Health Is Social

Infusing Social Media into Healthcare

Posts in the Communication category

How Are You?

How are you?

This is the most important question in health care to ask.

Three words. A ton of purposes.

Every clinician should ask this.

It says you care.

It gives permission to the person you care for to open up.

It sets the tone for partnership.

It gives you the chance (and responsibility) to listen attentively.

It’s the most social act in the world.

It leads to better care.

So, how are you?

Phil Baumann



We know that social software does have some effects on people – in the extreme case, there’s the alone together phenomenon.

But that’s not what I’m wondering here.

I’m pretty connected, like most people anymore. I’m in different circles, so-to-speak. And I’m pretty early-adopter-ish.

I’m noting a curious thing: there are people who seem to adopt and incorporate all sorts of add-ons and plugins and hacks into their social media platforms. They’re definitely early adopters and I suspect that they’re actually kinda social people. And yet…

…And yet: in spite of all their technological link-ups and gizmos, they don’t seem to be terribly social.

In fact, they’re kinda boring actually. Nothing edgy to say. Not even any confrontations that may squeeze out useful ideas.

Maybe I’m missing something.

Maybe it’s me: I don’t like being told what to do by people who don’t know what they’re talking about – and I certainly don’t like having tools enslave me.

And maybe that’s the explanation: maybe some people don’t have within themselves the ability to express what they want, and so they end up submitting their human voice to inhuman software.

Or, at least, the unchecked convenience of inhuman software dampens the unsettling human voice.

Phil Baumann


Rescuing the Message from the Medium

I fear we’re losing the message to the medium.

McLuhan was right – the medium is the message. But when McLuhan wrote his works, he was living in a time when media evolved in serial stages – that is, for hundreds of years, print dominated; then for decades radio came along; and then television.

Each of these media had their own particular influence on our senses: print enhanced our visual processing while dampening our oral tradition; radio somewhat brought back our oral tradition; and television further enhanced our visual and auditory senses.

Before the Web, people had time to adapt to these media because they came along in different stages. Media evolved serially in time.

But today the Web is evolving all different kinds of media at the same time. Today’s media evolve parallel in time.

The Web is mother of all media.

The influences of these ever-evolving/devolving media come at us at once – not over centuries nor decades, nor even years but months.

So if the media are the messages, what are we talking about? What’s being said? What are we losing?

Soon, our immersion in these media – by choice or not – will mean that the messages we send and receive are the media we use.

The implication of the medium is the message is that the message is a prisoner of the medium!

But there’s something wrong about that. There must be some rescuing element.

We simply can’t be social if the messages we send each other are not messages but media.

So how can we snatch back the message from the medium?

I argue that the rescuing element is Art.

I argue that Art is Technology’s creative twin.

Art has always been Able to Technology’s Cain.

And yet, Art always resurrects. “Art is eternal.” You never heard that about Technology, did you?

While Technology advances according to what’s created, Art creates what advances.

Art is our creation of meaning. Meaning, not the medium, should be the message.

If you want to have a meaningful life in a time where media are proliferating at an an unprecedented and ruthless pace, I suggest you do the work of creating the meaning instead of making turkey stuffing for media.

It doesn’t matter if you’re a lone individual expressing your passion or a multinational corporate enterprise: if most of what you’re doing is fueling the medium with messages, you won’t create meaning.

Any enterprise without meaning is just a shell – an empty medium propogating meaninglessness.

The way to rescue the message from the medium is to keep at the message.

Forget focusing on the media so much – create! create! create!

Create the message so full with meaning that it bursts right out of the medium.



Long copy.

Short copy.

Copy is dead. Long live Social Media!

Uh huh.

Let’s stop fooling ourselves that we can remarkably market great ideas, products, services, brands, religions just by being social.

Hey, don’t get me wrong: I get it. I’m Mr. Social and all that. (How ya doing btw? You look amazing – I wish I could retweet your beauty. See what I mean?)

I know attention spans are thinning. So you may have concluded that you need to forgo macro content for micro.

But let’s take this all the way to its logical conclusion, shall we?

  1. The volume of content approaches infinity.
  2. The span of attentions approaches zero.
  3. Ergo: Nobody will consume any content.

Do you follow this syllogism?

There’s something wrong with this conclusion if you step back, right?

Think: if the trend of diminishing attention spans reaches this point, then marketing is dead. Totally dead.

So what’s going on here?

People do – and will – pay attention. Their spans won’t actually reach zero.

The volume of content will approach infinity, but that doesn’t mean people won’t seek out content relevant to them.

Back up….”relevant”.

Thats’s the word: relevant.

“Relevant” is what breaks the syllogism down. If nobody cared for relevant content, then the syllogism would probably ring true in a few years.

So be careful not to fall into this fallacy of going only with micro-content.


Nobody uses the word “copy” anymore.

I wish they did.

Why? Because copy suggests skill. Writing copy isn’t just about writing.

It’s about thinking. It’s about research. It’s about experimenting. It’s a willingness to learn what works and what doesn’t.

Copy builds character.

Copy doesn’t have to be text. Today’s copy is audio, video. It’s creative use of geo-location, RFID tagging and other innovative uses of presence technologies.

What you call “Social Media”? Actually that’s copy too!

When I respond to your tweet or comment on your post or your Facebook update, I’m writing copy.

If it makes you feel better – because you’ve been sold that it’s all social now – then add the word “social” to copy.

Social Copy.

Happy now? Try getting into the habit of befriending copy. Forget how the 20th Century defined copy.

Even though the Web is disturbing things and it seems like chaos, you don’t have to cave in to the peer pressure culture of Twitter’s frenzy.

Copy isn’t dead. Boring copy is dead.

Copy lives. Copy spreads. Copy works.




Keep a journal. Sart or re-start your blog, even if it’s private.

The more you write, the more ideas you have.

Writing is the oil of creativity.

Write when it feels right.

Write when it hurts.

In love? Write it!

Broken-hearted? Write it!

Marketing in today’s world getting frustrating? Write about it!

Think about your information-customers. Where will they be?

What kinds of messages do they need to hear at the right time?

How you can arrange different media within media? Where can a placement of a short video on Cardiovascular Disease fit within long educational copy?

Mix things up: short copy for when attention is short; long copy for when attention is piqued and focused.

Ask: “what sense organ is most receptive to the message?” Would video of someone having a heart attack work better than text?

What’s the experience of your consumer going to be? How would it look and feel from their perspective?

Map out all of your properties: print, TV, Twitter, Facebook, Website/Blog, proprietary networks, email, mobile apps, etc.

Connect it all together. Draw out the possible flows of all the different copy.

Use colors for lines. Blue for long. Red for short. Green for social.

Think it. Map it. Plan it. Write it. Work it.


Size matters. Knowing which size to use where when and how…Ah, now there’s a skill. 😉

Don’t ask: “Should our marketing efforts focus on micro-content or long form?”

Ask: “What do people need – when, where, why, how.”

Someone may see a tweet, click a link and see that you have something of interest.

Say it’s about your cardiology practice.

I may love Twitter, but if I’m an savvy patient with questions about my heart health (at some level), then I’ll probably want to know more about what you have to say.

If you have nothing more than your tweet and a link to a poorly designed website (or droll release copy) that doesn’t tell me more (hint: longer-form), then I’m gone.

Make it easy for me! I don’t want any more heart trouble!

You make it easy for me by doing the hard work.

You make the hard work easier on yourself by establishing healthy writing habits.

Look: Communications is the cardiovascular system of Marketing.

Keep that cardio-vasculature fit.


Write everyday.

Write everyday.

Write everyday.

@PhilBaumann@HealthIsSocialMy Steamy Love Letters


Healthy Promotion

Promote yourself.

It’s OK. In fact, you owe it to the object of your passion.

Yes, I know, all those blogs you’ve read, those social media conferences you’ve attended – they’ve laid down the rules about engagement.

Just because we can talk with each other, it doesn’t mean the only way to communicate it to wait for someone to retweet you.

Social = Broadcasting + Friendliness

That’s it – that’s the equation (if you’re looking for one).

If you want to market a great idea, a wonderful service, a product – whatever – just promote it.

We desperately need the great ideas about healthcare promoted.

We need the wisdom of physicians and nurses and life scientists to infiltrate Google.

Those great ideas and all that wisdom won’t be found unless the brains behind them know how to promote.

Two key points about healthy promotion:

  1. Promotion and narcissism aren’t the same thing
  2. Broadcasting and message-blasting aren’t the same thing

People love being living parts of an audience. Make it easy for them to be part of the show.

Healthy promotion is about expressing your passion, engendering community around it and leading with others who share your passion.

It’s not about you. It’s about your passion.

If you’re passionate about something, why on earth would you silence yourself?

@PhilBaumann@HealthIsSocialPurple Passions