“Know Your Audience” is a mission critical credo

“Know Your Audience” is a mission critical credo

Guest Blogger: Todd Wolynn, MD, MMM, IBCLC

“Know Your Audience” is a mission critical credo — not just a concept, but a gospel, when it comes to communication.

It doesn’t matter if you’re a teacher, a salesperson, or a pediatrician — we’re all trying to figure out how to get people to listen, how to impact them, how to get them to change what they’re doing. It doesn’t matter teaching history, selling a minivan, or urging a patient to be compliant with a treatment regimen; we’re all faced with the challenge of how to influence our audience.

If you’re a pediatrician, your subjects are children, but your audiences are parents and caregivers. In 2014 and beyond, those parents — Gen Y/Millennials — are the most wired, most “connected’ generation to date. It’s not enough just to speak their language; you have to be a part of their world. And everything in their world that matters to them is collected in one place: Social Media.

At 3 years and beyond, pediatricians have one Well visit a year to see a patient, engage a family, and hopefully influence them to: eat well, use sunscreen, wear helmets, get vaccines, avoid Frostbite, exercise regularly… and the list goes on. It’s impossible to hit every preventative and anticipatory talking point. And even if you could, how many could they really retain?

Today’s parents may not be known for reading newspapers or devouring large novels, but they do live and work and immerse themselves in a daily deluge of information. They keep it on their desks. They carry it in their pockets. They hold it in their hands, on their tablets and phablets and smart phones, throughout the day and into the night. It’s as much a part of their daily existence as eating or bathing or breathing. If you aren’t a part of that ebb and flow, then to many of them, you may as well not exist at all.

But if you are a part of that deluge, if they do invite you into the space and onto their newsfeeds, you can deliver your messages, your talking points, your valued and valuable information every day. Or multiple times a day. You share space, and influence, with their friends, their family members, their favorite bands and brands. You’re liked. You’re followed. You’re valued.

Provided, that is, you keep your message pertinent, relevant, and fresh. If you’re informative, entertaining, and (above all) authentic, you stay that way. Likes can be retracted follows repealed. Once you’ve earned their attention, you have to keep earning, and deserving, it. Every day, and with every post.

One question I always hear from pediatricians afraid to dive into the social media pool: “What if someone says something bad about me or my practice?” Well, someone, somewhere, is already saying something bad about your practice. If they do it on social media, you get to see it, and hear it, and have a chance to respond to it. Now, you’re part of the conversation.

But here’s a better question: What if someone on your social media says something good about you or your practice?

I suggest you find out.

Dr. Wolynn graduated from Washington and Jefferson University and the University of Pittsburgh Medical School, then earned a Masters in Medical Management from Carnegie Mellon University. He’s been a board-certified pediatrician and an International Board-Certified lactation consultant for more than 15 years, and he currently serves as both the President of Kids Plus Pediatrics and the Executive Director of the Breastfeeding Center of Pittsburgh.