Just because I Like what you bought,…

…it doesn’t mean that I’ll buy what you Liked.

This applies to cars as much as to health initiatives.

Being liked and being sold are different matters.

In fact, the best things sold to the world are too often the most disliked:

  • Civil rights
  • Exercise
  • Forgiveness

Leaders sell.

Followers like.

But who buys?

Ah, that’s a question.


Social Engineering Marketing

I’m starting to think that we are entering a world where marketers will have to make one of two choices as the Web makes its final infiltration into our lives:

  • Committing to clear, honest transactions which build on the results of word-of-mouth generated by the quality of the products or services being marketed
  • Committing to socially engineered transactions, with a focus on using psychology, sociology, behavioral economics and other ingredients required for the manipulation of publics (Socialganda)

There may be a combinations of both in between these extremes, but I suspect – if I’m right about this – that the distribution curve will be narrow at the middle and wide on the extremes.

Now, here’s the thing: both approaches can work.

You can create wonderful services, have a community of fans and gently foster the community to keep the wheel of your business turning.

You can also develop strategies and tactics of human manipulation which steer people where you want them to go.

If I were Edward Bernay’s I would be salivating at social media and digital technologies. I’d exploit the psychology of the flattering retweet. I’d exploit the psychology of being Liked all the time. I’d exploit the psychology of the addictive branded social game.

The first gives us hope for a better world, while the second implies a world of fewer free minds and more powerful oligarchs.

Prediction: We will see both, but the second will come to dominate over time.

What world are we creating with social media really? Is it a healthy one? For all tyrannies are born of civilizations that make unhealthy choices.

History does not repeat itself. History is more exciting and nuanced than Groundhog Day. Rather, what’s coming our way are mutated variations of ancient themes.

People simply do what’s closest to their nature. They always have, they always will.

Democracy is the human assent against natural chaos, and the ideas which fuel its onward voyage demand remarkable propagation.

Ultimately, Democracy, then, depends on good marketing.

There are enough good people in this world to make good things.

There are enough bad people in this world to make bad things.

What’s uncertain is the number of people in between.

It’s the people in between who determine the course of civilization.

Who, and where, are you?

@PhilBaumann – @HealthIsSocial




A Brand: To Have Or To Be

Two things to think about with regard to a brand: what is has and what it is.

A brand can have followers, fans, Likes, views, prints…all the eyeballs you want.

But what happens when the followers, fans, Likes, views, prints vanish?

Does the brand vanish too?

If it does, then what was that thing in the first place?

What is the brand?

Does the brand stand on its own? Can it be without having?

If a brand depends on what it has then it can’t last long. Not today.

A brand is like you. You can have everything in the world, but if you can’t be then you’ll be nothing when what you have is gone. If you lost everything you have, will there be a you?

What you have should be the result of what you are. Not the other way around.

Same thing for brands.

It’s called Presence Marketing for a reason.

“Possession Marketing” has a stalky ring to it, doesn’t it?



The Weird World of Social Media

Why on earth would anybody want to be friends with a brand? Nobody wants to be friends with a hospital or a pill.

How on earth is that social?

People want what they want and need – they want meaning. Brands aren’t people.

I think too many businesses and marketers are confused about today’s media.

First, many were late adopters – only a couple of years ago, I’d go to conferences and get glazed looks: “What’s a Twitter?”

Now, after reading social media blogs and attending more conferences, companies can’t get enough of this stuff and are purchasing crocks of snake oil.

But few are taking a step back and asking “What are these media? Why do people use them?” It seems like digital marketing agencies and businesses truly believe the notion that “it’s all about conversation”.

No! No! NO!!

Really: who wants to be friends with a brand? It’s an absolutely delusional proposition.

Yes, businesses need to be available to customers. Yes, theses media can be repurposed for business value.

But here’s where the confusion is: people use these media to talk with each other. They do talk about products and services. People talk about what’s meaningful to them.

Social matters between and among customers – not between brands and customers. This is the confusion.

This confusion is creating the weird world of social media, where we’re all supposed to be friends with brands and spend our time reading company tweets. Oy!

So the idea of brands being social is utterly misguided.

The Web is a great platform for people to connect with each other.

So help them make connections with each other.

That’s where companies need to invest resources.

Last century, you could spend 80% of your capital on marketing and 20% on core business. You could get away with shoddy products and services because customers didn’t have platforms to connect directly with each other.

That’s changed. The the mix has to flip: companies need to spend 20% on marketing and 80% on core business.

The purpose of marketing has always been to enhance a product’s attention and presence – not replace it.

This is why most social media efforts will fail.

Build a remarkable hospital. Hire competent nurses and doctors and encourage them to use social networks for their professional development and networking.

The way to do Social isn’t to do the weird thing and make brands social.

Nope: the way to do Social is to run a business with bright people who are committed to creating meaningful products and services, and then helping customers to talk openly and honestly about their experiences, problems, hopes and insights.

Trust me: it’s a much better world than the weird alternative universe where we wake up with yet another request to friend a brand.



Here Comes Nobody


Here’s a question: What if the next several years of social media evolution are actually going to act as tsunamis against Marketing?

We’ve all heard about the power of Facebook, Blogging, Youtube, Twitter, mobile applications, etc. as new tools for marketers to reach their targets, engage them and reduce the cost of marketing.

There will be successes, no doubt. We’ve seen them already. But what if those are exceptions? What if, in the big scheme of things, social media is radically fractionalizing people’s attention to the point of making most marketing efforts less effective than under the times of traditional media?


What if what we’re seeing today is the ocean water ebbing out and we’re all fascinated with the open sand and slipping water, not realizing what’s really going on way out beneath the waves.

What if the cleared beach we’re looking at – one that looks full with possibility and opportunity – is a set-up for a gigantic disappointment? That a tsunami is underway and that when the waves crash back onto land, a massive onslaught of destruction will tumult the curious to waste.

And there it is: a beach with nobody.

I’m not asserting that this is the case. I’m simply questioning it.

Think of it: as content grows and grows, and as more media evolve, and as people continually change where and how they use today’s technologies, how expensive might it be to reach targets?

Not only to reach and engage in the moment – but do so on a long-term basis. One-hit wonders won’t do.

And still, after all that hard work: what if nobody shows up?

We used to have a limited number of television, radio and print channels. Curators and gate-keepers were easier to identify and could determine the fate of a brand, given enough money and might.


But the Web is eroding that. It’s the Great Creator and Destroyer.

The Web is like an electronic Shiva. (Brand designers may want to click that link – you’ll need to fascinate: you do that with powerful and dynamic symbolism.)

For while the Web is giving anybody in the world the power to produce content and market their message, the power of organizations to control their messages dilutes precipitously as the number of channels swell.

Clay Shirky declares Here Comes Everybody.

But what if nobody comes?

What if you spend money and other resources and nobody comes? Or people come, but only at first or occasionally, or at the wrong time?

Are Healthcare communicators and marketers going to excel in today’s landscape?

Will Public Health messages and campaigns convey far enough and long enough? Or will they simply get retweeted, Liked, blogged, mobile-applicationified…and then forgotten?

Is the Web a good thing or a bad thing for Marketing?

I can’t answer that. Opinions don’t matter – only data and information and proper interpretation do.

I will claim, however, that the Web has made – and will continue to make – Marketing a much harder job than it’s every been.

Maybe what’s about to happen is a Great Marketing Destruction, to be followed – after years – by a Great Reconstruction Period.

Maybe the the next decade of Marketing belongs not so much to the Creatives. Perhaps it belongs more to the Destroyers – to those who can fearlessly ride the fire searing around Shiva’s dance.

Creation and Destruction are, after all, two sides of the same hand.

Be optimistic. As a reminder of the hard work before you, however, consider placing a sign nearby:

Here Comes Nobody.

So: what do you do? Here’s the secret:

Love is the wielding between creation and destruction.

You must love what you do.

Everybody loves to be loved. Love turns nobody into somebody.

@PhilBaumann@HealthIsSocial – Our Destructive Newletter


What People Retweet

People retweet what people say about them.

People retweet breaking news.

People retweet conflicting health claims.

People retweet tweets about Twitter.

People retweet insights.

People retweet gossip.

People retweet bad science.

People retweet political lies.

People retweet their own ignorance.

People retweet kindness.

People retweet LMAO, WTF, OMG, LOL.

People retweet sappy aspirations.

People retweet what people retweet.

What people retweet isn’t nearly as important as what you do.

What people retweet can’t be depended on for long-term endurance.

What people retweet isn’t a strategy.

Don’t worry too much about what people retweet or Like on Facebook. Yes, your name or campaign or brand’s tweets might go viral. Maybe, if your brand gets enough mentions, Google will be triggered to crawl and index your website and spike traffic. Maybe.

But a virus isn’t something to get all chummy with.

A virus is a smarter marketer than you.

Viruses are master rebranding agents.

What people retweet might mutate into something you didn’t expect.

What people retweet isn’t much in your control.

Just something to consider if you believe that social media is a cheap replacement for hard-to-make secret sauce bottled and distributed through smart and supple marketing.

@PhilBaumann@HealthIsSocialOur Secret Society


Healthcare Marketers: Don’t Forget About Traditional Media

I know. So many people think traditional media is dead – or dying at least. Newpapers are dead. Radio is dead. TV is dead. Everything is moving to the Web – social and digital is the future!

I understand the perspective: traditional advertising is getting hurt. More and more people are using social media. The Internet is becoming the primary access through which people get information and entertainment.

It looks like the Web is equalizing everyone: the big giant corporations are facing challenges from the little guy with a blog, a podcast and a ra-ta-tat-tat arsenal of tweets.

It not only looks that way, but it is…to an extent.

History has shown – repeatedly – that new technologies shift social relations and dynamics, upend traditional powers and create pathways for new models and powers to emerge.

History has also shown that powers – old or new – eventually either coalesce, or consolidate, or outright conquer and marginalize the the once-equal.

Advertising will never fade. It’s an inherent process of all communications systems. Life, in fact, is perpetuated by advertising: the peacock’s feather is copy for the species.

My sense – it’s just a sense – is that eventually dominant media powers will re-emerge. They probably won’t be the ones we grew up knowing. Oligopolies happen. Quite often, especially if the economics of attention permit.

So if you want to develop a communications or marketing or public relations strategy that works today, here are four points to bear in mind:

  1. If you build strategies based solely on traditional media, you forgo a long-term investment in the future;
  2. If you build strategies based solely on today’s media, you’ve already built obsolescence into the endeavor;
  3. If you dissolve the schism between traditional and new media, your ability to problem-solve just got sharper;
  4. If you spend on traditional media and add a little bit of ingenuity, you create an opportunity to dovetail those efforts with today’s technologies.

Healthcare marketers and communicators can and must use traditional media to make behavior changes. People still walk around cities. They still watch TV. They still listen to radio. They still go to hospitals and have plenty of opportunities to see the right stuff. They still go to doctors’ offices and encounter brochures as tortuous alternatives to boredom.

The problem isn’t the decline of traditional media. The problem is three-fold:

  1. The decline in the quality of the messages within the media;
  2. The incline of information overload, attention obesity and Internet addiction;
  3. The uncertainty advertisers have about the genetic re-engineering of their profession in light of the Web.

I can think of one simple tweak you can make to all of your traditional efforts that can amplify your no-nonsense return on equity.

Bonus: if you do it well (seamlessly), people won’t see you as an interruption – in fact, they won’t see you. They’ll see the solution to a problem they didn’t know they had.


The Secret to Healthcare Marketing

Health is an inherently social proposition. Healthcare marketing is about connection: connecting healthy needs with healthy resources. So the secret to Healthcare marketing in a social online world rests in connection.

The secret to healthcare marketing…

…is not in getting people to like your Facebook Page.

…is not in getting people to like your website.

…is not in getting them to like your product or service.

In fact, it’s not even in getting people to like you.

The secret to healthcare marketing is…

…getting the people who matter to you to like each other.

Simple as that.

It’s as simple as eating right and exercising and managing stress.

But: simple does not mean easy.

@PhilBaumann –  @HealthIsSocial

How Would You Market If…

…someone pushed a big fat button that instantly wiped out television, radio and print forever?

What if all that was left were the offspring of the Internet, from browsers to mobile devices? What would you do?

Marketing isn’t dying. But some of the tools you learned to master might be. If they vanished right now – this very moment – what would you choose to do?

Are you working hard on things that might be gone in a few years?

Is your strategy rooted in deep fundamentals? Or is it really a grand scheme for working with certain kinds of technologies?

Again: How would you market if someone pushed a big fat button that instantly wiped out television, radio and print forever?