(X% Body) + (Y% Words) + (Z% Pheromones) = The Enigma of Social Media

One of the most common (egregious?) misunderstandings concerning social media interactions is that they’re simply no different from face-to-face.

Although there are urban understandings of how body language and words contribute to communications, we really don’t know for sure. (See Misinterpretation of Mehrabian’s Rule.)

Not to mention pheromones, and who else knows what tiny subtle mechanisms at play in human inter-connectivity and communications.

We must understand what’s going on here. Why? Because you and I and everybody else are connecting less and less personally, and more and more via electronic telepathy.

Ergo: what happens via social media is different from face-to-face.

Now, this difference has down-sides.

But…but this difference has upsides as well. Think of Twitter’s value-extraction mechanism – tiny pearls of wisdom secreted though the tyrannical pressure of 140 characters as an instance.

Furthermore: there are inter-plays between the down-sides and up-sides of this differential.

The more you peel away, the more you peel away. Crazy, huh?

Crazy as it is, we must keep peeling away and plumbing the breadth and depths of how the presence of today’s technologies enhance, obsolesce, retrieve and flipย the media of communication and other forms of human contact. See the pic below:


When thinking about Healthcare – how nurses, physicians and other HCPs aught to explore their personal/professional rights/responsibilities – it’s critical that we return to a media-analysis of what’s going on. We are moving towards a strange chimera of technology, psychology, ethics, communication, economics, politics and professional work.

^ What therapeutic communications do social media enhance?

^ What patient-provider relationships do social media obsolesce?

^ What practical wisdom do social media retrieve from the ancient past?

^ How far can we bend social media in Healthcare and what happens when they flip as a result?

That’s why I offer the quirky equation as the title of this post: we don’t know enough, but we can start with a framework. What I offer is just an intuition pump, not to be taken literally.

There is an enigma to social media.

We know some of the variables that compose this enigma, but not all. Not by worlds.

Let’s work out the algebraic topology that is the enigma of social friken media.





Did You Follow-up On That Healthcare Campaign?

Our campaign was a success!

We got an award for the ad!

Healthcare outcomes met? Check!


…Did you follow-up?

The party’s over. You won. Congratulations.

But now, people aren’t calling much anymore.

Sales are waning.

The patient was sick, you helped her – but you never followed-up.

You didn’t call. You didn’t visit. You patted yourself on the back.

Vint Cerf and Tim Berners-Lee and Jack Dorsey – they gave you the platforms to build the platforms to follow-up.

Have you been paying attention?

Are your marketing and communications and advertising skills *really* up to par?

If you pump enough money into traditional and social and digital media and do something wild that captures the glory of the moment, you can win…

…you can win: a moment.

But a moment doesn’t last a lifetime.

Nursing and medicine and psychotherapy would be more effective if nurses and doctors and therapists were given the resources, time and tools to follow-up.

So too would Healthcare Marketing and Communications and Advertising.

The difference between what the ground troops of our health care ‘system’ can do and what marketers can do is huge.

Doctors and nurses don’t have much wiggle room.

Marketers do.

The components of that wiggle room: The Follow-up.

You’ve gotten the whole social media thing wrong.

The purpose wasn’t to get Likes and RTs and Pluses and Viral Videos and social media attention.

The purpose was to follow-up.

Phil Baumann


How Will Pharma Make Contact With Physicians From Outer Space?

It was a simpler but glamorous age: physicians did work they enjoyed in their practices or facilities; pharmaceutical companies produced heroic polymers to combat antagonist pathologies; and gregarious, ambitious and street-smart sales reps helped physicians to help their patients.

The Web, and changing healthcare economics, and physician disappointment with the consequences of poor decisions on the part of governments and pharmaceutical industry leaders irrevocably are putting an end to that age.

We live in a marvelous and dangerous time. Not glamor nor simplicity nor breaking bread over wine dominate our world. Turbulence, uncertainty and rapidity are becoming the currencies of understanding and information and communication.

So what’s the Life Sciences industries to do?

Well, lets start with what’s certain:

^1 Patients need wellness and disease-management and information.
^2 Physicians need resources: financial, informational, diagnostic and treatments.
^3 Pharma produces two things: polymers and information.

This triumvirate of Patient, Physician and Pharma remains a fundamental structure. (If you didn’t catch the one common word, read the list again.)

What’s changed, however, are the following:

^1 Physicians and patients have lost trust in Pharma.
^2 Payment reform continues to evolve.
^3 The days of salesforce visits and services are sunsetting.
^4 The Web disrupts the generation, possession, interpretation, transmission and dispensation of information.
^5 As a consequence of ^4, the relationship between physician and patient morphs.
^6 As a consequence of all the above, Pharma loses its hegemony of channels and networks and messages.
^6 Information approaches infinity every day.

How do we reconcile Status Quo with Expellas Furca?

In a sense, you can’t. But you can re-frame what’s going on within historical context.

What’s This Moveable Type Thingy, Johannas??

Just as the the Church of Rome initially failed to grasp the opportunities and threats of Moveable Type (I guess they didn’t do a SWOT analysis), Pharma must comprehend how technologies are re-forming the informational flows among patients, among physicians, among researchers and – most critically – the inter-relating re-formations and con-formations among all of those parties.

So let’s look quickly at the Church of Rome’s failures (and successes):

^1 Initially it didn’t grasp the concept of Movable Type
^2 Scrolls were holy: the Torah and Gospels were *written* by divinely-guided *hands*
^3 Moveable Type was perceived as un-holy (the only books were…books: *the* Bible)
^4 The masses were illiterate, so why print books? (“Physicians and patients don’t use social networks”)
^5 Meanwhile, the replication of books seeded literacy among the masses
^6 This literacy was mind-expanding: it created a new kind of Sharing and Collaboration
^7 This mind-expansion put ideas in heads. Dangerous ideas. (“Wait: This King is God stuff is bull!”)
^8 These dangerous ideas challenged the Church. (“Yo, Rome: Here are 95 Theses! 95!!!”)
^9 In the awakening of the Church, it finally realized: books could spread the Word (“How do we reach Physicians?”)

What does this have to do with Healthcare, Medicine, Pharma? Everything.

^1 Traditional Marketing was built on hegmonic-enabling technology (“‘Plop-plop, fizz fizz’. I can’t get that out of my head”).
^2 Medical Knowledge (The Gnosis) has been forbidden fruit to patients (note the serpents in the Caduceus). (“Trust us, we’re the experts.”)
^3 The relationship between physicians and Pharma is akin to the Aristocratic abandonment of the Church.
^4 Patients are increasingly demanding medical democracy. (“Hey, we’re on to your selling indulgence pills, Rome!”)

Now that Pharma’s hegemony over communication channels – to the masses and with physicians – is dissolving, the question to be answered is what kind of social infrastructures will evolve?

What’s the future?

What ‘books’ (new media) will physicians use? – Sermo? LinkedIn? Friendster? ๐Ÿ˜‰

What information do patients want and need? Where will they seek it out?

Many answers – and we don’t have them all. Remember: Turbulence – Uncertainty – Rapidity.

Here’s my sense – it’s just one guy’s (considered) opinion (if I were too cocky, I’d call it a hypothesis – but it’s just a guess):

^1 The future of Pharma requires an expansion from polymer production to information service
^2 Making contact with the physicians from outer space will take time (space is lonely)
^3 Public Social Media won’t offer as great a return as Back-channel Social Media
^4 Everything will be an application (An ad will be inter-active and thus information-rich)
^5 Pharma must re-evolve its communications to small-scale community leadership and fellowship
^6 Pharma’s physician education must expand from diseases/products to media/technology (information)
^7 Global regulatory bodies will need persuasion to recognize Pharma is part of Shared Decision Making
^8 Pharma’s greatest asset will be Creativity. Creativity is anathema to Bureaucracy.
^9 Clarifying on ^8: Creativity is more than Creative. It’s in everything.

WOW – this has been a long way to answer a simple question about those alien physicians!

Here’s the thing: whether the answers are simple or complex, this is going to be hard work.

Here’s another thing: the word “reach” will strain your arm. It’s the wrong word.

Today’s media aren’t so much powerful for ‘reach’ as they are for ‘pull’. Reach is still important, but it’s a smaller mechanism in an expanding organic system.

But the point of marketing isn’t to reach. It’s to make contact.

You make contact by creating content (information); reaching out for *information* about physicians; listening for signals in patient communities; and investing in platforms that enable peer-to-peer connectivity – and stepping in with ideas and questions, not product, and then stepping back to observe. Rinse and repeat.

The spacecraft for doing this? The answer is gonna sound so dopey, but it’s true: your blog.

The blog – the one on *your* domain – is the only spaceship you can control. It’s how you can steer and lead conversations, it’s where you can be found among the Electric Sea of Infinity and it’s where you hone your contact skills. The other planets and solar systems aren’t in your control. But they are gravity-slings.

The failure to blog, given Pharma’s decades-long decline in PR esteem, may have cost the industry billions of dollars. (Laugh, I’m used to it – but I’m not wrong.)

So, you wanna know how to make contact with physicians from outer space? It’s a long journey, but build that spaceship and then learn to use the backchannel new media to build your own physician CRM.

They’re out there.

Phil Baumann


Social Media in Healthcare: The Wild Goose Chase

I’m happy that more healthcare professionals and institutions are talking about social media. (Another way to see it: I’m happy they’ve realized it’s no longer 1995. ๐Ÿ™‚

Anymore when I speak at conferences or meet privately with organizations, what I often observe is a wish to figure out how to fit the latest technologies into their strategies.

One medium in particular: Foursquare. Somehow, there are a fair amount of healthcare social media evangelists who have latched on to geolocation services. I understand: there’s value in sharing your location. I get it. But…

…but: sometimes we get a bit carried away with the latest tech. And more and more, I’m getting a sense that healthcare organizations and the professionals who are responsible for social media, are getting lured into wild goose chases.

You don’t have to force-fit every media into your operations.

You don’t need any of these media, actually. You just need to know your needs and how to satisfy them. If a particular medium serves a need, then use it.

Most corporate enterprises – inside or outside Healthcare – don’t even have particularly robust content production, let alone two-way communications confidence.

My primary advice with healthcare social media: don’t make such a big deal about it all, and don’t feel like you have to conform to what the early adopters propound at conferences and blogs and on Twitter. That includes what you find on this blog and its related tweets.

In a future post, I’m going to talk about Dopamine and how it may be influencing perceptions of the values of social media. (Hint: think of coke heads who try to solicit others to use cocaine.)

Don’t chase geese unless you’re prepared to serve a gourmet dinner.

@PhilBaumann – @HealthIsSocial – Newsletter


Healthcare Social Media Is Not Social Media

I think we need to understand the differences among different kinds of social media and how the different kinds fit or do not fit into Healthcare. My concern is that too many advocates of social media who want to see Healthcare adoption of these technologies are thinking in terms of consumer social media (Twitter, Facebook, blogs, etc.). We need to expand our conception of social media beyond that view.

Granted, many of these consumer media have places in Healthcare. But Healthcare includes many angles and different processes which simply can’t be helped by consumer social media. Clinical collaboration is a great example.

So what’s the difference between consumer media and enterprise media? I’d argue that they have to do with a number of things: Time, Accuracy, Relevance, Content, Context and Process.

Fundamentally, the difference between consumer media and enterprise media rests on the difference between Instant Media and true Real-time Media. Let me elaborate.

Twitter, Facebook and other consumer media are instant streams that flow in one-direction along time. A tweet or status update or post arrive when they arrive – time is their only filter. They are Instant media.

On the other hand, Realtime media are far more robust. Here’s my definition:

Realtime media are technologies which deliver the right and relevant information at the right time; in the right context; and within the right process.

This is a critical difference that must be understood. So far, we don’t have the kind of innovation and technological excellence we need to develop true realtime media. It’s a huge challenge to create these platforms, but the market is certainly there and so is the talent.

Social media in general are creating disturbances and opportunities and dangers. But we shouldn’t make the mistake of thinking social media is just the kinds of consumer social media that have made it big in terms of popularity.

We have yet to see social media come into its full being. Things have only just begun.

So, my hope is that we can focus our hopes and views concerning social media in healthcare on the truly heavy-duty tools that can make real differences.

I love Twitter but even I know we need far far more potent software solutions to the pressing problems of healthcare communications in all its forms. And not only do we need software solutions – we’ll need to address the necessary cultural and behavioral needs required to put the technology to work for us, not the other way around.

@PhilBaumann – @HealthIsSocial – Newsletter


Twitter Is God’s Gift to Communicators

“Twitter is God’s gift to communicators” according to Mark Ragan at this years Healthcare Marketing and PR Social Media Summit at Mayo Clinic, Jacksonville Florida.

I spoke at the summit on Tuesday (3/15), going over what 21st Century communications looks like; what the new healthcare provider will look like in the coming years; why Healthcare must invest in a thorough understanding of technologies impacts and places in the industry; why the tools of social media aren’t nearly as challenging as understanding what drives behavior; and briefly went over how RNchat and MDchat started and what they’ve accomplished to date.

Here’s a transcript of the tweets of March 14 and 15 and as you can see the attribution to Mark’s belief in Twitter’s power in helping communicators:

MayoRagan Healthcare Marketing and PR Social Media Summit 2011 Tweets

[link to transcript]

Is Twitter God’s gift to communicators? I don’t know – but it’s a sharp point about the need for communicators in healthcare, and elsewhere, to fully understand the nature of today’s media, their potential and their proper roles.

Has Healthcare been slow to adopt these media? Yes.

Does Healthcare need to learn how to use them? Yes.

That’s the easy part.

What’s the hard part? The hard part is knowing what drives behavior in a world where attention is fraying, people live on different platforms (online and off) and our understanding of the nuances of human behavior has a long way to go.

Twitter won’t accomplish that feat. But it is a nice little gift for us to seek, ask and find.

@PhilBaumann – @HealthIsSocial – Newsletter



Healthy Writing Habits: Copy Is Not Dead

Long copy.

Short copy.

Copy is dead. Long live Social Media!

Uh huh.

Let’s stop fooling ourselves that we can remarkably market great ideas, products, services, brands, religions just by being social.

Hey, don’t get me wrong: I get it. I’m Mr. Social and all that. (How ya doing btw? You look amazing – I wish I could retweet your beauty. See what I mean?)

I know attention spans are thinning. So you may have concluded that you need to forgo macro content for micro.

But let’s take this all the way to its logical conclusion, shall we?

  1. The volume of content approaches infinity.
  2. The span of attentions approaches zero.
  3. Ergo: Nobody will consume any content.

Do you follow this syllogism?

There’s something wrong with this conclusion if you step back, right?

Think: if the trend of diminishing attention spans reaches this point, then marketing is dead. Totally dead.

So what’s going on here?

People do – and will – pay attention. Their spans won’t actually reach zero.

The volume of content will approach infinity, but that doesn’t mean people won’t seek out content relevant to them.

Back up….”relevant”.

Thats’s the word: relevant.

“Relevant” is what breaks the syllogism down. If nobody cared for relevant content, then the syllogism would probably ring true in a few years.

So be careful not to fall into this fallacy of going only with micro-content.


Nobody uses the word “copy” anymore.

I wish they did.

Why? Because copy suggests skill. Writing copy isn’t just about writing.

It’s about thinking. It’s about research. It’s about experimenting. It’s a willingness to learn what works and what doesn’t.

Copy builds character.

Copy doesn’t have to be text. Today’s copy is audio, video. It’s creative use of geo-location, RFID tagging and other innovative uses of presence technologies.

What you call “Social Media”? Actually that’s copy too!

When I respond to your tweet or comment on your post or your Facebook update, I’m writing copy.

If it makes you feel better – because you’ve been sold that it’s all social now – then add the word “social” to copy.

Social Copy.

Happy now? Try getting into the habit of befriending copy. Forget how the 20th Century defined copy.

Even though the Web is disturbing things and it seems like chaos, you don’t have to cave in to the peer pressure culture of Twitter’s frenzy.

Copy isn’t dead. Boring copy is dead.

Copy lives. Copy spreads. Copy works.




Keep a journal. Sart or re-start your blog, even if it’s private.

The more you write, the more ideas you have.

Writing is the oil of creativity.

Write when it feels right.

Write when it hurts.

In love? Write it!

Broken-hearted? Write it!

Marketing in today’s world getting frustrating? Write about it!

Think about your information-customers. Where will they be?

What kinds of messages do they need to hear at the right time?

How you can arrange different media within media? Where can a placement of a short video on Cardiovascular Disease fit within long educational copy?

Mix things up: short copy for when attention is short; long copy for when attention is piqued and focused.

Ask: “what sense organ is most receptive to the message?” Would video of someone having a heart attack work better than text?

What’s the experience of your consumer going to be? How would it look and feel from their perspective?

Map out all of your properties: print, TV, Twitter, Facebook, Website/Blog, proprietary networks, email, mobile apps, etc.

Connect it all together. Draw out the possible flows of all the different copy.

Use colors for lines. Blue for long. Red for short. Green for social.

Think it. Map it. Plan it. Write it. Work it.


Size matters. Knowing which size to use where when and how…Ah, now there’s a skill. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Don’t ask: “Should our marketing efforts focus on micro-content or long form?”

Ask: “What do people need – when, where, why, how.”

Someone may see a tweet, click a link and see that you have something of interest.

Say it’s about your cardiology practice.

I may love Twitter, but if I’m an savvy patient with questions about my heart health (at some level), then I’ll probably want to know more about what you have to say.

If you have nothing more than your tweet and a link to a poorly designed website (or droll release copy) that doesn’t tell me more (hint: longer-form), then I’m gone.

Make it easy for me! I don’t want any more heart trouble!

You make it easy for me by doing the hard work.

You make the hard work easier on yourself by establishing healthy writing habits.

Look: Communications is the cardiovascular system of Marketing.

Keep that cardio-vasculature fit.


Write everyday.

Write everyday.

Write everyday.

@PhilBaumann@HealthIsSocialMy Steamy Love Letters


Healthcare Culture: Why So Serious?

I don’t know about you, but I’ve encountered quite a few…shall we say…prudish folks in Healthcare. For the most part, doctors and nurses and respiratory therapists, administrators, caseworkers, etc. have healthy senses of humor and don’t take themselves so seriously.

Still, there is a culture – or at least subculture – of people involved in healthcare who do in fact take the whole proposition of healthcare too seriously.

I understand: “healthcare is about saving lives, which is serious business, so we must take it seriously.

Here’s the flaw – and the danger – in that line of reasoning: being serious is not the same as being responsible.

Being serious is an emotional state. It’s not really a call to action. And quite often it’s a set-up for anger.

This happens quite often in nursing, and explains why there is so much “eating of the young” and lateral emotional violence. Neither of which would be tolerated by Cultures of Responsibility.

This happens in hospital administration, and explains in part why we have genocidal acquired infections rates. All those serious attitudes about safety and reimbursement and cost-reduction crowd out the very acceptance of responsibility which would more effectively address those three problems.

Being responsible is not about oneself: it’s a frame of mind which is focused on assessing the surrounding, understanding what needs to be done and taking the right actions.

Being serious, ultimately, is about unleashing anger and blame at someone – not solving problems.

Huge difference between these two words.

And yet, I think that the pervasiveness of Serious in healthcare has caused quite a bit of trouble. It creates stress. It fails to notice things outside the scope of the object of its focus and it just might explain why an iPhone can instill panic.

This difference is key to working in social media, as well as general healthcare communications and marketing.

It’s easier to be serious than it is to be responsible.

Anybody can be serious.

It takes a professional to be responsible.

@PhilBaumann@HealthIsSocialGet the Newsletter


There Are Alternatives to Marketing

Watch this first and then read.

Are you looking at social media through a Marketing lens? If you are, there’s a chance you might be missing very large opportunities, especially in healthcare communications.

Given that more and more organizations are using social media, the cost of attention is skyrocketing.

The early adopters of Twitter got the worm a long time ago, in a Social Media galaxy far far away.

So what can the laggards do? Seek alternatives to attention-seeking.

You can’t always win people’s constant attention with Marketing. But, there are alternatives to Marketing.

If you put down your Marketing lens, what do you see?

Can you see things through the Investing lens? The Patient lens? The Nursing lens? The Occupational Therapist lens? The Community Leader lens?

If you think in ways you’ve never thought before, you may find yourself winning in ways you never knew existed.

Better to understand the larger war than tinker with tactics on an uphill battlefield.

Today’s Marketing battlefield: the Attention Market.

The larger war: Enduring Presence.

May the Force be with you. ๐Ÿ™‚



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