MH: What was the impetus behind creating The Well?
Soto: We relaunched our brand (from NorthShore-Long Island Jewish Health System to Northwell in 2015) and had done incredibly well with the traditional metrics of engagement with consumers. Our awareness levels are at historic highs, our likelihood-to-recommend levels are at historic highs, our net promoter scores have never been higher.
We wanted to use a content strategy to build a more engaged relationship with consumers to position Northwell as a destination healthcare brand. So that when that health event occurred, of course you would go to Northwell because you already have a relationship with us.
MH: How do you differentiate The Well from some of the traditional education materials?
Soto: I don't want to take anything away from the traditional content strategy. Every day, consumers search health-related terms 175 million times, according to Google. It's an astonishing number.
We saw a void. We looked at a branded content strategy that was much more rich-media oriented. You'll see very high impact visuals unlike what you've historically seen in healthcare. We use short-form video to drive engagement. But we also use long-format content. Our average article is 1,000 words and we have an essay series that's actually 13,000 words. No one does that, and it's really meant to allow the reader to raise their hand, self-select interest and go deep into content.
Our stuff is more lifestyle-oriented; interact with us and ask questions that you want to ask but may be a little bit embarrassing for you. The metrics just blow out the traditional content strategy in terms of level of engagement, time on site, user interaction of the content.
MH: The “Ask for a friend” section seems to be a page that is oriented toward that. The current question is “Why do my (colloquial term for testicles) hurt?”
Soto: Some of the content is tongue-in-cheek. I remember at some of the pitch meetings my hair was going gray as everybody was talking through, “Are we really gonna publish this?” But again, it's rich-media oriented. It's meant to be super simple, very accessible. Answer a question that, in that case, almost every guy would have a fear of asking, but from a healthcare standpoint, it's super important to address at any life stage.
MH: Do you worry that consumers will just see this as a hard push to use Northwell?
Soto: We've had a lot of debates about that. The site is purposely structured as separate within Northwell's site and you can access it directly. Importantly, we want to make the bridges needed for clinical outreach easy, and that's where we'll connect to relevant sections of our core site, northwell.edu, for clinical services or clinical capabilities. We don't try to do the heavy-handed brand piece. It's really a very subtle component of how we go to market. Consumers have not given us the feedback that they want less. If anything, we've gotten good feedback that they want more.
Social media posts are just one part of The Well.
MH: How have you and how do you envision using social media for The Well?
Soto: Social media is the absolute best channel in terms of reaching those engaged and targeted audiences. I know Facebook is going through some tough times right now and the targeting algorithms are going to change because you can't use third-party data.
We've also had a lot of success working with Google to work on some customized targeting algorithms using their data to reach the right audiences. The strength is good, super-strong content that's engaging, that is distributed appropriately to the right audience.