Just my two cents

Musings on social media and the world as I see it


Tragedy in my hometown

I had to share this post from a friend/colleague who has written about what many of us have been struggling with this week. Well worth the read.

Somewhere in the Middle

People in every town say it: That would never happen here.

But it did happen, in my hometown of Danvers, Mass.

I don’t live there anymore, and aside from six months in 1997-98, and college breaks, I truly haven’t lived full time in Danvers since I left for college in 1987.

But it will always be my hometown.

So, like many others, I was devastated this morning when I read about a 14-year-old boy, a recent transplant from Tennessee, who had been reported missing.

Then I saw another news story about all public schools in town being closed because of a homicide investigation.

My immediate thought was bullying – that some kids picked on this young boy and it went too far. My heart broke for him.

But it wasn’t long before we learned that the homicide being investigated was that of a young woman, Colleen Ritzer, a 24-year-old…

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#$@*-Off For Breast Cancer Awareness

This is an amazing post. Many of us, especially health care marketers, get all wrapped up in the topic of the month without thinking about how those living with the disease, condition, etc. feel about all the hoopla. Thanks to Sandra for sharing her thoughts on this – I’m sure she represents a large population.

Cats & Cancer

The much-hated (for me) Pinktober is now in full swing.  What is Pinktober?  It’s the 10th month when yogurt suppliers, kitchen appliance manufacturers, carmakers, Facebook pages and other media messages are tagged with “breast cancer awareness.”  They want you to buy stuff and do stuff for the cause.  They want to take your money, later donate some of it, and not tell you how they use the funds.  Some call this “Pink-Washing.”

This year, there is a “Go Braless for Breast Cancer Day.”  WTH?  What does going braless have to do with breast cancer and what are people really thinking?  Will men go all day with an open fly for prostate cancer awareness?  Will teens decide to cut themselves for leukemia awareness?  Maybe women with mastectomies and no reconstruction ought to go shirtless for the day.  Wouldn’t that raise some “awareness?”


If someone wants to relate to…

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Does your company have a strategy or are you a fish out of water?

Photo by kainr/Creative Commons.

Photo by kainr/Creative Commons.

I think it’s often easier to find the things that are wrong in your company rather than appreciating the good things. Recently two things opened my eyes to just how lucky I am to work for the company I do.

The reason for this post, though, is not to shower accolades on my employer, but rather to point out some important things that could impact the marketing and social media efforts of companies.

Last weekend I was at a wedding, and one of my former colleagues was there. I was thrilled to see her because I adore Caitlin. She is a smart young woman, a beautiful and talented writer and a genuinely nice person.

She is now working for a biomedical company. She made a point of telling me how behind the times the company is. There is no overall marketing strategy, there is no coordinated communications efforts or advertising efforts, and social media is a completely mystery to them. In fact, the vice president asked her, “So, that Skype. Is that Facebooking?” Wow. It seems almost impossible in this day and age, right? Surely that company is an anomaly, yes?

Apparently not. Yesterday, I read a post shared by Mark Ragan called “Lessons from a social media disaster.” The post describes a company that appears to be in total chaos: no strategy, no leadership, no IT support, no content creators. Another wow.

So I guess that company that was NOT an exception to the rule. I guess I am lucky in that I work for a company with a clear mission, vision and goals. On top of that we have strategies and clear tactics for all of our marketing and advertising efforts. What we do always supports the overall mission, whether it be marketing, social media, advertising, or caring for our community. We also have policies and procedures so everyone can understand what is expected of them.

Having worked in this environment for all of my career, I think I would be completely lost in a company that didn’t function this way. It’s hard to imagine trying to do anything today when you don’t have a coordinated effort among all the parties responsible for your company’s success. In fact, it sounds like a perfect prescription for failure, right?

Or maybe I’m just partial to doing things that make sense. Personally, I think it’s that strategy that holds the key to success in everything you do. Without a plan, you’re kind of like a fish out of water, especially when it comes to social media.

Do you have a plan when it comes to your marketing and social media efforts? Are there things that you would change about your organization’s environment or culture that you think would help its success? What would it be?


Please don’t text and drive

Photo by poka0059/Flickr

Photo by poka0059/Flickr

I consider myself to be a pretty coordinated person. I can definitely walk and chew gum at the same time, and I can talk on the phone and type, and other multi-tasking efforts come pretty easily to me. But texting and driving was never one of them.

I was thrilled when my home state, along with many others, passed a law that prohibits texting and driving. At the same time, I’m not so naive that I believe that everyone follows the law. But I have to tell you that I am just appalled with the number of people who still think they can text and drive and be safe.

I had an appointment today. I had to drive four miles from my house. I have a habit of looking in my mirror when I am stopped at a stop sign or a red light, because once I got rear-ended and, well, old habits die hard. So today, during my 4-mile drive which consisted of very few stops, I counted at least three people who were texting and driving.

It seems to me that people today are of the mindset that you have to be available and responsive no matter when it is (morning, noon, night) and where you are (bathrooms, meetings, sleeping). Now I am of a certain age when a car phone was a really cool thing to have but not necessary. I’m also the first to admit that technology never ceases to amaze me. It has given us a myriad of things to celebrate and enjoy on a daily basis, like blogs and social networks, and the ability to share our opinions.

At the same time, it has a dark side, and this is one of them. It’s made us obsessed with being available 24/7. I admit that I feel this pull too. The smartphone tends to do that to us.

But when I see so many risking their own lives and threatening the safety of others because they think they can text and drive, it brings up a number of thoughts and emotions.

  • I’m really angry that they would put others’ lives in danger because they own a smartphone.
  • I wonder why people think they are so indispensible that they must be available and responsive no matter when it is or where they are. I’d really rather not get an answer from someone who is driving (or in the bathroom!).
  • I’m curious as to what it’s going to take to stop people from doing this. My guess is a serious accident, and then it’s too late.
  • It’s a shame to me that as wonderful as technology can be, it has to have a dark side that is SO dangerous.

Do you text and drive?

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An awesome new Facebook feature

picture 1000I manage six different pages in my role. I post a lot of links to health information to keep our audiences up to date on the latest health news. Often, those links have really bad pictures with them, and some have no pictures at all.

We all know that a good photo captures more attention, so I’m always annoyed when I know it could be a better post if it just had that better picture to go with it.

Well, thank you Facebook for the “upload image” option now available on pages! When you post a link, you’ll see a thumbnail of the image(s) that are options on that page. If you don’t like any of those, or if there are no photos, you can simply click the “upload image” option and select a photo of your own! It’s that easy!

FB page

Now you’ve got no excuse for not using a great photo on your Facebook pages.

I’m also loving the ability to reply directly to someone who has commented rather than posting a general comment. That’s a wonderful new feature too. What’s YOUR fave feature on Facebook?


The best practices for hospital social media – a wish list

wish listDon’t let anyone kid you. Doing social media for a hospital is a lot of work. Those books and articles that say it takes an hour a day, well, that’s just not true, at least in my opinion. Here’s a great post that talks about this concept.

In my role, I manage social media for a health system that includes five hospitals and a women’s medicine practice. It’s a job I absolutely love, but I won’t tell you it’s not a lot of work. I manage an editorial calendar for the year to give us an overall guide. The calendar incorporates all the strategic marketing priorities developed by the marketing officers for each partner hospital to support each individual brand. I also work with the media officers to regularly promote their pitches and news stories, and with the web team to be sure I’m posting each month’s web features as well. Of course I also work with the development team to promote fundraising events and activities.

In addition, I like to do some fun posts to keep it light (like “It’s National Ice Cream Day!”), and share timely health news and tips on a daily basis to support our overarching mission of improving the health of the communities we serve. Mixed in with all of that is, of course, responding to comments, interacting with others on social networks and trying to be part of the daily social conversation with friends, fans, influencers, reporters, media outlets, etc.

Through six Facebook, six Twitter, five Google+, three Pinterest pages and a YouTube channel, you can imagine the time that is spent managing and monitoring. It IS a full-time job. The disappointing part of that? There isn’t always time to focus on some things that would be really great to do in the social media world. I was recently asked to come up with a wish list of things that ideally we’d be doing if we had more resources (monetary and staff). Here’s part of my wish list.  These are the things I really want to be doing but simply don’t have time to do, or don’t do often enough. In my mind, they are the best practices, the “golden tickets” of social media for hospitals. I’d recommend adding these to your bag of tricks if you’re not already:

  • Develop and maintain a blog with two to three posts a week. Interview doctors and clinicians and write blog posts on hot and timely topics. Mix up your content and provide a variety of fun, interesting and helpful articles. Share them on the social networks too.  Some hospitals with great blogs include Mayo Clinic, Cleveland Clinic, Cincinnati Children’s and Boston Children’s Thrive.
  • Walk around the hospitals and take photos of patients (with consent of course), families, staff, clinics, cool things in the hospital, etc. to post. Think about the things that make your hospital unique, and showcase them. Photos are the posts that generate the most engagement on social networks.
  • Provide live coverage of some key marketing and development events, like ribbon cuttings, openings, fundraising events, press conferences. Use pictures and videos. You can tweet it live on Twitter as it’s happening, then post on Facebook and your Pinterest or Flickr pages, and include them in your e-newletters. Share them with your intranet and internet teams. There are so many uses for this type of coverage!
  • Create great videos to share through your networks. It could be a patientt, a fun event, a health tip from a clinician… and try to make it fun! (Think Pink Glove dance.) They don’t have to be professionally done – your iPhone will be just fine when it’s not an official marketing/advertising/branding video. Rule of thumb: the shorter the better because attention spans are short!
  • Look for great patient stories. These are priceless when it comes to marketing and advertising your hospital. What better way to showcase your expertise than through a success story told through a picture or video. This picture of one of our patients who got all dressed up for her last day of chemo was posted on one of our Facebook pages and was the most popular post since we started the page.

I guarantee that if you include this type of activity in your social media plan, you will see an increase in your engagement. What are the things that you have found to be the best for engagement?

This post was originally written for http://www.hospitalimpact.org, where an edited version appeared.  


Keeping transparency, especially when it’s personal

???????????????????????????????????????????????I don’t hide the fact that I am the face behind the social media channels for five hospitals and a women’s medicine practice in Rhode Island. On top of that, I have my personal Twitter, Facebook and Google+ where I share personal things, but Twitter is by far my favorite channel.

Twitter is my go-to for everything. It’s how I learned about social media, it’s how I stay up to date on breaking news, and it’s where I can connect with so many people I otherwise wouldn’t meet. Like many people, it’s also the first thing I think of when I want to tout a brand or do a little complaining.

If you’ve read my posts like these in the past, you know I’m all for transparency in social media. So imagine my dilemma when I found myself the family member of a patient at one of my hospitals earlier this year. And when I say “my hospital” I mean one of the hospitals for which I manage the social media.

It was a very scary time for my family, and I’m thrilled and so very thankful to report that in the end everything is just great, but it was touch and go there for a while. So here I was, at the bedside of a loved one in a hospital and wanting to tweet about the care my brother was receiving. If it had been any other hospital, I would have tweeted both the good and bad experiences.

But my dedication to being transparent was giving me a little internal tug of war.  If I tweet, the only one from the hospital who could see it and respond would be me. At the same time, I knew I would be sharing a good experience about the hospital through Twitter that the hospital’s followers would see. So then I would be adding to a positive image of the hospital. But it just felt a little, um, icky. It almost felt a bit unethical… like people would think I was being a little biased in what I was sharing through social media and misrepresenting the hospital. I felt like it was just the wrong thing to do.

So in the end, I chose not to tweet, not because I felt that I couldn’t, but it just ethically didn’t feel right to me. But now I pose the question to you… what would YOU do in that case?