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Helping Grow the Health Humanities Lab’s Audience

By Audrey Wang

This post was written by a student in Dr. Aaron Dinin’s Building Global Audiences(I&E 250) class. You can learn more about their class project and why they’re blogging about it here.

This week in our Building Global Audiences class, we were tasked to come up with an actionable growth strategy for the Franklin Humanities Institute’s Health Humanities Lab. This requires looking at our goals, demographic and selecting specific media channels to figure out how to build a targeted audience.


Outlining Goals for the HHL

Every organization has a goal, and ways to achieve that goal, whether it be through email, flyers or social media. Take something like social media popularity, which might seem very arbitrary. Why did that girl become instafamous when your best friend looks just as good as her? Why did Obama’s tweet get retweeted 10 more times while you posted pretty much the same opinion yesterday? Why does Shakira have more followers than Beyonce on Twitter and Facebook, but Beyonce have more followers than Shakira on Instagram?

Just as every business or service has a character and a mission, every social media account has a goal. And more so than personal social media and your carefully curated instagram posts, social media marketing is targeted and deliberate. It involves delving into the mindset of what your audience would want to see, what media channels they use, looking at analytics, what other competitors are posting, and nailing the right timing.

“Content is king but traffic is god” – HHL has a lot of valuable content for a specific crowd. How do we make the HHL “blow up” on social media and beyond? Can we achieve this or is slow and incremental growth more realistic and effective for the organization?

Demographic & Audience Growth Channels

Looking at a popular social media figure today:

Beyonce- Wide fan base, ages 15-30, especially women, African American & diversity groups

Chosen media strategy (in terms of follower concentration):

  1. Instagram
  2. Facebook
  3. Twitter

Interestingly, this corresponds to Sprout Social’s analytics of demographics of each social media channel: While Facebook and Instagram correspond to 88% and 59% of age 18-29 users respectively, this age group only corresponds to 36% of Twitter usage. [1]


In contrast, looking at the HHL’s demographic in a similar way, a more academic association would require a less social media centric strategy since our audience typically spends less time on such channels and normally do not look for information through social media. This was one of the biggest takeaways that we realized throughout the course of the semester – social media is not always the only way to acquire a bigger audience. However, we included it in our media strategy because we believe it is a good way to drive traffic and initiate conversation (given HHL’s goal of becoming thought leader in the space)

HHL: narrower fan base, college students and faculty, more heavily concentrated on faculty and medical professionals, academics

Media strategy we will focus on:

  1. Email
  2. Events & Collaboration with Internal, External organizations
  3. Social Media

Concrete Growth Strategy

While it would be ideal to project a 5 year long term growth strategy for the HHL, we are limited by its indeterminate funding situation that would affect the status of the organization in the foreseeable future. According to HHL coordinator Thomas Johnson, the HHL was funded for 3 years and we are now in the second year of this funding. Therefore our growth strategy is focused on goals that we believe would be achievable by next year.

The lab is currently funding 10 projects, and going down the line we believe we should focus on the channels below:


  1. Email:

Current situation: has own listserv but not actively used, not on any email list servs, name is attached to other FHI initiatives and mentioned as part of FHI activities

Goal: get onto listservs and create own content


  1. Events:  (Goal)

Current situation: have hosted events in Trent, Carpenter Room, Smith Warehouse, Bostock, held keynote event Breath, Body and Voice in October which also featured off campus locations. There were over 200 guests registered for the conference and a speaker survey was conducted from guest speakers. The conference was mostly promoted through word of mouth and associations with other on campus associations and scholarships. Listed online but unclear how many people actively search for conferences; posted on social media but reach is limited.



  • Marketing “package” that comes with each event: sending email reminders, social media marketing strategy (countdowns, shareable links instead of just reposting event flyer), creating graphic designs for flyers (clear step 1,2,3 process to follow)
  • Hosting events, increased collaboration with competitors both external and internal
    • Promotional campaign with Bass Connections, Career Center
  • Raising money at events to fund projects
    • Example: the HHL Funding of research projects provides scholars with money ranging from $750 to $3000 intended for one year of research activities
    • With funding of the HHL about to expire, the lab could consider raising the same amount at events. In the past year they have had 21 events (averaging 2 each month), meaning that approximately $150 would have to be raised at each event.
    • Assuming that about 30 people attend each event and that a probable goal of $5 can be raised per person, the funding needs of the HHL can be fulfilled
    • Questions to ask: number and amount of people willing and likely to donate, because this will affect the goal of number of attendees for each event
    • Depending on the success of this program, this would solve the HHL funding program and provide continuity


  1. Following social media analytics: excel sheet tracking

Currently: @DukeHHL

Facebook: 130 likes, 0-3 likes, Events: 0-5 interested; Breath,Body Voice- 137 interested

Twitter: 161 followers, 1-10 retweets, 0-1 comments

Instagram: 79 followers, ~ 3 likes per post


Preliminary template could look something like this, and depending on effectiveness could add more metrics such as frequency of posts per day, per week & month

Additionally, although a lot of analytics services are free, the HHL indicated that it would be open to allocate funds to analytics services to more effectively market itself online.


Timeline & Numbers

Fall/Winter 2017


  • Create template for newsletters
  • Send out newsletters monthly
  • Get onto 15 listservs
  • Revamp website (new layout template, work with FHI to do this)


  • Create centralized attendance system, ask where they heard about the event (so one can calculate reach and “return rate” of each channel (email, social media etc.)
  • Start interviewing to assess possibility of donation program, network with potential donors
  • Reach out to Duke organizations like the Medical Center, faculty, Bass Connections, Duke Engage, Duke Career Center, Pre-Health Advising for promotional collaboration


  • Facebook: Increase likes to 300-500, look at analytics to see what posts are generating most reach and interaction
    • Facebook Events: as Breath, Body and Voice conference demonstrated, it is possible to generate reach in terms of people interested in events
    • Events “interested metric”: 30-50 per event
    • Recruiting student ambassadors/ providing incentives to click interested
  • Twitter: Increase following to 300-500, tweet frequency to 2-5 every two weeks instead of once a month
  • Instagram: slower strategy because not entirely a fit for the goals of the HHL, Increase following to 150-250, generate content and photos instead of just event flyers, 10-20 likes per post


Spring/Summer 2017 


  • Expand own listserv (exact numbers TBD)
  • Revamp newsletter template
  • Launch revamped website and have direct links from email, increased interaction features


  • Build established framework for donation (payment systems – students FLEX, cash, deposits etc.)
  • Collaboration with other institutions, cross promotion
  • Joint program/events with other Duke Institutions listed above


  • Facebook: Increase likes to 600-800, modify posting strategy and content according to analytics
    • Events “interested metric”: 50-100 per event
  • Twitter: Increase following to 600-800 (to match competitors), regular tweet frequency, 2-5 every week
  • Instagram: Increase following to 300-400, 40-50 likes per post

In 5 years:

  • Twitter: 2500 followers
  • Facebook: 1500 followers


Lessons from the Forbes Under 30 Summit Part 2

Yemi Kolawole attended the Forbes Under 30 Summit, using funding available to students pursuing the Innovation & Entrepreneurship Certificate. Read on for details on his experience. If you are pursuing the I&E Certificate and you would like to apply for this funding, click this link.

During October 1-4 I had the honor of being a Forbes Under 30 Scholar. Through this achievement I attended the Forbes Under 30 Summit in Boston, Massachusetts.  The program was sponsored by JPMorgan Chase, and focused on diversity and inclusion.  Juniors, seniors, and graduate students in tech and business from underrepresented backgrounds were chose from all different universities.

I participated in the Discover Stage which focused on the health and life scientists because that is of particular interest to me. During the first day of the summit I attended the Women@Forbes Under 30 day which focused closing the gap between and men in tech and in industry in general. I had the opportunity meet some incredible people from different schools and hear a variety of speakers. My favorite was Bozoma Saint John. She is the Chief Branding Officer at Uber and previously a marketing executive for Apple Music. I really connected with her because of her African roots and her relentless pursuit of whatever she wanted. She was unapologetically herself and that is something women, or at least I, feel unable to do because of the societal pressure to be conform to be and act like men. Another big lesson I learned during the Women@Forbes day was to not be apologetic for being 100% yourself. Especially went it comes to being competitive for positions and jobs. To fight for what you want and seek opportunities regardless if you think you’ll get them or not. A big caveat that one of the few female venture capitalists said is that people tend to want to hire people that look like that them, and if the only people in these high paying jobs are men we’ve created an inherent structural problem. I left that day feeling extremely empowered and ready to take on world. I felt like everyone in that room regardless of their position would be support me in any endeavor I had.

The next few days consisted of various talks and workshops surrounding health care. One the speakers really showed me how collaborative the development of new health technologies is. In my head that environment is extremely competitive between companies which is in some regard, but more CEO and founders are coming to realize how important collaboration is in order to make the world a better place, especially when the health of another is at risk.

I got to meet many CEO’s or founders of startups in the health care field and it was extremely intimidating because I felt so under accomplished as an undergrad not having started any company but after walking up and talking to one or two I became more comfortable in the environment. I learned a lot form these people just by hearing their ideas and learning their thought process to get to that decision. There is no one way to think about an idea but a common theme in all the advice I was given is to pursue a problem to solve rather than pursue a solution, because it may be a problem people don’t actually have. In addition, there was a theme of being critical of your creation in all aspects of that word, especially in the form of not just creating to create, but creating for a purpose and something new.

It amazed me how willing people were to just talk and make connections even in the line for food and not just in the structured conference spaces. I got to have lunch with Kendrick Lamar and Lindsey Von, definitely experiences most people don’t have on the day to day. I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity and would recommend the summit to everyone, especially someone ready to be pushed out of their comfort zone.

Back to the Future

By Blaine Elias, Trinity 2018

This post was written by a student in Dr. Aaron Dinin’s Building Global Audiences(I&E 250) class. You can learn more about their class project and why they’re blogging about it here.


Who will I be in 5 years?

This is a question I ask myself every day. As a student approaching her final semester at Duke, I have been thinking about my future a lot lately. Sometimes, I wish I had a time machine that provided me with insight on my future self. A machine that mapped out my potential for success.

Well, it turns out such “time machines” exist out there, but not for humans.

Last week in my Building Global Audiences class, our professor, Aaron Dinin, introduced us to Google Analytics, which is a service that provides users with current information about their website or YouTube channel.

Information can include location of website visitors, monthly views on a site, how visitors arrived to a site (ex: finding a website from a Facebook newsfeed versus from an Internet advertisement), etc. It was amazing to discover how INTELLIGENT Google Analytics is.

After learning about these analytics, I thought to myself: How is our class going to apply analytics information to our class projects? According to Professor Dinin, website owners commonly use analytics to sketch the future performance of their site…just like a TIME MACHINE….

I am a part of the group responsible for identifying ways to grow the audience of the Duke Franklin Humanities Institute (FHI) YouTube Channel. Our assignment for this week was to gather the four following pieces of data:

  1. What is the current status of the YouTube Channel (in terms of subscription and viewership counts)?
  2. What strategies will we use to attract more people to the YouTube channel?
  3. What does our group want the channel to look like in the next year?
  4. What does our group want the channel to look like in the next 5 years?

Over the subsequent days, our group investigated! We used information from Social Blade (a public database with social media analytics) and Google Analytics. Here’s an overview of what we found –

Current Status of FHI YouTube Channel

In terms of amount in video views, this channel…

  • Has a total of 218,960 video views as of Tuesday, October 24th
  • Gains about 6,600 views per month
  • Receives approximately 80,000 views a year

In terms of subscription counts (a.k.a. number of followers), this channel…

  • Has a total of 1,003 subscribers as of Tuesday, October 24th
  • Gains approximately 0 to 5 subscribers a day
  • Obtains about 450 subscribers a year


Channel Growth Strategies

Over the course of the semester, my group researched ways in which to improve engagement on the YouTube channel. We plan to provide Eric Barstow, a multimedia creator at the FHI, with 6 strategies along with the estimated time to implement each one. Some of our strategies are listed below:

  • The channel could include weekly 60-second videos that summarize FHI work from the previous week and/or longer lecture videos (estimated time to complete: 1 hour per week)
  • Our group will create a template for all social media postings after a FHI YouTube video is released (estimated time to complete: 10 minutes per video




(example of our Twitter template)

  • Advertising new videos on the FHI iTunes podcast and on all social media (estimated time to complete: 30 minutes per week)
  • Creating a FHI Email Listserv for sending out weekly updates to students and featuring new videos (estimated time to complete: 1 hour a year)


FHI Channel in the Next Years

Currently, for every 178-180 video views, the channel attains 1 subscriber. Using the above strategies, we expect an increase in subscription and video views by 1.5 times per year. WHAT DOES THIS MEAN…

  • In the next year: The channel will have a total of 1,678 subscribers and about 120k views/year
  • In the next 3 years: The channel will have a total of 4,208 subscribers and about 270k views/year
  • In the next 5 years: The channel will have a total of 9,900 subscribers and 607k/year

At the end of year 5, the channel will have a total of 1.76 million video views!


What Do All of these Numbers Mean for the Future?

My group’s biggest challenge is the uncertainty in increasing the channel’s audience by the proposed amounts. How will we know that our strategies will be successful? It will be best for our team to meet with Eric again and ask for some advice on the applicability of our strategies. Along with Eric’s permission, it could be useful to test each of the 6 strategies on the channel to gauge growth.

However, one thing is for certain – my team and I will need to make realistic expectations for this channel. We can’t assume the FHI’s YouTube channel will become the most popular channel on YouTube. But, we NEED to make sure our strategies will lead to promising and consistent growth.

Since time machines don’t exist (yet), we will have to wait and see what’s next for this channel. My team and are excited to see how the upcoming weeks unfold. For more updates, check in to these weekly I&E education blogs and subscribe to the FHI YouTube channel!

Lessons from the Forbes Under 30 Summit

Michael Schroeder attended the Forbes Under 30 Summit, using funding available to students pursuing the Innovation & Entrepreneurship Certificate. Read on for details on his experience. If you are pursuing the I&E Certificate and you would like to apply for this funding, click this link.

Failure. As Duke students, it is something that we often consider as not being an option, or something to be avoided at all costs. We are consummate achievers, pursuing only those things in which we excel and shying away from those things in which we may stumble. However, in all of my exposure to the entrepreneurial world, the most successful people stress that failures are some of the most important experiences, in life as in entrepreneurship. When I went to the Forbes Under 30 Summit as a Forbes Under 30 Scholar, I expected to see people who were the pictures of success, merely coming to the conference to speak about what they had achieved. Yet even in this environment of extreme success and accomplishments, failure was something that all had endured, and even embraced.

The importance of experiencing and dealing with failure was a theme across many speakers’ presentations. My personal favorite interview was with Kendrick Lamar, a Grammy award-winning rapper and songwriter from Compton, CA. One of the main themes of his interview was about how he could not have been successful if he had been afraid of failure. “You have to almost intimidate this word… there is no better way,” Lamar said. “Failure is the one thing that stops us all from being our own entrepreneurs and following our dreams and having ownership of what we do.” This is the same sentiment I have heard echoed by many of the successful entrepreneurs I have had the opportunity of meeting since coming to Duke University.

However, I am generally somewhat skeptical of these words of advice, due to survivorship bias. In other words, I fear that the only people you hear advice from are those who have managed to be successful, while there may be many times more people who followed the exact same words of advice, but failed at whatever it is they tried to do. In essence, I feel that it’s a lot easier to say, “Follow your dreams!” when your dreams came true.

I had these concerns addressed in an interview with Sophia Amoruso, founder of women’s fashion retailer Nasty Gal, and one of the richest self-made women in 2016. However, within the next year, she stepped down as CEO of her company, got divorced, and watched as her company filed for bankruptcy. Here was someone who had seen great success, having followed her dreams, only to have it all slip away. Hearing her speak about how she plans to still move forward, in the face of all of this failure, was truly inspiring. She answered my skepticism with resilience. What happens when you follow your dreams and they don’t come true? You keep going.

Michael is a senior studying computer science as well as Innovation and Entrepreneurship. Outside of school, he enjoys playing ultimate and the piano. After graduating in December, he looks forward to working as a software engineer for Facebook in Cambridge, MA.



Who Let the Dogs Out?

This post was written by a student in Dr. Aaron Dinin’s Building Global Audiences (I&E 250) class. You can learn more about their class project and why they’re blogging about it here.


If you’re anything like me, you probably have no idea who let the dogs out. The owner? A mailperson? Are the “dogs” fluffy companions, or are they referring to men as dogs?

The answers to these questions are probably as unknown as the question, “Who sings this song?” How can the lyrics of a song be so widely known without even knowing who created it? Baha Men, the band who made the song, are a one hit wonder. Their song went viral, but the band didn’t gain much popularity.

As the Baha Men know, going viral isn’t the best way to build a sustained audience. The same logic can be applied to the FHI YouTube channel. My group and I could focus our energy on trying to help the FHI YouTube channel get a video to go viral, but focusing on that alone is a waste of time.

Instead, the sustainable way to build an audience online is to put links to your content in as many places as possible. These backlinks slowly but steadily build an audience over time.

So, to help the FHI YouTube Channel steadily build an audience, the Building Global Audiences YouTube Group spent a portion of our fall break brainstorming ways the FHI YouTube Channel can get more backlinks. Here’s our Top 5 list of link opportunities:

  1. Tags at the end of their videos

Most popular YouTube channels have links to their other videos embedded at the end of each video, which is something we can utilize on the FHI’s page.

  1. Linking the YouTube channel on each FHI Itunes U podcasts

Right now, the Itunes U podcasts and the FHI YouTube videos deliver very similar content. If we add backlinks to the podcasts, these two FHI information platforms can work together.

  1. Linking Social Media

Every FHI social media platform should have     the link to the FHI YouTube Channel in the bio.

  1. YouTube Comments

Go to other YouTube Channels with similar content and comment with links to similar videos.

  1. Spotlight

Make sure some FHI videos get featured in every FHI newsletter to its email listserv.

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