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How Medscape and WedMD Use CrowdTangle To Monitor COVID-19 and Other Health Topics
How Medscape and WedMD Use CrowdTangle To Monitor COVID-19 and Other Health Topics

Lists and Live Displays are key to finding new angles to health stories during the global pandemic.

Written by Tess
Updated over a week ago

Beyond the news about COVID-19 cases and symptoms, the pandemic has brought to light pertinent health-related stories that have made an impact on the medical community.

How Medscape Found 'Sidebar' COVID-19 Topics To Publicize

Liz Neporent, executive editor of social media for Medscape/WebMD, used CrowdTangle to monitor health content themes related to COVID-19. By looking through posts on her curated CrowdTangle lists, Liz found that some topics were more volatile, while others remained consistent talking points.

Here's a quick look at how she broke down topics and the frequency they appeared in Facebook posts.

(Liz exported all posts from her customized "medical publication" lists in CrowdTangle and sorted the posts according to topic (X-axis). The Y-axis on the graph is the number of FB posts per topic)

One example of volatility was how often the "Tracking/Spread" topic, which mentioned shortages of PPE, testing supplies etc., was mentioned at the start of the pandemic. However, as time progressed the topic of shortages and supplies became less relevant, as you can see in the graph below.

One theme that kept coming up in the posts she tracked was ‘disruptions in health care’ beyond COVID, like cancer treatment and other surgeries. Since this topic was consistently engaging based on her analysis, Liz's team began looking for stories that would speak to these concerns. Through CrowdTangle’s Reddit Dashboard, she found a story in r/medicine about home-based chemo, which the team reported on for their readers.

When it comes to her CrowdTangle habits, Liz has created a daily email to the team at Medscape and WebMD, which has become one of the primary ways the website chooses stories for the day. Items are pulled from a combination of lists, digests she received daily, Viral alerts that are sent throughout the day, live displays and Reddit threads as well as other sources.

"I skim these lists to make decisions: What goes into my morning note, what goes up again, what competitor stories can I match and perhaps beat" writes Liz.

Liz also relies on CrowdTangle Live Displays that she's set up, or the ones that we've created (that you can find here). "I leave it up in one of my desktop windows along with some other sources so I can keep an eye on what bubbles up."

Watch Liz's full presentation on using CrowdTangle to monitor health topics here.

WebMD Relied On CrowdTangle To Understand Top Health Topics

When the COVID-19 global pandemic first began, WebMD realized they needed to help readers find information – even when there wasn't a lot to go around.

"When COVID first hit, everyone had questions, but there just weren't a lot of answers or information, and as a result, there wasn't much content said Robert Beck, Senior Editor, Social Media for WebMD. "We relied largely on stories from our news and expert blogs team, which can be turned out much more quickly, to stay on top of major headlines and trends."

The WebMD team also relied on their inventory of evergreen content to remind readers about healthy habits they can stay on top of as everyone learned more about COVID-19. "Slideshow about boosting your immune system, videos about how to wash your hands and how to sneeze to prevent spreading infection," Robert said. "We were also able to help steer the new content our editorial team was creating, using CrowdTangle to see the topics people were most interested in and responding to."

So what were the topics that resonated most with readers over the past year? WebMd highlighted a few here:

  • Symptoms: This was big early in the pandemic, but has continued to be a topic people read about.

  • How COVID Affects Our Bodies: "[Readers] were especially interested in COVID's impact on major organs like the lungs, heart, and brain, as well as how pre-existing conditions like asthma and diabetes could impact risk" Robert said.

  • Inspirational Stories: Seniors who beat the virus, healthcare workers, family reunions etc.

  • Dr. Fauci or Dolly Parton: "Almost any mention of one of these two drove a post to overperform" Robert said.

How did CrowdTangle help the social team at WebMD cover these topics? "Lists will save your life -- they make it easy to check your own content and competitors, as well as the internet at large." said Robert. Also Familiarizing yourself with Intelligence and what it offers. "There's so much it can do and so many ways it can make pulling together analytics easier. And finally, set up viral alerts for your own content, whether it's via email of Slack -- the validation is wonderful."

And while the global pandemic is far from over in the United States and across the globe, WebMD is thinking about a post-COVID content strategy. "We remain committed to providing the latest, accurate information about the wide range of conditions affecting people's lives. While conditions do appear to be improving with regard to the pandemic, unfortunately it seems it'll be with us for a while. We will continue to cover that, and continue to weave in additional stories and conditions."

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