COM0015 – Blog #4 – Knowledge Mobilization: A New Frontier for Social Media


One of my life goals is to have a job title that is so clear that when I meet people at a cocktail party and tell them what I do, they will instantly understand. My jobs have always had confusing titles that need considerable explanation.  I envy dentists, kindergarten teachers, and electricians because people can immediately visualize them doing their work.  And yet, here I go again, changing careers to something that I don’t quite know how to describe, and no one seems to clearly understand. 

This fall I met a woman at a party and tried to explain the kind of work I envision doing next.  I used the phrase “copywriting” (you know, the work of writing text for marketing purposes), and she politely noted that there was probably a lot of work to do in the field of registering patents and trademarks.  Deflated, I didn’t bother to correct her. However, several weeks later I met her again, and she once again asked me what I was going to be doing when I graduate.  Apparently, this time I was more successful in describing my future plans. As I talked about social media, she got more and more excited.  As it turns out, she is a researcher.  She became very animated talking about the potential for an expert in social media to help researchers with something called “knowledge mobilization”.

Knowledge mobilization (KMb) is the phrase that describes the work involved in taking academic research and putting it into the hands of others so that they can take appropriate actions.  Often it means simplifying the research results so that they are easy to understand.  Lately, social media has been identified as a potential tool for KMb work; what better way to connect researchers with other researchers, policy makers, or even the public?

Here is an example of how good social media practices and KMb practices can work together.  Using Google Trends, I discovered that one of the most searched words in Manitoba is “myocarditis”.  (Myocarditis is an inflammation of the heart muscle and is a possible side effect of the COVID-19 vaccines, particularly in young men).  Concerns about myocarditis might explain the vaccine hesitancy in the southern part of our province.  Next, thanks to Google Alerts, I became aware of an on-line magazine article, which then led me to a recently published academic article; that article reported the researchers’ finding that the prevalence of myocarditis is much higher if you get a case of COVID-19 than if you get the vaccine.  Based on this research, I put together the following post for my hospital;  across our platforms it has reached  637 people so far, most or all of whom would never have reviewed the original research.  This is KMb in action.

From the Twitter feed of Victoria Hospital (TheVicWinnipeg).

There is increasing pressure on researchers to include their KMb strategies in their grant proposals, simply because granting agencies want to know that the research they’ve funded will really benefit society.  There are many strategies the researchers can use, such as presenting at conferences, writing magazine articles, giving newspaper interviews, and even writing plays and stories.  There seems to be a consensus that social media would be a really great way to share the information, but having spent two days reviewing the literature, there is very little information available on how to actually do it. Most researchers would not have access to the skills we have learned in this course.


Accordingly, my now-friend, the researcher, and I have started developing a proposal that can be sent to other researchers to demonstrate the types of solutions that I could provide to them.  Whether it is the development of a social media kit that can be circulated to partner organizations, a simple website, or a  full-fledged social media program, having a consultant that knows the ropes should help these researchers to be more effective in their reach, and more efficient with their scarce resources.

While the idea is still in its infancy, and may never become a huge income stream, I am excited about it as interesting and important work.  In an environment where we talk so much about the negative aspects of social media, I find it very exciting to use social media as a method for sharing very valuable, reliable information and helping users to make more informed choices. 

Only one problem remains.  What should we call a person who uses social media to assist with knowledge mobilization?  All suitable suggestions will be welcome!    


COM0015 – Assignment 5: Participating in an On-Line Conference


A few months ago, an email arrived announcing an upcoming conference on healthcare communications.  Normally I would have deleted it instantly, but instead I just put it aside and moved on.  Days later I went back and read it in detail and found that not only was the email promoting the conference, but it included a request to serve as a speaker.  Again, I put it aside thinking I didn’t have much to offer. But I kept returning to the email in the following days.  Even though the idea scared me, I knew it would be a good opportunity, especially for someone who is considering the launch of a consulting firm in healthcare communications.  I finally responded; I explained to the organizer that I might have something I could talk about, but that I wasn’t even working in healthcare anymore.  I told him I would understand if he didn’t think I was an appropriate presenter.

From Spark Conferences Twitter Feed

In fact, the conference planner seemed delighted to have me and offered to put me on a panel.  I would only have to talk for 8 to 10 minutes.  I began work on my presentation which focused on some blog-style communications that I’d sent to hospital staff during Wave 1 of the pandemic.  I started to feel more confident.  About two weeks before the presentation I heard from the organizer again:  the other panel member had withdrawn.  I had the choice of doing the entire presentation by myself, or they could cancel the presentation.  With a deep breath I decided to take the leap, and on December 8th I presented to colleagues across Canada on four different communications strategies I used during the early days of COVID to keep our hospital staff up-to-date and engaged.  It was a great experience, and I received many positive comments.

As a relative newcomer to the concept of networking, I was very pleased and surprised to receive LinkedIn invitations from other conference participants.  Two have already led to interesting opportunities:  one is from a woman who has recently opened her own healthcare communications consultancy and is willing to chat further to discuss lessons that she has learned along the way.  The other is a woman who is working as a communications expert in a hospital – we have switched from LinkedIn to email to exchange ideas.  I have also acquired some new followers on my social media platforms from conference participants.

From Spark Conferences Twitter feed

In addition to speaking at the conference, I was able to view many of the other presentations.  One highlight for me was the opportunity to listen to two people from the social media team at Ottawa Public Health.  Truthfully, these folks are like social media celebrities to me, particularly for the innovative way they use humour even though they deal with life-and-death topics.  They have become the public health department with the largest social media following in North America! They talked about the importance of having a consistent voice for their channels, even though there are actually four people writing.  They talked at length about the risk of burn-out in social media.  Kevin Parent, the team lead, talked about social media being “the ultimate soap box upon which to stand and share your views”, but cautioned that there is a need to do so responsibly.  The presentation was a real treat.

The conference was an excellent experience, and I would say that in addition to some new connections, I will take away a few things:

  • Content ideas for future posts (particularly related to mental health issues)
  • Recommendations on how to make frightening or potentially antagonizing information more accessible
  • Recommendations on making content more welcoming for gender diverse audiences
  • Best of all, some confidence: even though I feel like a newcomer to this field, I learned that my experience is useful and does lend me some credibility.

According to the organizers, this is the only Canadian conference on healthcare communications.  It seems like an important place for me to be.  In fact, I’ve already volunteered to sit on the organizing committee for next year’s conference.

COM0015 – Blog Post #3 – Developing Professional Networking Plans

Switching careers is a great reason to stop and re-evaluate one’s professional networking plans.  Having worked for 30 years within healthcare administration in a city of only 700,000, up to this point networking has happened somewhat organically.  However, the idea of transitioning to a new career in healthcare communications requires a new strategy.

Upon reflection, I think there are two compelling reasons to focus on networking.  The first involves continuing education.  This might happen in a variety of ways:  watching someone else’s achievements can spark creative ideas, having a community of professional colleagues can be a resource in challenging times, and routine conversations can serve as a way of keeping up to date on industry trends.  I am a big believer in the value of mentorship; early in one’s career the benefit of having industry experts willing to lend a hand is invaluable, and later in one’s career I believe there is an obligation to help the less experienced.  All these things go more smoothly through networking.


Additionally, networking is a way of building and sharing your personal brand.  Connecting with others can provide enhanced opportunities for new experiences, potentially more avenues for employment, and more clients in need of your services.  Both these aspects, professional development and visibility, make networking a good investment.

As I transition to a career in contract work specializing in healthcare communications, I am looking at two different networking strategies.

First, I believe I need to connect with social media industry experts. I still have much to learn about this field.  I think that I can achieve this learning through on-line networking, using the following venues:

  • Participation in relevant Facebook groups like “Social Media Managers”, run by Social Media Pro.  I have been a member of this group for several months. There are approximately 50,000 members, and most posts start with a member asking for help, then colleagues chime in with suggestions based on their experience. I have learned a lot!
  • Participation in relevant LinkedIn groups.  Just this week I joined the group entitled “Freelance Web Writers” and have submitted a request to join “Social Media Marketing Managers.”  I am hopeful these groups will be helpful.
  • Following industry experts on social media platforms (including Facebook, Instagram, and particularly LinkedIn) provides an opportunity to exchange comments with others in the business.

Additionally, I need to continue to network within the healthcare industry.  I believe this is important not only to keep my brand front-of-mind for decision-makers, but to stay current in the field by keeping abreast of who is in what job, what policy and structural changes are happening, and what the latest operational challenges are.  I anticipate doing this through two primary approaches:

  • For years I have used LinkedIn as a networking tool, and have 230 connections; the vast majority are local people that I have worked with in healthcare.  By using this venue with more intention and more frequency, I believe that I can continue to be seen as a relevant force in the healthcare industry. I need to get back in the habit of posting original content as well as commenting on the posts of others.
  • Although COVID has put a damper on in-person meetings, I plan to review my list of contacts and identify those who could be most useful, then set up times to connect with them. Coffee, drinks or a lunch date would provide a chance to reconnect, bring them up to date on my career ambitions, and explore opportunities.

The whole idea of developing a networking plan feels a little strange and somewhat forced, but I think these are manageable steps over the next 6 to 12 months which will pay off both in terms of enhanced knowledge and increased opportunities. 

COM0015 – Blog #2 – 3 Case Studies of Private Physiotherapy Clinics


The idea of doing social media contract work within the local healthcare community appeals to me, and so for this project I evaluated several physiotherapy clinics to see how they approach social media.  I started with 10 clinics in my neighbourhood, and when I failed to find any stellar examples, I headed further afield.  I found two intriguing examples, both in southern Ontario.


The best example I could find was an organization called Physiomobility, which operates in the Don Mills neighbourhood of Toronto.  The clinic offers a wide variety of physio, massage, and chiropractic services.  They have an attractive website which allows patients to book appointments, and which also contains a substantial amount of patient information on various health conditions; I believe most of these articles started as social media posts.  The organization has fully embraced social media, and uses Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube.  They post regularly, about 5 or 6 times a month.  Their posts are heavily oriented to patient education; clearly their social media strategy hinges upon presenting themselves as content experts.  They use social media to connect to their neighbourhood, posting information of interest from nearby organizations.  However, they also use hashtags thoughtfully, in hopes of bringing in clientele from other locations in Ontario for their video-based rehabilitation program.  They use social media to offer free on-line seminars, discounted rates, and free trials to generate new business.  My overall impression from their social media presence is that this is a busy, creative, and knowledgeable clinic.  They have 1391 Facebook followers, although it is rare for a post to get more than 2 or 3 engagements.  There are 961 Instagram followers, and 5 to 10 engagements per post is typical. Despite the lack of engagement, they seem to be doing a good job.  As a reader, the message seems to be: “Injuries are really common, we know how to fix them, and we are very excited about helping you get well”. Based on this presentation I would likely seek services from them.


Another interesting example is Carly Wallace Physiotherapy & Pelvic Health. This clinic is in Lindsay, Ontario, but serves a much wider population through virtual therapy appointments.  This organization also has a helpful website for appointment booking, and offers helpful resources, a blog, and an introductory video on the topic of pelvic floor health.  The clinic uses Facebook (643 followers), Instagram (669 followers) and YouTube (41 subscribers).  The content is very focused on patient education, both in terms of asking leading questions, and providing knowledgeable answers. Although engagement is also quite low (commonly less than 5 engagements per post), clearly the digital marketing message being sent is that this clinic is the expert in their field, and that they can solve problems you may have thought were unsolvable.  There is an intentional effort to create a sense of community among people suffering from potentially embarrassing pelvic floor issues using both humour and empathy. Reading this material, I would have confidence that this is a reliable practitioner.


In contrast, Action Physiotherapy (currently in the process of opening its second clinic in Winnipeg) could benefit from a social media strategy.  They do have a professional looking website, but it contains no patient education resources and does not have a blog.  They use both Facebook and Instagram, but their posting is sporadic – ranging from no posts in March and April, to 11 posts in June, and 2 in October, but none in November.  The posts are almost exclusively introducing new staff or noting changes to clinic hours; there were a few patient education posts in the spring but this has fallen off.  Their reach is quite limited (304 followers on Facebook, and 397 on Instagram, but a significant portion seem to be other physiotherapists or rehabilitation clinics). Most posts have 0 to 2 engagements, generally from the same two people. The messages do not focus on any notable strengths or opportunities. There does not appear to be any specific intended audience, and no concerted attempt to build community.  While their social media channels do serve to point viewers back to the website, they have considerable unmet potential. 


It is an interesting exercise to compare the social media work of similar organizations.  I suspect a contributing factor to these differences is that small business owners have so many responsibilities and, if they choose to do their own social media work (particularly without formal training), social media will often be the first task dropped when other priorities arise.  The assignment really does speak to the value of acquiring sufficient skills and allocating adequate resources, or perhaps contracting the work out to someone who can make it look effortless.

COM0015 – Blog Post #1 – Keeping Up With Social Media Trends

Photo from

I confess that keeping up the newest social media trends is a challenge.  Just in the four months since I signed up for this course we have seen Facebook introduce reels, Instagram add links to their stories and extend the length of their reels, and TikTok become mainstream.  Keeping abreast of these changes is going to require an ongoing effort and a smart strategy.

There are plenty of tools for keeping up to date on social media trends, but if pressed I would most recommend mailing lists and Instagram.  I have signed up for many mailing lists over the last year; some are from social media software apps, some are influencers, and some are social media consulting firms. Rarely a day goes by that I don’t get at least one email bringing me up to date on social media news (and offering to sell me a range of services!) Often a quick scan of the email will tell me what I need to know, but sometimes there are more detailed, helpful articles.  If the article is online, I will often store it in Pinterest for later reading or reference.

Photo from

Additionally, I follow many social media “experts” on Instagram.  They are quick to address any changes in the social media universe with their tips. Often they will demonstrate a new trend, which is very helpful. As noted in our course material, there is no shortage of self-proclaimed thought leaders, and the quality of their content varies considerably.  However, Instagram is a very quick way to scan the environment and once I’m alerted to a new trend, I can do my own research. To keep myself organized I’ve started a list of new skills I need to acquire, or concepts I need to fully understand, which I tackle as time allows.

We need to wade through the self-identified experts to find the voices that really warrant our attention.  Two sources are at the top of my list.  The first is Hootsuite, the software application I use to schedule social media posts in advance.  It is in Hootsuite’s best interest that I am a savvy social media user with great results, because when I do well, they shine too.  Their blog is filled with reliable information.  In October alone there were 16 updates on social media trends.  I find it very helpful.

Photo from

The other highly reliable source I depend on is the Social Media Examiner organization According to their website, their mission is to help us navigate the constantly changing social media jungle. They do this through educational programs and a resource library; while many services are available at a cost, they are surprisingly generous with free information. Their newsletters, podcasts, and complimentary training programs are extremely useful.

There are so many potential sources of information on social media trends. The real challenge is finding the most useful sources so that we can maximize our knowledge while minimizing our learning time. That leaves us more time for putting the new information into practice.

Do you have a favourite tool or source that I should add to my strategy?

COM0014 – Blog #7 – Takeaway Messages from Digital Communications

Photo from

The greatest lesson in this course is that before you begin to communicate, you must take time to clearly understand the goals of your communication, including the audience to whom you are communicating.  That information will help you make decisions that will in turn help audiences to hear and absorb your messages.  Understanding those goals will help you choose your channels (e.g., Pinterest or LinkedIn?), and will certainly help you find the most appropriate voice to tell your story (i.e., maybe you need to be all business, or perhaps a self-deprecating and humorous narrator would be far more effective).

Regardless of the voice you determine to be appropriate, the ability to tell a story will be critical.  Story telling helps the audience better understand your message because it gives a clearer, more compelling context to your information.  Good story telling keeps the audience engaged until the message has been fully relayed, and also helps the listeners remember the message once the story is over.  Further, what makes story telling unique in social media is that it allows, even encourages, two-way discussion.  There is always room for questions, comments, and even alternate viewpoints.

Photo from

What I have enjoyed most in this course is the chance to explore different voices and coming to understand that more casual voices can be highly effective.  Coming from an industry where there has historically been very little room for informal communication, I am excited about the opportunity to use personal stories and appropriate humour as mechanisms to build communities and encourage positive actions in the audience.

COM0014 – Blog #6 – Business Aspirations

Back in the late 1990s, the social media stone age, my husband and I experienced multiple miscarriages. It was a heartbreaking time, but fortunately we became connected to a specialist in Chicago with the unlikely name of Dr. Beer.  I learned about an on-line forum created solely for his patients, so using our first-ever desktop computer I signed myself up.  This story pre-dates Facebook by at least 5 years and sharing personal health information with strangers over the internet was a radical and scary proposition.  However, I found an incredibly supportive and knowledgeable group of women with whom I bonded quickly, shared tips, celebrated successes, and grieved losses.  I especially connected with a woman in California; our first babies were born just days apart, and we remain friends today. 

Photo from
Photo from

Belonging to a well-managed community can be life changing.  Shared knowledge, support, encouragement, and accountability are among the greatest gifts a community offers.  When you no longer feel alone, so much more is possible. 

As a social media manager during the pandemic, I again witnessed firsthand how an on-line community can make a difference.  We have had folks reach out for mental health support, and others make enquiries about COVID protocols.  I am most touched though by the small group of elderly women who engage with nearly every post.  It appears that during lockdowns we provide a safe portal for them to the outside world.

When asked what I hope my business accomplishes, the answer is clear.  I am passionate about using social media to build and nourish healthy communities.  I aspire to provide those communities with current, evidence-based, and easy to understand information that will help each participant flourish.  I want to demonstrate social media at its very best. And in a way, I hope to pay homage to my original social media community from the olden days. 

Photo by

COM0014 – Blog #5 Putting Humble on Hold (Just for a Minute)

Most of us find it awkward to talk about ourselves as a brand, and yet being able to do so is critical in achieving success.  So, just for today, let’s resist the urge to be humble.

My combination of training (healthcare administration, English literature, and now social media) is very unique. The breadth of my work experience within healthcare is also rare; it is unusual to have had in-depth experience within the nursing profession and the medical establishment, with allied health professionals and with the support services areas. I would love to take credit for this wonderful combination of education and experience, but truthfully it was the result of a series of happy accidents.  Regardless, I recognize how valuable it is. It allows me to connect meaningfully with, and then tell the story of, virtually anyone who works in the healthcare industry.

Photos from

From a personal perspective, there are a few characteristics that my colleagues have used to describe me over the years. They often say that I am calm, and that it is easy to talk to me.  This amuses me; I don’t see myself as especially calm! However, I know that people love to tell me their stories, and I am always happy to hear them.  The second quality my colleagues speak of is my ability to write in a way that makes them feel emotionally connected.  I believe the connectedness happens when I write in a style that is humerous, down to earth, and easily relatable.

Photos from

Combining these elements, I am hopeful that I have three of the key ingredients for a successful second career in healthcare communications: the ability to connect with a variety of individuals, the knack for getting them to share their stories, and the ability to retell those stories in an impactful way.  If you’ve got any advice, please share it in the comments!

COM0014 – Blog #4 Case Study: The Social Shells

Last spring, I was bombarded by Facebook ads promising to teach me about social media.  Most ads offered “lead magnets”; they provided free training, but it always came with pressure to purchase follow-up education.  I tried several classes and learned a lot. While my choice was to pursue formal education, the conversion rates in these classes were high.

Photo from

One such company is “The Social Shells”.  According to her LinkedIn profile, the owner, Nadine Burton, had 3 years of corporate social media experience before becoming a full-time travel blogger and starting her own social media accounts.  Two years later she launched her course which promises to teach us to become content managers with our own clients.  $1,000 USD buys access to her videos and limited support.  The course takes 24 to 48 hours to complete. The name of her company is a play on the name of her former travel blog, Blonde Seashell.

Picture from

Ms. Burton has carefully crafted her marketing strategy.  Her pitch is that she helps women become freelance social media managers so they can lead glamorous lives, working from anywhere.  She has accounts on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube, and offers an RSS feed with several articles a month.  Facebook advertising generates interest in her 60 minute “Free Masterclass” entitled “How to Get Started as a Freelance Social Media Manager”, which then promotes her course.  In exchange for my email address, she offers “A (Realistic!) Guide on How to Ditch Your Old Life and Travel the World as a Freelance Social Media Manager”.  Her website is attractive and compelling, with many testimonials from young women. Anyone who buys the program is invited to a private Facebook Group.

Based on the destination photos from her personal Instagram account, Ms. Burton seems very successful.  She does have a lot to offer, and I continue to follow her for her free advice.  However, I am quite satisfied that I chose Algonquin College instead of The Social Shells!


Nadine Burton – Zollikon, Zürich, Schweiz | berufsprofil … LinkedIn. (n.d.). Retrieved October 5, 2021, from

Nadine Burton (@blonde_seashell) • instagram photos and videos. (n.d.). Retrieved October 5, 2021, from

The Social Shells. (2021, August 8). Retrieved October 5, 2021, from

COM0014 – Blog #3 – Understanding Winnipeg

For this exercise I examined the target audience for Victoria Hospital in Winnipeg.  A recent reorganization of clinical services means that the entire city of Winnipeg is now the target market.

Photo from

Fortunately, the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority published a 400 page report entitled “Community Health Assessment”, which was filled with useful information.  Below are some key findings with corresponding plans for connecting with the audience through content creation:

Target Market Characteristics Content Creation Ideas
28% identify as visible minorities, and another 12% identify as Indigenous Peoples.Ensure that at least 40% of models used in content are BIPOC individuals.
19% identify as immigrants, with the most common countries being the Philippines, India and China.Include posts that acknowledge the holidays of these cultural groups.
31% of residents are overweight, and another 18% are obese.Include healthy recipes, encourage physical activity.
25% eat less than 6 servings of fruits and vegetables per day.Help the audience understand the importance in a non-judgmental way, and introduce easy ways to consume fruits and vegetables.
20% identify as living a high stress life. There are approx. 500 deaths by suicide annually. Issues of mental health continue to be a major concern for residents.Provide a variety of strategies that promote good mental health and connect residents with mental health resources.
26% of adults 50-65 years of age, and 58% of those 65+ have been diagnosed with hypertension.Provide tools for healthy living; help people to “know their numbers”.
The top 3 causes of cancer mortality are lung, breast, and colorectal.  19% of Winnipeggers currently smoke. Participation in mammograms is only 57% and in colon checks is 37% of those eligible.  Connect audience with resources for smoking cessation and prevention checks.

These strategies will build on similar (but less data-driven) content we have already posted; based on our followers’ comments we know that we have helped people sign up for organ donation, and complete information kits for the paramedics’ reference during emergencies. I look forward to seeing how these more evidence-informed topics resonate with our followers, and hope we can build a healthier and more engaged audience!


Cui, Y., Zinnick, S., Henderson, A., & Dunne, L. (2019, December). Winnipeg Health Region Community Health Assessment 2019. Winnipeg Regional Health Authority. Retrieved September 29, 2021, from