RAQ: Would you do a video about why PR and marketing pros need an iPhone?

At the #mayoragan09 conference earlier this week I participated in a “30 ideas in 30 minutes” panel, which was intended to provide rapid-fire, practical applications and next steps to take for people interested in incorporating social media into their health care work.

My first tip (after the obligatory “Get a Flip”), was:

Get an iPhone.

I suppose I shouldn’t have been, but I was somewhat surprised at the murmur that comment created. And in the Q&A session, I got this request:

“Could you upload a Flip video about why I should get an iPhone, so I can use it to make the case with my boss?”

My other tips, two of which require some expenditure and others that are free:

  • Get a Flip video camera (or something similar.) Cost is $150-$230 MSRP, but you can get them cheaper.
  • Join Audible.com, which is an audio “book of the month” club. Listen to any books you can find from Clayton Christensen, Malcolm Gladwell, or Patrick Lencioni. And of course get Chris Anderson’s book, Free: The Future of a Radical Price, for free. Cost is about $15/month.
  • Get the “Bump” application for iPhone, which lets you exchange contact info with other iPhone users with a fist bump. Free.
  • Create a blog as a “dark site” for crisis communications. Use wordpress.com to create a private blog, which you can make public should a crisis arise. That could save you 15 minutes or so in setting up a way to communicate broadly via the Web, which in a crisis could be precious time savings. Free on WordPress.com.

If you do anything at all in continuing education for your professional growth, you may spend $1,000 or more for conference registrations, plus travel expenses.

How sad would it be to pay for a conference registration to learn about social media tools, and then to not spend the relatively smaller amount it takes to get hands-on experience?

And of course, do take advantage of the free tools as well, including enrolling in SMUG (join the Facebook group, follow the Chancellor on Twitter, and subscribe to the RSS feed).

See Aaron Hughling’s take-aways from the conference, as well as Holly Potter’s.

I hope this helps you make the case for your smartphone, whether that’s with your employer, your spouse or to help you convince yourself.

RAQ: Do You Need to Be Unique to Profit from Social Media?

At the FUEL social media meeting in Rochester, someone asked:

Don’t you really have to be special or unique to gain from social media? I mean, if there are 200,000 T-shirt vendors on Twitter, aren’t you going to waste a lot of time trying to get noticed? What if there is nothing that really sets you apart from others. Aren’t you going to be lost in the crowd, spending a lot of time for no gain?

Given that this presentation was in early July, I guess this question no longer fits the recency criterion for an RAQ, but I think it’s still a valid question to discuss. It also reminds me of something in the printed materials my son got when starting high school. It said something like, “You’re unique, just like everyone else,” which struck him as extremely funny.

It’s a reasonable question to ask, whether you have to be a major brand like Mayo Clinic or Dell to derive value from social media. And obviously an organization like Mayo Clinic has some significant advantages, such as passionate patients and employees and a history of making its reputation through word-of-mouth.

But as we heard from Tom Vanderwell yesterday, there’s plenty of opportunity for people to derive significant benefit from being engaged in social media, even if you’re selling something that is a commodity. After all, many people are just going to shop for the best interest rates online, and a loan is a loan is a loan. Through his blog, Tom has set himself apart from many of his local peers, and also has joined a network of national professionals involved in real estate and mortgages. Because others have come to know him through blogging, Facebook and Twitter, they trust him. And he’s getting business because of it.

So does that mean there is unlimited potential for all of the other mortgage lenders in western Michigan to profit similarly from social media? Nope. There will be some room for others, but they will need to establish “tweet cred.” And the community will pretty quickly sniff out those who are just into social media as a “quick buck” tactic. Social media make it free to communicate, but they also provide mechanisms for people to fight back against those who pollute the digital commons and don’t contribute meaningfully.

If you have a passion for a subject area (like Tom does with mortgages) and want to communicate about it in a way that helps others, you’ll probably do well with it. You don’t have to necessarily be unique; in fact, it helps to have at least a few others in your digital community so you can build off each other’s contributions.

And like Tom Vanderwell, you should think about how the advent of free and easy digital communications can help you conceive your business in a way that transcends geographic limitations.

The SMUG Social Media Pyramid

This post has been rolling around in my head for some time, but was triggered by a discussion Sunday night in the #hcsm chat on Twitter. One of the questions that arose related to what (and how many) social media platforms hospitals should use:

Is it better to do one or two channels well, or spread thinly across lots of platforms? Will results be different?

When I talk about a “Social Media Pyramid” I’m not talking about a Madoffian Ponzi scheme, but rather something that is a combination between the USDA’s food pyramid:


And Abraham Maslow’s famous “Hierarchy of Needs”:


Those who have spent any time at SMUG know I’m terrible at artistic representations that involve drawing, so I will just draw a word picture of the pyramid I’m envisioning, which represents both a balanced social media communications diet (analogous to the USDA pyramid) and steps toward increasing accomplishment, satisfaction and social media fulfillment (as per Maslow.)

Maybe someone would be kind enough to contribute an artistic rendering, as we saw in the SMUG seal development (which will soon come to fruition.) If so, I will update this post with that graphic.

Here are the levels of social media involvement (or four basic social media “food groups”) from an organizational perspective, as I see them:

Microblogging is the base, both because it’s easiest to start and because you should have more “servings per day” of this than any of the subsequent levels. Here I’m thinking Twitter as the main choice, but within your enterprise you may want to use something like Yammer for employee-only conversations. Like the USDA pyramid’s base, 6-11 “servings” of Twitter per day is probably a good target, particularly if you are interacting in conversations instead of just pushing out information. It’s a great tool for networking with those who may share your organization’s interests, but with whom you don’t yet have an online relationship.

Social Networking is the next level up, and here I’m using Facebook as the example. A Facebook “fan” page for your organization taps into a potential user base of more than 200 million and enables richer interactions that go beyond 140 characters. This might have a Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) of 4-5 servings per day, as you could post links to news releases, or add upcoming events, or upload photos or video, for example. Balanced use even within the Facebook platform is advisable: if you send Updates several times a day, you’ll quickly turn off your “fans” unless what you have to share is extraordinarily compelling. Trust me: it’s not.

Web Video. The platform of choice here is a YouTube channel, because it’s free and it’s the world’s second-largest search engine. You need to have some source of video, which is what puts this a little higher on the pyramid, because you’ll need to spend at least $150-$200 for a video camera. But having the ability to upload video that can be found on its own on YouTube, emailed or tweeted to interested folks or embedded in Facebook or your blog greatly extends your reach. The RDA is 1-2 “servings” but with a camera like the Flip that has a built-in USB port for uploading, this is reasonable. And even if you don’t make that target, putting up even a couple per week is a good start, assuming you have something to say.

Blogs. These are at the SMUG Pyramid’s peak. They provide multimedia platforms for embedding video, slideshows and photos as well as a venue for longer, more reasoned arguments (like this post.) They’re at the peak because they require greater commitment, and because fewer organizations have taken this step. While Ed Bennett’s Hospital Social Networking List contains 253 hospitals with Twitter accounts and 174 with Facebook and YouTube, only 31 have blogs. Yet a blog is where you can have, in Paul Harvey’s phrase, “The rest of the story.” You can tweet a brief message and then include a shortened link that sends people to your blog for fuller explanation and discussion. Unlike Facebook, your blog is available to anyone with a Web browser, with no membership required for full access. You should have at least one post (or serving) per blog per week to keep it fresh, but more frequent is better.

Here is an example of a post I did on our Sharing Mayo Clinic blog, in which I embedded an interview with a patient, Tom Vanderwell, who I met via Twitter. We’re also friends on Facebook, which shows how the tools all work together.

The SMUG Social Media Pyramid answers the question that arose in the #hcsm chat by giving both a prescription for a well-balanced social media diet and a progression to get there. Don’t feel like you need to be involved in every platform, particularly at first. Start with Twitter (because it’s easy) and then probably with Facebook, if for no other reason than to keep someone else from claiming your organization’s name. The only investment is your time. As you grow in comfort and capability, and as others in your organization join you in the effort, you can then move to the higher levels of the pyramid.

In a future post, I will deal with the question, “How do I keep up with all the new platforms that are being launched?”

What do you think of the SMUG Social Media Pyramid? Does it make sense to you? Do you see other essential “food groups” for social media that I’ve omitted?

RAQ: How can I update both Twitter and Facebook?

Here’s a question from yesterday (I’m paraphrasing):

I don’t do a very good job of keeping either Twitter or my Facebook status updated. Is there a way I can do both at the same time, or use Twitter to update Facebook?


Twitter 110, which was developed more than a year ago, lists some options for this. One limitation though, and the reason I quit having Twitter automatically update my Facebook status, is that I tend to tweet a lot and often have replies, for example, that would not make sense to Facebook users who haven’t been part of the conversation. So my kids used to tell me, “Dad, your Facebook status is always really boring.” Or weird.

If you spend more time in Facebook, you can use the Twitter application within Facebook to send your tweets.

But here’s the way I currently prefer to work, using Tweetdeck. In Tweetdeck I can incorporate both of the Twitter accounts with which I work (@LeeAase and @mayoclinic) as well as my Facebook profile. That way I don’t have to be in Facebook or on the Twitter Web interface, but can update both simultaneously.

So I can select just to have updates sent to my personal Twitter account:

Picture 1

…or I can select to go both to Twitter and Facebook:

Picture 2

If I choose the latter, the Tweetdeck dashboard shows this:

Picture 5

And here’s what shows up on Facebook:

Picture 7

and on Twitter:

Picture 6

The nice part about having an application like Tweetdeck is that you can decide which messages are appropriate for which platform. And of course, as I say in Twitter 106 and in Twitter 152: Tweetcamp III, Tweetdeck or an application like it greatly increases your Twitter productivity.

I still don’t update my Facebook status as frequently as I should, but Tweetdeck makes it easier to keep the status updated without having to go to the Facebook Web interface.

How do you keep Twitter and Facebook statuses updated? Or do you even try to do both?

RAQ: Should I upgrade my iPhone instead of getting a Flip?

Here’s a recent question from Mara Herschbach in the SMUG Facebook group:

Hi Lee! Love the Keynote this morning you did for Life Science Alley. One question, would you go Flip Camera over the new iPhone 3Gs? I have an iPhone 3G and was not planning to upgrade, but if the cost is similar and I did not have to carry another gadget…

Thanks again for all the info. Looking forward to checking out SMUG.

Here’s my answer:

I think the one reason for concern about iPhone 3Gs video would be whether you can use it with a tripod. Keeping the camera steady is extremely important, and you can’t do that without a tripod, no matter how steady you think you are. So unless you can use the iPhone with a tripod, I still think you need some other kind of camera, whether it’s a Flip or something else.

I’m going to be taking my daughter to the Apple store tomorrow to get her a MacBook Pro as she goes off to college, and I will ask there about whether Apple has a tripod option for the iPhone 3Gs. If not, I think that still means if you want to use video professionally within your blogs or YouTube channel, you need another video camera – whether it’s a Flip or something else.

Does anyone else know whether there is a tripod option for the iPhone 3Gs?