Just my two cents

Musings on social media and the world as I see it


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10 health care marketing folks to follow on Twitter

I’ve been on Twitter for almost 5 years now. It has become my go-to source for everything: research, breaking news, trends, health care marketing information, and meeting wonderful people. Over the years, I’ve used the “list” function in Twitter to easily organize the people I follow so I can quickly browse through categories like “news outlets,” “journalists,” or “healthcare marketing” folks.This post is to highlight some of those on my list because if you are in health care social media you should be following them too. Now believe me when I say this list is not all-inclusive, and I know there are many folks who deserve to be on this list, but there’s just not enough space in a blog post to single out all the amazing minds who are sharing info!

@leeaase Lee Aase is probably one of the best known folks in health care social media. If you look him up on Wikipedia, here’s what you’ll find: “Lee Aase is an American pioneer in using social media tools in the hospital environment, and is an advocate for social media adoption in health care.” I’ve had the opportunity to talk to him a few times by phone, and even called him once to get his opinion on a course of action when we were going through a crisis situation. Of course his advice was amazing, but beyond that, he’s a genuinely nice person who has really figured out what it takes for a health care organization (or any organization for that matter) to be successful in social media. Be sure to check out his blog too .

@edbennett Ed Bennett is someone I came to admire admired several years ago when I  first I stumbled upon him and his blog, Found in Cache http://ebennett.org/. I was so grateful to make that connection. He’s got a  soothing voice, is quite witty and also loves dogs, which in my opinion makes him a great guy! I think of him as one of the pioneers in this field, and we have much to thank him for, including the big list of hospitals in social media (now moved over to the Mayo Clinic Center for Social Media). While we haven’t met in real life yet, I’m hoping (fingers crossed!) it will happen one of these days. It would be my honor.

@nickdawson Nick is a guy with some wonderful, original thoughts about health care and the social media world but is also willing to talk about many subjects. I LOVE his LinkedIn profile: “Former hospital leader now using design-thinking to inspire better staff and patient experiences.” He seems to travel a lot more than I ever could think about, and is a speaker at many of the big conferences. I’m hoping to hear him one of these days, but until then, I’ll have to follow him on Twitter and I hope you will, too. And, don’t forget to check out his blog.

@hivedan Dan Hinmon is the head of Hive Strategies, and works in hospital social media.. He shares a wealth of information and personally is such an enjoyable person to chat with. He’s also got a blog that should be on your reading list, the Social Media Strategy Blog. And be sure to check out his 7 core values at the heart of social media.

@danamlewis Dana Lewis is one of those people who I consider simply amazing. She manages the social media efforts of Swedish Health Services and is the founder of Healthcare Communications and Social Media, #hcsm, a weekly Twitter chat. You can find information on #hcsm here. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve asked her a question on Twitter and always receive a quick, helpful response.

@riggrl When I met Jen Riggle on Twitter, she was working for a firm on the East Coast. She’s got a wonderful take on the industry and she is also a guest blogger here on Hospital Impact , so you may be familiar with her amazing work. She is kind, thoughtful, smart and witty, and shares fantastic information you won’t want to miss.

@ReedSmith Reed is one of those really smart guys who is thoughtful and is always on my “go-to” list with questions about the industryHe is the founder of the Social Health Institute and is also a consultant for health care organizations and practices that are using social media. Be sure to follow his blog for new insight into health care and social media.

@Ahaval I’ve followed Ahava Leibtag for quite a while, and recently had the honor of being interviewed for her blog. She is one of those people who never seems to stop! She’s smart, funny and so hard working that  her passion for this industry comes through loud and clear. She’s a thought leader on digital strategy and a talented writer who always shares valuable information. You can check out some of her publications here and her blog here.

@chrisboyer Chris directs digital marketing for Inova Health System, and is simply amazing. His blog says “Chris Boyer is an active participant in the rapidly evolving field of healthcare new-media marketing. He’s a speaker and educator and someone who puts talk into action by creating and testing new digital strategies.” He is, in a word, brilliant, in my humble opinion, and I’ve learned so much from him. Be sure to follow him on Twitter AND subscribe to his blog.

@dandunlop Dan Dunlop is the president of Jennings, a health care marketing agency. Dan is one of those folks who you feel as if you’ve known for a long time, even if you’ve never met him in real life. I chat with him often on Twitter, and also love to read his blog, The Healthcare Marketer, where you’ll find plenty of tips and tricks of the trade, as well as some through-provoking questions on why we do what we do.

If you’re using social media for your hospital or medical practice, or if you’re in the field and just tweet personally, be sure to tweet these folks and introduce yourself. And like so many people in the Twitterverse, they are all kind and willing to help you with questions you might have, or point you in the right direction.

There’s also a group of “health care influencers” who can provide an overview of the health care industry and trends.  Also, be sure to follow the hashtags #hcmktg and #hcsm to keep up with all the latest in the health care marketing field.

Now I know there are so many others I could and should have mentioned here, but I limited myself to 10. So let’s add to this list and share some of the “tweeps” on your health care social media list.

 This post was originally written for and appeared on www.hospitalimpact.org


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Just sitting in the waiting room, working

Thanks to technology, many of us can work anytime, from virtually anywhere! Especially when social media is your job. (Photo by mikecough/Flickr)

Thanks to technology, many of us can work anytime, from virtually anywhere! Especially when social media is your job. (Photo by mikecough/Flickr)

My dad has had a rough time lately. After experiencing a rogue gallstone that caused a little havoc and a big scare, my 86-year-old dad was recovering nicely from his surgery. Until last week. He fell outside his surgeon’s office. He ripped up his hand pretty badly and that led to him not being able to drive again for a bit.

So I’ve been my parents chauffeur for their “social calendar” as my mom says. That basically consists of a wide range of doctors appointments, blood work, lab tests and runs to the market.

Thanks to the miracle of today’s technology (which I will never understand!) and a boss who is amazingly supportive and trusting, I’ve been able to keep up with my workload and not miss a beat. When you do social media for a living, a phone, tablet or laptop is all that is required, and it can literally be done from anywhere. Given the ridiculous amount of time spent in doctors’ waiting rooms, it’s like I’m sitting at a desk anyway!

And that brings me to my point. Many of us can do our jobs any time, from anywhere. And for people who are given the opportunity to telecommute, I am willing to bet that their employer is getting back a lot more than they expected. After spending many years in offices and those dreaded “cube farms” I am so ridiculously grateful for the opportunity to telecommute. I know I work hard, but I also appreciate the fact that my director trusts me. In my mind, it all comes down to trust.

I would never do anything to damage that trust because I recognize how much I value this aspect of my professional life. That’s why when I see big companies like Yahoo rethinking their telecommuting policy, I think what a shame it is to do that to people. With the craziness that is our lives, and the demands of jobs and the balancing act that so many of us juggle between work and home, frankly, when there’s trust, then employees who CAN work from home SHOULD be given that opportunity.

Of course I’m not an employer. And honestly, my company does NOT have an official telecommuting policy. Of course in healthcare, that’s rather difficult… or is it? We see more and more about online medical care. So I don’t think we should discount that either!

But if I WAS an employer, I would hope that I would and could trust my employees enough that I would give them the freedom to do their jobs in the best way, best place and time for them. After all, if you’ve got happy employees, won’t you have a better bottom line?

Oh, and to all those doctors who make you wait an hour and a half in the waiting room, our time is valuable too.


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5 reasons to appreciate interns

MP900398817Every semester we have interns from local colleges who apply to work with us for the semester for NO pay. They do it for the experience and to build some portfolio pieces for when they start applying for jobs.

I’m always amazed that these young adults give up their free time to do this. I can’t help but think that there’s a lifetime of work ahead of them and they should be enjoying their summer off at the beach, or studying or working at a job that pays!

When I was in college, I didn’t do an internship. I worked. A lot. I did jobs that had nothing to do with my college major – restaurants, a video store (back when those existed), a doctor’s office, a welfare office… about as far as you could get for an English Lit major!  But I think the world has changed a lot since those days. Today without some kind of experience, new college grads would be hard pressed to land a job against their competition. They need that leg up!

I’m really lucky to work with a great team of women who really enjoy the opportunity to be a mentor. We see it as a great way to share our experience and to help someone who’s just starting out. Personally, I also see it as an opportunity to meet the next generation, the up-and-comers as I like to think of them, and boy have we had some amazing interns. I wish we could have hired many of them on the spot.

I think our team enjoys the experience of having an intern here because we get a chance to meet someone who has excitement and a fresh take on things… someone who hasn’t yet become jaded and looks at everything with new eyes. It’s refreshing and I love seeing what we do through their eyes.

So while we hope we are inspiring them as they start out in their career, I think they also inspire us. Here’s how:

1. They challenge us. There’s nothing that makes you stop and think about why you do something more than someone asking, “why do you do that.” Suddenly, “because we always have” just doesn’t fit the bill anymore and you begin to question how effective your methods are. Maybe it’s time to rethink things!

2. They bring a new level of creativity to projects. They’re young, and fresh, and creative and not tired and have so much energy! If you’re giving them a good internship, then it will be a mix of projects – some of which they’ve learned about or done already and others that you’ll introduce them to. There’s nothing like seeing someone tackle something new with some gusto to remind you that you might want to bring some more creativity into your own projects!

3. They have experiences that we don’t. In social media, that’s critical. These students have basically grown up with a phone in their hands. Multi-tasking is second nature to them. Pay attention. You can learn a lot from them.

4. They introduce you to new things. They bring new ways of doing things to the table. Nothing makes me stop and think more than when one of our interns says, “We were working on a similar project in class and my professor suggested…” It’s like getting a free education! Well, sort of.

5. They remind you of what it is you love about your job. If you enjoy your job, and you start to explain it to an intern, hopefully your passion will shine through. Let’s face it…it’s really easy to forget that passion on a daily basis. But having someone new around to hear what you do and why you do it will hopefully reignite that little spark and remind you of just how much you love what you do. It will renew your energy!

Our summer interns finished last week. I already miss them and all they brought to the table. Of course it goes without saying that I will also miss all the work they do to help out in social media on a daily basis! So this is a thank you to all our interns over the years. Please know that you’ll be missed, and I hope each of you has learned a little something to take with you as you embark on your careers.

Now if you’re reading this, what is your favorite part of working with an intern?

I published this last night, and then today, saw this article on the possible demise of unpaid internships. What a shame. http://www.boston.com/business/personal-finance/2013/06/25/companies-that-ran-into-legal-woes-over-unpaid-interns/YQbPrmmqn7Ackyf8Mf98hJ/story.html 


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Why people use social media as their personal soapbox and why hospitals should care

business man with laptop over head - mad

Years ago, when someone was unhappy about a product or service, the response was typically to call a customer service department or write a letter to the editor. Of course they also complained to family and friends – and that word-of-mouth bad advertising went a long way.

Today, social media gives people a powerful voice to share their thoughts, good or bad, about any topic under the sun, and be heard like never before.. Think about that. One person behind a keyboard or with a smartphone in his or her hand has the potential to be heard by millions of people around the world. It sort of boggles the mind when you think about it, doesn’t it?

So with that potential reach, it’s no wonder that when someone is disgruntled, they’re heading to their favorite social media networks to post a complaint, a photo or a video showing bad service or poor judgment (think Dominos pizza) by employees. It’s the place to go to complain, unless, of course, you’re in the “business” of social media. Then you might think twice about it as I recently did.

Just a few weeks ago, my dad was hospitalized in a very scary 10-day stay at a hospital. That hospital is part of the health system for which I work AND manage its social media. Don’t get me wrong – I’m glad Dad was there and received the care he did and is now home. The doctors and staff were wonderful, but there were some things that just didn’t go as smoothly as I would have liked.

Being an employee, I knew who to call to talk about it. But if I wasn’t, I probably would have taken to social media to make a comment or two. Then I thought of the many patients and their family members who find themselves in a hospital each year. According to the CDC statistics, more than 35 million people are hospitalized every year. The statistics here show that about 54 percent of people are on social networks. That means almost 19 million of those people are using social media. How many of those 19 million people do you suppose would know who to contact in a hospital if they weren’t happy about their care?

In this day and age, the chances that a disgruntled and unhappy patient will take to social media to vent and be heard are pretty good. We know people want to be voice their opinions, especially when it comes to their health, and what they see as bad care.  Think about the bad advertising that can result from those posts. Think about the potential reach of those social postings. It’s no wonder that people are hopping on their social media soapboxes to complain when they’re not happy with their hospital care.

Now let’s remember this: out of a total of 5,724 hospitals in the U.S., only 1,501 are using some form of social media. That’s only about 26 percent of hospitals. (There’s an interesting infographic here on how hospitals are using social media these days, and of course there’s the big list of hospitals on the Mayo Clinic Social Media Health Network.).

Those negative comments can certainly impact your hospital’s reputation and brand image. After all, word of mouth advertising is very strong. When it comes from friends or family, it’s even stronger. The 26 percent of hospitals using social media might catch those negative posts and complaints, and then be able to respond and do something about it to reverse potential damage to the brand. If they’re NOT in social media at all, then there’s no chance of responding. Let’s just hope the post, photo or video doesn’t go viral.

When you think of it in these terms, it’s easy to see why hospitals, and any brand in any industry, must consider being part of today’s social networks. How do you deal with unhappy patients/customers on your social networks?

(This post was originally written for and was published on http://www.hospitalimpact.org on 8/15/2013.)


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Forget FOMO. I’ve got FOBF – fear of being forgotten

ambulance at night.This July, I took a two-week vacation from work. It was the first time I can remember that I took a hiatus that long from work. I promised myself and the Mr. that I was going to unplug. So with the exception of a few personal Facebook status updates and deleting unnecessary emails from my inboxes, I was mostly MIA from all things social & tech.

The day I returned, I wrote a post for my blog and I thought I would start doing more frequent posts, since I was feeling so rested and ready to get back to things. Then at 10:00 that night my mom called to tell me she had just called the rescue for my dad. My parents are in their mid-80s, and so that phone call in the middle of the night is something I always dread.

That night was spent in the emergency department, and my dad was finally admitted at 5:15 a.m. I drove my mom home as the sun was rising. I had to start working in just a couple hours, and I was just heading home. As I was driving, I thought to myself that I couldn’t remember the last time I was coming home at sun rise. Leaving for the gym at that time is much more my speed now that I’m a 40-something and not a 20-something.

Of course, with that night in the ED, the vacation and the relaxation that came with it quickly became a distant memory. For the next two weeks I would pick my mom up and drive her to the hospital, where I worked on my laptop from my dad’s hospital room.

During that time, I did everything I had to for work, but I feel like I was barely a presence on Twitter or Facebook or Google+ (which wasn’t often for me on a good week!). As for my blog, well, it hasn’t seen a post since this all started, until this one. While I’m thrilled to report that my dad is now home and on the second part of his recovery, I’m feeling completely forgotten in social media.

There were a few wonderful people (and they know who they are) who often asked how dad was doing and expressed genuine care and concern. I’m especially grateful for those amazing people both in Twitter and in the real world. It’s astounding how quickly you find out who your real friends are when you’re in a crisis. (And there’s a lesson in here for brands too… the same is true of those loyal followers you’ve built through your social media efforts. They will come to your aid in a crisis!)

It’s taken me all these paragraphs to get to my point: I get nervous about not being more visible, not being a regular contributor or a regular blogger. I feel badly about not keeping in touch with people on Twitter or reading their blogs with any set frequency. And I feel like I’ve let people down by not sharing the great info they’re putting out there. I’m not suffering from FOMO, I’m suffering from what I’m coining the “Fear Of Being Forgotten,” or FOBF.

But in the long run, is it just our own minds that tells us we should feel badly about taking this hiatus from the social world? Does anyone really care if we’re not visible or not blogging or commenting for a while? More importantly, does anyone really notice? I’m sure the people who we are in touch with regularly would notice, but in the big scheme of things, does it really matter?

Personally, I’m hoping it doesn’t matter, because this FOBF can really weigh on you! Have you ever felt this way?


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What a tiny bakery can teach us about social media

daddy's breadWhile I was on vacation, Mr J and I headed down to one of our fave places to be in the summer, Matunuck, RI. It’s a small beach community that is near and dear to my heart, and is also home to one of the best beach bars around, The Ocean Mist.

But this post isn’t about that, it’s about a tiny seasonal bakery called Daddy’s Bread. You’d never even know there’s a bakery if someone didn’t tell you about it. It’s a house, not a storefront, in a rural neighborhood bordering the beaches. (You can find it on Facebook here.)

Now I don’t eat a lot of bread. Carbs are NOT my friend. But I always make an exception on the rare occasions we make the trip there. When I say this is the best bread in the world, I’m not kidding. It’s amazing. But here’s what is even MORE amazing than the taste… the bread is purchased on the honor system.

Yes, that’s right… the owner trusts the customers enough to know that the cost of the bread will be left in the unattended bakery where these delicious loaves of bread are waiting for the next customer to come in and make a selection. There’s a sign and a place to leave the money. It’s all about trust and respect.

And that is what reminded me of social media. We use the honor system regularly without knowing it. We TRUST that people are who they say they are in social networks, and we RESPECT each other’s opinions, well, at least most of us, most of the time. Of course there are fake accounts, bots, and spammers and the like, but unless I’m ridiculously naive, most people in social media are working on the honor system! If not, when the truth is discovered, there are plenty of people who will make it known.

Now it might not taste as good as that loaf from Daddy’s, but for me, that honesty and respect is one of the things I appreciate most about social media. If it’s not there, an “unfollow” is a given!

So here’s to the honor system, and to delicious bread. And if you find yourself in little Matunuck, RI between March and October, do yourself a favor and stop into this one-of-a-kind bakery. Just remember to leave some cash.


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A social community comes together to support one of its own – Liz Strauss

communityWhen a friend, relative or someone in your community is ill, you often hear of or attend fundraisers to help with medical bills. It’s nothing new, and it’s understandable. But today I was amazed at the power of the social media community.

I happened to be browsing through my tweet stream between posts for work when I saw this tweet from Brian Solis:

brian s tweet

I had no idea what this was all about, so of course I had to follow the link. Apparently some well known folks in the social sphere are coming together to donate items for an auction. Some of them are donating consulting time, others are donating collections of books, and other items. It’s all to serve as a fundraiser for Liz Strauss, who is “reclaiming her voice from throat cancer.” In case you don’t know her, Liz is a thought leader, an amazing blogger and founder of SOBCon. You can read more about her here.

Now I clearly don’t run in the same circles as these folks. Many are well known speakers, authors, or bloggers, and they probably all know each other because of what they do. But I’m willing to bet that if it wasn’t for social media, these individuals probably would not have met. And while I’m not a gambler, save for the occasional visit to the slot machines, I’m also betting on the fact that this fundraiser would not be happening without social media.

We can easily become disenchanted by the world of social media. People may not be who they claim to be, there is no scarcity of rudeness or swearing, accounts are hacked, and people are publicly shamed for something they may or may not have done purposely.

And then there’s this. People coming together to support someone that they probably would not know, and may never have met in person were it not for this electronic thread that binds us together. And it’s a testament to the goodness in people, to stand up and come to the aid of someone in their community who needs help. 

Liz will probably get more help than she ever would have were it not for the kindness of strangers who are learning about her situation. Her story is reaching so many more people through the wide net that is being cast through each of these donors’ own communities. It’s amazing when you think about it, and it makes me happy to know that I’m a small part of something so big that can do something so good.