After a year of tech-mediated communication, it’s hard to get excited about another screen interaction. Most of us want to connect in person … to have authentic interactions. Of course, tech can’t take the place of in-person – but a mindful approach to tech can make communication more meaningful. Whether it’s planning season or not, it’s worth considering how this insight can inform how brands communicate with patients and healthcare providers (HCPs). A group from Intouch attended the South by Southwest (SXSW) 2021 virtual conference – and even though that was a few months ago, they brought back tips that apply year-round.

Ensure Authenticity Is More Than Just a Buzzword
It’s hard to tell complicated, varying stories – ones that, like life, don’t necessarily follow an expected path. But they’re often the ones that resonate most. The documentary “Introducing, Selma Blair,” which premiered at SXSW and shows the actress adapting to life after her multiple sclerosis diagnosis and pursuing a risky surgical procedure, is an example of impactful authenticity. Variety magazine called the film “eye-opening and empathetic,” as well as “warmly self-aware and self-deprecating.” Real life can be messy and emotional, and that’s not necessarily a “bad” thing.

All too often, brands – and influencers – strive to provide what they think an audience wants to see, rather than real, relatable narratives, complete with real human emotions; their work can be lesser for it. While people might come to online platforms because of their interest in a topic (any topic: e-sports, exercising, a disease state, etc.), they stay because of the community and the authentic relationships they’ve created. Are we creating places where human connection can happen?

Understand the Tech Environment
Often, brands that succeed on newer platforms like TikTok or Twitch are those that have invested in learning how the new realm functions, that understand who they’re trying to reach, who take the risk to join in and be present, and who are in honest conversations without trying to stage-manage every moment. Of course, we have regulations and guidelines that exist for a reason, but how can we follow them while also being real?

Technology can also work behind the scenes to make a complex story easier to understand. One example of intentional tech working well in the healthcare space is the New York Times’ visual storytelling piece, “This 3-D Simulation Shows Why Social Distancing Is So Important.” In the pharma space, MOA videos can help brands do similar things for HCPs and patients.

Hindsight Is 20/20
Finally, don’t forget to look backward to move forward with success. What mistakes were made when pharma created its first website? When the industry took its first steps into social media? What lessons can we learn from those moments so we can use new platforms more intentionally, more adeptly, and more authentically from now on?

SXSW provided many different lenses to see how intention can make a difference with the use of communication technology. As Twitter’s client solutions team found out in a 2020 analysis, their platform was a place HCPs came to express emotion and share information with patients. And as brands like Ocean Spray discovered when TikTok user Nathan Apodaca made the juice drink go viral, “authenticity is noticeable.” We have to reach people where they are. And where we all are, these days, is online. But we have to do it with intent.

To learn more about what we saw and heard at this year’s SXSW, download Intouch’s  complete POV.