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August 5, 2021

Portfolio Company Roundtable: MedTech Social Media Strategies

We spoke with Nic Aldrich, Vice President of Marketing for OrthAlign, about how the company is approaching its medtech social media strategy.

Nicolas Aldrich, VP of Marketing for OrthAlign

Tell us a bit about OrthAlign: OrthAlign is a medical device and technology company providing orthopedic surgeons with advanced precision technologies. Our team is committed to providing orthopedic surgeons with user-friendly, cost-effective, cutting-edge technology for precise alignment during hip and knee replacement surgery. We deliver healthier and more pain-free lifestyles to joint replacement patients and provide healthcare professionals with cutting edge, computer-assisted surgical tools that deliver vital data and clinical results to optimize outcomes for our patients.

What social media platforms and avenues do you primarily use and why?

We use a variety of social media platforms and are continually expanding our presence as the world further embraces social media platforms as a way to consume news and business content.  Every platform has a different reach and audience.  In trying to reach our customers, the surgeons, or administrators, we primarily use the LinkedIn platform, as it has emerged as the social media business platform of choice.  When our customers seek to market their practices and stimulate demand at the patient level, we generally use the Facebook platform.  Facebook adoption and engagement is particularly high with the typical joint replacement age demographic.

Who is the primary target of your social media?

Although patients are far more educated than before and often request specific technologies, surgeons are our primary target as they are still the decision makers when it comes to technology choice in the operating room.  We take a mission-focused approach and typically tailor our messages to the needs of the surgeon.  Interestingly, our internal employees have emerged as a target consumer of our social media, something that many marketers might underestimate the value of.  We have found that it helps to drive engagement and the positive culture of our organization. Just like we, as individuals, post pictures and comments about our lives and experiences, employees take pride in sharing the impact that their company has on improving health care.  I am a big believer that engaged employees deliver profitability and results, and we leverage our surgeon-facing social media activity to drive employee engagement.

What type of content are you sharing?

Most of the content we are sharing is generated from within.  As a kid, my dad always used to say, “If I want it done right, I’m going to have to do it myself.” Maybe that’s because my brothers and I were distracted and only did half the job before running off to play.  That stuck with me and has greatly influenced my approach to marketing.  I strongly believe that there is no better way to ensure a consistent message than by crafting it internally, and you will see most of our posts reflect that. We typically engage in re-sharing when we are promoting or highlighting the proof points or ‘reasons to believe’ that support our messaging.  For example, we develop handheld navigation technologies for total joint arthroplasty (TJA), and are focused on driving broader market adoption of technology in TJA. We will share 3rd party clinical studies and podium presentations that show statistically significant reductions in revision rates when technology is used.  These re-shares offer our sales team a non-threatening opportunity to engage their surgeons with external proof points supporting the message we are driving in the marketplace.

Who participates in the creation of content and posts for social media? Is there someone who manages the social media and how do they interact with the rest of the team?

My marketing organization is extremely collaborative, and we spend significant time in ideation sessions.  The teams’ “yes, and…” mentality allows us to pile ideas onto the marketing communications team to organize, distill and execute.  Our marketing communications team has a social media ninja who organizes and deploys all our content by working closely with our product and brand managers to optimize content for social media consumption.  This is vital as people consume social media information quite differently than information from more traditional channels.  With our multi-channel approach, our social media manager must drive integrated marketing campaigns to deliver a consistent message across our platforms to promote news, such as product launches. The key to creating momentum with a topic is driving that integrated approach across all platforms from digital to print.  For instance, your message in the email campaign needs to line up with your social media posts, print ads, podium presentations, website, etc., and having one group overseeing the broader communication plan can ensure consistency across our various product lines and platforms.

What is the primary goal of your social media strategy?

Thinking about 4Ps, social media is a promotion tool.  Based on our business objectives, marketing objectives, and competition, our marketing team focuses on generating awareness in the promotional space.  Fortunately for OrthAlign, the market is moving toward adopting technology for total joint replacement.  As customers seek to evaluate technologies, generating awareness about our technology opens doors for our sales team to deliver a more detailed value proposition and convert awareness to trial.  

What metrics (if any) do you use when analyzing your social media success/performance? What metrics do you prioritize and what results of your analysis do you find most notable?

We track all the standard metrics like impressions, views, clicks, likes, shares, etc.  One area where I encourage marketers to dig deeper is analyzing video content to make data-based decisions and inform future content development.  The duration that a viewer watches, what content drives replays, and where viewers typically stop watching a particular video are very insightful for measuring engagement.  COVID has accelerated movements to everything virtual. As the social media presence from competitors and adjacent industries floods our customers’ screens, we must be hyper focused on developing engaging content that meets the needs of our customers and their social media habits.  How are you engaging the viewer in the first 10 seconds to keep them around? How does a still image combined with the video title drive intrigue? How quickly do you give a call to action? In a few cases we tested multiple approaches to the same piece of content to zone in on what drives the type of engagement we’re looking for and help us answer specific questions about our customers’ behavior. 

When did you implement your first social media strategy? How has it evolved since?

I implemented my first social media strategy prior to joining OrthAlign.  It was like dipping a toe in the water.  One month, one platform, one message, and just a few assets deployed.  I learned a lot in the process and was impressed with the engagement and activity we received for such low spend.  We have developed a far better understanding of each platform’s strengths and have adjusted strategies accordingly.  We have enhanced the way we segment and target user groups.  The broad use of smartphones and location services has also increased the power of capabilities like geofencing. When taken a step further and combined with other customer criteria, geotargeting has driven an immensely increased focus in our promotional spend.  We employ these tactics at major conferences or if we have a big push going on in a specific region. Marketers live in a world of ROI, making trade-off decisions when it comes to human and financial capital, and when used effectively, a well-orchestrated social media strategy can help you efficiently achieve some of your marketing objectives.

With COVID-19 having forced an extreme increase in virtual interactions, has your use of social media changed?

We have certainly upped our virtual game since the start of COVID.  Our customers are consuming more information virtually than ever before, and we are working to meet them where they consume content.  We have added platforms to our mix and are working to improve engagement and data collection.  Webinars and video content production is at an all-time high in our industry which I expect to continue.  A great example is Instagram where pictures and short video segments grab attention as users quickly scroll.  Paid and sponsored Instagram content is not a traditional way to engage surgeons or business customers, but we see value in it.  Geofencing on Instagram or other outlets at conferences, in large markets with multiple hospitals, or other areas densely populated by our customers, offers us the opportunity to drive engagement with customers when they are catching up with friends, family, or their favorite meme pages.  

Have you experienced any direct-to-patient engagement with your channels? Was that your intent?

Most of our direct to patient activity comes through Facebook and is executed in some level of co-marketing agreement with a surgeon, practice or facility.  Occasionally, we see some engagement from patients on our surgeon focused channels, but the content is typically not focused on calls to action for those groups.  Our direct-to-patient and practice marketing efforts see a fair amount of patient engagement.  Former patients of these surgeons or practices comment on or share videos and webinars posted by their surgeons, especially when they are satisfied with their prior surgical results.  This helps drive the word of mouth and friends-and-family referrals that are key to growing a surgeons practice within their community.  Although the surgeon is the decision maker, direct-to-patient marketing allows us to drive customer retention and ultimately grow with our customers as they grow their practice.