Home > Uncategorized > “Dear 16-year-old Me”: How to Successfully Market a Health Issue Online

“Dear 16-year-old Me”: How to Successfully Market a Health Issue Online

The above video, “Dear 16-year-old Me,” touches on an area of Interactive and E-Communication that we have not delved into in class, but is a perfect example of how E-Communication practices can be used in my degree, the Health Communication arena. A viral advertisement for a health issue is an interesting perspective, as the ultimate goal is not to sell a product or make money, but rather to make people aware and to save lives—not quite as measurable or provocative. Plus, as we have learned, what motivates most people to become interested in something is “What’s in it for me?” With a health issue, this question often ends up being unanswered, or answered with something that people don’t want to hear. Selling a healthy behavior is much harder than selling a fun, shiny, or pretty product.

This particular health video is about melanoma, or skin cancer, and tells the story of several skin cancer survivors, developed by the David Cornfield Melanoma Fund. The theme of the ad is “Dear 16-year-old me,” where the people in the video urge their 16-year-old selves to check themselves for irregular moles. The video starts out with humor, goes into personal and real stories, and concludes by pulling on your heartstrings and informing people why this message is so important. It ends positively, with a message of prevention, and to empower people, young and old, to prevent this cancer in themselves and others.

This simple yet impactful messaging and imagery allows for people to get through the full five-minute video. Try getting people to watch a five-minute commercial! But this video works. You want to hear all of the people’s full stories. And it does well to inspire you to share the video and check yourself for irregular moles, which is good, because that is exactly what the conversion for this marketing strategy is: share the video and check for abnormal moles. The conversion is obvious and outward—the individuals in it are telling the viewer what they want them to do. The video asks the viewer to check for moles, saying, “Don’t be scared. I want you to be aware. Start checking your skin. Please check. Get to know your skin.” The video also urges people to share it by saying, “If you’re watching this, send this to a 16-year-old you care about. Send it to anyone who was once 16 or soon will be 16. Share this link. Tweet this link. Post this to your Facebook.”

The video looks to be a great success, and has done well to accomplish the goal of video sharing across social media. The video on YouTube has reached 3,317,831 views (while the Spanish language version has reached nearly 757,000 views and the French version has almost 46,000 views). After seeing the video, I felt inspired to share it (as us health communicators like to do), so I posted it on Facebook, and within 3 minutes a friend had shared the video on her own Facebook page. By the end of the night, 8 of my friends had shared the video on their Facebook page, while the video on my page had several “likes” and comments, indicating those people had indeed watched it. Just by this one incidence alone, the video reached potentially hundreds of people through sharing on social media. Who knows how far the sharing went, or how many friends of mine or others watched the video. But by simply copying the YouTube link onto my Facebook, it reached dozens of people who watched it and felt impacted by it. The goal was reached: sharing the message on social media.

The Fund also uses other good E-Communication practices, as the link to the website on the YouTube page and video leads to a “tools” page, where users can download cards that tell them how to check their bodies for irregular moles and how to tell when a mole is dangerous or not. Since the point of the video is to increase people’s checking of moles, it is smart that the link leads the viewer not to the home page, but to useful tools that relate to what the viewer just watched in the video. This increases the chances for conversion. Additionally, the Fund’s website links to their Facebook and Twitter pages, allowing for more access and reach.

This video is an online health communication project that is successful and should be modeled after for various different health issues. It proves that you can use just online marketing, a simple video, to reach your audience, gain conversion, and make a difference.

And if you haven’t watched the video yet, after all of my encouragement in this blog post, you really should. And if you want to make a difference, share the video, tweet the video, or post the video to your Facebook. It just might save a life.

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