Just my two cents

Musings on social media and the world as I see it


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Talking to aging patients

With baby boomers now eligible to be members in the AARP, talking to an aging population is a challenge for health care providers. Here’s a great post from the folks at Writer Girl Associations, called “How to speak to your elderly patients.”

http://www.writergirl.com/speak-elderly-patients/


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Another year ends and a new one begins

2015On this last day of 2014, like many people, I find it a wonderful time to reflect on the year that was. This was truly a bittersweet year.

Globally the news was unsettling, to say the least. Planes disappeared or were shot out of the sky. Russia reminded us that they still remain a threat. Entire communities were devastated by fire, mudslides, floods and tornadoes. Ebola became a frightening reality and a household word. More shootings happened at more schools, with more lives senselessly lost. The ugliness of racism was brought into the spotlight. Police officers were assassinated.

We lost people who made us laugh, like Robin Williams; and people who made us think, like Maya Angelou. Members of Congress stomped their feet like children and refused to work together to support the people who elected them.

Personally, we took a major loss when we sold our first home. My dad was hospitalized in a long, scary night. I said goodbye to a colleague and friend. My dog had some major health issues, including an emergency vet visit on Mother’s Day. We had an ant invasion in our new home on Father’s Day. I saw a milestone birthday that made me face the reality of how short life really is.

In the midst of all that, it’s easy to get mired in the negativity. But being able to recognize the blessings in life that really matter helps keep us grounded and feel just a little safer in our own small part of the world.

My husband and I faced some of the most trying times in our marriage — and came out stronger in the end. My dad recovered and is doing well, and still bowls at the ripe old age of 87, along with my mom, who’s now 86. In fact, we celebrated their 64th anniversary. My dog recovered and is well, and they both make me smile every day.

I’m incredibly fortunate to still have my parents with me as I reached the age of 50. We are blessed to have the means to buy a new home with the solitude we were hoping for. I learned that true friends are rare and must be appreciated. I have a job I enjoy that sometimes let’s me help people who I’ve never met, thanks to social networks. I was also fortunate to form new friendships with wonderful people through those same networks.

When I sit back and think of all the blessings in my life, I know I have much to be thankful for — and family and friends are tops on that list, along along with the little things that make life wonderful. Things like having the time to read a book, watching fireflies from our deck on a warm summer night, having a true friend who will laugh and cry with you, celebrating holidays with family, and watching dogs run with pure joy are just some of those.

As this year closes and I prepare for another new year, I’m grateful for all those things. Focusing on those are what’s important and helps to manage the big, bad, scary things that are happening all around us every day.

So what are the little things in life that you are grateful for as we welcome 2015?


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Ebola, enterovirus, and the dark side of people

ebola virusFor several weeks, concern has been building to a level that is becoming close to a panic here in the U.S. People are very concerned about the potential spread of the Ebola virus. Parents are worried about their children being affected by Enterovirus D-68. Their concerns are certainly justified, as these diseases can have serious or fatal outcomes.

During times of crisis, I always thought that we saw the good side of people. And to some extent, we have. I know there are medical staff from my own organization who have jeopardized their own health and safety to go to Liberia to join others and help address the Ebola outbreak there. These are the people who are doing good and have stepped up to the plate to help their fellow man.

Unfortunately, what is becoming more apparent to me is that times like these also bring out the worst in people, and their ability to be cruel. Let me explain what I mean. There are people who call in “anonymous tips” from a hospital saying there is an area quarantined and that someone with Ebola is there. Or a hospital nurse who calls into a radio talk show to report she doesn’t know how to use protective gear and staff are frightened and declare the hospital is not prepared to deal with it (when in fact it is).

What do these people think they are accomplishing? Do they find it funny? I’m sorry but I fail to see the humor in any of this. Are they disgruntled staff who think they are hurting their employer’s reputation by reporting such false information? If that’s the case I hope there are repercussions for their actions.

Such actions not only instill fear, but also diminish the public’s trust that the hospital is prepared to handle such an outbreak. And social media only adds fuel to the fire. People actually became ill due to a false rumor that circulated across the globe telling people drinking salt water would protect them from Ebola. These rumors even resulted in deaths. 

To me, what may be even more disturbing are also those irresponsible members of the media who use their position to further stir up panic due to ignorance, ego or a lack of understanding of how false information can spread like wildfire. Rather than doing what responsible members of the media would do and report the facts only, and do their best to quell a panic, there are the members of the media, who are out there stirring up their own levels of panic: the radio talk show host who falsely announces that a man with Ebola was vomiting outside a major trauma center, and who declares that the hospital is not ready to care for these patients (his opinion). Then there is the nationally known doctor who appears on a morning talk show and declares that the virus could mutate and become airborne.

So come on people, act responsibly. Do your job, whether it be providing health care or reporting the news, get the facts straight, don’t start rumors, and help to allay the public’s fears, rather than add fuel to the fire.


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Supporting an important cause, and an inspiring woman

I don’t know about you, but this summer has been a whirlwind.  When we moved to our new home in June, I don’t think we knew just how much work we were in for. It has been three steady months of projects and work and painting and decorating and renovating and shopping and cleaning and rearranging. Needless to say, my blog and any summer fun took a back seat to what needed to be done (thanks to a bit of an obsessive personality trait!). But now, summer is over, the house is in really good shape, and now it’s time for me to get back to blogging.

Last week, as I was trying to catch up on some personal emails and reading, I came across a request from a total stranger. It was a simple request — to help spread the word about the 10th annual Mesothelioma Awareness Day on September 26. For anyonheathere who reads my blog, you know I don’t usually post about specific medical conditions. But I truly believe that a big part of blogging and social media is to make use of it to bring attention to things that deserve it. And when I read the request, didn’t I feel silly lamenting about missing some fun this summer.

When Heather Von St. James reached out to me, I was truly honored. Her request was a simple one, and I am doing my best to fulfill her request and have a small part in sharing her story, all in the hopes that you will pass this along. Let’s make this go viral!

Mesothelioma is relatively rare and is caused by asbestos exposure.  Each year, 3000 people are diagnosed with it. In 2005, Heather was only 36 when she was diagnosed, shortly after giving birth to her daughter, Lily. At the time, she was given only 15 months to live. Eight years later, and one lung less, she is now not only surviving, but thriving and is leading a cause to spread the word about mesothelioma — a disease thdid you knowat is preventable but takes many lives.

I have spent my entire career in the healthcare communications field. But the decades do not diminish the emotions that I feel every time I see someone who has won their own personal battle, or the tear(s) I shed when I learn of someone whose life was cut short, usually too soon. I am incredibly grateful for the fact that I have not had to find out how I would react were I to receive such a diagnosis. I can only hope that I would have the strength and courage to fight the same way Heather did and so many others I have had the good fortune to meet over the years.

So when Heather reached out to me for help, I was honored to have an opportunity to help spread the word about this cause and to highlight what an inspiration this woman is. You can read much more about Heather here and you can also learn more about mesothelioma.  It’s incredible to see how well she’s doing, and so admirable to see how she has taken her own experience to help prevent others from going through what she has.

I hope readers of this blog will be as inspired as I was by her strength and perseverance, and will help to spread the word as well.


					
		
	


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A house sold, a house bought, a 9-hour move and nothing social about it

moving boxes If you read my blog, which has been basically non-existent for months now, you’ll know that we were in the midst of selling our home. Well, finally, it happened, with closings on both houses and the big move on the same day.

Now I spend my life in social media. It’s my job. But I honestly can say that documenting any of this process through social media was the last thing on my mind. In fact, with the exception of the photo you see here, it wasn’t on my mind at all!

I know there are people who automatically think to take a photo of something and Instagram it and post it to their Twitter and Facebook accounts. It’s a natural occurrence, and it’s second nature to them. It’s just a part of life. And sometimes I wonder why I don’t do more of it.

Looking back, I wish I had taken more photos, but not for posting, just to have some sort of documentation of it all. When I think about others in my circles — tweeps, Facebook friends, or fellow pinners (no, I’m not on Instagram), I know that so much of this process would have been captured with selfies, pictures of moving trucks, empty rooms, full rooms, last looks at the old house, first looks at the new house, signed closing papers, etc. Did these thoughts even pop into my mind to do this? Absolutely not.

Maybe it’s because the move and all the details were overwhelming to me. But with the exception of that sole picture, there was nothing that was photographed, no status updates, no Pinterest pics or tweets… it was simply days of packing and cleaning, and then and unpacking, cleaning and scrubbing, laying down shelf paper, hanging curtains and getting organized. 

Maybe it’s that I do it for a living and so I’m less apt to do it for my personal life. Or maybe it’s an age thing and I’m just not programmed to think that way. 

 Whatever it is, I’m also always conscious of not wanting to overshare, and not wanting every aspect of my life to be out there for people to see. Maybe some things should be kept private. Maybe [gasp!], people might not care to read some things people are posting!

I love social media. I love how you can connect with people you might never have known. I am hooked on getting news on Twitter at any time of day or night. I learn so much from reading others blogs, and II am so grateful that I have been able to reconnect with people I lost touch with years ago.

And then there’s the down side. The people who clearly are so self-indulgent their posts are dripping with it. The people who appear to have their priorities in all the wrong places. There are some posts that just bother me, that cause me to question my own beliefs, and that’s just NOT what social media should be, right? 

I recently read a post by a woman I met on Twitter several years ago. Margie Clayman is a smart, funny and witty marketing pro. Most of all, I respect her ability to be very frank while writing beautifully on her blog. Recently her blog had a post on why she was deactivating her Facebook account. I thought to myself, “Wow, she’s got the right idea.” And briefly, every so briefly, I thought about doing the same with mine. But I didn’t.

Was it the fear of missing out? Perhaps. Was it that I didn’t want to lose the connections I’d made? That’s more likely. Whatever the reason, now I can only blame myself when I read posts that annoy me, or make me envious or any of the other seven deadly sins. I understand social media. I understand the world we live in. I understand the need for some people to share their drinks, their food, their dates, their runs to the bathroom… but I just don’t think that’s what social media is all about.

So by all means, please do celebrate the big moments in your life — the weddings, the babies, the new homes, the engagements, the dinners with friends, the reunions… but maybe be a little more selective, and maybe people won’t be so turned off that they tune out completely. And whether you think I’m totally out of line here or you agree, please feel free to leave a comment! 

 


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More changes in Facebook and “Heartbleed” – what you should know

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Things always change in the world of social media and sometimes it’s hard to keep up. Recently, two things cropped up that deserve more attention than others.

You can read more of this post on Hospital Impact:


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I stand corrected, and I’m happy to admit I was wrong!

In yesterday’s post I expressed my disappointment in the David Ortiz selfie because I read that it had been pre-arranged as a promo for Samsung. This morning I updated that post, and now, well, I am basically recanting! 

I just read this article, indicating that The White House says it was not pre-arranged and would not authorize the President’s image for any commercial use. And David Ortiz himself told the Boston Globe that it really was spontaneous

And I believe in Big Papi, and his good nature, and I now believe it was just that… another in a long line of Big Papi moments. Keep the selfie’s coming! Let’s just hope Samsung doesn’t decide to commercialize it again. 

 


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Nothing is free anymore. Don’t be fooled.

Anyone who knows me knows I’m a Red Sox fan, and yes, I’m was also an Obama supporter. (Let the comments fly — feel free!). Red Sox fans love to see their team celebrated. So to see them at the White House with the president is just a wonderful thing.

As I watched the live stream of the event, I saw an unbelievable moment when Big Papi himself, David Ortiz, presents POTUS with an “Obama” Red Sox shirt and stops the action to take a selfie with the President who was happy to do so. So here’s this great selfie that I loved and had to retweet, along with nearly 40,00 other fans.

But today, it turns out the April Fools joke was on me and so many others. Apparently the selfie that appeared to be a spontaneous moment full of fun and good humor was once again, sponsored. Yes, that’s right. Just like the multi-million retweeted Ellen/Oscar celeb selfie, this was also pre-arranged as a promo for Samsung.

Now I know that brands have lots of power and they also rely on their advertising and marketing to make a profit. Yup, I get it. But I feel duped and disappointed to learn that this was not a good-hearted, spur-of-the-moment thing. Instead, it’s just another way for a big brand to capitalize on a great moment.

Seems to me even social media is all about the money now, and it’s becoming more apparent by the day.  What a shame.

UPDATE: In this morning’s Boston Globe, David Ortiz vehemently denies that the photo was pre-planned. I certainly hope that is the case. I think we all want to believe that these kinds of magical moments still happen. And if it is true, leave it to Big Papi to be the one to make us all believe they can.


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On selling a home… it’s not a fun thing

So every once in a while I feel the need to move away from the topic of social media to a more personal one. In January, my husband and I found a great house. It was the home of a friend’s mom, who sadly, passed away last year. The house has everything we could want, including an acre for the dogs to roam and run. Sounds great, right?

Well, not so much. Because you can’t BUY a home before you SELL a home these days. Apparently too many people have gotten the mortgage to buy a new home and then just walked away from the old home (hmmm… why didn’t I think of that?) After the housing market crash and the recession I still say we haven’t recovered from, people knew that they were underwater with their mortgages and could never afford to pay off their home, EVER. So banks will most likely not give you another mortgage while you still have one open. So that means you have to sell before you buy.

We bought our home in 2006 (yes, anyone who bought around that time knows where I’m going with this), we paid top dollar, and then the bottom fell out of the market. Now, our home is worth tens of thousands of dollars less then we paid for it, not to mention all the money we’ve put into it since then. I couldn’t begin to calculate it out because I would be sick. And now that it’s a buyer’s market, well, it’s not easy to sell. There are lots of homes out there, including short sales and foreclosures, that offer great homes at unbelievable prices, so how do you compete with that?

So here we are, two months into the sales process, and we’ve gone through three open houses, a couple handfuls of private showings, two canceled showings an hour beforehand, one offer that was accepted that was then rescinded, another offer expected that never came through, and we’ve dropped the asking price once (so far). Now I would probably have more patience (well, maybe), except our agreement to purchase our new home expires on April 30, when the sellers will then officially put that house on the market, which it isn’t now. So we now have one month to get a buyer before we potentially lose the house we love.

I’ve done some things on my part to put the house in its best light. I’ve done staging, rearranged things, took down pictures and packed away personal items, removed some clutter. The usual stuff. And of course I cleaned like a madwoman for every open house and showing. I baked goodies (chocolate chunk banana bread, snickerdoodle cookies, congo bars) for the open houses to get that homey smell in here, much to Mr. Jean’s delight. I even buried a statue of St. Joseph under our For Sale sign on the front lawn, and already have a place of honor picked out for him in the new home. This is apparently a commonly known help in selling a home. Even Bonnie, a fellow blogger and friend I met at SXSW a couple years back tells me she did this, and she is not even Catholic!

And so far, no luck. And needless to say, I’m getting discouraged. Through this process, I’ve come to  the conclusion that it’s just awful, and not one I recommend. In fact, I’ve already told Mr. Jean that if we ever get into that house, I am dying in that house.

If you’ve had a good experience selling your home, or have some encouraging words to share, please do! I’m in dire need of some optimism right now.  Oh, and if you’re looking for a house, I know of a great one for sale. Email me. We’ll talk.


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Facebook says you want to play you gotta pay, so what’s a brand to do?

dollar sign on money bagMy last post was about managing social media for my employer for five years. Every day brings something new — maybe just a change to what we’re used to in existing networks, or maybe even the next big thing in the tech world.

Unfortunately, the next big thing in the world of Facebook is if you don’t pay, you probably can’t play. Yes, sadly, the quest for the almighty dollar is invading the social sphere too. In case you missed it, here’s an article from Time on the changes in reach: “The Free Marketing Gravy Train is Over on Facebook.” So if you’re not seeing a drop in your brand’s reach, you probably will, and maybe as low as a dismal one or two percent. Yes, you read that right –and  it doesn’t get much lower than that, does it.

For companies using Facebook brand pages, if the advertising budget doesn’t include some Facebook advertising, then it seems to me that you have to consider whether the time you spend on this major social network is even worth it. If  this is all true, then without spending money brands will not get a worthwhile return on their investment (time & personnel resources) in Facebook.

This makes me wonder if brands will also begin migrating away from Facebook to other networks liked LinkedIn and Google+, where sharing content is still free, at least for now. We know that Google+ posts help with the ever-important  SEO. While researching this post, I came across some interesting stats on Google+ showing that it’s the second ranked network just below Facebook in terms of active users (I still think these “active user numbers are over inflated, but anyway…), and itt also shows LinkedIn in the top five networks as well.

Personally, I’ve always viewed LinkedIn as a professional networking site, however, recently, there was a story on publishing on LinkedIn from Social Mouths. Over the next few months, any user on LinkedIn will be able to post long form content. That certainly could cause brands to rethink their content marketing plan. There are also some marketing pros, like this one, who believe that brands must be in both of these networks.

I would tend to disagree, and suggest that brands only spend their time and energy developing communities on the networks where their audience already exists. There is no need to be on every network if your audience isn’t there – and with limited resources, it’s important to spend your time where you will get the most bang for your buck. Now apparently, brands who aren’t spending the bucks probably aren’t going to get that desired bang from Facebook, so perhaps it’s time to start investigating and checking in with your audience to see where they are, and if they’ll engage with you on other networks.

There’s also another camp that is making more and more sense to me. Gini Dietrich (a social media, marketing and PR wiz) and others strongly believe that you need to “always build your community on something you own.” Then you encourage people to engage with you there, by promoting it through the existing social networks.  This post is brilliant and the practice is sure to gather momentum as Facebook (and soon others) hop on the pay to play bandwagon.  It’s certainly more reason for brands to devote time and effort to developing its own blog or enhancing its existing blog and website. Also, when you think about the ebb and flow (think MySpace) of social networks, isn’t it better to build something that you own and control and not rely on the whims of others when your community is at stake? I say yes, without a doubt.

Now I can’t say that this is the direction my employer will be heading in, but I think it’s something that every brand must consider given the ever-changing landscape that is social media.  So, dear readers, do you think brands will begin shifting away from a social network that demands you pay to play? What will you do?