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Social Media Summit Scholarship Essay -- Kelsey Therkildsen

Posted by @joycegroenke in Just Want to Talk, Aug 8, 2011

Editor's Note: This is an entry in our Scholarship Contest for Patients and Caregivers to attend the Mayo Clinic Social Media Summit Oct. 17-21 in Rochester, Minn. See this post: 

for more details on the contest, and please cast your votes by liking or commenting on the candidates you think would be best.

Here is Kelsey Therkildsen's Essay:

“The amount of sleep the average person needs is five more minutes.” While humorous, the amount of truth to this statement can be distressing. When we live in a culture where the ability to run on little sleep is admired rather than admonished, it is not surprising that about one in three American adults is suffering from a sleep disorder. Unfortunately, it is unlikely that out of every three American adults you may talk to, one of them is seeking treatment for a sleep problem. This is why, through Iowa Sleep Disorders Center, I created a presence in the social media world.

I tweet lighthearted observations, like the aforementioned quote, as well as alarming items, like techniques lifeguards use to sleep on the job. I attempt to cover a wide variety of topics that will evoke a wide variety of emotions in my followers. I believe this approach is the most advantageous when gaining followers and keeping them interested. Where I believe this tactic has succeeded is in obtaining a strong following from the sleep and health fields. Where I believe the tactic is lacking is in winning over the patient field.

I think I am suffering from “preaching to the choir” syndrome. I am singing the praises of getting a full night’s sleep to people who have made the study of sleep their lives’ work. While this is beneficial to Iowa Sleep’s position in our niche community, it is not helping the community of patients who are unknowingly plagued with sleep issues. These are the people who really need to know the dangers of sleep apnea and drowsy driving. These are the people who need treatment.

If we at Iowa Sleep could focus our social media efforts on the patient community, especially locally where we have the best opportunity to provide direct care, we could educate patients, as well as family and friends of patients, on the basics of sleep and why it is so important. And if by educating we could get these patients to seek treatment, we have the potential of preventing strokes, heart attacks, diabetes, and even fatal car accidents caused by drowsy driving. How to get this specific population active with Iowa Sleep’s social media is what I would hope to learn from this Mayo Clinic conference. However, I realize that if I were able to attend, I would not be there simply to take notes.

In the 321 days that Iowa Sleep Disorders Center has been active on Twitter, we have gained 384 followers, made 926 tweets, and been touted as “sleep experts” several times. Our comments are constantly being “retweeted,” and our followers mention us almost daily. We have an attractive and interactive Facebook page, and we upload videos onto YouTube as often as possible. While not as prominent, we also have a presence on foursquare and LinkedIn.

I am not a shy person. I am happy to discuss the methods that have helped us acquire these achievements with an assortment of people. Of course, I would hope those same people are willing to teach me how to accomplish the goals I set out for Iowa Sleep and myself. I believe the social media summit put on by the Mayo Clinic will be the best venue to open these lines of communication.

Although we’ve made a lot of progress, Iowa Sleep Disorders Center is still very new to the social media world. As a result, the budget devoted to this medium is limited. Being awarded a scholarship is my best chance to attend this Mayo Clinic conference, and attending this conference is my best chance to help the patient community through social media.

Tags: Scholarship contest

brevogel, bonoisaprophet, Billyn and 82 others like this

Posted by @nestermt, Aug 8, 2011

i really like how you are conducting observations on twitter...its very interesting. best of luck!


Posted by @dianneruthman, Aug 8, 2011

Kelsey would be an excellent summit attendee


Posted by @gzumach, Aug 8, 2011

This is such a creative method! Good for you and good luck in the Contest. This is the best essay I've seen yet!

Joseph.Gregory likes this

Posted by @victoria, Aug 9, 2011

Kelsey was one of my all-time, top students. She has the intelligence, passion and creativity to absorb the experience offered at this summit and use it to transform lives and the medium. It is great that the Mayo Clinic is providing this opportunity. Good luck to all participants in this contest.


Posted by @beattie52, Aug 9, 2011

As a person who has sleeping issues, I was very interested in this essay and the information Kelsey shared. Thanks Kelsey and good luck.

therk320 likes this

Posted by @daniellem, Aug 9, 2011

I'm happy to see social media being used more to raise awareness of these topics! It is an important new area in communications that can be used to benefit all parties involved!


Posted by @neuronerd, Aug 9, 2011

Excellent essay. Kelsey has clearly stated the purpose and and benefits of using social media to promote good health via healthy sleeping habits. Clearly she is a strong advocate for this emerging communication venue.

therk320 likes this

Posted by @therk320, Aug 9, 2011

I like how she is aware of some of the possible weaknesses in her current approach and takes the initiative to do something about it as well as share with others what she has learned to date.


Posted by @coachmonte, Aug 9, 2011

Great message Kelsey. You are communicating very clearly current state, where you would like to go, and what you would like to learn. Nice job!


Posted by @katturner, Aug 9, 2011

Kelsey clearly understands the mission of the Summit and would be an engaging and enthusiastic participant. I hope she is chosen for this outstanding opportunity.


Posted by @jruthman, Aug 10, 2011

I appreciate Kelsey's nontraditional approach to sharing an important health issue. She will bring enthusiasm and great interest to the conference if she is chosen to attend.

ryanvee likes this

Posted by @kcrisanti, Aug 10, 2011

I appreciate how Kelsey is committed to using social media to build communities -- and build business. That's the true measure of success of marketing and social media is a great tool in a marketer's toolbox.


Posted by @nikkik88, Aug 10, 2011

What a great idea! good luck with your study!


Posted by @smithj4, Aug 11, 2011

way to go kelsey.. i hope you get the scholarship! 🙂


Posted by @madelynk, Aug 11, 2011

"If we at Iowa Sleep could focus our social media efforts on the patient community, especially locally where we have the best opportunity to provide direct care, we could educate patients, as well as family and friends of patients, on the basics of sleep and why it is so important." Love this!! Something that seems so simple, that we all take for granted, but yet is so crucial to our health!

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