What does it take to go from volunteer social media manager to the Digital Media Strategist of a health technology startup hub?
For those looking to start marketing and networking within the healthcare sector, Warsan Amin shows us just what it took to break into an industry she knew nothing about.
Working at the Biomedical Zone
As one of Ryerson University’s startup hubs, the Biomedical Zone specifically provides “health technology entrepreneurs unparalleled access to the clinicians, health practitioners, and biomedical experts needed to develop their ventures.”
This zone is a joint venture between Ryerson University’s iBest Institute (Institute for Biomedical Engineering, Science & Technology) and St. Michael’s Hospital. It is an incubator for startups that need clinical immersion and access to clinicians hospitals, pilots, and business development help.
As the Digital Media Strategist, Warsan was in charge of starting the zone’s social media presence.
“They really needed someone to start their social media from scratch, that was the only role they had at that time. In this role I would get to meet startups and have access to great networking opportunities.”
She then became in charge of the zone’s User Experience. In this new role Warsan needed to find out if startups were happy, what they liked about the Biomedical Zone’s environment, what they wanted to learn, how far they were from their milestones, and who they needed help from.
Thanks to her experience in philosophy and public relations, Warsan wasn’t phased by the amounting work. She was able to bring the right mentality and ambition to the increasing number of roles.
Skills for transitioning
With the skills she took away from studying philosophy in university, she now uses her writing and critical thinking skills for health communications.
These 2 fundamental skills helped her grow the Biomedical Zone’s online reach, learning how to make the most out of a lean social media budget. And like many, Warsan had to test what worked and what didn’t as the sole person in charge of social media.
How to balance multiple roles
Warsan balanced her role as a Strategic Public Relations GA and digital media strategist by taking things day-by-day.
“Being realistic with how long it takes to complete a task and then realizing that by the end of it, that it’s going to take a lot longer than just a couple of days- it’s really not good, it’s not healthy. That’s the core of time management skills.”
- Post the task in your reminder app, which will ping you to do it
- Write the task for that day on a post-it note
- Stick it to your phone or laptop
- Tell yourself: Okay you need to do these things by the end of the day
- Throw them out when it’s done.
In the startup scene, Warsan has found this system especially effective. It creates a work environment that enables you to accomplish multiple things at the same time.
Social media for the healthcare, healthtech, and medtech industries
Warsan was completely new to the industry she is now immersed in. She first did a ton of research to find out how other people used social media in the healthcare industry.
She literally searched healthcare technology, healthcare startups, and startups in general, to understand how other incubators were doing social media.
Warsan went to a fellow Ryerson associate at the Digital Media Zone (DMZ) and asked:
- What should I do?
- What should I be doing?
- Where should I start?
- What should my first tweet be?
From there she went to the launch zone and startup school hosted at Ryerson.
Learning from others and competition in Med Tech Startup Industry
If you have the privilege of being a startup in the Biomedical Zone, you will have access to advisors from Stanford biodesign, clinical immersion, and support.
“If we have competitors creeping in our space, it means that we’re doing something meaningful, scalable, and lucrative. It’s a smart space to be in.”
From what she’s seen, health tech incubators focus on either clinical immersion or business development. At the Biomedical Zone, they try to balance both and are known for having access to medical professionals and the hospital.
A lot of startups had no competition in 2015, but that’s not the case anymore. For the Biomedical Zone and for Warsan herself, keeping an eye on what’s happening, what’s trending, and having the support to help nurture startups has kept them ahead of the majority.
She recommends following HighwayOne and Rock Health, 2 big and socially active healthcare businesses. From them she learned that in this industry you have to tweet fun, engaging, and informative tips.
Reaching out to a biomedical professional with little time
Initially Warsan was trying to create engagement for the wrong audience. She was seeking engagement from sharing fun social media posts instead of approaching professionals in the medtech industry.
After carefully analyzing what medical professional engagement looked like, she realized that she had to change the way she was tweeting.
“It was a completely different audience that took a while to get accustomed to. You have to seem knowledgeable and understand the terms of the medical field. When you’re able to understand what they’re tweeting about, quoting their tweets is definitely more meaningful. You have to know what you’re saying to offer something valuable to their tweet and then share it.”
Learning about these terms was something that Warsan needed to know as a representative for the Biomedical Zone. With the current roles she held, she now holds Team Lead for a Clinical Immersion project.
This project’s goal is to develop a scalable model that promotes the Biomedical Zone as the incubator that knows how to get into the hospitals and get trials.
“With this new project, we remove the challenges you face in a new job and industry that was initially foreign to you. You will be equipped with an understanding of the field, and its terminology.”
For the medical, med-tech and healthcare tech industries, Warsan recommends not to tweet too much based on her analytics.
When you tweet too much, your audience is seeing too much of your “face”, and will soon start ignoring your content. They become desensitized to it.
Whatever the type of information you’d like to share, even if it is important health information, spreading out the consistency of your tweets will help your messages be seen.
Implementing a digital strategy to your healthcare, healthtech, and medtech business
- Look at other accounts that are similar to yours
- Don’t just copy what others are doing. Tweak yours to suit you
- Make use of the space you have in your Twitter header, picture, and bio
- Remember, your digital strategy is a reflection of reality
Warsan sticks to Twitter to create a solid following first before branching out to other platforms. To lazer focus her efforts on hashtags, Warsan uses hastagafy.me to find more influencers that help to keep her up-to-date.
Tips for finding tweetable material
When you try using apps like Figure 1, a community of medical pros:
- Track what they’re saying
- Pick up on key names
- Cross reference them using Twitter to build your community.
By using multiple platforms to build strong cases around key people in your industry, you will be able to establish your authenticity. This trait is important to gain the trust and time of medical professionals.
- Don’t just post anything about healthcare. Warsan tried this the first time and it wasn’t helpful for her audience or her goals.
- Don’t use bots to approach a medical pro. They see these messages a lot. The more authentic you can be with doctors the better. They are professionals who are already limited on time and don’t want their time wasted.
- Do send them authentic direct messages, something that’s more specific than let’s connect! After reading an article of theirs and researching them extensively, you can approach a medical professional and request a quote.
Knowing who the specialist is in that field means that you need to pay attention to who they are, and really be human when you approach them. Dive into the field and make people feel really special.
1. Go to meetups
You can learn a lot from attending meetups that can help you network, build a strong reputation, and grow all around as a professional.
2. Post a variety of content
Share current events, images, and gifs. Remember to tag specific people to let them know what is happening.
3. Remember to optimize your tweets
Directly tweet specific people, use hashtags, tag photos, and include links.
4. Pack as much as you can into a tweet
At the end of it, all the strategies that failed needed to fail in order to know what worked and what didn’t.
Hospitals that Tweet
On Twitter various hospitals and people are talking about the newest healthcare industry trends…
- Listen to them, find out who they are, and who they’re talking to
- Go to events, add the content and mention those who are speaking into your social media strategy
- Go to the people. In the medical industry you need to have a physical network first before going to social media.
- Ensure that your social media reflects a real person and real connections
- Try not to be automated
- Use Twitter Lists to help you find information that is concerning your target market - this is where needs-based invention and innovation really shines.
- Address these concerns in your Tweets and find the solution
- Find out who is publishing the highest engaged content
Have your Twitter game on-point or you could drown really fast.
What to do when you get media attention
“An unfortunate common occurrence with startups is that they don’t take advantage of media attention as much as they should.”
In a story about a startup in the biomedical zone, Warsan tells us that their product was featured on Global. But that was all there was to the story. Instead of capitalizing on the media’s attention, they placed more emphasis on perfecting their prototype. They wanted to get it to market as soon as possible.
As young entrepreneurs, Warsan sees the struggle to balance product testing and business development. She encourages their efforts to finish testing and to capitalize on the opportunities that create more awareness for your product…
“Because at the end of the day you’re going to need that media attention. It actually facilitates the process. Although it takes extra time, it helps when you go to market because people already know your name. It’s so much easier for them to buy your product.”
Just get out there, let people know your name, know that you exist, know what you’re working on.
Why now is the perfect time to jump into the health technology online space
As an environment that is focused on needs-based research, the Biomedical Zone focuses on the relationship between advancing technology and healthcare.
By working closely with clinicians they are able to identify the challenges clinicians are having and what technology can be developed to help that.
For example, a product in the hub uses the Microsoft Kinect system that will create a more sterile environment during a surgery.
It reduces the need for more hands on deck, and essentially puts the patient in better hands and environment.
Implementing new technologies in an old system
A lot of doctors have the mentality of “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it”, but as Warsan says, “results are results”.
With a safer system in place, doctors are able to compare the costs of procedures from other doctors that have done that surgery before. This comparison is called a flight plan.
From Warsan’s experience, she’s noticed that doctors don’t want to rely on technology. They see technology as being unreliable because it can break down, get hacked, or break.
“But, with that argument, you have to ask doctors to think about the existing technology that has already been implemented.”
Some doctors might be afraid of their skillsets diminishing, but she argues that doctors really have their skillset to do something down pat so it’s not really a worry.
Building Community in an Incubator
One of the events that Warsan really promoted was the women in STEM event. In their incubator alone, there are 2 forward thinking female entrepreneurs. One is dramatically improving the process of healing bones with an innovative approach, while the other is creating a product to prevent blindness!
Not only do they host events, there are also workshops that are hosted by the startups themselves. Each workshop builds a sense of community in different ways.
The Biomedical Zone hosted a workshop where the Chief Design Officer for a startup who was only 22 years old, was able to draw a huge crowd, specifically from a UofT a neighbouring university.
Toronto feels like a great place to be if you want to be a part of the startup scene or just in general. It’s a thriving city.
Bring it On!
For Warsan Amin, her education and ambition has helped her start and successfully maintain her role as the Digital Media Strategist and User Experience aficionado.
For those who think that you’re not qualified to work in a certain industry because you lack the knowledge and skills fear not. Try your hardest and tackle the challenges that come at you. It’s all a learning experience.
With that, I’d like to know about your experiences jumping into digital marketing and tell me what you thought of Warsan’s story. Share it in the comments and on social!