Christoph Trappe, #1 on the 2015 #HIT99Christoph Trappe was ranked #1 in the 2015 #HIT99, the annual list of who is contributing to health IT online communities. He shares his bold predictions for 2016 health IT marketing, including everything from videocasting apps to Twitter tools to authentic storytelling.

Show notes

Air Date: January 20, 2016
Guest: Christoph Trappe, keynote speaker, author, and director of content marketing for MedTouch

0:46 Memorable quote from last week’s episode
1:30 Introducing Christoph Trappe
4:38 The road from journalist to content marketer
5:38 Authentic storytelling
9:21 Human-to-human storytelling
10:55 How are journalism and traditional marketing different?
12:52 What trends should health care marketers be watching?
14:00 Just try it!
16:15 How many visitors does MySpace get?
17:39 Bold predictions for health IT marketing in 2016
19:15 What tools does Christoph use to manage his social media and content?
22:37 Bonus question: If you could join a music group or rock band for a day, who would it be?

About Christoph Trappe

My guest this week is Christoph Trappe, director of content marketing for MedTouch and keynote speaker on the subject of authentic storytelling. Christoph Trappe (aka The Authentic Storyteller™) is a career storyteller who has worked as a journalist, a nonprofit executive, and a content marketing strategist and consultant. He is a global keynote speaker, frequent blogger and author. His digital initiatives have been recognized globally. He is currently helping hospitals across the United States share their authentic stories. The IMA named him Internet Marketer of the Year in 2015.

He is a globally-recognized content marketing expert who frequently speaks at global conferences – including Content Marketing World – about social media, blogging and executive buy-in. The Content Marketing Institute acknowledged him as a 2014 and 2015 Top 100 Most Influential Content Marketer. Among other awards, he was also named a most influential content marketer on Twitter by London-based Axonn Media.

You can reach him at his blog,, and on Twitter at @CTrappe.

Help improve the podcast with this 3-minute survey

Tell us what guests and topics you would like to hear on upcoming episodes by taking this quick 3-minute survey:

Podcast home page and archive

We are looking for 4 more reviews on iTunes, so please help us spread the word by leaving a review here.

Podcast home page and archive:
LinkedIn Showcase Page:
Leave a review on iTunes:
Share your comments on Twitter using #HITMarketerPodcast, or directly to @jaredpiano or @ulteradigital.

Full Transcript

Jared Johnson: Hello, my friends and welcome to the Health IT Marketer podcast, the podcast for the heartbeat of healthcare. I’m your host, Jared Johnson of Ultera Digital. This is the first and only podcast dedicated to the health IT marketing community. Welcome aboard.

Let me know what guests and topics you’d like to hear on future episodes by taking a short three-minute survey. It’ll help me improve this podcast. You could take that at That’s

Well, last week’s guests said something that has stuck with me ever since. I was speaking with Dr. Justin Smith, a.k.a. @TheDocSmitty, our pediatrician friend at Cook Children’s Hospital at Fort Worth. And he was discussing why he invests so much time in social media. And he said he decided a while back not to join the criticisms and condescension of his fellow clinicians who didn’t like patients who were researching their own health.

And he said something that I think is key to moving healthcare forward. And that is this, He said: “If we’re not creating good information, how can we complain about the bad information they’re bringing in?” It was a drop-the-mic moment. A #truth moment. You can check out the full interview at

Well, my guest this week is Christoph Trappe. He was listed number one last summer in the 2015 HIT99, the annual list of those who actively contribute to health IT online communities through their tweets, blogs and books, that’s those communities such as #HealthIT, HITSM, HCSM, HealthITChicks, HealthcareLeader and so forth. He was listed number one, at the top, of the #HIT99.

Christoph is an authentic story-teller. He has worked as a journalist, a non-profit executive, a content marketing strategist and consultant. He’s a global keynote speaker, a frequent blogger and author. His digital initiatives have been recognized globally and he’s currently helping hospitals across the U.S. share their authentic stories.

The IMA named him the Internet Marketer of the Year in 2015. He is a globally recognized content marketing expert who frequently speaks at global conferences such as Content Marketing World, about social media, blogging and executive buy-in. The Content Marketing Institute acknowledged him as a top 100 most influential content marketer in both 2014 and 2015. Among other awards, he’s also named the most influential content marketer on Twitter by Axon Media.

In his current role at MedTouch, Christoph and his team advise healthcare brands across the U.S. on blogging, on social media and E-news letter strategies. And how to align those strategies with patients, members, and donors. I’m thrilled to have Christoph on the program today.

How’re you doing today?

Christoph Trappe: Yeah, you bet. Thanks for having me. I’m doing great. A little cold here in Iowa, but that’s what happens when you live in Iowa in the winter.

Jared Johnson: Yeah, I bet. Sometimes a year during the summer, I didn’t want to talk too much weather with people because they were making me jealous. And this is the time of the year that those tables turn, because we’re a good 60 degrees and sunny in Phoenix today.

Christoph Trappe: Well, thanks for letting me know.

Jared Johnson: Yeah, but I won’t talk about it.

Christoph Trappe: Right.

Jared Johnson: Those who aren’t quite familiar with you, I imagine all of our listeners know about you, but do you want to tell them a little bit more about yourself, your background and how you got to where you are now?

Christoph Trappe: Yeah, happy to do it. So I talk about and I help organizations with authentic storytelling, content marketing. So sometimes you hear people talk about storytelling, but I’m actually talking about authentic storytelling within the realm of content marketing.

I first started as a journalist. Back then had you asked me if that was storytelling I would’ve said, I don’t know what you’re talking about. But today we of course know that that was indeed storytelling. So I did journalism first for media companies, I did that for a few years.

And then moved the same concepts to the financial industry and non-profits, and then currently I mostly work in the healthcare realm and help organizations with their storytelling and getting buy-ins from physicians and getting started.

Jared Johnson: So what was that road from journalist to that storyteller and content marketing role that you’re in now?

Christoph Trappe: Yeah, actually, it’s an interesting question because they’re very, very similar, they’re very related. In fact, if you were to push me on it, I’d actually argue that content marketing the way we practice is very similar to journalism. That deadlines are not necessarily quite as bad because especially now, journalism, I mean, the deadlines just, it’s like nonstop, right? It’s all the time. So they’re not quite that bad, but it’s really very similar.

And even one of my next books will actually be about the new role of content marketing journalist and how journalists can make that transition, and why would they want to and how is it really different, because ultimately, it’s not that different from journalism except you’re not working for a media company. So very smooth transition, very easy indeed, actually.

Jared Johnson: Perfect. Well, let’s dive into that a little bit. Tell us a little bit about, when you describe authentic storytelling, you said there is a difference between just that and regular storytelling.

Christoph Trappe on the Health IT Marketer Podcast

Christoph Trappe: Yeah, it’s kind of interesting. I was speaking at a conference in Mumbai, India and people were writing articles after the fact and one person said, “Everybody that spoke talked about storytelling except Christoph made his entire talk about storytelling,” and I’m like, I’ve listened to many of those talks. I didn’t hear anybody else talk about what I talked about. And, what I’m talking about is, it is authentic storytelling. First you have to live it, then you can share it.

So what that means is every organization, every person, every family, anybody really has stories that they live, right? I mean, even right now, what we’re doing right here is, we’re living a story. So we can actually go back later on and share a story about how was the podcast experience, how do you do a podcast, those kinds of things. And of course every time you live those things, you can share, I mean, you can share what you’ve learned.

For example, you can share a story about here is how you do a podcast. I could do a story about here is how you participate in a podcast, here is how you prepare. Do you sit down? Do you stand up? Those are just some very simple examples that are related to what we’re doing right now.

The biggest difference is, it’s not messaging. We used to be, everybody gets together, they sit in a conference room, they have a committee meeting and they come up with, “What’s our marketing message for the year?” and that’s not what authentic storytelling is.

Now you can certainly work on making your stories be more engaging, and sharing them in the best possible way. But you first have to live it. If you don’t live it, it’s not an authentic story, it’s a marketing message.

Sometimes authentic stories can be negative. Now, it’s kind of a fine line because what are you going to share that’s negative, we all want to look good, obviously. But some of my best performing blog posts even from my own site, have been very, very negative experiences in my life. And people read them because you can open yourself up, you’re showing your real self, and you’re being transparent and authentic.

Now, there’s a fine line. You don’t have to share everything. You don’t have to share things you don’t want to share. But there are definite advantages, and not just advantages from a business perspective, but also from feeling meaningful and having meaningful experiences.

I’ll go back to the story I published about my son’s death. I published that and I think, I was actually [inaudible 00:08:20] in a hotel room in Texas when it published because I schedule posts on my blog. It was just amazing to see the outpouring of responses.

I was getting emails. I was getting text messages and tweets, and everybody was offering their condolences and saying, how eye opening was that I was sharing such a meaningful and personal story. And it was something that took me eight years to publish. But it wasn’t in line with a marketing message. It was very authentic and very real.

And that’s really what it’s about. I say this should be the year of being real and relevant and not just trying to have transactional relationships. Don’t get me wrong. I’m all for getting paid and we all need to, but we need to have a little more meaning than that in our lives. And that’s what authentic storytelling aims to help people to do.

Jared Johnson: Well, you touched on one thing that definitely takes storytelling to another level, and that’s a personal involvement, something that happens with their family. So even though I haven’t read the story about your son’s death, I’ll offer my condolences there as well, no matter how many years ago that happened. I mean, there are people that leave our lives too quickly.

So it’s great to be comfortable sharing that type of story, because I think, that just takes things to a new level. It adds a level of sincerity to no matter what you’re doing, when you’re able to share things like that.

Christoph Trappe: You know what it comes down to really is, humans behaving like humans. And it’s kind of funny, and of course Bryan Kramer came up with the human to human marketing concept where it used to be business to business and business to consumer. Ultimately it’s always human to human, H2H. That’s what he calls it.

And I kind of joke because really what we’re all doing is trying to help humans behave like humans. That’s really what it comes down to, which is kind of really silly if you really think about that sentence.

But there’s a little bit of work to do for many of us, including myself, how do we behave like humans when everything is so public. And of course, you have the digital lynch mob when you share something. They might come after you. So you have to deal with that too because once you share something publicly you have to expect public responses. And they’re not always good, and they’re not always necessarily those nice messages.

Jared Johnson: Well, is it fair to say that being that authentic and that open is a little different than what a lot of traditional marketing has taught us? It teaches us to, like you said, to focus on either features and benefits of a product that you’re selling, which is transactional versus telling your story. Or it teaches us to kind of gloss over the things that where we need improvement. And modern day storytelling, especially in social media like you said, it flies in the face of that.

Is that a fair thing to say that its quite different from traditional marketing?

Christoph Trappe: Yes, it is very different from traditional marketing. As I said earlier, the content marketing journalists, now marketers, people who came up in the marketing realm, they can learn how to be authentic storytellers, they really can. But what I found a lot of times is that marketers have been taught to write a certain way. They use superlatives, they tell, they don’t show.

And journalists actually, first of all they’re told not to use superlatives, and then they don’t actually tell, they show. Good journalists, I mean, don’t get me wrong. There are bad journalists, not so talented ones, who can’t do it either.

But it’s a lot easier to actually train journalists into this authentic storytelling marketing model. You can totally . . . marketers can get there, but they really have to kind of shed those ideas of how to write and how to . . . when you open up a news release or any kind of announcement, many of them start with, “It is my pleasure. It is our pleasure to announce this state-of-the-art news release.” You know what I mean? That’s just too markety, and people see it. People know what’s going on there.

Jared Johnson: Excellent. Well, let’s focus on healthcare marketing then for a second, as a kind of subset of that. And we’re still at the beginning of 2016, and we’re still processing all of the lists and blogs and predictions that are out there that have come out in the last few weeks. And what do you see, what trends are out there that healthcare marketers should be watching?

Christoph Trappe: So things change all the time. I go back to my Instagram recommendation. Instagram wasn’t all that relevant to healthcare marketers, maybe like nine months ago. And now Instagram is really picking up and healthcare organizations should really be using Instagram, quite honestly. And there’s a lot of opportunities for good photos, and actually the way you can tie it all together, you can be very efficient with your content.

The biggest trend for 2016, technology-wise is probably most likely going to be video. Some people call it the Year of Video. I do agree with that. There’s more and more live-streaming apps out there or live-video apps as the social media examiner calls it. It’s a little bit easier term to use.

So healthcare marketers cannot wait for the next couple of years to decide to do video. They should just go ahead and start it, just give it a try. It’s so simple to use. I mean, Periscope for example, earlier I did a Periscope testing something. I had 40 people watch me do a Periscope when I was really just testing something new that came out with Periscope. So people were interacting, people were talking. So just try it. Just use it. And see what works and what doesn’t work.

Of course, you should have reasonable expectations of what working means. Forty viewers on Periscope. That worked. I wasn’t even trying to get anybody to watch it, but I did have some people watch. You’re not going to get a million views. You can’t set your mark that high even though it’s always nice to see if you ever get there.

But really, non-technology wise, it needs to be the year of being real and relevant, and what are the stories that you can share. And a lot of times, I would recommend for any healthcare organization to start on their website, to start with a blog. It’s going to help you with SEO, people searching for you.

It’s going to help you with all those website related things. Website traffic, will it go up because of great blog content that has those authentic stories? And then of course you kind of farm some of those stories and tidbits out to the different networks. And share them there as well.

And there’s different strategies to do that. I mean, you don’t always have to link. Very few people actually click from the different networks. So there are ways to share things natively on the different networks. And sometimes you can link back to the blog.

But it’s really about how do you connect with people wherever they are. But I would not forget about the blog because I mean, you might remember MySpace, right? MySpace used to be really important for marketers a few years ago. And today it doesn’t even enter the equation, I mean, nobody talks about it and it’s totally irrelevant to healthcare marketing especially. Let me ask you a question. Do you know how many people go to MySpace per month? Any guesses?

Jared Johnson: No idea.

Christoph Trappe: Take a wild guess.

Jared Johnson: I couldn’t even tell if it was a million, ten million. I’m guessing it’s not that high anymore.

Christoph Trappe: According to Scott Stratten, who’s the president of UnMarketing, he saw 59 million a month go to MySpace. Now it’s the musician’s site, which makes it totally irrelevant to healthcare. But it hasn’t gone away, it has just changed.

So think about what if Facebook, everybody is putting all their eggs in the Facebook basket. What if Facebook goes away? I know it sounds unreasonable today, but who knows? How do we know? What if Twitter goes away? Twitter is still popular. LinkedIn. What if it changes?

I mean, a few years ago these things weren’t even around, and they’ve replaced us just talking to each other to an extent. So it’s something to think about. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket, and if you have it on your website at least, you have it there as a record, and you have it there when you move websites. But you have it on a place that you own. You’re building your house on your own land and not just rented land, which is social media. But you still have to participate in social media, obviously.

Jared Johnson: Do you want to make any bold predictions about 2016 in healthcare, about things you’ll see in particular?

Christoph Trappe: I have bold predictions. It’s always up for debate what’s bold and what’s not I guess. But I hope healthcare in general gets past the HIPAA excuse. I hear that so many times and I see it so many times whether it’s face-to-face or whether it’s online on Twitter or in blogs. People claim that HIPAA is the reason we’re not sharing authentic stories.

And here’s the thing. All you’ve to do to share somebody’s story, you have to have them sign a HIPAA form, you have to have them sign a release form that you can use the story. And guess what? When I was in the non-profit world, same thing, they had people sign forms. So very few people in my career with the teams I’ve worked with, have ever turned us down to share stories.

People want to share their stories. So I think this whole privacy thing, hiding behind privacy, it’s really not as bad as people think it is. Now you do have to have people sign a form, you do have to get their permission. You can’t just take their picture and post it to your blog. But in general, I hope, I don’t want to say that’s a prediction necessarily, but I hope, organizations can get beyond that and have the guts to ask people for permission. That’s really what it comes down to.

Jared Johnson: So do you use particular tools to manage . . . you’ve talked about your blog a lot and social media. Do you use any particular tool you like that you’ve found to be effective to manage all of your content marketing?

Christoph Trappe: Yep, of course. I use WordPress on my site which works really, really well for just a one person kind of site. There’s an editorial calendar, it pushes automatically to the different social networks. Whenever I publish something, I schedule that thing through the first week of May with weekly posts. They’re going to publish, whether I write anything else or not, they’re scheduled to go out the door. So very, very, very nice and easy to use for me.

One of the biggest problems with WordPress is, for large organizations, it’s not necessarily the best tool. A lot of times I would recommend Sitecore because they’re just better tools for large organization, with blogging and social and e-newsletter and that sort of thing. But for really, really small organizations, WordPress is great. It automatically sends e-newsletters, but it misses some of those needs that bigger organizations typically need.

Hootsuite, Buffer, those kinds of platforms work really well to schedule posts. I personally on Twitter use SocialOomph, I use that with a number of people I work with. So SocialOomph allows you to repeat posts on Twitter automatically, so you say, “Please publish this right now, and repeat it every 8 hours, or every 13 days, or every 2 months” or something like that. And after a certain frequency, it actually expires. So I can say, “Please run it four times,” and when it runs four times, that’s that. So that works really well.

Scheduling posts I think is a great way of staying engaged. You still have to pay attention to what’s going on, I think the most recent example was the attacks in Paris. People were posting unrelated things but they were taken out of context, and people were like, “That is so rude. Did you see what just happened?” or “That’s so offensive.” So you still have to pay attention. You still have to respond to people.

So if you look at my own Twitter feed, it publishes 24 hours a day, because there’s people on there from around the globe. And it’s not really that unusual when I get up in the morning, I have like over 20 notifications from the international audience. But obviously I can’t respond to them. That’s second, because I was sleeping, I do have to sleep at some point. So I respond to them as soon as I can. So you still have to respond to people on the different networks and we’ll see what else, what other tools come out.

It kind of changes from time to time what tools I recommend, like SocialOomph has been around for a while but I actually didn’t use it because I thought it was kind of overkill to be talking so much on Twitter. But then when you look at the numbers, if you talk every 15 minutes on Twitter, it’s just fine. Because Twitter moves so fast that people first of all don’t notice, and they only look at the last five tweets anyway. So I wouldn’t recommend that on Facebook to be posting that much. But Twitter is the one where you can totally just keep talking.

Jared Johnson: We’ve got time for a bonus question, which is, if you could join a music group or rock band for a day, who would that be?

Christoph Trappe: Oh, I knew you were going to ask that. I don’t know. I grew up listening to Guns N’ Roses. They seemed to be really rebellious when I was growing up. So back then it would’ve probably sounded like a lot of fun. Today, I don’t know. They’re going to reunite I guess, that’s what I heard the other day. That sounded like fun back then so let’s go with them I suppose.

Jared Johnson: Let’s go with that and you’re right, I’ve heard of a reunion coming also, like 19 years in the making or at least that long. It’s been a while.

Christoph Trappe: Quite the planning process, I guess.

Jared Johnson: All those creative differences, I guess? I’m not sure. It’s been a pleasure, Christoph. Anything you want to share with our audience before we go?

Christoph Trappe: Well, thanks for having me on. I really hope everybody hops on the authentic storytelling bandwagon and really share your stories. It’s easy to do, anybody can do it. You really just have to make up your mind, and then get going.

Jared Johnson: Perfect. Want to tell everyone one more time how to reach you?

Christoph Trappe: Yeah, you can checkout my blog, There’s at least weekly posts on there, links to everything else. Twitter, you can follow me there @CTrappe. Fair warning, I talk a lot, so sometimes for people who only follow like two other people, it’s probably going to be a little overkill. But if you are already on twitter, you shouldn’t notice it as much. But hopefully you connect there or the blog and of course, there’s an email sign up on there as well.

Jared Johnson: Wonderful. Thanks a lot. Hey, stay bundled up, keep warm out there. And thanks again for being on the program. And we’ll hope to be in touch again soon.

Christoph Trappe: You bet. Absolutely and I’m not going outside just so you know.

Jared Johnson: Very good. Hey, you have a great one. We’ll talk to you soon.

Christoph Trappe: All right, you too. Bye.

Jared Johnson: Well, that wraps up the program this week. There’s one thing left for you to do. That’s to tell Siri or Cortana or Alexa or Ava or whatever name you give your android phone, to set up a reminder later today to leave a review on iTunes for this program.

Until next time, I’m Jared Johnson and you’ve been listening to the Health IT Marketer podcast. This program is sponsored by Ultera Digital Marketing Consulting. Take your content further. For a full archive, go to, that’s Thanks as always for supporting this program. Be sure to tell your friends, and we’ll talk to you next week.