A Song of Understanding: The Music Video Explainer as a Hospital Social Media Tool

flickr: comedy_nose

I’m a child of the “Schoolhouse Rock” era.  Catchy music videos with words like, “conjunction junction, what’s your function? Hooking up words and phrases and clauses,” explained everything from grammar usage, multiplication tables, to how our system of government works.  The music videos made learning new concepts memorable and enjoyable.

This educational music video model is regaining popularity as one of the latest social media content tools.  The short, catchy music videos with an educational purpose are an emerging form of explainers. Sites like Explainer Music and Explainer.net highlight this new genre and provide models for new content.

What is Explainer Music?

With the tagline, “information never sounded so good,” Explainer Music’s goal is to “provide information in a unique and innovative way that will significantly increase web traffic for all types of content providers.”

Explainer.net, a joint effort of ProPublica and Professor Jay Rosen’s NYU students, is experimenting with this short form of explainer journalism to provide the essential background knowledge necessary to follow events in the news. (You can view Professor Jay Rosen talking about the idea behind Explainer.net in this 5-minute video.)

Although music video as an educational tool isn’t necessarily new, the low cost, ease of distributing this type of content, and the potential reach via the Internet have given the music video explainer genre some traction. Music video explainers have been produced about such complex issues as fracking and the national home foreclosure crisis.

Clarifying complex issues

In healthcare, we have many complex issues to explain–diseases, nutrition, infant care, proper car seat installation, and the national healthcare crisis. As Professor Rosen explains in his video interview, after paving the way with a brief but informative explainer, people often pay more attention to the issue.

I encourage you to think about what complex issue your hospital would like patients to better understand, and to consider creatively approaching the issue with a music video explainer.

Alvarado Medical Center in San Diego used a music video to promote the H1N1 vaccine to their employees. Although it’s a bit long and broken up by expert interviews, the idea of combining humor and music with key information was unique enough to earn them positive media coverage.

Six tips to remember

Here are a few tips to remember if your hospital is considering creating a music video explainer:

  • Keep it brief.
  • Keep it informative and double-check information accuracy with experts.
  • Keep it light. Remember, experts don’t need to appear on-screen. Consider using animation and clear language that a lay person can understand. Remember, it’s called an explainer, not a complicater.
  • Respect copyrights if you use an established song or visual.
  • Share it across all your social media platforms.
  • And of course, the chorus has to be catchy enough to sing along!

How we help

Hive Strategies helps health systems create HIPAA-compliant online communities for better health, lower costs and greater loyalty.

8 replies
  1. Anton
    Anton says:

    I still had not so much as touched a workout and there was some healthy and balanced space between the waist of my pants and my actual waistline.

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    ibneler sikisiyor says:

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  3. Jason Boies
    Jason Boies says:

    I had no idea this was even a “thing”, this Explainer music you speak of. 🙂 Cool stuff.
    Health topics CAN be a bit dry, so it’s not a bad idea to spruce them up a bit with humor and music.

    Good work as always, Jean.

    Jason Boies – Radian6 Community


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