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Three ad agencies came up with two similarly designed ways of keeping track of online healthcare conversation, harnessing the power of social media sites like Twitter and Digg.
In some ways, the Internet’s evolution is akin to that of a particularly efficient virus: RSS feeds, Digg, Twitter, Google Buzz. Now the next step appears to have arrived, courtesy of the ad agencies of the world. Imagine a Twitter feed tailored to specific therapy areas, packaged in a creative, engaging design. That’s what digital firm Zemoga and inVentive’s Palio teamed up to create with their Health Tweeder, a part of their joint-venture Pixels and Pills blog; and what newly-formed Razorfish Health has in their Health Conversation.
The Health Tweeder and the Health Conversation are the fruits of long months of design and technical wizardry. But while their mechanisms are similar, their purposes differ.
“Razorfish Health is about social influence marketing,” said SVP and General Manager Katy Thorbahn. “We wanted to bring to light-to our clients, to potential clients, the media-to the vast healthcare conversation that’s going on. The best way to do that was to make it visual.”
The Health Conversation therefore offers a wide array of categories with thousands of Tweets and Diggs-from “Medicine” to “Animals.” The messages are displayed as colored speech boxes coming from small human figures.
The Tweeder appeals more to those tasked with the overwhelming job of monitoring. It’s far more specific (it only contains Tweets) and culls from the spectrum or therapy areas in the pharma space: psychiatry, HIV, cancer, etc. Each area gets its own colored Petri dish, with the number of cells inside indicating the amount of activity in that topic. “The seed for this really came from Palio’s industry insight,” said Zemoga CEO DJ Edgerton. “We want to show what this can do for compliance and monitoring.”
Though creation of these interactive sites involved advanced technology, they still have limitations. For Tweeder, the API they use only allows a certain amount of Tweets to be gleaned every 24 hours. For Health Conversation, the sheer amount of content coming in makes combing for profanity and spam a Herculean task.
Edgerton and Guy Mastrion, Palio’s chief global creative officer, said the company understands the possible cons of using filtering tools for monitoring, but that they still need to dive into this digital space. “You can’t totally monitor the conversation,” Mastrion said. “But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it at all.”