A blog exploring pharmaceutical relationship marketing, emarketing and innovation with a focus on rare disorders.
The convergence of rare disease, digital communications, and pharmaceutical marketing communications

6 Tips To Engage Teens With Chronic Diseases

Posted by | 10:52am on Friday, October 3, 2008

93% of all U.S. teenagers are online 

Every good marketer knows that you need to listen to your customer. The emergence of the online channel in recent years has made it easier to listen, but more difficult to determine how and where to listen.Sick teen

Teens with rare diseases can be an especially difficult group to reach. They often feel isolated because they frequently have never met anyone else with their disease. Don’t overlook opportunities for them to meet and interact offline.

However, these teens are also the most wired age group and definitely talking about products. The Pew Internet and American Life Project recently published two reports on the subject: Teens and Social Media and Writing, Technology, and Teens. These studies show:

  • 93% of all U.S. teenagers are online
  • 85% engage in some form of electronic personal communication (e.g. email, IM, texts)
  • 64% create some type of content on the web
  • 55% of them regularly participate in social networking

But how can marketers and web developers understand the design elements, features, functionality, and content that will interest these teens?

Here are a few things to think about when engaging teens with chronic diseases online:

  • Respect their age: As teens complete rites of passage such as entering high school and learning to drive, they have different expectations. Marketers must communicate in the appropriate tone with careful consideration to the age group’s development.
  • Respect their illness: Like adult patients, teens have coped with their chronic disease for various amounts of time. This requires that marketers provide relevant information to whichever audience they seek to reach (newly diagnosed versus well-established veteran).
  • Respect their wellness cycle: Even the most resilient of teens occasionally grapples with feelings of isolation. Marketers need to understand the ongoing and fluid wellness process.
  • Respect their circles of trust: Teens can be guarded about their illness and look to confidants for emotional support. Oftentimes teens can only get together online. Marketers should understand that that doesn’t mean they don’t want offline opportunities to meet and receive that support in person.
  • Respect their episodic behavior: Teenagers will visit your website when they need help. Marketers can plan their content around rites of passage, but don’t expect teenagers to visit at other times.
  • Respect their group behavior: Teens can be prone to medication adherence problems, perhaps due to friction with parents or other authority figures. Providing ways they can connect and communicate with their peers – like through social media – can be incredibly effective.

These are powerful discoveries. Some marketers ignore teen populations; many others don’t understand how to reach or engage them. Listening projects like the one I described offer insights that will make your content – and your website as a whole – much more impactful for your teen audience.

(Photo courtesy of savlynne via Flickr)

About Wendy White

Since founding Siren Interactive in 1999, Wendy has been recognized as a thought leader at the intersection of niche pharma brands, patient empowerment and online marketing. Her vision for how the internet can facilitate interactions and provide crucial information that patients, caregivers and their healthcare providers previously struggled to find has propelled Siren to the forefront of relationship marketing for rare disorder therapies.

View other posts from Wendy

One Pingback/Trackback

Siren Interactive
  • Siren Interactive
  • Rare Disease Relationship Marketing Experts
  • 626 West Jackson Blvd, Suite 100
  • Chicago, IL 60661
  • 312.204.6700
  • 866.502.6714 (Toll Free)
  • www.sireninteractive.com