The High Cost Of Low Quality Social Media

My old man once told me: whatever you do, don’t get dirty unless you know how to garden.

It’s tempting for brands to go for the lowest common attention-denominator in today’s world of tweets and pings and quickie YouTube hits. After all, the cost of attention goes up every single day.

But the cost of getting dirty for attention goes up too. See this post on how low brands might go – and then bounce back here.

Now that Healthcare organizations are “getting” the need to pay attention to the web, there is the chance that we’ll see marketing campaigns and social media efforts go for the “hot” shot…the viral YouTube video, the magical tweet that gets featured on Mashable or NYT.

It won’t take much to go from that to using cheap means to meet expensive needs: like reaching and engaging and educating the right people.

Yeah, sex sells. I’m sure some marketer will find a bright idea to connect a nice pair of legs with diabetes or cancer or bipolar affective disorder.

But Healthcare isn’t prostitution. And women aren’t objects. Neither are people with wellness needs or disease conditions.

My old man’s advice may be the best advice for this weird social media world we’re all being sucked into…or *down* into. You do have to dig into the dirt if you want to do social media “right”. It’s HARD work…really hard work

Being a gardener means being grounded, knowing the dark material you work with, and understanding the power of time and patience and persistence.

The work we do must be high quality.

When choosing what role to play in social media: decide between prostitution or gardening.

The web is a dirty world.

Make it beautiful or pay the high cost of selling your body to the lowest bidder.

@PhilBaumann – @HealthIsSocial


Play Marketing


It’s a great word, isn’t it? Simple. Elegant. Direct. Fun.

When you play, you’re going with the the natural streams of time and life.

You can play with anything actually – you just have to know how. You need skills, knowledge, experience.

You can even play with your health. People do it everyday.

It’s the way you play that makes differences.

If exercising isn’t playful, it’s unlikely to be a lifestyle.

If reflecting on your life isn’t playful, it’s unlikely to be happy.

Why does healthcare marketing fail so often? Is it because people are being asked to do work instead?

Why do social media and mobile devices attract so many people? Is it because they’re work? Or are they play?

The media we work with today are play media.

People love to play. So play.

Push marketing may be dead.

But I say Push Play is the way to go.

A little Push in healthcare marketing is OK – in fact it’s needed.

It’s just that what you push should be playable.

You couldn’t give me a plaything with television or radio or print.

You can do that now. You can push it to me in a tweet actually.

It’s not Social that’s going to do the lifting in Healthcare marketing. It’s Play.

Play is the missing link between traditional and social media.

Play is healthy. Health is playful.

Market play.



Beautiful Visualizations of DNA

Attention Marketers and Educators: here’s a template for fascinating your audience while accomplishing the difficult task of transferring important messages. It’s a video visualizing the activities of DNA and RNA.

The remarkably produced video illustrates four phases of genetic mechanisms:

  1. DNA chromosome wrapping
  2. DNA replication
  3. Transfer of DNA and RNA;
  4. Translation of RNA to protein

Here’s the video:

[Can’t see video? Click here.]

My studies of genetics would have been rapidly faster, more fascinating and more productive had videos like this been available to students.

Think of the implications of this kind of marketing or education in Healthcare!

Can your agency produce stuff this re-markable? Anything less today is dreck in today’s attention-deficit economy.

Healthcare Marketers and Educators: that video is your bar today.

Start doing pull-ups on that bar.

@PhilBaumann – @HealthIsSocial – News of the Cosmic Dance

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. 😉

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


Eat and Do Things That Aren’t Healthy

If you tell people not to do something, they’ll probably do it.

If you say Don’t eat fatty foods, they’ll probably eat more fatty foods than if you kept quiet.

Why? There are many reasons. If I had to identify one to close-in on, I’d say: Guilt.

Guilt. It’s a very interesting emotion. What does guilt do? Well, it makes you feel bad – for doing something you shouldn’t have done. It’s an important social emotion because it helps to ensure that people behave according to society’s rules.

Here’s where guilt gets fascinating: quite often, people continually do the things that make them feel guilty because doing them makes them feel guilty.

And that feeling of guilt enables and gives them permission to partake in the object of their guilt.

If, for instance, you eat fatty high-sodium processed foods when you’re stressed or depressed, you need that sense of guilt. Why? Because the guilt creates the emotional condition which creates the urge to seek the relief that those Doritos provide.

Our Public Health alert system needs a complete re-look.

Rather than focusing on the messages, Public Health needs to focus on human psychology.

Think about it: for decades now, we’ve been bombarded by the same basic messages: Diet! Exercise! Eat your veggies! Don’t eat fatty foods! Don’t pig out! Lose weight!

And in those decades we have seen Obesity, Diabetes, Cardiovascular Disease and a whole host of psychiatric and other disorders skyrocket.

I’m not at all saying that our public health messages caused these epidemics.

But I am saying that they may have created – or at least aggravated – a culture of guilt. In so doing, a positive feedback loop of guilt-driven behavior may have been energized.

Doctors and nurses and research scientists and public health experts have invested millions of hours and billions of dollars in almost vainly trying to reverse the unhealthy trends of the last thirty years.

Maybe we need to step back and ask ourselves if there’s a more economic – and simpler – approach.

Maybe we need to enframe these problems as Marketing problems.

I don’t mean the kind of marketing that’s droll and passionless and produced in a factory on Madison Avenue.

I mean: the kind of marketing run by smart, well-educated, creative people committed to understanding the human condition and making it better. But wait: doesn’t that already exist? Yes, it does – sort of. We just need to nudge them and say: “Hey, dope: you can make a lot more money if you pay more attention to X versus Y.”

I actually do think that this is a Marketing problem. It stands to reason, then, that our public health problems are Marketing problems.

Way too often marketers are deeply entrenched in the mechanics of messages and only superficially engaged in the organics of human feelings. Marketers need to flip that mix around.

The greatest promise of Social Media isn’t in data or research or messages.

No, the greatest promise of Social Media for marketers is feeling.

X = Messages. Y = Feeling. X * Y = Healthy Behavior (where Y >> X).

A feeling motivates far more strongly than a message. If you meld the two together, you boost the power of motivation.

Feeling precedes language. So when trying to figure out how to market healthy behaviors, spend more effort on figuring out the feeling part of the equation (Y). Then solve for X.

If you create psychological and cultural spaces where people can do the things they enjoy doing, you increase the likelihood that they’ll pay less attention to guilt. Then they will be more receptive to self-insight so that they can live with a sense of balance.

People don’t usually exercise or lose weight because those things are the rational and “healthy” things to do.

They decide to do these things when they feel that it makes them feel better – not because someone else tells them so.

If you tell people to feel bad about what they do, they will. And they’ll keep doing what you told them not to do.

Tell them, instead, to enjoy life. Stop making it so complicated!

Oh, and don’t treat yourself to a silky, sweet, succulent chocolate eclair.