The Unsubscribe Punch

You work hard (and smart). You build great things, interact with people but something obviously just isn’t working out. Nobody reads your tweets. Nobody Likes you on Facebook. Nobody comments on your blog.

You’re passionate about your ideas but now you’re alone in the silence, hurt by the apparent rejection and failure of it all. C-suite’s gut about social media was right, wasn’t it!

Then that Unsubscribe comes along – that’s the punch in the gut. Who cares about Twitter unfollows or what happens on Facebook. But that Unsubscribe  – that’s the slice.

This is all going to happen to you online – as well as off. It’s part of life in today’s world.

Yesterday, I wrote something straight out of my heart – an appeal to respect for nurses in general, and Healthcare communicators in particular. I got great reaction. …Except: one Unsubscribe from the Newsletter showcasing the post.

I get Unsubscribes as a matter of course in this business – happens, and it’s cool. Clearly it would be psycho to go off.

But that one – that one from a Healthcare communicator hit me right in the gut. The frustration of driving away the very person who I was appealing to do something with her skills.

Here’s what’s important though:  my feelings aren’t reality – and that’s something you will need to remind yourself: you don’t really know what people think or feel, nor do you fully understand their intentions. Misinterpretation is easy – especially online where information isn’t complete.

For all of our efforts to market our passions, there’s always the chance that the market isn’t there; or you’re in the totally wrong market; or you’re style isn’t matching with the market’s.

But, I guarantee: this problem will drive you nuts – especially if you’re truly passionate. The Unsubscribe isn’t just the literal one – it’s in every interface of your strategy.

This Web stuff isn’t easy as some (i.e. the inexperienced) would have you believe. It’s actually a Healthcare issue in itself: people working in this business will have to learn to cope with the good and the bad: negative comments, blasts, threats, etc. That’s why organizations need to have support systems for their employees.

So my advice is as follows:

  • Be willing to accept that your passion may not be shared by others
  • Your definition of the market, may not be the market
  • Consider that you may have to trade a bit of your passion for the reality of the market – if you want some way of helping who you’re tying to help (your way isn’t the only way, no matter how passionate it is)
  • Know that the essence of passion is love – and love without risk and disappointment and heartbreak isn’t love
  • In the 21st Century, Marketing without love is like a hand without fingers
  • You can always give up on your job – but never give up on your love
  • Don’t confuse your passion with you – that’s when the ego rises and crushes the passion

If that Unsubscribe doesn’t punch you in the gut, you have no guts.

@PhilBaumann –  @HealthIsSocial

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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


The Engagement Paradox

Yes, it is a social world. It always was. But as more and more organizations realize this, there’s a temptation to believe that it’s all about conversation – that somehow the more engaging organizations become the better off they are. But we live in a non-liner world of limits.

Social media can be a lot of fun. It has a place in our personal lives and in marketing and in patient communities.

It’s also a great seduction if you forget about your purposes.

Not everybody wants the same level of engagement as everyone else – and they don’t necessarily want the same level you believe they want.

Conversation may be a new element in marketing, but it’s not a strategy. It’s just of way of doing business these days. Another skill – one of many. (My skill is not drawing smooth curves as you can see. :))

All strategic initiatives need to allocate multiple resources in a finite world.

Engage, but don’t ignore all the other work you’re responsible for accomplishing.

In healthcare, it’s true that more and more patients expect engagement. But the fact is, they’re just people with problems and who want solutions.

Make sure you have solutions to talk about.

Make sure you know how to support them in their moments of suffering.

Remember: silence has its place too.


If you want a realistic view how this social media stuff fits best in healthcare, join our upcoming Webinar. We’re not charging a fee – but you do need to invest your time and attention if you want to earn a return. Learn more and sign up here!

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?


In Defense of Healthcare Executives Wary of Social Media

It’s 2010. You work for a hospital, clinic, healthcare marketing agency, or an association. You know social media is now a staple of doing business (because it’s 2010).

But: you can’t do much for your organization largely because your executive leadership is wary of social media.

Executives often think differently than others in organizations. It’s what they’re paid to do (well, at least that’s what some boards of directors believe).

So what can people who want to bring their organizations into the 21st Century (because it’s 2010) do?


Business isn’t a dirty word. Dirty business – that’s what’s dirty.

Fact: Healthcare needs to be funded. That doesn’t mean that money is the only motivation for getting things done – in fact, money-as-motivator reaches diminishing marginal returns rather quickly. (Check this out to see what I mean.)

It’s unlikely that you can just tell executives things like this: Social Media is about conversation, engagement, relationships. In fact, if you say things like that, you’ve probably set your chances of persuading C-suite many steps back.

Tread carefully with social media guru talk in C-suite: very few of them have any experience with working with executives in the Enterprise.

Rather, you need to think more like an executive yourself. It’s called empathy – and empathy with senior leadership will get you farther than frustration.

So let’s get executively empathic.


Markets are conversations. But executives don’t view them that way typically.

Still: it’s markets where strategic visions must begin. Specifically, markets include not only where end-consumers are, but also where information-customers are. Identifying all of your information-customers is vital to configuring social media efforts maximally.

So here’s what champions – that’s you – need to articulate for executives and other wary levels of management:

  • Our market(s) need us to __________…__________.
  • We currently use __________…__________ to meet those needs.
  • We measure success by __________…__________.
  • We improve on our processes by __________…__________ every day/week/year (circle one!).

This is just elementary business analysis. It’s something that should be done routinely.

Now, once these questions are clearly laid out, the next step is to see what problems you have left to solve.

Executives need solutions to existing problems. No problem, no solution. Make sense?

So here’s what champions need to explore before making their case to C-suite (in fact, it’s what champions need to do so they know why social media matters):

  • We are not doing __________…__________ for or with our markets.
  • Our current strategy does not include these opportunities because __________.
  • After careful consideration, we believe __________…__________ will enable us to round out our efforts.

If you as champion aren’t able to answer these questions, how do you expect C-suite to listen to you?

Forget social media – nobody needs it.

Think like an executive, act like a strategic ally.

You can get ideas on the value propositions of 21st Century Healthcare communication by attending our upcoming Webinar Healthcare Social Media: Perspectives in Practice. Learn more and sign up here.

Hospitals Don’t Need Social Media

Hospitals need: patients (to get better), competent nurses, articulate doctors, clean facilities, sleek information systems, functioning equipment, inspiring architecture, happy employees, financial capital…

Patients need: remarkable staff, focused attention, memorable education, easily understandable communication…

Doctors need: great nurses, simple workflow designs, less (much much) less paperwork, permission to push the envelop, continuing education…

Nurses need: respect, respect, respect, respect, respect…

Physical therapists need: equipment that works, manageable schedules, time to do their work….

Employees need: leadership, inspiration, communication…

You get the idea: everybody in healthcare needs something.

Hospitals don’t need social media. And yet…

…And yet: people have social needs. They have communication needs. They have informational and emotional needs.

Hospitals don’t need Social Media. Nobody needs social media, actually.

What people need in today’s world is either to get information they don’t have or to control the over-load of information they do have.

Hospitals can – in fact need to – deliver timely information to patients, doctors, nurses, physical therapists, employees…

Hospitals can – in fact need to – provide curation and community for its information customers, who are: patients, doctors, nurses, physical therapists, employees…

Hospitals need so much to be remarkable.

In order to achieve what’s remarkable, hospitals need the people who run them to be as informed and energized and inspired as possible.

Hospitals have some things which are critical to those people: stories.

But hospitals need to get their stories out into the world and the workplace.

By using social media as part of its storyshowing, a hospital can meet the needs of so many people.

In turn, those people can meet the needs of hospitals.

Hospitals don’t need social media. They need people…and people need stories.


Join our Webinar on August 26, 2010 – Healthcare Social Media: Perspectives in Practice. Sign up here or below!

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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