If you’ve got one of these…

…why would you not get a Facebook page for your business or organization?

Here are four reasons why a Facebook page is better than a Yellow pages ad, and why it’s not even a close call.

  1. A Yellow Pages ad is expensive. A Facebook page is free.
  2. A Yellow Pages ad typically has a distinctive cast that suggests jaundice. Color is even more expensive. Your organization’s logo (or other photo) goes on your Facebook page in full-color for free.
  3. A Yellow Pages ad is limited to text and maybe a photo or two. A Facebook page can have unlimited photos, not to mention videos. (Well, I guess I did just mention videos.)
  4. A Yellow Pages ad reaches a limited geographic market. Anyone in the world can see your Facebook page, except for citizens of repressive political regimes or employees or corporate regimes with a blocking philosophy.

I could go on, talking about how on Facebook your best customers can interact with you and share the love with their friends, while a Yellow pages ad is static. And how the paper directories can get lost on a snowy doorstep (at least here in the frozen tundra.)

I’m certain those with a proprietary interest in Yellow Pages (or Yellow Book, or whatever post Ma Bell-breakup variety you have in your area) would be quick to point out how they also have online directories as part of their package.

But that misses the point. The yellows used to have monopolies when people were looking for a particular category of service. It was expensive to produce a paper directory and deliver to every household in an area.

Now with Yelp and Angie’s List and countless other similar sites, it’s easy for potential customers to get information (including contact phone numbers) for local service providers.

And don’t forget local search in Google.

My point is not to run down the yellow directories, or to say you shouldn’t use them. That’s a call you have to make. Maybe they work for you, and should be part of your mix. If their publishers are doing their jobs well, they should be continually adding features to improve their value proposition.

But if you’re spending substantially for Yellow Pages, why wouldn’t you use the free option, too?

Advertising Age, Hospital Marketing and Social Media

Advertising Age has an article this week in the print edition about hospitals, advertising, marketing and social media, and relates it all to health reform. I was glad to get to talk with the writer, Rich Tomaselli, last week to discuss some of the things we’re doing at Mayo Clinic, and our philosophy relating to social media. Rich had said the article would run either this week or next, and so I was glad when Jane Sarasohn-Kahn (@healthythinker) alerted me to it with her tweet linking to her blog post about it.

I think both Rich’s article and Jane’s post are good and make some valid points, and commend them to your reading.

Here’s my Advertising Age quote, upon which I want to expand a bit:

One of the most famous health-care facilities in the country, the 118-year-old Mayo Clinic, now has a social-media manager, Lee Aase. “Social media is the way word-of-mouth happens in the 21st century,” he said. “Twitter is just one of the most powerful networking tools that I’ve ever seen. It enables you to make connections with people that have a common interest.”

Quotes in mass media (like magazines, TV or radio) are always taken out of context. That’s not a criticism, it’s just a reality. Space and time are limited and expensive. Rich and I talked for about 15 minutes, and it was a great conversation. I’m sure he likewise had good talks with the others he quoted (and he did incorporate elements of our interview in his narrative.) There’s no way all of that is going to fit in a print article.

One of the benefits of social media, however, and why these tools are so powerful, is the opportunity they afford for more in-depth content and discussions. They provide a way to get more in-depth information to (and feedback from) people who are interested.

Given the fact you’re reading this, you must be one of those interested ones, when the topic is advertising, health care or social media. So here is some of the context of my conversation with Rich, and some reaction to the messages I saw in the article.

First, I’m quoted as saying “social media is the way word-of-mouth happens in the 21st Century” which is true and accurate, but the real point, and what I emphasized in the interview, is the continuity of social media with how Mayo Clinic’s reputation has been built over the long term. For more than 100 years, the number one way people have found out about Mayo Clinic is through the recommendation of a friend or family member. It’s also consistent with Thesis 1, that social media are as old as human speech.

Mayo Clinic hasn’t advertised nationally in the traditional media outlets. As Jane says in her post:

It takes information PLUS a “life moment” PLUS a “care connection” to a friend or loved one to deeply engage in health.

Paying for advertising (information) to be sent to a broad, undifferentiated group of people who aren’t currently experiencing the “life moment” or “care connection” is an iffy proposition. You’re paying to reach a lot of people who just don’t have a current need.

As I told Rich, the fact that 25 percent of our Mayo Clinic patients come from more than 500 miles away adds another layer of difficulty to the advertising equation. People need to be much more motivated before they will travel that distance for care. By definition, those patients are “deeply engaged.” But traditional advertising in mainstream media isn’t likely to be a great way to reach them because they are widely scattered across the nation (and even the world.)

This brings me to my other major observation, that the connection of all of this increased social media activity to health reform is significantly overstated. At Mayo Clinic, we have been involved in social media since 2005, starting with podcasts. We launched our Facebook fan page in November of 2007. We have been in Twitter since early 2008. We have been actively uploading videos to our Mayo Clinic YouTube channel for more than two years as well. And our Sharing Mayo Clinic blog for stories from patients and employees is nearly 18 months old.

I believe health reform legislation is essentially a non-factor in the growth in social media adoption among hospitals. Instead, as I explain it in my 35 Social Media Theses, the reason hospitals are using social media is because this is the defining communications trend of the Third Millenium.

As my good friend Ed Bennett (@EdBennett) said in the Advertising Age article, the number of hospital Twitter accounts has more than doubled in the last year, which indicates that this isn’t mainly spurred by health reform legislation. He also offers great advice on the “why” hospitals should be involved in social media:

Hospitals realize that word-of-mouth is the most significant driver you can have, so social media is an opportunity to humanize what can be a scary, complex institution… I tell hospitals “Don’t get into social media because you think you’re going to get more patients. Do it because you’re helping be responsible to people reaching out looking for answers.”

Social media in health care is about much more than just marketing. As for the increase in advertising spending that’s being reported, maybe health reform is playing a role in that. It’s not really my area of expertise, so I don’t have a strong opinion on the matter.

What do you think? Do you agree that increased social media interest among hospitals is essentially unrelated to health reform?

What relationship, if any, do you see between health reform and the reported growth of spending on hospital advertising?

“Quality” in Media = Usefulness

Advertising Age had an interesting article Wednesday – “Lowered Expectations: Web Redefines ‘Quality’” – regarding the challenges big media conglomerates have in a world in which publishing has been democratized. Here a couple of relevant excerpts:

Publishers from The New York Times to Condé Nast to NBC have been arguing for years that, ultimately, demand for quality would give them advantages over online upstarts: Users would demand it and advertisers would always covet the environment that quality can confer.

But they’re facing two trends that appear to be inexorable. Audiences that do not intently seek out quality are increasingly inured to traditional media brands on the web. At the same time, agencies and advertisers are adopting technologies that allow them to target individuals independent of whatever media they may be absorbing, making the media brand itself less important, perhaps even irrelevant.

“Today there seems to be a bigger premium on popularity — substantiated or not — than there is on authority,” said Group M CEO Rob Norman.

Big, established brands are the ones that least need the authority of media, and indeed many are adapting to a diminished world of old media by producing their own content. Where it starts to hurt are smaller brands that don’t have those advantages. Mr. Norman said it tends to be smaller brands that rely on the “the conferred quality, authority and scale of more traditional media forms to deliver brand messaging or persuade audiences.”

While I think this article highlights an important trend (that of quality being judged by average users instead of elites and big media brands), I have a bit of a different take. I agree that big brands that already have a substantial degree of trust have a great opportunity to create content and reach consumers directly, but I don’t see that smaller brands are terribly disadvantaged. They have an opportunity through the Web to reach “audiences” or “communities” directly, just as the more established brands do.

But whereas Mr. Norman says the new standard of quality seems to be “popularity” as opposed to “authority,” I think the real standard to be met is usefulness and trustworthiness. Web publishing enables real experts (for example, physicians and scientists) to contribute content, as an alternative to journalists and the mainstream media. So it’s not always popularity vs. authority; it can equally be one kind of authority (medical, scientific) vs. another type of authority (journalistic objectivity.)

The real opportunity for those who have been advertising is that instead of paying to interrupt consumers of quality media content with unwelcome marketing messages, they can produce content of their own that people actually want. That they find useful.

Wisconsin AAF Presentations

I have the pleasure today of doing presentations in Green Bay and Madison, Wisconsin for local chapters of the American Advertising Federation. Here are my slides for the breakfast presentation in Green Bay and the noon luncheon in Madison. You can follow (or contribute to) the Twitter discussion at #AAFWI.

I welcome your comments and questions. And if you’d like to get more in-depth learning about social media, see the Enroll Now page.

Dueling University TV Ads

A couple of weeks ago I introduced the SMUG Super Bowl TV ad:    


This morning I saw a commercial that captures some of the same rationale behind SMUG:


But I’ll bet Kaplan actually charges tuition!

I know they paid a lot more both for production and distribution.

Education needs to be more about learning what you need, when you need it. That’s the SMUG (and apparently Kaplan) philosophy.