription company Nuance Communications, the New York Times asks if medical computing can make us healthier.

Real Chemistry’s The Scoop is brought to you by an editorial collective, featuring industry updates and insights from subject matter experts across social media, digital and influencer activation teams.

Get the latest marcom news directly to your inbox! Sign up to receive The Scoop updates here.

Healthcare is forever changed because of COVID-19. Terri Sanders, SVP of Enterprise Marketing and Communication, HIMSS, and our Founder & CEO, Jim Weiss, share what innovations from the pandemic can shape the future of health, the importance of mental health, plus they bond over braving cold temperatures to attend the college they love. Take a listen, below.

Don’t miss an episode of What2Know, subscribe to our podcast on iTunesStitcher or Spotify!

If you’re interested in learning about W2O, check out our About and Healthcare page.

When we set out to draft this new “special edition” of The Scoop focusing on one topic – personalization – we quickly saw first-hand how varied and complex this topic can be for digital and social media marketers and strategists. A few spirited conversations and Teams chats later, we all came back to one definition of personalization: creating and delivering a digital and social experience tailored to a specific audience segment.

We like to say “gone are the days of one size fits all” when it comes to posts/ads because, now, data and technologies allow us to not only discover the variety among our audience segments, but also create content that resonates more deeply with those audiences. Personalization ultimately drives a more unique and relevant experience for a user, making them feel valued.

How did personalization start?

This idea popped up a few years ago and quickly became mainstream. Social platforms were already delivering “personalized” experiences for users directly in the platform, constantly evolving their algorithms to serve people in-app content that matched their interests. Newsfeed changes and additions such as Instagram Explore helped shape this trend. But data, technologies and paid really took it to the next level.

It all comes back to segmentation

People are busy. Especially healthcare professionals (HCPs), especially now. Being able to reach this audience in that exact window when they have a moment to relax isn’t new – but reaching them with precise messaging that resonates with them, based on their specific attributes (specialty, interests outside of work, location, etc.) is where we should be moving toward. This, of course, goes for patients and caregivers, too. Casting a wide net is not the way to go. Data can give us the insight to deliver messages to reach each specific HCP, patient or caregiver audience segment in their journey.

Social platforms embrace personalization in new ways

We already know social is leading the way in personalized content – both in feeds and through advertisements. Recent updates show how these platforms are taking personalization to the next level:

  • TikTok will no longer let users opt out of personalized ads starting April 15, so users will see ads based on the content they engage with (whether they like it or not!).
  • Facebook is taking a different approach. They are going right to small businesses with their tips and tricks for developing their own personalized ads – with the end goal of getting more people to discover small business based on their likes.

Thinking beyond social

This isn’t just happening on social media. Digital has been personalizing content for years – as seen with SMS, email marketing and the continued push toward omnichannel personalization.

  • Email marketing was a “success story” of 2020 according to eMarketer. Newsletter subscriptions are exploding as writers build deeper relationships with their readers through personalized content.
  • Then comes texting: SMS open rates are over 90%, and SMS marketing will continue to grow in 2021, as 56% of U.S. retailers plan to increase their investment in messaging.
    • Faced with the challenge of reaching customers at home during the pandemic, TGIFridays invested in its SMS platform and grew its database to over 300,000 subscribers after only four months, with a 4.5% conversion rate.
    • Online retailer Mack Weldon used sales data to focus its marketing on comfort and kept customers apprised of new product drops and restocks via SMS.
  • And when looking at retail, 62% of consumers surveyed say it’s important for online retail experiences to be personalized. Who can blame them. We all know how annoying it is to receive generic messaging that isn’t relevant to our shopping patterns.

Let technology help you

Shifting to a personalization-first strategy may seem intimidating, but technologies such as Flashtalking, Spirable and Salesforce can help create efficiencies for your content teams.

  • Flashtalking – a software that helps maximize content distribution for personalization for digital and soon on social – recently announced a new integration with Comcast.
    • This partnership demonstrates how even the most traditional media avenues, such as linear television, are being disrupted to more efficiently “deliver on the promise of personalization” through technology and tools.
  • And don’t forget about data! Leverage unique insights about your audiences to help guide the development of personalized content across platforms.

…And in Other News

Nerf targets TikTok success by seeking a Chief TikTok Officer responsible for creating 10 to 12 approved TikToks a month.

Pinterest is now in talks to acquire the photo app VSCO after adding 100 million monthly active users last year.

W2O’s The Scoop is brought to you by an editorial collective, featuring industry updates and insights from subject matter experts across social media, digital and influencer activation teams.

Get the latest marcom news directly to your inbox! Sign up to receive The Scoop updates here.

When people-driven insights are at the heart of clinical trials, more – and more diverse – patients will feel invited to participate.

Today’s standard clinical trial practices and methodologies are backfiring. They assess patients’ eligibility to participate purely on the basis of their medical profile. This is a narrow approach that has exacerbated challenges in clinical research: restrictive protocols, a systemic lack of diversity and representation, and limited options for where, when and how people can participate. All of these have calcified over time into roadblocks to effective recruitment and study conduct. The result? Increasingly costly delays and continuously missed study milestones.

It has to change. That’s why at Real Chemistry, we’re doing things differently.

We’re not discounting patients’ diseases and unmet needs. But we are looking at the entirety of their lives – patients as people from different cultures and backgrounds, with jobs and families, who have their own unique set of priorities, aspirations, challenges, physical and economic advantages and limitations, concerns, fears and needs.

Seeing patients through this purposefully human-centered lens, it’s easy to see why the standard model for patient recruitment and engagement isn’t working – if it ever really did. More importantly, at Real Chemistry, we believe it’s possible to fix it: by truly understanding who patients are and what they need as consumers of a clinical trial experience. After all, there might be many patients in real need out there, but if the vast majority of the recruitment pool is unable or unwilling to participate because they just don’t feel welcome and their behaviors, personal circumstances and expectations are ignored, the size of the pool is irrelevant.

So we offer a variety of interconnected solutions that allow us to collect, synthesize, analyze and, finally, operationalize patient experience data and the actionable insights that result from it by:

  • Applying behavioral science to give us insight into what motivates people toward action and activation – information that leads to more inclusive and patient-centered study designs and recruitment strategies that will increase representative enrollment and create attractive studies as a care option.
  • Using a proprietary clinical trial propensity model to help us predict with more certainty which patients are more likely to participate in a trial.
  • Creating study- or disease-specific personas by aggregating complex data about people as patients and as individuals into what we call Real Chemistry Persona 360. Far richer and more human-centered than data on a screen can provide, these personas generate strategies to engage patients who are not only ready, willing and able to participate, but excited about and more committed to being a part of the trial.

We use these methodologies, along with detailed insights into global differentiators, to give us a three-dimensional view of patients and the impact their disease has on their lives – insights that can facilitate more relevant trial designs; inspire more engaging and informative communications with patients; inform better study placements (i.e., we want patients to be able to participate irrespective of where the sites are actually located); help create more compelling and resonant strategies to engage the patients we want to attract; and, finally, help sites supporting the trial become more sensitive and responsive to the cultural diversity of underrepresented groups. In other words, we want to humanize the clinical trial experience for all those who might, and eventually do, participate.

An insights-driven approach such as this has become all the more urgent. Those who design and run clinical trials are increasingly caught between the pressures from regulatory agencies on one end, which are starting to demand the patient voice be brought into the clinical trial development process in a more obvious and standardized way, and patients on the other end, who are demanding greater flexibility from the healthcare model, which when applied to clinical trials would give them more opportunities, options and leeway to participate.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, clinical trials were already moving toward decentralization, a process that accelerated over the course of the past year. But just as the conventions of centralized clinical trials eliminated many participants who either couldn’t or wouldn’t do what was necessary to participate (e.g., travel several hours to the trial site), decentralized clinical trials can be restrictive or make assumptions about patients that may not be true. For example, trials may require that patients have a depth of technological know-how (not to mention devices) that many do not possess, nor have any interest in acquiring. Or trials may think it is okay to fully remove in-person visits, even though some patients still prefer them.

Clinical trials that swing too much in one direction or the other aren’t the future. The future lies in giving people flexibility to participate in ways that work for them, which can only come from understanding more about them.

Ultimately, our goal is to modernize clinical trials in order to open them to a wider, more activated and committed patient audience. Using data and insights in new and innovative ways, we will help humanize the clinical trial experience from the start, remembering that people may live with their medical conditions and diseases, but they are more than those conditions and diseases. People are the future.

Learn more about W2O via our About or Healthcare pages.


One year into the pandemic, the wave of attacks against the Black American and AAPI communities and the persistence of health inequities and disparities continue.

For some, it took a worldwide health crisis to shine a light on such injustice. For others, it has only served as a stark reminder of the traumatic realities of racism and the resulting inequities in our society.

While the conversation and resulting actions have primarily focused on support and solidarity, if we’re truly focused on the goal of equity, the events of recent weeks reinforce how we as people, companies, employees and citizens need to move beyond the acknowledgment of racial inequity and disparity and focus on the specific policies, decisions and behaviors that will help move us from awareness to reconciliation.

So how do we get there?

  • Call It by Its Name: The events that we’ve borne witness to are crimes founded in xenophobia and racism that impact the lives of our colleagues, friends, families and communities. By standing in solidarity, supporting the AAPI and BIPOC communities, we need to be honest and authentic about what these acts/events truly are and recognize the importance that language plays in the description/framing of these events and the narratives associated with them. No sugarcoating or diminishing the cause.
  • Focus on the Context: We must highlight the history of xenophobia against BIPOC communities, such as the AAPI community, and the way disease has been used to denigrate and discriminate…and connect it to the importance of learning/educating ourselves and building cultural competency/attunement – a core element of our pillar.
  • Cultivate and Drive EmpathyWe must ensure psychological safety and facilitate understanding and different forms of engagement…especially today as we continue to work and live in various forms of isolation. Cultivating safety and community in all of the spaces we occupy, including work, has become even more important…and the creation/cultivation of those could help drive empathy and different forms of engagement that can help inform how companies show up vis-a-vis DE&I and work toward their equity goals.
  • Hold a Mirror Up: Any chance of a significant change must begin with an honest assessment of your personal and organizational tenets, purpose, efficacy, policies and culture. Where is bias or disparity apparent in the business? What are people allowed to get away with? How is respect and dignity and inclusion supported?

With the anniversary of the murder of George Floyd on the horizon and the “great awakening” that dominated our consciousness, we are all being called to dig deep, assess and modify our actions. Ultimately, there are core tenets of DE&I engagement that can help guide and inform, but, in the end, it begins and ends with each of us. It’s not about getting mad or even. It’s really about growing, sharing, listening and respecting each other for who and what we are as human beings.

In the words of Nelson Mandela, “It always seems impossible until it’s done.”

Understanding the state of vaccine confidence.

For the 11th year, Real Chemistry brought together leading health care innovators at SXSW to discuss the issues driving us forward. The virtual event was chock-full of robust conversations about important health care topics.

We were proud to present five official sessions, helping people go deep on what’s next in health care and how patient lives have improved as a direct result of breakthrough elements of health technology. We also hosted a two-day virtual Media Lounge that included panels and fireside chats.

Over the next few days, we’ll highlight some of these discussions, with links to where to watch the full sessions on YouTube. We look forward to seeing everyone at SXSW in person next year.

COVID-19 and Vaccine Confidence

The COVID-19 vaccines are our golden ticket back to normal, as Real Chemistry Founder and CEO Jim Weiss wrote earlier this year. Given that news coverage in recent months has been dominated by discussion of the vaccines, it should be no surprise that five of our SXSW panels covered that topic.

Real Chemistry advisor Jane Sarasohn-Kahn and renowned epidemiologist Dr. Michael Osterholm held a wide-ranging conversation about the pandemic, vaccines and lessons to take forward.

Dr. Osterholm, noting other problems the pandemic has exposed or made worse, such as hunger and mental health challenges, said he hoped there would be new investments in public health. “Public health, when it is done well, preventing these kinds of situations, actually has a spillover into so many other parts of our life we don’t think about,” he said.

He noted that the vaccine rollout has had troubles because the federal government did not give states financial resources to distribute the shots. He said it is getting better, but pointed out, “The vaccine isn’t a vaccination until it goes into your arm.”

What a Shot Meant for One Nurse … and for Its Developer

One big star of our SXSW panels was Sandra Lindsay, a registered nurse from Long Island who in December became the first person in the United States to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. On a panel focused on lessons learned, she described what it meant to her: “It represented to me the beginning of the end of a very dark time in our history, that hope is here, preservation of life, abilities for others to get that same feeling.”

Lindsay was on a panel that included Judy Sewards, head of clinical trial experience at Pfizer, a Real Chemistry client, and Dr. Reed Tuckson,  co-founder of the Black Coalition Against COVID, another client. Sewards said Pfizer set high standards for the science and safety of its vaccine and learned the value of transparency during the process. The result? “People are much more aware of the scientific process. We as an industry have figured out where we need to meet people, do a better job of educating others about what it takes to develop a medicine or a vaccine,” she said.

Surveys About Vaccine Confidence Show Rising Support

What we know about vaccine confidence is not just guesswork. A wide variety of public opinion surveys have tracked how people feel about the vaccines and how willing they will be to take them once available.

On a panel with leading health researchers, Ipsos’ Chris Jackson and the Kaiser Family Foundation’s Liz Hamel pointed out the rise in public confidence in the vaccines in recent months. Jackson said polling shows double-digit increases in confidence across the world.

Of those with a “wait and see” approach, many are not really “hesitant,” but they need more information from trusted sources, Hamel said. “Listen to people’s concerns, take them seriously and empathize with them. They come from not only a place of fear but a place of newness,” she added.

Scott McDonald of the Advertising Research Foundation noted that some of the movement reinforces “what we already understand about how opinions change and how advertising really works.” He pointed out that people get their cues from a “norm” that is now influenced on social media by people they never meet.

While confidence in the vaccines has grown, confidence in governments to deal with the crisis has not. “It has slowly eroded over the past year,” Jackson said.

(For the latest in vaccine confidence news, subscribe to Real Chemistry’s free Vaccine Confidence Weekly newsletter here.)

Messaging About the Vaccines

Messaging about the vaccines and what platforms to use to communicate to those who have questions and concerns was a major focus of most of the Real Chemistry SXSW panels.

“A big breakthrough is telling people it’s okay to have questions,” Dr. Tuckson said. He and Lindsay agreed that trying to understand where people are instead of lecturing them is critical. “We need to listen to people, spend time listening and educating them, dispelling myths. Word of mouth remains very powerful,” she said.

Usually, it takes nine months to create an Ad Council campaign, but the ongoing COVID-19 vaccine education initiative took far less, said Catherine Chao, the Ad Council’s vice president for strategy and evaluation. PSAs were out in two weeks after the Ad Council finalized details with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The Ad Council (Real Chemistry is an Ad Council partner) is not just developing heart-tugging commercials, but also community-based activities to “get deep into communities” and help people understand what the vaccines will bring, Chao said.

Effective messages come with an empathetic tone, not focused on playing into fears about what the coronavirus might do to someone who is not vaccinated. “Not to say fear isn’t motivating but when leaning on it too heavily, it is not authentic,” she said.

Asked to create his own 30-second script for a pro-vaccine commercial, Dr. Tuckson said it would say: “Dear American households, would you like to get your life back? Kids go back to school? Have a job? Do you want to have Christmas and Thanksgiving with your family? You can’t do it without getting vaccinated. Let’s get our lives back. Today’s the day.”

Frank Washkuch, executive editor of PRWeek, struck a similar tone. “There are many negative messages, but one that really works is, ‘This is how we get back to normal’,” he said.

The Employer Has a Vaccine Confidence Platform

Employers – who can access a toolkit at – may not want to give ultimatums about vaccines, said Allison Weissbrot, editor-in-chief of Campaign US at Haymarket Media, but “employers have a huge platform and microphone to get employees vaccinated.” They can use other ways to persuade, including helping make appointments or giving people information about the vaccines, she said.

Jim Weiss said Real Chemistry would approach employee vaccination communication just as he would recommend to clients. “We’ll meet everybody where they are, listen to their concerns and have mutual respect,” he said.

Health Innovation at SXSW and Beyond

Boosting vaccine confidence is a path to help get us out of this pandemic, which has taken a terrible toll on so many. But one silver lining of this past year has been a rapid acceleration of innovation in health care. We will continue to share with you the insights gleaned at SXSW Online 2021 from our industry’s top thought leaders. Thank you for showing up and shaping the future with us.

Learn more about W2O via our About or Healthcare pages.

The use of digital tools is not the same as digital transformation, so what does this mean for healthcare? Dr. Michael Blum, Chief Digital Transformation Officer of UCSF Health, joins the show to discuss the digital health renaissance, the progress needed for our industry, and he shares a pretty clever answer for the album he’d bring on a desert island. Take a listen below.

Don’t miss an episode of What2Know, subscribe to our podcast on iTunesStitcher or Spotify!

If you’re interested in learning about W2O, check out our About and Healthcare page.

Who isn’t looking forward to the return to a roaring 20s?! ⬇️ The future is looking bright and it’s not just because spring has sprung. 🌸 Twitter is mapping out “safe spaces,” like Facebook. TikTok decided to be the first to do ads “right” and Snap seems to be back and doubling down. And you can’t help but 😊 for Amazon who is gamifying their warehouse experience with virtual pets 🐶 👏.

Combatting Vaccine Hesitancy Through Marketing

New research has found that 40% of Americans have yet to make up their minds about taking the COVID-19 vaccine, and vaccine hesitancy in Black and Hispanic communities continues to be influenced by false information online. To address this, several groups have launched campaigns that provide straightforward guidance that getting informed and vaccinated is up to all of us. For example, the Ad Council’s “It’s Up to You” campaign encourages audiences to get the latest vaccine information, with messaging targeted specifically to Black Americans. To help shift the mindset of communities of color, who are most affected by COVID-19, and increase the number of people vaccinated, we must develop messages about vaccine benefits and clearly and concisely communicate them across channels.


An Intimate Portrait of Post-Pandemic Life

As the U.S. set its sights on making COVID-19 vaccines available to all adults beginning May 1, questions about how consumers will return to a post-pandemic world have sparked conversation – and controversy – among marketers. AdAge has gone so far as to declare spring “the new Christmas,” suggesting consumers will return to a “roaring 20’s of consumerism.” Suitsupply gave its take on “The New Normal” with a suggestive, spit swapping digital campaign, which CEO Fokke de Jong says is “simply a positive outlook on our future.” Data from EY’s latest iteration of its Future Consumer Index indicates affordability and health will remain top priorities for post-pandemic consumers – an impetus for brands to tailor communications accordingly to maximize the resonance of messaging with audiences.


Getting Paid for Personalization

Online user experiences have become more personalized over the years, as demonstrated through platforms like Patreon where users can pay to create a feed of exclusive content from their favorite creators. Meanwhile, influencers are diversifying their income streams beyond traditional #SponCon with subscription monetization. Twitter also announced “Super Follows,” a new pay-for-posts feature for creators to charge for exclusive content. The feature offers more control over the content users see on the platform while building communities around specific topics. With the continued push toward personalization, establishing and growing relationships with influencers will become even more important, as they will become the gatekeepers of the communities they’re growing and will determine the balance of free and paid content that followers will accept.


Learning to Roll with the Changes

Platforms have begun offering resources for smaller businesses to help them adapt to Apple’s IDFA changes. Snapchat announced a partnership with Gannett to promote Snapchat ads to Gannett’s 100,000+ small business clients in the U.S. and Canada. On March 24, TikTok will host “Ready Set Grow,” a virtual summit to help small and medium businesses (SMBs) become familiar with advertising possibilities. Facebook launched a campaign aimed at showing why users should enable data tracking and connecting the dots on how businesses can reach their audiences. Despite rumors, Google also clarified that alternative tracking options will not be provided when third-party cookies become unavailable. With that in mind, advertisers of all sizes should take a closer look at their digital and social media strategies and look to those who are able to effectively reach their target audiences.

Sources: TikTok, Facebook, Social Media Today, Google

In Other News… 

Philips and Disney are joining forces to improve the healthcare experience of children.

The CDC’s program to track vaccine effectiveness over time leaves out 60 million Americans.

W2O’s The Scoop is brought to you by an editorial collective, featuring industry updates and insights from subject matter experts across social media, digital and influencer activation teams.

Get the latest marcom news directly to your inbox! Sign up to receive The Scoop updates here.

Welcome to our sixth and final episode of our first round of #MedicallySpeaking, a video series aimed at uncovering the what, why and how of marketing and communications in the healthcare industry.

In this final video I speak to Molly Butler, Senior Account Manager for W2O Group. We talk about her choice of degree and the challenging and rewarding aspects of marketing for healthcare companies.

We hope you’ve enjoyed the video series. Please subscribe to our YouTube channel for more in this series in the future.

Learn more about W2O via our About or Healthcare pages.

SXSW is back. One of the first industry conferences canceled in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this event has returned as a digital experience from March 16-20 that features keynotes and sessions, screenings, showcases, networking and exhibitions. For the 11th year, W2O is excited to celebrate innovation and creativity with the SXSW community and proud to be a sponsor in 2021.

SXSW represents the intersection of technology, media and culture across many industries, including healthcare. As always, we are convening our industry’s leading innovators to discuss the issues driving us forward. Although we won’t be in person in Austin, Texas, eating BBQ, we are committed to surfacing important conversations about digital transformation, health equality, vaccine confidence and the long-term impacts of COVID-19 on society.

Register Now for the W2O Healthcare Media Lounge

New for 2021, W2O is hosting the Healthcare Media Lounge, a two-day virtual event that includes panels, fireside chats, keynotes, happy hours with bands, and meditation. Our lounge content is free to anyone who signs up for the event, and no official SXSW pass is required.

Reserve your spot today to receive updates to our agenda and learn more about our online engagement opportunities that seek to replicate the “SX Serendipity” that we all love.

Confirmed speakers include:

Join us and RSVP today.

Use #W2OSXSW to join the conversation on social!

SXSW Official Sessions (accessible with a conference badge)

W2O is proud to present five official sessions that are accessible to those with an official conference pass. Add these to your official schedule and join us as we go deep on understanding what’s next in healthcare and how patient lives have improved as a direct result of breakthroughs in health technology.

COVID-19: The New Reality: 3/17, 3:00 PM CST

W2O is proud to have earned a featured session with Dr. Osterholm and our advisor and health economist Jane Sarasohn-Kahn, to speak to the SXSW community about what is next in the fight against COVID-19. From the immediate concerns around new variants to the “collateral damage” we face from this pandemic, Dr. Osterholm and Ms. Sarasohn-Kahn will share insights to help navigate public health in 2021 and beyond.


Tech-Enabled Health Solutions and Patient Outcomes: 3/16, 10:30 – 10:55 AM CST

In the year since the COVID-19 global pandemic changed life as we know it, virtually every sector of the economy has adjusted to a new reality of customers stuck at home, unable to travel but still needing services. Healthcare professionals did what other customer-focused sectors were doing: they turned to technology.

Tech-enabled health solutions, such as robotics, wearables, and mobile applications, have been fueled by this increased level of consumer comfort using technology to address their healthcare needs. This panel explores examples of how patient lives have improved as a direct result of breakthrough elements of health technology. The panelists will also discuss challenges that have come from this new ecosystem.


  • Terri Sanders, Senior Vice President, Enterprise Marketing and Communications, HIMSS
  • Ivan Tornos, Group President, Orthopedics, Zimmer Biomet
  • David Cassak, Co-Editor-in-Chief and Managing Partner, MedTech Strategist (moderator)

@Doctor @Patient: Healthcare Trends on Twitter: 3/18, 2:30 – 2:55 PM CST

On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic, ushering in the most profound change in medical care in the modern era. In-person interaction with the medical system—outside of treatment for SARS-CoV2 infection— disappeared nearly overnight, fundamentally altering physicians’ relationships with their patients, and their peers.

Twitter sits at the intersection of relevant conversations from patients, caretakers, HCPs, and public health officials. At W2O, we observed a 93% increase in patient engagement with physician content on the platform from March through August of 2020. Using Symplur, an analytics platform purpose-built for healthcare, we explored how connections between physicians, their patients and their peers on Twitter impacted the delivery of healthcare and medical information. This panel will share those findings and explore future social media trends in the healthcare industry.


Patient-Centricity Reduces Healthcare Inequality: 3/19, 11:00 – 11:25 AM CST

The CDC has reported increasing evidence that some racial and ethnic minority groups are being disproportionately affected by COVID-19. Factors such as poverty, lack of access to healthcare and poor housing conditions contributed to this inequity. Patient-centric solutions in healthcare have the power to help reduce this inequality. Looking holistically at a patient’s journey requires navigating the impacts of race, gender, ethnicity and religion. This deep understanding of the patient experience supports development of innovative solutions and behavioral drivers of care. This panel will explore the importance of involving diverse patient voices in conversations around clinical trials, drug development, and advances in specific disease areas.

  • Mary Stutts, Senior Vice President, Corporate Relations, Sumitovant Biopharma
  • Mary Michael, Vice President, Patient Advocacy and Stakeholder Management, Otsuka
  • Anya Harry, M.D., Ph.D., Global Head, Demographics and Diversity, GlaxoSmithKline
  • Abby Hayes, Practice Leader, DEI Engagement, W2O (moderator)

We look forward to having you join us for these important conversations with clients and partners, including HIMSS, Zimmer Biomet, Twitter, Jefferson Health, Otsuka, GlaxoSmithKline, Sumitovant Biopharma and Stanford Health Care.

Plus, don’t forget to sign up today to reserve your spot in the W2O Healthcare Media Lounge.

Use #W2OSXSW to join the conversation on social!

Learn more about W2O via our About or Healthcare pages.

It’s only March and we’re running out of adjectives to describe the way time blurs from week to week, and the rapid pace of changes in the digital space. If you end up reading the below 😉 you’ll probably wonder why we’re starting off this intro highlighting the trend of nostalgia showing up all over digital – but we HAD to address these strange updates. MyHeritage created Deep Nostalgia, which animates old still photos. The photo app Dispo, launched by a YouTuber, mimics the unpolished look of photos from a disposable camera. But hey, all we know is that we’re all human and looking for connections, even if it’s through email. 😊

A Local Approach to Vaccine Marketing

As COVID-19 vaccine distribution ramps up nationally, varied accessibility guidelines and availability by state are making it difficult for administrators to communicate the most up-to-date information to the public. To overcome this hurdle, governments and health systems are turning to local targeting, sometimes even down to the zip code level, to share the most relevant information to the masses and reduce confusion. This local strategy will likely be implemented to drive awareness about the extended enrollment period for the Affordable Care Act (ACA) approved by the Biden administration. While supply-chain limitations are dominating current news coverage, a clear public communications strategy is essential in controlling the pandemic.

Sources: MM+ M, THE DRUM

The Race to Reach People of Color Online

Facebook is ramping up its efforts to boost vaccine confidence amid increasing evidence of low COVID-19 vaccination rates among minorities. The platform updated its COVID-19 Information Center by creating alerts for vaccination dates/times for users. It is also allocating $120 million in ad credits for health ministries, non-governmental organizations, and United Nations agencies, potentially making it easier for these groups to reach communities of color via zip code targeting in areas where vaccination rates remain low. However, as this push increases, reaching these communities online might be a hurdle. Recent research has found that many Black and Hispanic patients lack access to the internet or a computer, making it difficult for them to access the very information Facebook is trying to provide. As health services continue to move online, it’s clear that a bigger effort is needed to provide these communities with access to the internet.


Old-Fashioned Chatting is Here to Stay

The exploding popularity of Clubhouse is pushing other platforms to adopt audio-first tools. There are rumors that Facebook has its own Clubhouse clone in the works, and Twitter is beta testing Spaces, a similar audio-only chat feature. However, despite the popularity of Clubhouse, there is concern over how it is being used and moderated. It has already been banned in China, and many are voicing concerns that COVID-19 conspiracy theories (among others) are spreading unchecked. Some are taking moderation into their own hands: Black doctors are working overtime to combat COVID-19 conspiracies and dispel misinformation on the platform. While community standards are in place, the surge of new users on the app could result in changed policies, and larger platforms may be carefully watching to determine whether to implement their own versions.


Platforms Provide Creator Assistance

Popular content creators drive a huge percentage of traffic to platforms, providing views and pathways for ad revenue. Now, platforms are releasing tools and support for those creators. Instagram recently released its “Professional Dashboard” to all Business accounts, bringing detailed data and insights, page management tools, and educational resources to one spot. LinkedIn also announced efforts to develop content creator support, which could include incentives to create posts, assistance in using LinkedIn’s video and other media posts, and opportunities to connect with advertisers. Insights and information on influencer post performance is an important aspect of identifying the right influencers and ensuring campaign success, so additional resources for creators are beneficial for both users and brands. In addition, executives developing thought leadership initiatives may find LinkedIn’s new support for creators useful.


Twitter’s Flightpath for Its Future

At 14-years-old, Twitter is finally looking to evolve its place in the social media world. CEO Jack Dorsey spoke about his vision for Twitter’s future and touched on a variety of topics ranging from content moderation to subscription models to moving beyond 280-character tweets. Twitter is looking to give users more control over their experience on the platform by creating new types of content they can follow to help make their feed more customized to their interests, including considering offering an ad-free subscription plan. This subscription model has the potential to greatly impact social advertisers, especially if the feature takes off and is adopted by other platforms. Building relationships with influencers and content creators will become even more important for brands to successfully reach their audience on platforms with traditional ad-free subscriptions.


In Other News… 

Older generations are taking social media by storm, and “granfluencers” may be the next big thing.

Bonus tweets, newsletters and badges showing support: Twitter’s new Super Follows feature gives users the option to charge their followers for access to additional content.

And not to be outdone, Facebook is reportedly making a smartwatch, and it will have health features.

W2O’s The Scoop is brought to you by an editorial collective, featuring industry updates and insights from subject matter experts across social media, digital and influencer activation teams.

Get the latest marcom news directly to your inbox! Sign up to receive The Scoop updates here.