How social media-friendly are the major health sites?

5th Feb 2009 | Posted by Mike Presson Mike Presson's picture

What qualifies a site as being social media friendly?
• Allowing participation?
• Having a blog?
• Providing multimedia content?
• Allowing comments to posts/articles/videos/podcasts?
• Ability to syndicate/share/rate content?
• Providing the resources for consumers to connect with each other and industry experts via comments and live chats, communities, etc.?

Taking these qualifications into consideration, some industry experts such as Brent Csutoras and Matt McGee weigh in on what they think makes sites social media friendly. As Matt noted in his post, according to Forrester, three in four US online adults use social tools to connect with each other compared with just 56% in 2007.

However, on the subject of health sites, to be a true resource for patients/consumers these days, being social media friendly is absolutely essential.

According to Hitwise’s recent December data, two of the top three major consumer health players include and I want to focus on these two sites as we have significant experience evaluating both of them. They consistently appear on the top of our digital media influencer lists because they offer robust patient information and editorial content, draw significant traffic, are often cited in mainstream media coverage and are linked to by other influential sites among other reasons.


 So, they are influential, but can they be considered social media-friendly?

Here’s a quick overview of the top-line  pros and cons of both sites from a social media perspective.

• Built on a community format and therefore, allows patients to can connect with one another and discuss health topics of interest
• Extensive blog section and posts allow comments
• Multimedia slide shows
• Blog posts, videos and editorial content allow ratings and sharing via syndication to virtually every format online
• Offers RSS feeds to various content

• Videos do not allow comments
• Not all slide shows allow sharing and none allow comments

Social Media Friendly:
• Absolutely, but always room for improvement. I find the lack of comments on the videos as a big gap because the majority of their other content allows comments. This seems like a simple addition to create further discussion among their users and perhaps the video comments could educate them on future content.

• Ever-growing section of editorial blogs written by healthcare professionals, which allow user comments and sharing of the posts via syndication
• Ask a Specialist feature
• Email function for editorial content
• Offers RSS feeds to various content

• Extensive multimedia content such as videos, podcasts and slide shows, but no ability for users to comment or share content

Social Media Friendly:
• Shows promise; adding a few functions that are lacking above would help engage their users more and take them from being simply a credible destination to social media friendly. 

Being social media friendly is not simply about creating content that will interest a user, but rather using the content as a catalyst for user interaction. Sites like WebMD and MayoClinic will continue to draw users because of their credibility. However, will they continue to evolve as being top health destinations that are social media friendly?

Stay tuned…



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