Archive for the ‘Facebook’ Category

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Viral communication on a viral issue

In blogs,Facebook,mobile marketing,Uncategorized on October 22, 2009 by gingercatmom

H1N1 flu information is almost as widespread as the virus itself. Since this influenza strain appeared earlier in 2009, both state and federal government agencies have used a combination of traditional and emerging media to spread the word on the spread of the flu!

Taking a look at the CDC website http://www.cdc.gov/H1N1FLU/, here’s a summary of how emerging media is working to help health professionals and the public at large. I think it’s a great example of how to communicate a message quickly, consistently and efficiently to all audiences.

Readers can sign up for an RSS feed on disease updates, request daily email updates, follow the site on Twitter, download podcasts. There’s a flu.gov widget that can be downloaded, a CDC WebMD FluBlog, a text message option, and even an e-card that can be sent saying “Good Health is in your Hands”. Buttons and badges are available for websites and social networking applications—in both English and Spanish.

The CDC also has a presence on three social network sites: Facebook, MySpace and DailyStrength. The CDC Facebook page, launched in May 2009 attracted 14,000 fans by July 31 and that count has now more than doubled to almost 31,000.

To assist media, a library of H1N1 Flu Audio and Video Resources includes webcasts, audio and video podcasts, public service announcements are available and health professionals can use prerecorded educational audio messages for on-hold messaging.

These are tremendous resources for all of us who want to stay well and help others find the most current information on this disease. There is a level of confusion among the public—we in healthcare call them the “worried well”–and CDC has answers available via the most commonly used emerging media channels.

So…in the spirit of the CDC’s H1N1 website, I encourage you to spread the word—not the virus. Wash your hands, stay informed, and stay home if you’re sick! Stay well MindChow readers!

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Better late than never

In Facebook,social issues and new media,Uncategorized on October 11, 2009 by gingercatmom

I have a confession to make. I arrived late to the Facebook party. And…I kind of like it.

I’ve explored many other aspects of new media before. I’ve tweeted, I’ve linkedin and I’ve blogged. There were legitimate business or academic reasons to learn about all those things and I made the time to understand. But I was reluctant to enter the hallowed halls of Facebook. I was living Facebook vicariously through my family!

Why did I wait so long? The answer is simple—time! Time is precious to me and I knew that if I wanted to engage on Facebook I would need to spend some time online chatting, posting, being a fan, friend and more. I didn’t want my virtual life to preclude my real life–which is already quite full of conversations, status updates and interactions in the physical world. I also didn’t want to invade a space where my teenage sons play and communicate (I would not have wanted my mother in on my conversations when I was in high school).

So it was with bit of reluctance–though I admit some excitement–that I signed on last week. I need to be on Facebook to fully understand the marketing applications of this site and the power it now wields in the marketing communication world. If we want to reach people with our messages, we need to be where they are…and for a surprisingly diverse group of Americans, Facebook is the place to be.

In reality, I’m among the fast growing group of Facebook users…those over the age of 35. I joined a community of 300 million active users who spend an astonishing 6 billion minutes on Facebook’s site each day, worldwide. It’s a viral marketer’s dream come true! Facebook users are downright eager to spread messages.

I’m making note of the kind of ads that show up on my visits to Facebook and not surprisingly, some are appropriate to my age, my lifestyle and my interests. I might have to pick up some of those pink kitchen gadgets that have shown up on my screen every day in October. However I’m not going to become a fan of Old Spice anytime soon.

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Hospitals and social networking

In blogs,Facebook,Twitter,Uncategorized on September 27, 2009 by gingercatmom

In a previous post, I noted that 54% of Fortune 100 companies are using some form of social networking as part of their marketing communication efforts. What is the role of social networking for hospitals today–and how is the best way to launch an effort for a healthcare organization? Is it Twitter, Facebook, blogging…or all three?

Healthcare marketing experts are writing about this subject extensively. Their advice is similar. First, do your homework. Understand what takes place online. This involves listening respectfully to others and contributing to online conversations when appropriate. Second, focus on content that will be meaningful to customers. Unless people are truly interested in the conversation they will just tune out and “walk” away…which is tremendously easy to do when that conversation is online. Third, recognize that there will be some loss of control. To have a truly transparent, authentic presence in the virtual world, we need to let people speak their minds. Finally, we need to measure and in this respect, online media may offer some of the tracking advantages over traditional media.

Ed Bennett, director of web strategy a the University of Maryland Medical System offers a helpful list of U.S. Hospitals who are incorporating social networking. His most recent data on 367 hospitals of varying sizes shows dramatic growth in the use of Twitter over the past year. Bennett’s data shows less than 50 Hospitals on Twitter in September 2008, with 267 now using Twitter. You Tube usage has also grown, but not quite as dramatically.

There seems no need to reinvent the wheel when successful online communities exist. If we know our customers are interested in what we have to say, and will follow our cues to find the information we need, we have a golden opportunity to meet them where they are right now–online. We can use our creative abilities to educate, build relationships and ultimately create healthier communities. And that’s why many of us got into healthcare marketing in the first place!

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Look who’s tweeting!

In Facebook,Twitter,Uncategorized on September 20, 2009 by gingercatmom

head_down_EPS

Twitter has earned the attention of 54% of America’s Fortune 100 companies. In fact, it’s the social media of choice for companies, outranking Facebook and blogging according to a recent Burson-Marsteller study. And when these companies use only one form of social media, it is most likely to be Twitter.

Looking at this from the corporate perspective, the reasoning appears to lie in Twitter’s simplicity. Say what you need to say quickly in 140 characters or less. Crank out the messages regularly. Read responses and repeat… A dip into the social networking pool can be fraught with all sorts of concerns from the corner office, but Twitter just seems to be a way to dive in.

The real question is how sustainable these efforts will be. This reminds of me of the “old” days when every department in my organization was eager to start a newsletter. The energy on the front end was high and the creative juices were flowing. There were pictures, shiny paper, special features and maybe even an eagerness on the reader’s part to receive each issue. Today–about three newsletters remain and we argue over whose turn it is to write them and wonder if anyone is really reading them.

Twitter is new. It’s a quick bite of information and it’s kind of fun. It’s gratifying to see that thousands of followers are waiting to see what we’ll say next. But how long will it be until those corporate tweets get a little stale–and we even start seeing recycled tweets from last year? How many tweets can one follower really digest before it just becomes ‘blah blah blah’. It will take a true corporate commitment to make this new media part of a long term strategy to build relationships with customers.

That said…I’m thinking of how I can start Tweeting at work and how I’ll build buzz for that. Stay tuned!

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Family routines get rewired

In Facebook,mobile devices,mobile marketing,social issues and new media,Uncategorized on September 15, 2009 by gingercatmom

There’s no doubt that technology has changed the ways families interact today. As I write this, three of my family members are working on laptops in three different rooms–one in front of a TV as well. My Blackberry sits next to my laptop and I’m eagerly awaiting a return text message from my college student son. This is just a typical night for us–and millions of other Americans.

The New York Times described how household routines have been shaken up by the rapid integration of new technology. We used to awake to alarm clocks–now we wake to the alarm on our I-Pod or cellphone. We greet the day with technology and it’s often the last thing we encounter at night. Kids aren’t just distracted by morning TV shows. They’re checking their Facebook page, playing a video game or texting their friends. There are a million new reasons to be late for school.

Dont miss the bus! Have mom send you a text.

Don't miss the bus! Have mom send you a text.

Adults are just as eager to get up and get online. The workday never ends when we’re connected 24/7 via mobile devices and our wireless laptops. We try to get an hour of work in before we’ve even stepped in the shower. We steal a look at our email on the way to the coffee pot. For many of us, the days of reading the newspaper over a cup of coffee seem a nostalgic thing of the past.

The New York Times article references an Arbor Networks study that finds that American Web traffic peaks at 11 p.m., gradually declines from midnight to 6 a.m. and then spikes up again at 7 a.m. At least we can rejoice in the fact that most of us get a little rest before we log on to another wired day.

So what does this mean to the American family?  Making a conscious effort to find balance and to stay connected through real, live face-to-face family contact is more difficult than ever before. Our daily rituals may be changing, but we just might find that these changes enrich our lives in ways we just can’t fully understand yet. And what’s “new” today is the next generation’s “old-fashioned”.

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“Go play with your friends!”

In advergaming,Facebook,Uncategorized on September 3, 2009 by gingercatmom

Kids today don’t need to leave the house to play with their friends. In fact, they don’t even need to leave the couch. According to a 2005 Kaiser Family Foundation study, kids 8-18 spend an average of 48 minutes per day online and 32 minutes playing console video games (I would suspect that these figures are even higher today). Online gaming combines these two media worlds, whether kids play through the computer or gaming systems such as X-Box Live. There always somebody to play with in a virtual world. However, keeping an eye on the kids takes on a whole new meaning when parents are policing the backyard that exists online.

X-box Live has a variety of parental controls that allow parents to control the games kids play, to approve playmates and to filter the content that can be downloaded when kids play the gaming system online. As a parent of avid teenage X-Box players, I must confess to not exploring the parental controls on the game systems in my own home. Frankly, I would expect that if my kids really wanted to, they could override any controls I set on their game. We do however, talk about the appropriateness of certain games and role-play behaviors relative to our family’s values and moral structure.

The Kaiser Study concluded that while parents express concern about the impact of media, many kids surveyed say their parents have not set rules about video game use and they infrequently check the ratings or advisories on game. Surprisingly, the study also found that kids who spend the most time with media also report spending time with parents, pursuing hobbies and even engaging in physical activity. Their lives are more than just media use.

Kids, like adults, crave connections with others that share their interests. Online gaming combines kids’ interest in technology, community, and play itself. As gaming migrates quickly to handheld devices, parents will have even less control over  where and when kids play online and who else may be playing. It’s up to parents to visit–and understand–these new playgrounds.

Halo to go?

Halo on the go--a brave new playground.

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Twitter–social networking for grown-up tastes?

In Facebook,social issues and new media,Twitter,Uncategorized on August 30, 2009 by gingercatmom

I discovered Twitter last year, signed up, and was surprised at who wasn’t there–most of my younger friends and colleagues who use other social networking tools such as Facebook, and none of my teenage kids. What I did find at Twitter: friends who were (gasp) over 40 and eager to connect via this new site–as well as a number of business and organizations that I regularly follow in other ways.

Apparently my experience was not unique. Claire Cain Miller, a New York Times writer wrote this week about the surprising social networking age gap on Twitter. Miller says Twitter’s success has been driven by an older age group that may be trying social networking for the first time through their Twitter experience. Even Oprah jumped on board this April, when Twitter’s CEO Evan Williams gave her a lesson on the show. To her devoted fans, Oprah’s “tweet” was a ringing endorsement of this social networking site. Within moments of Oprah’s first tweet, the service was bombarded with thousands of responses welcoming Oprah to their online world.

When Oprah says Twitter, America Twitters.

When Oprah says Twitter, America Twitters.

Forrester Research released a report last week on social networking use in the United States. Social networking by people aged 35-54 grew 60 percent in the past year. To put that in further perspective, half of the American adults online now use social networking.

For marketers, the lesson here is that changing media usage patterns require our close attention. If we want our messages to hit the mark, we need to be attuned–and then respond–to who is online and what they are doing. According to the report, “the time to build social marketing applications is now. Interactive marketers should influence social network chatter, master social communication, and develop social assets — even if their customers are older”

What we have thought of as new or emerging media is clearly moving towards the mainstream of American life and it’s a very real way to reach those who make the decisions and purchases that shape business today.