Why a health care company is subtweeting South End

Why a health care company is subtweeting South End

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

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StarMed’s transformation on Twitter from a well-mannered health care start-up to a cheeky roast machine started in February with a simple “hey y’all.”

The young Charlotte-based health care company is one of many leading the charge to end the COVID-19 pandemic through vaccination clinics and good ole internet humor.

Why it matters: StarMed’s sassy Twitter account employs an age-old technique used by parents (and doctors) everywhere. Think of a vaccine shot like a plate of plain broccoli: it’s good for you, but there are better tasting dishes. Some people might need that extra encouragement — cheese over top the broccoli, for example. In this case, StarMed’s Twitter is the cheese encouraging the hesitant to get vaccinated. They’re the doctor that went viral for making kids laugh before administering a shot.

Yes, and: Who couldn’t use a laugh after this year?

“Have you ever had a day where everything goes wrong? I mean everything. Finally, you get home from work at 7:30pm, you’re starving, and your goldenmaltidoodle (for you Myers Park readers) shit on your floor and all you can do is laugh? That’s what the past year and a half has been like for all of us and now we just have to laugh our way out of it,” StarMed’s mystery Tweeter tells me.

starmed twitter

The first tweet on February 26, 2021 as the new StarMed Twitter we’ve come to love. Screenshot: StarMed Twitter

The intrigue: The account has a lot going on, but who’s running it? StarMed wouldn’t share who was at the helm of their social media accounts nor would they agree to a phone interview, but the mystery Tweeter did answer my questions via email.

Before their takeover on Twitter, they felt the account was “fake” and “trying to be squeaky clean” like a bigger health care network like Novant or Atrium Health. “StarMed Healthcare is a scrappy, fun, agile, young and entrepreneurial health care provider. Now, they tell me, their social media represents that personality — South End shade and all.

The big picture: So far, the strategy is working. StarMed has more than quadrupled its Twitter following since March, and their spirit has driven non-traditional venues like breweries to host vaccine clinics.

starmed twitter

“If I’m able to loosen people up, make them laugh during the day a few times, that’s great,” they say. “If I can get them vaccinated after that because they’ve let their guard down, that’s what success feels like for StarMed, our City, and our silly Twitter account.”

To vaccinate as many people as possible, StarMed launched a contest for mass vaccination ideas last week. The winner gets $100 over Venmo. Some of the ideas aren’t half bad. Some are jokes, but we like them anyway.

  • Shots and puppies. Get a shot while snuggling your puppy. Make it into an adoption event. 2 for 1. Shots and slobber.” — @bdicer
  • “Tell everyone Wegman’s is opening and when they arrive, it’s actually the @StarMedCare mobile van.” — @Matt_McKenzie1
  • Get Trader Joe’s employees to administer vaccines — we’d all trust them with our lives.” — @dixonjennifer10
  • “Host a @JoeBrunoWSOC9 meet & greet!” — @scm680203

“I came up with that (campaign) at a stop light at Hawthorne and Central and just posted it before the light changed (full disclosure, I was just beginning to roll),” the Tweeter tells me.

starmed twitter

Part of StarMed Twitter’s personality is a love of Joe Bruno (relatable). “This man has done as much as anyone to move our state towards pandemic freedom,” they tell me. “He’s made an incredible impact on the Queen City and deserves more praise than he’ll ever receive. I’m looking at you, Mayor Lyles. Make it happen.” Photo: Twitter screenshot

There’s no big marketing plan to the StarMed account, the Tweeter tells me. “It just happens spontaneously like a magic show,” they say.

What’s next: The only concrete plan the Tweeter has is to continue trolling South End, a popular activity these days.

“Listen, I know they’re good for it, that’s why I tweeted it without any consideration at all. They literally partied through the pandemic when everyone was calling them out,” the StarMed Tweeter says. “The pandemic never existed in South End. It’s like it was protected by a force field of $3 bathroom polo fumes.”

Vaccine guide: How to get your shot in Charlotte, including walk-in locations 

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