How social media platforms have affected patient care 

Cheryl Zapata serves as chief development officer at Plano-based Texas Back Institute.

Ms. Zapata will serve on the panels "Orthopedic, Spine Practice Landscape in Two Years" and "Independent Spine Practices: The Big Threats and Even Bigger Opportunities to Thrive" at Becker's 19th Annual Spine, Orthopedic & Pain Management-Driven ASC Conference. As part of an ongoing series, Becker's is talking to healthcare leaders who plan to speak at the conference, which will take place in Chicago from June 16-18. 

To learn more and register, click here.

Question: What issues are you spending most of your time on today?

Cheryl Zapata: Like the rest of the world, the pandemic significantly changed the sales and marketing landscape. The change has forced us to be more agile, adjusting along the way, using innovative strategies and making quick decisions to best maximize resources. 

We have had to rethink how and where we reach consumers. More people are spending time online, and social media platforms have seen a surge in usage during the past two years. We have continued to ensure we are active on the right platforms with authentic and meaningful content. Since 2020, Instagram saw engagement increase by 6 percent, while other platforms saw extreme spikes in engagement but with a user audience outside of our target demographic. Ultimately, it comes down to utilizing the platforms that make the most sense for our ideal consumer and our resources.

During this same time, video content and consumption have also drastically changed. In 2020, people's time spent watching video content increased by 85 percent; however, they are not just watching the traditional YouTube video. They are consuming more videos on social media than ever before. Consumers use video content to find answers, explore new ideas and get advice in an easily digestible format. This shift led us to reevaluate how we film and produce content to meet consumers' needs.

Q: What are your top challenges and how will they change over the next 12 months?

CZ: The biggest challenge is ensuring we do not overcompensate for changes we see in the market. Over the years, the medical community has continued to gravitate toward traditional media. We are always trying to balance what is considered traditional and how to best meet the consumer's wants, needs and expectations, especially when it comes to digital content.

Q: How are you thinking about investments and growth in the next two years? 

CZ: Because of the shift in consumer consumption of video and usage of social media, we will continue to invest significantly in those areas. Our goal is to deliver content to our targeted audience at the right place, at the right time and with the information they are seeking. 

Q: What are you most excited about right now?  

CZ: Great things can come from change. With the inevitable change, I have enjoyed seeing the transformation in the authenticity of content, specifically content that captures physicians in real moments versus scripted traditional video. As someone in the medical field and marketing, I feel we have the opportunity to be more creative with our content and implement unique ways to relate to our target audience. Most recently, some of our most successful campaigns were out-of-the-box ideas for medical media, but they worked. I am thankful Texas Back Institute allows us to have some freedom to try new things. It is a new era in marketing and I am excited to be a part of it.

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