Health Is Social

Infusing Social Media into Healthcare

Posts in the Healthcare Social Media category

My old man once told me: whatever you do, don’t get dirty unless you know how to garden.

It’s tempting for brands to go for the lowest common attention-denominator in today’s world of tweets and pings and quickie YouTube hits. After all, the cost of attention goes up every single day.

But the cost of getting dirty for attention goes up too. See this post on how low brands might go – and then bounce back here.

Now that Healthcare organizations are “getting” the need to pay attention to the web, there is the chance that we’ll see marketing campaigns and social media efforts go for the “hot” shot…the viral YouTube video, the magical tweet that gets featured on Mashable or NYT.

It won’t take much to go from that to using cheap means to meet expensive needs: like reaching and engaging and educating the right people.

Yeah, sex sells. I’m sure some marketer will find a bright idea to connect a nice pair of legs with diabetes or cancer or bipolar affective disorder.

But Healthcare isn’t prostitution. And women aren’t objects. Neither are people with wellness needs or disease conditions.

My old man’s advice may be the best advice for this weird social media world we’re all being sucked into…or *down* into. You do have to dig into the dirt if you want to do social media “right”. It’s HARD work…really hard work

Being a gardener means being grounded, knowing the dark material you work with, and understanding the power of time and patience and persistence.

The work we do must be high quality.

When choosing what role to play in social media: decide between prostitution or gardening.

The web is a dirty world.

Make it beautiful or pay the high cost of selling your body to the lowest bidder.

@PhilBaumann – @HealthIsSocial


For – Against – With

There are three ways to deal with Technology when thinking about its effects on our health, culture…future.

The first involves working for Technology. There’s no doubt that technology is advancing at such an accelerating pace that the gap between our powers and its may widen to the point where we have no choice but to submit.

The second – which is one conclusion from the recognition of the first – is to work against Technology. It’s not impossible that, if you extrapolate Technology’s advancement, that we will go extinct…that technology is an absolute enemy.

The third approach involves working with Technology, accepting both the inevitable good and badĀ of its unstoppable advancement and our right to be who we are in this world: human.

The first two approaches are easy to take:

  • If you like to accept things and let technology take care of your needs, no need to work too hard. At least at first. So work for technology.
  • If you’re a fighter, someone who refuses to submit to the power of the non-human, it’s easy to rage or flee. At least at first. So work against technology.

But the third approach – now that’s a challenge. It’s an art. It’s a discipline. It’s a skill to navigate the boundaries of the human and the technological. It’s an intelligence of where technology takes itself…and us. In other words: it requires leadership.

We humans are between Nature and Technology.

We embraced Technology in response to Nature’s nourishing cruelty. Our ancestors would not have survived into our special version without Technology. But now Technology too is emerging as a nourishing cruelty.

Just as Nature could finish us at any moment, so too can Technology.

And just as the answer to the dangers of Nature isn’t to destroy Nature, so too must we appreciate our situation with Technology.

This is the world individuals and organizations face with social and other digital technologies: work entirely for them, ignore or work against them, or figure out how to work with them.

For. Against. With.

Those are our choices.

Are you with me?

@PhilBaumann – @HealthIsSocial – Newsletter



Why on earth would anybody want to be friends with a brand? Nobody wants to be friends with a hospital or a pill.

How on earth is that social?

People want what they want and need – they want meaning. Brands aren’t people.

I think too many businesses and marketers are confused about today’s media.

First, many were late adopters – only a couple of years ago, I’d go to conferences and get glazed looks: “What’s a Twitter?”

Now, after reading social media blogs and attending more conferences, companies can’t get enough of this stuff and are purchasing crocks of snake oil.

But few are taking a step back and asking “What are these media? Why do people use them?” It seems like digital marketing agencies and businesses truly believe the notion that “it’s all about conversation”.

No! No! NO!!

Really: who wants to be friends with a brand? It’s an absolutely delusional proposition.

Yes, businesses need to be available to customers. Yes, theses media can be repurposed for business value.

But here’s where the confusion is: people use these media to talk with each other. They do talk about products and services. People talk about what’s meaningful to them.

Social matters between and among customers – not between brands and customers. This is the confusion.

This confusion is creating the weird world of social media, where we’re all supposed to be friends with brands and spend our time reading company tweets. Oy!

So the idea of brands being social is utterly misguided.

The Web is a great platform for people to connect with each other.

So help them make connections with each other.

That’s where companies need to invest resources.

Last century, you could spend 80% of your capital on marketing and 20% on core business. You could get away with shoddy products and services because customers didn’t have platforms to connect directly with each other.

That’s changed. The the mix has to flip: companies need to spend 20% on marketing and 80% on core business.

The purpose of marketing has always been to enhance a product’s attention and presence – not replace it.

This is why most social media efforts will fail.

Build a remarkable hospital. Hire competent nurses and doctors and encourage them to use social networks for their professional development and networking.

The way to do Social isn’t to do the weird thing and make brands social.

Nope: the way to do Social is to run a business with bright people who are committed to creating meaningful products and services, and then helping customers to talk openly and honestly about their experiences, problems, hopes and insights.

Trust me: it’s a much better world than the weird alternative universe where we wake up with yet another request to friend a brand.



Mention Deficit Disorder

It’s nice to be mentioned – at least in a positive way.

Granted, some of us are more easily prone to enjoy flattery and attention than others. A lot depends on childhood experiences, genetics, personality.

Today’s media make it easier than ever to publicly mention someone and have them receive it – instantly.

Twitter epitomizes this: it has brought forth the mention-economy. People love to be Retweeted and Replied to. At least a substantial majority do.

This mention-economics can be a good thing: it can enable new connections, enhance existing social ties and produce a sense of ambient intimacy.

But what happens when the mentions become habit-forming?

What happens if the mentions stop – or if the mentions aren’t enough?

What happens when people feel as though they aren’t getting the mentions they want?

What happens when they reach a mention-deficit?

Do they develop a strange condition? A Mention Deficit Disorder?

I don’t know – it’s kind of a silly way to put things. But I suspect this Web stuff – to some degree – can create what I’ve called Inadvertent Narcissism.

Perhaps what we’re entering isn’t so much an Attention Economy. Perhaps what we’re entering is more of an Attention MEconomy. An economy that has to constantly seek out new ways of engaging and mentioning.

The problem, though, is that people can handle so much stimulation – overstimulate the senses and snap!…the system crashes.

That’s what happens with Attention Deficit Disorder (supposedly) – overstimulate the hyperactive brain and paradoxically calm it down.

Now that many corporations are waking up to social media, they will now realize what they’ve signed up for: finding ways of treating Mention Deficit Disorder without shutting down the attention economy.