Just my two cents

Musings on social media and the world as I see it


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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Another day, another tragedy?

Photo from Wikipedia.

Photo from Wikipedia.

Is it just me, or does it seem like lately we’ve been hit with one tragedy after another? Today, we awoke to the total devastation in the town of Moore, Oklahoma, after a nearly 2-mile wide tornado swept through, leaving it in total ruin.

Because I had to be at an early morning panel discussion on the use of social media, my normal routine was way off. I did not see the morning news, or tune into Twitter or Facebook first thing this morning. When I finally did get to social, I find myself asking if people are becoming immune to these tragedies.

From my streams and newsfeeds, it seems that so many people were basically sticking to their own agendas. I even looked through the tweet stream of hospitals across the country and was shocked and slightly appalled to see that many were just carrying on with business as usual.

Is it just me? Am I being overly sensitive? Am I wrong to think that we need to be a little more respectful in the social sphere and acknowledge what is going on? Is it inappropriate to step away from our self-serving agendas for even a day? I know I’ve posted about this before, right after the Boston bombings. But for some reason, it seems like less attention is being given to the countless number of victims of Mother Nature’s latest wrath in Oklahoma than tragedies in the past, and I’m not sure why.

Even my hometown paper, the Providence Journal, apparently didn’t think Oklahoma was Page One news. Seriously? This has been called one of the worst tornadoes of all time. Families lost children, mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles… not to mention those who were wounded, and all of their possessions gone. Of course possessions can be replaced, but people can’t.

I am saluting the amazing folks at @NormalRegional who in the midst of their own tragedy are tweeting and posting important updates to their Facebook page to help people find their loved ones, to direct moms-to-be as to where they can deliver their child, and other important information, from a hospital that was leveled, by the way.

And yet the rest of us go on tweeting about Lasik surgery (really?) and “want to make your hot body hotter?” (I kid you not.)

Maybe it is just me, but I choose to be respectful of what people are going through and put aside the company’s social media marketing efforts FOR ONE DAY in favor of supporting our fellow man. If that seems silly to you, then maybe I’m in the wrong business. (And I must add in here that I’m so grateful to have a director who is of a like mind and believes that we need to show a little respect during times of tragedy. Phew.)

But in this writer’s opinion, showing sympathy for your fellow man and trying to understand their plight during a difficult time will speak more loudly for your brand than any other tweet or Facebook post you might want to put out there. Do you agree or am I alone in this thinking?

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What a difference 10 years makes – the evolution of hospital crisis communications

old fashioned telephoneLike the rest of the world, I was in utter amazement as the story of the Boston Bombings played out, and it’s something I can’t stopping thinking about. I can’t imagine what the victims and their families have been living through since it happened, and all the recovery time still ahead of them.

In the aftermath, I can sit back and think more clearly from a professional point of view. The first thing that comes to mind is what those media folks were experiencing at the Boston hospitals. I totally understand. They were inundated with media trucks, media calls, reporters wanting answers to a myriad of questions, assignment desks calling for constant updates on patients, requests for interviews, and the list goes on and on. Then of course there’s the need to keep the public informed, and that’s when each hospital’s social media efforts came into play.

I think they did an absolutely phenomenal job in as difficult a situation as any we experience in this line of work. I recently came across a great article that speaks to the communications efforts by these three hospitals, and it warrants sharing, as do the kudos that these hospitals deserve.

It was this same article that brought me back 10 years to the horrible nightclub fire in West Warwick, R.I., at The Station. I was 10 years younger, and I have to admit, a lot greener about crisis communications.. I had only been working for the hospital for a year and a half when the fire happened. And while I am very lucky to be among the few in Rhode Island who was not personally impacted by it or knew someone who was, it is an experience I will never forget.

Of course those times were very different. Back then we relied on phones, faxes and emails to share information. What a difference social media would have made that night, and for the many weeks afterward, when we had patients at our major trauma center in Rhode Island. We received 63 patients that night. And many of them were critically injured and required care for long periods of time.

We were flooded with national and international media outlets, all following one of the worst fires in history, and one of the biggest stories to ever come out of Rhode Island. There were so many things about that night that could have been done differently if social media existed.

Families would have known immediately if their loved ones were safe or among the missing. As a hospital, we could have posted information immediately as it happened, with updated numbers of patients and conditions. We could have posted information for families on where to go when arriving at the hospital and resources for them to help in the aftermath, and even connect families who were experiencing the same things. The media could have turned to our social feeds for regular updates. The speed and immediacy of our communications response would have been drastically increased with today’s technology.

None of us ever want to experience a crisis, especially of the magnitude of the Boston bombings and The Station fire. But personally, I’m glad we have social media now to help us better communicate when we do experience them. I don’t think we can appreciate enough the increased power, reach and flexibility it provides us with, especially in a crisis situation.

Does/has your hospital use social media during a crisis, or do you plan to in the future? How?

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


Responding to a crisis that isn’t yours

Boston-marathon-Facebook-cover-photo-630x456There have been two recent tragedies that have played heavily in the news and of course in social media. The bombings in Boston and the explosion of the fertilizer plant in West, Texas were horrific events that demanded the attention of the nation and made news across the globe.

Whenever something occurs of that magnitude, in today’s world, many of us automatically turn to social media to obtain the latest breaking news, to share our own thoughts or to pass along information we think is relevant. That’s all well and good when it’s from a personal standpoint. From a brand standpoint, most of us have our own crisis management plans (or at least we should) that provide us with direction in times of emergency.

But when you are using social media as a marketing tool for your brand, what do you do when a crisis occurs and it’s not yours? Your crisis management plan is in place for YOUR brand, not a tragedy like Boston, Texas or last year’s shooting in Newtown, CT.

There has been a lot written lately about this subject. From the danger of unmonitored scheduled tweets from @GuyKawasaki to the tweets that were simply poor judgement and in really bad taste like Epicurious.

A very smart blogger I follow, Mark Schaefer (@Markwschaefer), had a wonderful post on his {grow} blog about this very subject. More recently, my friend Lisa Buben (@lisapatb) recently asked if we should tweet or not during extraordinary events on her Inspire to Thrive blog.

Personally, I think you have to first acknowledge the situation. I think you look self-absorbed, insensitive and uncaring when everyone is turning to that situation and you’re still tweeting about how important your new book is.  I remember when the shooting occurred in Newtown. I immediately stopped tweeting and we turned all our attention to this. We offered the resources we could, but mostly we offered our condolences and support.

Even when it’s not a crisis of your own, I truly believe you must recognize it. The whole point of social media is connecting with people and sharing our humanity. That means when a tragedy befalls someone else, especially when it’s as big as those situations, it’s time to step away from our own agendas and be part of this social community we have built.

Even the day after a crisis has occurred, I still don’t feel right about going back to regularly scheduled posting. I just feel like it makes a brand appear cold and uncaring, and even personally for that matter. I believe you have to wait at least 24 hours and then test taste the waters.

I have adopted that plan for the brands I manage. After a tragedy has occurred, I announce that we’re going to interrupt our regularly posting due to the situation. During that time, I will post releveant information that I feel is important to relay or share with our own community for their health or safety. I will also share resources that are relevant to the situation that might help others. Usually I wait 24 hours to even consider going back to normal posting. At that point, I acknowledge that 24 hours has past and slowly start moving back into regular content, but still including some relevant posts about the situation at hand.

That’s my plan, that’s how I approach it. It’s not because someone told me that is how I should do it, it’s just what feels right, what feels respectful, and what feels most comfortable and natural. Social media is about reaching out to people… and in a tragedy that’s even more important. Because when it comes to a tragedy, you or your brand aren’t all that important in the big scheme of things. It all comes down to getting some perspective I guess.

What do YOU do in a crisis that isn’t yours?


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Blah, blah, blah. It’s all just noise.

Man Holding LoudspeakerMy husband does not “exercise” in the traditional concept of working out. His is a more laid back approach, like with most things in his life. He takes the dogs walking at the park on a daily basis, sometimes twice a day, and he also works on his feet.

While I’ve always been semi-active and watch what I eat, I have recently adopted a new “healthier” lifestyle. For the past two months, I’ve hit the gym regularly five times a week and started eating healthy, unprocessed foods. I need to do this exercise, not only for physical health/weight management, but mental health as well (and I realize I left myself wide open on that one!). I love my workouts, and so I often come home excited and wanting to share what I did while at the gym.

Last weekend, when I babbled on and on to my husband about trying out the rowing machine and climbing 30 floors, he gave me a funny look. After a few minutes of this blah, blah, blah, which is what I’m sure he heard, he explained that while he supported me and my efforts at this healthier lifestyle, he really had no desire to hear all the details of my workouts because the gym is not something that appeals to him. Hmmm {steam pours from ears}. OK. After days of stewing about this, I think I get it, once I was able to relate it to something that makes more sense to me than the male mind.

I of course went back to social media (because doesn’t everything somehow relate to social media?). Specifically, I started to think about what we’re sharing through all these channels, every day. And I don’t mean just personally, I mean for brands too.

We all know that we get really tired of hearing about what people ate or when they need a bathroom break. Do people really want to hear all those details? No! With more and more people in the social media world, sometimes it really can be too much information coming at us all day long. And as a result, I wonder if it’s all just turning into noise?

The fact is, social media can be just that. The “gurus” and the “experts” preach that brands must use social media as a marketing tool today. But if everyone’s doing it, then it’s even more important to figure out how to distinguish yourself so you’re heard above all that noise. You need to find what resonates with your customers, and with the public.

So where does that bring me? Sometimes it says more to listen than to talk.

What if a brand’s social manager decided not to tweet for a few days. Instead, that time could be spent reading and listening to what your friends and your customers are saying. What are the hot topics? What are they talking about? Sometimes I think we get too caught up in the whole push to create our own content that we’re failing at delivering something that will be heard above all the noise.

So that’s going to be my goal for the rest of the week. To listen.

How do YOU differentiate yourself from everyone else?

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The “New” Pinterest: I’m not pinterested.

Recently Pinterest announced it was making some changes. Users have the opportunity to preview the new look, so I did!

Here’s how Pinterest is describing the changes. It all seems wonderful to read, right? It sounds just Pintastic! Now, keep in mind that I consider myself a pinning newbie at this point, so I can imagine what the Pinterest Power Users are saying. My overall impression is that the whole concept of building a community is gone and any hope of interaction with others is disappearing. Here’s what I mean.


new p1New Pinterest: The first thing I noticed is that when you repin something, you no longer get that wonderful suggestion of who else repinned that same pin. There is now no option to “follow” a person you might not be connected with. Personally, I LOVED that little pop-up — it was how I was able to connect with so many people who had similar interests!

Now on “Old Pinterest,” you see, right there, old p1that little “follow” button is such an easy way to continue to connect with others who have the same interests as you that you might never have found. I don’t know if Pinterest plans to bring this back with the new version. I sure hope so. At the same time, though, you CAN see who repinned it from the home page. But it’s just not as convenient as a quick follow from your repin confirmation.

No friends?

The other thing I’ve noticed is that on the home page you no longer have suggestions for friends to connect with either as you once did on the left rail. Here is the view on the new version:

new p2Old p2

On the older version of Pinterest, there it was, new names greeting you each time you signed on, just calling for you to make more friends, expand your horizons, and grow your community! And you could see your friends’ activity, but apparently this is going away too. I’ll call this a Pinfail.

And last but not least

In terms of ease of use, the new Pinterest doesn’t have the easy “add” button conveniently located at the top to create a pin quickly. I hope this is coming back too!

And one more thing. In the old Pinterest, when you were pinning something to a board, you had the option to tweet it out to Twitter at the same time. That option seems to be gone, and simply put, that’s just a shame.

Right now you have the opportunity to go back and forth between the new and old versions, but all good things come to an end at some point. I hope these are the “tweaks” that Pinterest refers to in the message you get when you choose to go back to the old version. If it was up to me, I’d be sticking with the old. But I’m not one who likes change!

What’s on your Pinning Wish List? MAYBE Pinterest will listen to us. You can see other users suggestions in the link to the article above.  What other changes have YOU found in the new Pinterest?


Simplifying your health care social media life

For anyone who manages social media for a hospital, you know it’s definitely not a 9-to-5 job. For most of us, it means continual monitoring, and usually posting on nights and weekends as well.

After doing this for more than three years now, I’ve come to rely on some favorite tools I find helpful. I want to share them with you, but I’d also love to hear how you manage things on a regular basis!

First, the email. We all get so much email in a day, and most of us have a professional account and at least one personal account. It can be overwhelming. To make life easier, many of us try to reduce the number of emails we might get during any given day by skimming through them quickly and not really reading them, unsubscribing to some distribution lists, and cancelling email notifications from social networks. (And an added note here, while I haven’t tried it yet, the new app called Mailbox is supposed to be fantastic in helping you better manage your email!)

I completely understand the skimming and the unsubscribing, but I encourage you to avoid the temptation of not getting those email notifications for social media. I have been tempted to do it in the past, but recent events have made me say, “Phew, I’m so glad I get those notifications!”

In my role, I manage six Twitter accounts, six Facebook pages and a YouTube channel. Thanks to email, I’ve received notifications from YouTube on comments that we definitely wanted deleted because they violated our social media policy on swearing. Both of the comments came from former patients that were posted on a weekend and they probably wouldn’t have been caught except for that notification, at least not right away.

I know there’s a lot of email associated with Twitter, but when you’re managing multiple accounts, I assure you it’s a lot easier to scroll through your email Twitter notices to make sure there’s nothing you need to respond to right away. Some things can wait, like thanking people for retweets, but when it’s a mention of your hospital doing something wrong, well that’s something you want to address immediately. This weekend I received one of those, with a patient complaining about a bad blood draw. Those are the things you can spot easily through your email on your smartphone anytime, anywhere, without having to sign into multiple Twitter accounts.

I cannot say enough how much I love Tweetdeck. When you’re managing multiple accounts, this is the ONLY sane way to do it, in my humble opinion. I can monitor all mentions and direct messages for all of my accounts, schedule tweets, set up columns for lists that I follow, and do searches for mentions of the hospitals when people don’t use the @name. It’s ingenious, and it helps me manage my day so much better.

I knoTweetdeckw there are plenty of others out there, including HootSuite. The free version of HootSuite only lets you manage up to five accounts though, so that doesn’t work for me. I’m sure it does for many others though, and it is a great tool. The other great thing about HootSuite is that you also can link your Facebook accounts to it and schedule those posts as well. (A side note: TweetDeck offers this option too, but when I did a test scheduling of future Facebook posts it didn’t work. Maybe it was just me. Has anyone else had success with this?)

Facebook Pages App for smartphone
I am IN LOVE with this app. It makes it so easy to manage all the pages I oversee in one convenient app. It’s a breeze to monitor new comments and likes, it’s simple to delete a nasty comment that violates your policy, or even hide a post. You can easily view and filter posts by others with the touch of your finger. You also get a number showing you how many new notifications you have to check on. The downside, though, is that you cannot view your personal Facebook page through the Facebook app on your phone if you want to use the Pages app. You’ll have to sign out and log back in.

Despite that little setback, it’s my absolute lifesaver on the weekends when I do morning postings from all the accounts, and I can quickly and easily monitor all the activity from wherever I am in one handy dandy little app. This weekend I also got two complaints from people who were not satisfied with the care they received. Those are the kind of posts that need to get a response as soon as possible, and thanks to the notifications in my app, I was able to do that quickly while on the go this weekend.

So those are my tips for keeping your sanity while managing social media in health care, or any industry for that matter. What are YOUR tips? I’d love to hear from you.

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