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Torax Medical Goes Social to Educate Patients About Acid Reflux

Upon completion of a clinical trial confirming the safety of a device they developed to treat acid reflux, a Minneapolis medical technology company asked Olive to help introduce the LINX Reflux Management System to the 1 in 5 Americans who suffer from this disease.

For more than a decade, Torax Medical has been researching and developing technology to help patients find relief from sphincter-related diseases, including chronic acid reflux, without reliance on medication. Out of this work, Torax pioneered Magnetic Sphincter Augmentation, a technology platform comprised of a ring of magnetic titanium beads designed to restore human sphincter function. In 2012, the FDA approved the LINX® Reflux Management System and Torax began marketing the device to physicians across the United States.

“[Olive] helped us establish an ever-growing social base which has allowed us to start focusing on how to increase our engagement with them.”

Challenge: Ethical Education

In the two years that followed their FDA-approval, Torax was able to build a solid network of gastroenterologists with the credentials to implant the LINX device in patients with gastroesophageal reflux disease, more commonly known as acid reflux. With this network in place, they needed to help patients understand the impact GERD can have on their health and educate them about treatment options.

With 1 in 5 Americans suffering from chronic acid reflux, Torax knew their audience was out there, they just didn’t know how to reach them. Many people with chronic reflux rely solely on medications or, in some instances, surgeries developed more than 50 years ago, to relieve symptoms. Many of these patients think reflux is relatively harmless and simply something they have to live with. However, the problem with this misconception is that reflux can lead to more serious conditions like esophageal cancer.

This meant if Torax was going to help patients who could genuinely benefit from the LINX device, they would have to shed light on both GERD and its treatments. And, they would have to do it through clear messaging that fell within the bounds of the FDA’s strict policies surrounding medical device advertising. All in all, this made for a complex sales process.

Solution: A Social Experiment

During initial strategy discussions between the Olive team and Torax’s marketing department, we determined that social media would prove to be an ideal way to not only reach, but educate, the consumer audience. A preliminary audit found that a number of Twitter and Facebook users were already having conversations about their chronic reflux via the social platforms, all Torax had to do was join the dialogue.

It was determined the International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders’ annual GERD Awareness Week would provide a natural opportunity to introduce LINX to the social audiences. Olive set up LINX profiles, writing content and developing supporting graphics that both engaged social users and adhered to FDA guidelines. Within a few weeks, our social media team had developed enough posts to establish Torax’s credibility as we entered GERD Awareness Week. Pairing the social launch with the IFFGD event helped LINX gain enough traction to share information about chronic reflux and the LINX device over the course of the next year.

The Olive team continued to develop social posts and engage with users, leveraging relevant chronic reflux and spoonie—the term for someone with a chronic illness—hashtags to participate in ongoing discussions about this impactful disease. The LINX accounts shared updates about the device, acid reflux tips, and ongoing developments around GERD symptoms and complications. In addition to these organic efforts, Olive managed paid social account promotion to further establish and grow the follower base.

During GERD Awareness Week the following year, we redoubled our efforts, creating a hashtag and mini infographics designed to encourage patients to share their own story about how GERD had impacted their lives.

Results: A Place for Conversation

Over the course of a year, the LINX social media efforts grew follower counts, increased engagement, and subsequently, expanded awareness, driving patients to consult with a LINX physician about their individual experience with chronic reflux. The Facebook and Twitter accounts became a place where users could not only get updates and tips, but also ask questions about the device and GERD. Patients also began to use the LINX profiles as a platform where they could share their own experiences with other patients.

In the first year of their engagement with Olive, Torax increased LINX Twitter followers by more than 500 percent and their Facebook followers by sixfold. The redoubled GERD Week efforts alone reached 20,523 people and garnered 774 post engagements (including shares, page and post likes, and clicks). The Twitter campaign yielded 53,931 impressions, 64 clicks, and 315 engagements.

“Olive and the team was great to work with. They listened to the restrictions that we have to work with in our industry and ensured that everything that they produced for us fits those guidelines. They helped us establish an ever-growing social base which has allowed us to start focusing on how to increase our engagement with them.”

– Brenda Carr, U.S. Marketing Manager at Torax Medical

Olive & Company
Olive & Company
Founded in 2003, Olive & Company has dedicated our existence to a single purpose: providing finely tuned Modern Marketing solutions that drive brands and deliver business results. By helping brands stay in tune with emerging trends and technology, we give them the tools they need to adapt and refine their strategies to better engage and inspire their audiences.