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Archive for April, 2012

Get away from that computer! Connect in person!

April 28, 2012 1 comment

I really like the view from my office window on the edge of downtown Cincinnati. It reminds me to get away from my computer, join the human race, and connect in person with my many online friends and associates. 

The world of blogs, social networks, message boards and the like has linked me to a vast network of amazing people. We share information and ideas literally every day. We ask and answer questions, post photos of cool places and people, and generally get to know each other better. We already have some knowledge of our backgrounds, perhaps even a close bond, when we finally meet in person or reunite.

Since creating a Twitter account four years ago, my “networking” has gone on steroids. Instead of just connecting at PRSA meetings and conferences, I now trade handshakes, smiles and hugs with all sorts of folks at organized meetups of groups such as Cincinnati Social Media, New Media Cincinnati and the Social Media Health Network. I enjoy conversations over coffee or lunch with lots more people than ever. There’s just not enough time in the day to attend all of the great conferences, bootcamps, workshops and the like where I finally get to see that person I’ve only viewed in photos or, perhaps, videos.

So, I encourage you to do the same, if you haven’t already. Get out there. It’s not just about fostering online relationships. It’s about meeting great people in the flesh.

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Social media from my view as an e-caregiver

At the Pink Power Mom awards in Atlanta in October 2011. Social media has had a profound impact in our cancer journey.

As many of you know, my wife — author/blogger Tami Boehmer — touches the lives of many as she lives with Stage IV metastatic breast cancer. And I’ve detailed in this blog and our family and friends blog how Tami used social media to write From Incurable to Incredible: Cancer Survivors Who Beat the Odds

You also may have learned through our connections about my move into health care social media in January 2011.

But I just wanted to give a quick update before I take my daughter to a photo session with her dance team members about how social media has helped me as a “caregiver.” I don’t really like that word, to tell the truth. I simply look at myself as a husband, a friend to the woman I married on May 17, 1997.

Our last appointment with Dr. George Sledge at the IU Simon Cancer Center in Indianapolis drove home to me just how helpful social media has been for me — the husband of a woman who has thrived with breast cancer for more than a decade. I checked in on Foursqure — and shared the check in via Facebook and Twitter. Almost immediately, friends tweeted and commented much-needed messages of support. I can’t tell you how much the prayers and positive thoughts help as you wait to meet with the doc.

Meantime, Tami was getting lots of helpful information on her iPhone from other cancer survivors she had met through her blog, Facebook, Inspire.com, and countless other online sources. Several women who had had their breast cancer spread to the pelvic area like Tami told how they endured a rough patch and are enjoying each day now. One shared a story of how she hiked in Utah. Another told how the treatment options we were considering had played out in her cancer journey.

When Dr. Sledge consulted with us, we were armed with better-informed questions. And we didn’t feel alone, either. All thanks to social media.

I’d like to share more, but it’s time to head out and do my fatherly duties. Perhaps I’ll share more at a later date.  If Tami’s an e-patient, I’m an e-caregiver. Thank God for social media.

 

A helpful book for social media leaders at large organizations

If you lead social media strategy for a large organization, here’s a must-read: The Social Media Strategist: Build a Successful Program from the Inside Out by Christopher Barger. Lots of great best practices and lessons learned from a seasoned pro who has guided successful programs at IBM and GM.

Barger does an excellent job of spelling out the internal structures and processes needed to transform an organization into a social business. For example, he talks in detail about two key players and their roles — the executive champion and the social media evangelist.  He explains the advantages and disadvantages of various departments owning social media. He talks about forging relationships with functions such as Legal to move an organization ahead. Areas such as social media policy, ROI and measurement and training are covered.

As Barger points out, these may not be the glamorous parts of the job — nearly as much fun as interacting with a blogger, giving a “rock star” presentation at a conference, or executing an exciting campaign — but they are critical.

As the social media evangelist at Catholic Health Partners, I find myself often doing the behind-the-scenes stuff that Barger describes. It was excellent to have him affirm some of what I’ve learned — and to pick up ideas based on the experiences he shares in the books.

Here are a few nuggets that I highlighted:

* “The true goal when building a brand’s social media program is to embed social media expertise and practice deep into the organizational DNA, as much a part of the brand as traditional marketing, advertising, or PR.”

* “…while you can’t control online conversations, you can influence them… they’ll give you the benefit of the doubt… Plus, your responses end up showing up in searches on the topic; if you’re not out there to counter unfair or inaccurate statements about your brand, the only thing Google or Bing will turn up is your critics.”

* “(Dell) ascribes (very few turf wars) to the culture of the company adopting social media as a business tool applicable across the entire organization rather than as a marketing tool, communications tool, or customer service tool.”

* “First and foremost, you should start not with an action but with a mind-set: by seeing social media as tools for the entire business, not just a marketing, PR or customer service tool.”

* “Before beginning a social media program and trying to measure its success, there are four fundamental questions to ask:

“1. What data will we be collecting? (Which metrics do we believe are the most important?)

“2. How will we be collecting it? (Which tools do we believe or find to be most effective in acquiring the data we’ve chosen?)

“3. What kind of analysis will we apply to it? (Will we report just raw numbers? What kind of insights are we hoping to get from the data once it’s collected, and how will we derive them from this data?)

“4. How will we report it? (Through what mechanisms will we distribute what we learn to the rest of the organization?)

I highlighted lots of other helpful info, too. If you’re in the same line of work as me, pick up the book and see what ends up in yellow on your pages.