“Social” Business: The Lie That Bankrupted Workers

When people are out strolling, partying, eating, entertaining with each other they are engaging in social activity. They’ve signed up for this kind of interaction.

When people go to work and their “Social Media” savvy executives finally figure out how to tap 140 characters in the 21st Century and when employees are they’re told that their employer is now “Social”, they are – in addition to being traditional employees – victims of a terrible lie.

Business is business.

Yes, when you interact among employees or customers it’s obvious that behaving like a human instead of a droll robot, that the business is better a business.

Do you *really* believe that social media and some “Social Business” philosophy create social experiences beyond what people are inherently capable of being? Really??

It sounds like a pleasant Utopia: businesses that become more “social” by using social media to create a happier workforce.

No, they won’t. This is a dangerous lie.

You don’t create happiness with happiness machines.

You don’t create social experiences with social machines.

Do your work and have fun.

If it isn’t fun, either put up with it or find something else.

The bottom line: business objectives are not social. They are business objectives. Good businesses already know enough about “social” – it’s a part of…well…good business. No need for an excuse to have conferences and books and speaking gigs.

Don’t go bankrupt just because a few peacocks with no experience whatsoever in putting together a “social” enterprise say to you.

In the future, businesses will become “social” – and everybody will become miserable because it will be their job to be social.

I  can read ( and laugh at) Mashable too. Big deal.

Then again, I know the difference between tweeting Mashable posts and getting things done.

So should you.

Serendipity Obesity

How do you get your information?

How do you make personal and professional connections?

How are you building and extracting value from your networks?

In doing these things, do you plan your work and work your plan? Or do you hand it over to Serendipity?

Social and other digital media make it easier more than ever to exploit Serendipity. In fact, almost all social media are serendipity machines.

For those of us who have experienced the benefits of Serendipity, there’s no doubt it’s a powerful influence on our consumption of information, connection to people and introduction to new pathways.

Here’s the problem: The more you depend on Serendipity, the fewer benefits you accrue from planning your work, working your plan and sustaining the discipline of clarity of focus. No focus, no vision.

Social media are increasingly pulling us toward the Serendipity side of the spectrum of information consumption. So we are becoming obese with the consumption of serendipitous information and connections.

I call this problem Serendipity Obesity.

Phil Baumann





The Truth About the Internet – Marcus Brown

I stumbled upon this presentation from Marcus Brown over on Plus.

It’s excellent. I don’t know if I completely agree with his conclusion, but the slides capture the essence of the problem children we have with today’s Internet.

To watch it, click Slideshow in the upper left corner.


There’s also a video of his presentation here.

Phil Baumann


If Social Media Is Not For You

You’ve done a lot of thinking about “how to” with social media, huh? But…

…did you ask yourself: What is Facebook for? What is Twitter for? What is Youtube for?

Do you think it’s for *you*?

When Zuckerberg or Jack meet with their teams, do you really think they ask “how can we make people have more friends?”

Or do they ask: “how can we design our software to maximize revenue streams?”

If you aren’t a paying customer, social media is not *for* you.

Brands on Facebook: if you’re not cutting a check to Facebook (say for ads or marketing data), Facebook isn’t *for* you. Don’t forget that.

Yes, these media can be re-purposed. Yes, some brands will use these media as gravity slings for their wider and wiser overall strategies. Most won’t.

Who are you with respect to these media, really?

You know who and what you are:

You are a stream of revenue consciousness.

In these media – for individuals and for brands – it’s easy to fall asleep in the stream, and to dream that you’re doing something worthy of your time.

If you’re not doing something for yourself or doing something for others that improve their lives, just what are you doing this for?

Phil Baumann


The Rise of Creative Priapism

So your practice or association or hospital system or pharmaceutical company has taken to social media. You’ve been to endless conferences on social media. You see now that social media is a common topic on CNN and NYT. You’ve got social media accounts now. You might even be featured on Ed Bennett’s excellent list.

Welcome to the machine.


Are you ready?

Do you understand what’s involved here?

Are you in shape? Do you have stamina? Can you endure?

I hope you didn’t think that Twitter or Facebook ‘virility’ would provide you with enormous return on investment at little cost. Viruses have a sex life of their own, ya know?

I hope you didn’t think this would be easy.

You see, doing this “social media stuff” is a long-term proposition. For businesses, it’s forever. There is no getting off the merry-go-round.

You’ve got to be hard.

You’ve got to be swift.

You’ve got to be responsive.

You’ve got to be electric.

You’ve got to be fascinating.

Most importantly, you’ve got to be creative.

You’ve got to keep pounding and tapping away and there is no letting up.

Welcome to Creative Priapism.

It is rising, and attention-spans are shrinking.

In today’s Attention Deficit Me-conony, it takes a lot to turn people on. And your competition isn’t just your competition: it’s titillating Youtube videos filmed by bored college kids.

Imagine that: being constantly under pressure to create, create, create!

You probably weren’t told any of this. You were probably told all you need to do is to dip your feet in Twitter a few times a day, “engage” with people and “embrace” the 21st Century.

Yes, you do have to engage and embrace.

But you have to know who you’re engaging and embracing – and you’ll need to do both exceedingly well…and for a long time.

You have to know how to tie-together all the disparite places on and off the Web, and Social is a small part of a larger party.

So, what are you going to do?? Give up? Avoid the inevitable course of today’s communications realities?

Is Creative Priapism avoidable?


Commitment. Discipline. Endurance.


The first three: they’re vital skills in the mechanics of doing social media. If it’s all mechanical for you, you’ll eventually pass out.

The last: now that’s what keeps you going. And going. And going.

Love is never easy. It can’t be forced. It’s not mechanical.

Love is social.

Love is the only way to avoid Creative Priapism.

– With love, from @PhilBaumann


Over on my personal blog, I coined a new term: Socialganda. Here’s an excerpt:

“Socialganda = Social Media + Propaganda. Socialganda.

Almost a century ago, Sigmund Freud’s nephew Edward Bernays pretty much fathered what we came to know as Propaganda.

Bernays understood the susceptibility of crowds to manipulation – thus the benefits of being Freud’s nephew. Bernays also understood the properties and possibilities of the technological conditions of his time. As a consequence of both understandings, he was able to fashion powerful ways of forging consent, changing behaviors and maintaining and growing the powers of new or status quo interests.

I wonder if someone – or a group of people – can build new theories and practices which exploit both the latest understanding of human psychology and the technological conditions of this century.

If they can, then they will”…

Read the rest…

It’s Facebook, Google and Some Other Things

Bye-bye Foursquare. Bye-bye Gowalla.  …In fact Bye-bye to pretty much every goofy Web service listed here.

  • Google is a search engine. People search for things.
  • Youtube is a search engine. People search for things to watch.
  • Facebook is the Walmart of Social Media. Get used to it.
  • LinkedIn is a rolodex for business people who aren’t on Twitter.
  • Twitter is 21st Century telephony. Pick up the phone, hang up and get back to work.
  • Blogs are for people who aren’t addicted to Twitter, who know about SEO and produce most of the content on all the places listed above.

Email is also a critical component – regardless of what some may think.

That’s pretty much it.

Is this an extremely over-simplified statement of today’s Web? Yep, it sure is. And in today’s Attention Me-conomy, you need simple, simple, simple.

Facebook, Google, and some other things like Youtube and occasional hits off the Tweet Pipe are where you probably need to do you most of your public art.

Facebook and Google: they’re it…for probably the next five years. Ten years from now? Who knows: technologies are moving way to fast to predict that.

I’ve been watching social networks and media for 32 years (no joke). No social network has thus far sustained itself. They almost always decay and fall apart.

Facebook is the exception – it broke the sound barrier. And nobody’s going to take it out of the sky anytime soon.

A decade ago, most people thought Google was just another search engine – that search engines were transient things. They were wrong. Same logic with Facebook. Except Facebook has WAY more data about people and their relationships with each other. And it now has mobile and geolocation – and it’ll continue to own the things that matter to most markers in the coming years.

Google and Facebook will go to war (it’s already going on), and the war will go on. That may or may not be an opportunity for upstarts. But we won’t see any big players emerge anytime soon.

Oh, and pay attention to Apple too. They have $33 Billion in Cash, Cash Equivalents and Marketable Securities and a leader who has seamlessly morphed his business from computers to music to mobile phones. Not a man to dismiss anytime soon. (Repeat: it has $33 Billion in liquid assets. Not paper valuation like Facebook or Twitter. Apple has raw purchasing power.) But as far as social presence, that’s a few years off before it’s determined what role they may have in all this. Same for Microsoft (lol).

And Twitter? Oh, Twitter – my sweet little bird – Twitter will continue to grow and grow until it becomes….Twitter. It’ll be around in some form or another. People run on Dopamine, and Twitter’s got its unique way to supply that drug.

Personally, I wish people valued art and science and nature and having a genuinely good time meeting each other. But that’s me.

The reality is: most people are happy being consumers. And that’s exactly who Facebook is building its mart for.

If you don’t like that, then take advantage of the Web and build your own small and focused community of five or ten or one hundred people. Really – you can start one today.

People will disagree with me about what I’m saying here. That’s OK. I want that. In the process I’ll learn a lot from them, because I have no idea what I’m talking about.

But here’s the thing: for people actually doing this stuff in a business context, resources are limited and decisions about allocation are vital.

You don’t have to be everywhere to be somewhere.

Wherever you are, just be really good at it.

@PhilBaumann –        @HealthIsSocial

UPDATE: Regina Holliday in the comments below points out that Flickr is another resource. I agree and for organizations which take pictures of events, etc. should really fold Flickr into their presence.

Proper Attribution Tips for Healthcare Bloggers

A few words about making the best of a networked world where attribution is the simplest, easiest and cheapest way to build community and presence.

Those of you who follow this blog know that Healthcare has been slow to adopt emerging media. That’s been changing though. It’s important that the people who are in the learning stage understand the cultural ramifications of what happens online.

Blogging is ancient sport these days. It may be new to many hospitals and nurses and doctors – and even healthcare marketers and agencies! – but that doesn’t mean a kind reminder of attributing sources and inspiration properly isn’t in order.

So here’s a video with a reminding appeal to healthcare bloggers to consider linking back to the posts you read that may have influenced your thinking (or view it here):

It’s not just about being ethical (although I would argue that healthcare professionals and marketers should hold themselves to higher standards in their communications than certain other industries).

It’s actually a benefit to link out. Why? Because the economy of blogging is made of hyperlinks. That’s a big part of how Google works. That’s a big part of how people find you, spread news of your existence and expand your horizons.

It can take years to ramp up a blog.

So enjoy the ride by shooting out those thready spindles to the very people who just might help to catch you when your blog takes a dive into a snare because you thought it was all about you.

And if you’re worried about “competition”, you clearly don’t understand how this social media stuff works.

I’ve said it before: If you can’t Retweet your competition, you just don’t have what it takes to succeed in this business. Quit now and do something better with your time.

Link. Or sink.

UPDATE: Bryan Vartabedian had a great riff today over on 33charts. He’s 100% right about how much of blogging over the years became about the mechanics of search engine optimization, etc. It’s still a huge problem today. He’s also right about the narcissism involved in link-love, and that blogging is about the reader, not the blogger.

Bryan has extremely valid points and they stand alone. But that’s not the issue in this post.

The concern in this post is primarily about two completely different things.

First, it’s about being mindful of crediting back to a source that a blogger knowingly uses (not inadvertently being influenced). This is consistent with the spirit of ethical behavior and thinking (note: I wouldn’t say it’s unethical not to courteously attribute, only the kind of thinking involved in trying to appear original).

Second, linking is one of the simplest ways of helping readers. It’s a benefit to readers if it’s done elegantly – and not overdone.

Linking-out isn’t a pat on the back to the original author. It’s a finger telling the reader where you’ve been travelling in the hope that they’ll find new land.

@PhilBaumann –       @HealthIsSocial

What Is Social Media? Not What You Think!

A few weeks ago I attended the Digital Pharma West Conference in San Francisco where I was on a panel discussing the role of emerging technologies in the life sciences. Although I’m a big believer in repurposing technologies – especially social software – for business uses, I always express caution about simply jumping into them and punting without establishing an understanding of their basic properties.

Social Media is not what most evangelists think or say it is. Technology reveals things: things about how the world works, things about how we work; things about how we provide healthcare; even things about how technologies work and inter-relate and evolve.

And from a business perspective, social media is revealing things about how enterprises work – or, more commonly, how they don’t work.

Allow me to explain.


Most definitions of so-called social media focus on the marketing, communications, public relations enframming of them.

But I would argue that there a non-social aspects and ramifications of these media which can have social value. So, here’s an attempt to place social media in a broader perspective and why it’s important to do so.

I realize what I have to say here may seem esoteric and overly philosophical. However, too often I see organizations get ahead of themselves without fully understanding how things fit together in order to be oriented. A business – whatever business – without orientation is headed to bankruptcy.


Social Media is the meeting place between people and technology. It enables new kinds of connectivity and relationships between people, from intimate to ambient. But it’s more than just social: social media connects machines, objects and data in ways we’ve never seen before.

Social Media in fact is has three essential attributes:

  1. Social
  2. Technological
  3. Ideological

Social On one hand Social Media is neither social nor media. People are social; but what is referred to as social media are in fact software. Traditional media were hardware – print, radio, TV were non-programmable, stable and predictable media. Software are pliant, unstable and unpredictable. Unlike traditional media, small tweaks in software can produce major repercussions in their function and social dynamics. And it’s this pliancy of the software which enables novel ways for people to connect and share and network. In other words: there certainly are social aspects to these technologies.

Technological Social Media – which depend on software – certainly do enable social connections. But it is also a technological connector. Underlying social media are software which offer pliant repurposing and evolving and revealing of new connections and networks – and the new worlds born out of them.

Ideological Furthermore, social media is Ideological. It’s important to understand the historical relationship between technology and ideology. New technological conditions generate shifts in power through which new ideologies emerge. The current debates about Privacy and Intellectual Property are just two examples of the kinds of new ideologies that are emerging. When Marketers ask How can we integrate social media into our strategy?, they are seeking an Ideology.


Movable type brought forth new ways of knowledge acquisition and distribution, undermining established religions, governments, laws and political structures: all of which bore the strain of challenging ideologies made possible by the technologies of reading and writing.

Even the human brain was rewired: the acoustic parts of the brain slowly gave way to the visual; the mythological way of thinking was replaced by a literal one. The linear, rigid, procedural mentality brought forth a new kind of civilization ultimately leading away from Feudalism to Capitalism and mass production, which in turn gave rise to Marxist and other ideologies.

While the ramifying consequences of moveable type transpired over centuries – half of a Millenia – the pace of today’s emerging media is creating shifts in years, months and weeks.

The technological conditions of the 20th Century limited messaging to unilateral mass communications and represented the culmination of the technological advances originating from the Literal Mind which moveable type gave rise to. The technological conditions of the 21st Century create multilateral and customizable communications at both the mass and micro level.

Therefore: Social media is social, technological and ideological. This combination forms the powder keg of early 21st Century cultural, technological, ideological, economic, commercial and political disruption.


Twitter, for instance, enables connections among two or more people for conversation, sharing and connecting. That’s the social feature of Twitter.

But Twitter as platform (and by Twitter I’m referring to the generic premise, not necessarily Twitter, Inc.‘s service) includes a broader and more fundamental utility opening a new design space in which further technological evolution can take place.

From insulin pumps following the tweets of continuous glucose readings, to weapons following the tweets of command units, Twitter will change the way we, computers and machines get things done. Furthermore it will change why we do what we do because it affords new systems to grow on top of the platform, offering new views of what’s possible with the technologies.

Twitter’s simplicity is its complexity. So in Life Sciences, not only is marketing being affected but also design and research and clinical collaboration and production of solutions to problems which can now be discovered and tracked far more powerfully than ever before.

A purpose of marketing is to connect two points: Connect a point of suffering with a point of care. Today’s technologies offer newly evolving challenges and opportunities of accomplishing that task.


And this brings us to the discussion about adoption and integration of social media. In my view, too much of the focus in current discussions is lopsided from a strategic perspective.

I believe that the Marketer’s perspective is too myopic to handle the full ramifications of these technologies – and yet, it’s the one that is the loudest (and most confused I might add). 🙂

Rather, it’s the Investor’s perspective that is critical and far more capable of successfully understanding and implementing the changes demanded of our times.

Let me explain.

Every dollar you see on the financial statements of an enterprise is ultimately the result of social transactions: revenues are the result of social transactions with customers; expenses are the result of social transactions with vendors; capitalization is the result of social relations with investors.

Revenues are only part of an entire enterprise’s well-being. Expenses are part of the investing and operating necessities of any going-concern. Labor, for instance, represents the potential of employees to produce, create and operate.

Internal uses of the right kinds of social media, therefore, can be just a financially valuable as externally-facing uses. And therein lies the importance of bringing social media deep into an organization.

In fact, I would argue that those businesses which adopt social media internally first may be in a better position as they build their online presences and voice. Actually – it’s those businesses which question their assumptions, re-examine how they get things done and re-design processes which will extract the most value from emerging media.

All too often, the Marketer’s perspective is the largest focus when it comes to social media integration. But it’s the Investor’s perspective that provides the largest view of what’s possible.


Social Media is simple from the outside but complex on the inside. In a word, Social Media is a mess.

…Unless, of course, you understand that before Strategy comes Vision. Some people see that and some don’t.

The right question isn’t How do we integrate these technologies into our strategy?

A smarter question is: Do these technologies call into question our strategy?

Ah – now there’s a question.

Ask and you shall receive.



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Ativan for Healthcare Social Media

Ativan for Healthcare Social MediaPatients want: connection…support…wisdom…help.

Healthcare providers (should) want: patients to get and stay well.

Given this simple and mutually beneficial set of conditions, it would be reasonable to conclude that the Healthcare and Life Sciences industries would fawn over emerging social and digital media.

Overall, however, the industries appear to be very anxious about treading into social media. Of course there are solid and valid concerns: HIPAA, FDA regulations, boundaries, patient dignity, proprietary information, etc. But concerns are different from fears. And therein lies a key opportunity for change agents within the industries to better reposition themselves with respect to social and digital media.


…Well, technically one could hook a bomb up to a Twitter account, message it and BOOM.

Other than that, it’s unlikely that providers are playing with anything more risky with social media than they are with surgery or liver-damaging pharmaceuticals or implantable devices or admissions to hospitals with high infection rates.

If ever there was an industry that had to manage high risk, it’s the healthcare and life sciences industries.

And perhaps it’s because of the need for conservative risk-management that what should be a culture of concern has become a culture of fear.

Fear can drive you in the wrong direction. Fear can reinforce your prejudices. Fear can replace strategy with blunder.

Every single day, smart business leaders orbit and fall into the gravity of fear.

Fear is one of the most common cultural traits of many enterprises – not just healthcare.

An organization that can overcome its fears is an organization that has a healthier view of the world. It can discriminate between true concerns and false alarms. It isn’t afraid of change because it’s accepted the fact that the world is utterly composed of change.


Addressing Fear – personal and professional – is one of life’s biggest challenges. It would be nice if there were a magic formula for treating fear. Ativan can treat Anxiety, but it doesn’t treat fear. If it did, every day would be casual day in the most conservative of organizations.

So what can be done to address fear? Well the most important step is assessment.

In every meeting, everybody should go around the room and ask “What are we afraid of?” If the answer is No to a demand for change, find out how much of a part fear plays.

Find out the underlying cause of the fear – is the object of the concern valid or based on a misperception? Is ignorance or awareness at work?

Do the decision makers understand the full picture of what’s at stake? That is: Do they know that nothing in life is without risk?

If you want to know what the Ativan for cultural fear is, here it is in one word: Understanding.

The proper response to a world that looks terrifying isn’t fear and denial and blocking it out. The proper response is to face it, figure it out and go forth.

In a world which is becoming increasingly connected, there is little room for fearful savants.

Today’s healthcare leaders need to be courageous polymaths.

by @PhilBaumann

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