Archive for the 'New Media' Category


Social media tips and tricks – Twitter

Today, there are 75 million Twitter accounts, about a quarter of the U.S. population. That’s comparable to the number of adults with cell phones in 1999. And if the growth of Twitter is anywhere near that of cell phones, it is time to gain a clear understanding of how you and your company can use it. Here are some down and dirty tips to be mindful of when using Twitter.

Twitter etiquette is imperative when talking to others via Twitter. Here are some things to remember:

  1. When you are first getting started, consider following those people who follow you. This is a great way to build an understanding of how Twitter works and who is interested in what you have to say. This will also help you narrow what information you want to read about on Twitter and what is just spam.
  2. Design tweets that when retweeted don’t cut off your tweet or link. This means writing in 120 or 130 characters instead of 140. Often if your tweet is too long to retweet, people will not retweet it or the meaning just gets lost.
  3. When you are tweeted @, respond. When an @ symbol appears before your handle, that means the comment is specifically directed at you. Responding to these mentions is a great way to get noticed and just polite. Also, look at your other mentions and involve those talking about you in conversation with you.
  4. Be thankful for retweets (RT) and respond with thanks.
  5. Follow up with all direct messages quickly.
  6. Include links in most, if not all, of your tweets. This allows you to track which tweets get the most clicks and thus learn what your followers are most interested in reading from you.

The use of Twitter aggregators, like HootSuite – which is what @Weise_Ideas and @HutchH use, can make distinguishing the streams, mentions and direct messages quick and easy.

Good luck in the Twittosphere. Let us know if there are other helpful tips you’ve come across.


3 social media measurements every company needs

Building a relationship is not easy; explaining the value of a social media relationship is virtually impossible without tracking and measuring specific variables.  There are three things you must measure in order to validate the time spent on social media activities: Endeavors, Connections and Results (ECR).

Endeavors – This refers to the efforts your company undertakes: how much, how often and how frequently you post, blog and tweet.

Connections – This refers to the reactions from your audience: your comments, followers, views and retweets.

Results – This refers to your financial measures: revenue generation, cost reduction, leads and sales.

Before beginning a social media marketing effort, it is important to establish the success levels of your ECR components. Since these vary from company to company, there isn’t a general rule to follow.

Ideally, developing your ECR score will determine your overall level of customer engagement.  With the prevalence of social media, customer engagement is key to improving satisfaction, loyalty rates and revenue. By actively listening to customers and engaging them in discussion, you can improve your business, products and service levels. EConsultancy, a social media research firm released Customer Engagement Report 2010. Key findings include:

  • The proportion of company respondents who regard customer engagement as “essential” has increased to 55 percent.
  • The tactics that have come to the forefront for driving customer engagement are email newsletters, social networking and Twitter activity.

Ultimately, the research shows that an engaged customer will recommend your brand, convert more readily and purchase more often.

What do you use when measuring social media activity? What indicators work for you when measuring social media? Let us know and connect with Weise Communications on Facebook for future updates.


How Sarasota Memorial Hospital is leveraging social media to build better relationships. Q&A with Shawn Halls.


Recently, Weise Communications sat down with Shawn Halls of Sarasota Memorial Hospital (SMH) to discuss social media’s impact on SMH and the way in which they communicate with the community. Below is our Q & A session.

Weise: How long has Sarasota Memorial Hospital (SMH) been using Twitter?

SMH: We registered the site in November 2008 and promoted a $49 cardiac disease assessment special we were offering in December. But we didn’t start actively posting or following anyone until March 2009.

Weise: How has SMH’s Twitter account been able to add value to your patients’ experience?

SMH: When we first started we were like a lot of organizations, just trying to figure out how, or even if, Twitter could be part of our larger communications strategy. We tweeted our hospital promotions and a few stories from patients who had called to praise our care.

Then in April we were contacted through Twitter by a former patient. She had a somewhat negative experience while in our care, but actually had more of a negative experience trying to figure out who she should contact to discuss the issue.

Suddenly, Twitter, and social media in general, became not just a platform to communicate to patients, but a tangible way for our community to communicate directly with us as well.

Since that first patient contact, we have been Direct Messaged through Twitter by other patients with various questions. In our experience, more often than not a patient’s frustration is not about the care they received but the challenges associated with navigating healthcare.

Many people still prefer to call us directly, but increasingly customers are using Twitter and other social media platforms to initiate contact. It’s an interesting dynamic.

Most recently we had a patient’s family member find us on Twitter and ask for the name of a local florist so they could send flowers and ensure delivery prior to the patient’s surgery. This was a really easy one to handle, and we were able to communicate back to him within 10 minutes of his initial contact.

(SMH’s Twitter account)

Weise: Were there any reservations about using Twitter to communicate with the general public? If so, how did you overcome/justify establishing an online presence?

SMH: We did encounter resistance, because there are still a lot of unknowns about Twitter and other social media platforms as they relate to business. All social media platforms are blocked in our healthcare system, so we had to petition the chief information officer to allow our team access to Twitter. There is a valid concern that spending too much time online may distract employees, but we believed a balance could be struck. An organization with quality managers who engage their employees on a daily basis greatly reduce the risk of distraction. Certainly there are some who might abuse the privilege, but there are ways to prevent abuse that do not include a blanket policy to block access for all. Remember the era of codes to access copy machines? The idea was companies would lose too much money if employees had free access. Copy codes seem absurd in 2009, but we’re facing a similar issue with social media access today.

Weise: Do you think all healthcare providers should establish an online presence via social media? Why?

SMH: We do believe it’s important to have a social media presence. While social media won’t replace other avenues of communication, it’s important for providers to encourage communication through avenues people are using. With 200 million people on Facebook and nearly 10 million on Twitter, healthcare providers are missing an opportunity if they do not have a social media presence. Increasingly, healthcare is about building relationships with our customers. In this era of choice, patients choose which doctor to see, which outpatient lab to use, and certainly which hospital they choose. Social media helps us foster relationships with our customers by humanizing the healthcare system. We’re not just Sarasota Memorial Health Care System, we are 4,000 individuals who are part of our larger communities, and we enjoy communicating with our customers because they’re also our neighbors and friends. Certainly there are challenges for healthcare providers in establishing their social media presence, but we believe the benefits outweigh the challenges.

The one caveat, I’d say, is don’t create a social media presence if someone is not directly responsible for maintaining that presence. As effective as social media can be, an unanswered contact or an infrequently updated Facebook page could have n opposite effect, leaving prospective customers wondering if other aspects of their care would be hit or miss as well. At a fundamental level, social media is an extension of your healthcare brand, so it’s important to treat it with the same level of attention as other communication strategies.

Weise: SMH also has a Facebook fan page. What value is your page creating for the hospital and your community?

SMH: Hospitals and healthcare providers are brands people typically prefer not to interact with. Most of the time, people only use our services when they are sick or otherwise vulnerable, and healthcare is one of the few brands that can literally have life and death implications.

As I mentioned above, increasingly healthcare is about fostering relationships, and while Twitter is excellent for communication, Facebook allows for a more intimate interaction with our community. We are able to post photos of community events and share information that may not necessarily be hospital business but impacts the community in which we live and operate.

We recently posted information about eight students who received educational scholarships from us because they are going into the healthcare field. There isn’t really another format where we could have communicated that information, but it’s perfect for Facebook.

(SMH’s Facebook page)

Weise: Does SMH have any plans to adopt more social media into their marketing strategy? Perhaps, creating a YouTube channel to show video testimonials, events, interviews with doctors etc.?

SMH: Each market is unique, and Sarasota is no different. What’s splashed across the media today may not be the same next year. Since social media is so dynamic, we let our customers dictate which platforms to use based on their adoption of it. We are in the process of coordinating our first Twitter surgery broadcast – an amazing brain mapping procedure where the patient is awake during the entire procedure – and we’ll use YouTube to archive it. We’re also actively developing our Flikr, MySpace, and Delicious accounts and believe there are tremendous opportunities in those applications to help with patient education.

Weise: If you had one piece of advice for someone new to Twitter, what would you offer?
SMH: Don’t be afraid to bring a little personality into your tweets. It’s a lot more engaging for your followers and a lot more fun for you. ☺

About Shawn:

Sarasota Memorial’s Twitter feed is managed by Shawn Halls. Shawn is the market research manager at Sarasota Memorial and is responsible for measuring and communicating consumer insights throughout the organization. Before joining Sarasota Memorial, Shawn knocked ‘em dead at the University of South Florida as a senior statistician who had the unusual skill of being able to communicate complex statistical findings to statisticians and non-statisticians alike. Shawn holds a master’s degree in applied sociology from the University of Central Florida, proving you can actually get a job with a sociology degree.


expand your franchise with linkedin

linkedinpic1LinkedIn is an extremely popular social networking site used by professionals in all walks of life. A quick scan of your Gmail contacts will probably reveal that many of your peers are already using LinkedIn to network with like-minded professionals. But you are a franchisor. Why would you use LinkedIn? It’s not like you are trying to connect with CPA’s. You’re trying to expand your franchise.

LinkedIn can be used to accomplish your goals. Franchisors must focus on three areas to completely leverage LinkedIn to expand their franchise business. These include joining groups, participating in the “Answers” section, and creating a “great” profile.


Joining Groups:

LinkedIn has hundreds of groups available to franchise professionals. Do a group search for “franchises” and you’ll find that you can join over 300 such groups. Why join?
LI Groups
The most important reasons for joining a group include:

1. Search functionality: Being a group member allows you to access the profiles of the other members in your group. (If you belonged to the “Franchise Networking” group, you would have access to over 2,200 LinkedIn profiles!)

2. Communication: Not only does being a group member give you viewing privileges, you’ll also has the ability to directly contact your fellow group members.

3. Showcase your group affiliations: When you join a group, LinkedIn gives you the option to display a digital badge on your profile. These show people visiting your page what groups you belong to and where your professional interests lie.

Becoming an Expert:linkedin-answers

LinkedIn’s “Answers” section gives anyone the opportunity to answer or ask questions on almost any topic in almost any industry.

You should seriously consider spending some time in the Q&A forum to find questions that you can answer. Why?

LinkedIn awards its users with expertise points for every answer they provide. According to LinkedIn’s Web site, “When your answer is chosen as (the) best by the question’s asker, you gain a point of expertise in the question’s category.”

Creating a “Great” Profile:

There are many articles out there that attempt to sort out the do’s and don’ts of setting up your LinkedIn profile.
The following list of three articles will point you in the right direction and help you create an outstanding LinkedIn profile:

LinkedIn Profile Extreme Makeover: Guy Kawasaki offers short easy-to-digest recommendations to vamp up your profile.

Six Elements of a Great LinkedIn Profile: Scott Cunningham offers great information and the details to help you implement his suggestions.

4 Minutes to Optimize a LinkedIn Profile for SEO: HubSpot offers two key pieces of advice and a four minute video detailing how you can optimize your profile for SEO.

Now that you have the skinny on LinkedIn, join some franchise groups, become an expert and create a great profile!

Drop us a line. We would like to know what tip(s) you found most helpful!


healthcare and social media (part 2.)

As promised, Part 2 of Healthcare and Social Media will focus on two hospitals we think are doing a magnificent job integrating social media into their marketing strategy.

#1 The Mayo Clinic

Last month, the Star Tribune’s Chen May Yee reported on the Mayo Clinic’s communications manager, Lee Aase. Aase is essentially responsible for the hospitals social media marketing programs. He currently keeps the community up to date on the Mayo Clinic’s latest news and events via Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and Blog accounts.

Aase explains that many patients say they chose the Mayo Clinic for treatment after watching video content on the hospitals YouTube channel. Most notably, “Aase found a six-month-old YouTube video of an exuberant white-haired couple playing the piano in the clinic atrium, to the surprise and pleasure of onlookers. He posted it on Sharing Mayo Clinic. In two weeks, the number of views soared from 1,000 to over 68,000.”

#2 The Children’s Medical Center of Dayton

Dayton Children’s Web site recently posted a media release that detailed their social media marketing implementation strategy. Some of the high-level points include:

-Created a Facebook page in December 2008. The page now has over 500 fans.
-Started the campaign internally, asking employees to become fans of the page first.
-Facebook “Cause” page enables fans (over 800) to donate to Dayton Children’s.
-Marketing communications and development departments are sharing maintienence responsibilities.
-Twitter account was launched in March 2009. They now have over 650 followers.
-Dayton Children’s launched their YouTube page over a year ago.
-Video content includes TV commercials, new stories and patient stories.

Both the Mayo Clinic and Dayton Children’s are doing a great job incorporating social media into their overall marketing campaigns. It’s very interesting that the Mayo has a blog and Dayton’s Children does not. In the same token Dayton’s Children is networking via a localized social media channel ( and the Mayo is not.

We hope today’s second installment is very helpful and, we would like to know how your healthcare organization is using social media to reach your employees, patients and families. Please share your story here.


healthcare and social media (part 1.)

Last week we announced that The Side Note would focus more on current PR and marketing strategy in the healthcare, B2B and franchise industries. Katie Williams was kind enough to leave a comment and request that we report on “ how healthcare organizations (from nonprofit to pharma) are utilizing social media.”

We have plenty of information on this topic, but we’ll start today by addressing hospitals that are using social media to connect with the community. Ed Bennett recently posted a comprehensive list of US hospitals that are using social media. The following is a statistical breakdown of the 250 hospitals on the list:

* 160 on Twitter
* 131 on YouTube
* 94 on Facebook
* 24 using Blogs

Obviously, hospitals are beginning to recognize the importance of implementing social media programs into their marketing plan. However, only five of the 250 hospitals are using each of the four social media tools tracked by Ed’s list. This could very well mean that hospitals have just begun to incorporate social media and are doing so in phases.  We’ll be sure to check back in a few months to see how the list changes.

Stay tuned. Later today I will talk specifically about two hospitals that have implemented social media campaigns.


social media…does your company “get it”?

Adopting social media campaigns can be quite a challenge for many businesses. Leading executives are often hesitant to allow consumers to control what is being said about their brand. Many times, consumers aren’t looking for complete control; they are looking for innovative companies to meet them halfway.

Lee Odden recently posted an article on the Online Marketing Blog titled, “25 Must Read Social Media Marketing Tips.”  This post provides tips and best practices from major players in the Social Marketing arena, including representatives from Best Buy, Wells Fargo and General Mills.

The post offers great ideas, strategy and direction for companies who have yet to fully commit to pursuing social media in their marketing strategy. Because of the length of the post, I am only going to repost my favorite pieces of advice from Crayon’s president, Joseph Jaffe.  Below he shares five tips for companies trying to make sense out of defining a social media strategy.

1. Don’t cede control completely to your consumers. They don’t want it. Meet them halfway. Partner with them. Work with them.

2. Marketing is not a campaign; it’s a commitment. If you want lifetime relationships with your consumers, you need to invest in them…genuinely…for life. Begin with investing in what we call at Crayon, “commitment to conversation” (monitoring, optimization, response, outreach, etc.)

3. Learn to deal with negativity. You want the love, but can’t deal with the hate. Criticism is not your enemy; apathy and indifference are. Any negative response from consumers (whether by blog, email or customer service inquiry) is a cry for help AND an acknowledgement that they care (enough to reach out to you…).

4. As per my earlier point, think strategically. We’re currently working with some of our clients to define a social networking strategy. (BEFORE cart before the horse deploying a “Facebook App” for example)

5. That said, we also advise companies to invest in “well-structured experimentation”. We distill this into a very real and workable number – 4: 4 experiments over a calendar year. Is one experiment per quarter that unrealistic or irrationally exuberant? I think not.

Joseph offers some really good advice above. Click here if you would like to read more tips that other influencers have suggested.


twitter isn’t only for the big guys

I think the social media revolution the industry is currently experiencing is fascinating. Companies like Ford, Starbucks, and Ebay are using Twitter as a way to communicate with consumers on a more personal level. I also think that many small to midsized companies are missing the boat by not creating an online presence via Twitter.  As the title of this post states, you don’t have to be one of the big guys to reap the rewards of social media applications.

Dave Kerpen, from Buzz Marketing Daily, recently compiled a list of 25 unique ways companies are using Twitter to improve their customer’s experience.

Below I have posted five of my favorites taken directly from Dave’s post:

1) @MarketStreetDFW is a Texas-based gourmet meals-to-go store that tweets daily menu updates.

6) @StartmySong tweets links and lyrics to new songs to promote their songwriters community.

14) @NWWeddingPlace includes a “Daily Love Tweet” to promote its wedding planning business.

16) @PawLuxury uses what they call “The Woof Factor” to provide excellent customer service to pet owners.

20) @SpudBros is a quick-serve restaurant in Colorado which tweets unique deals and discounts.

Click here for the full list of companies.


Growing business with Twitter

I’ve written several times about Twitter and its many uses in our industry, but I can’t seem to get enough of the benefits companies are garnering from it. Michael Stelzner of Copyblogger did a nice job recently of outlining a few good examples.

He explains that, according to the State of the Twittersphere report, five to 10 thousand new people join Twitter on a daily basis, and total users are currently around 5 million. That’s a lot of potentially untapped resources!

The article goes on to highlight several high profile and every day business people who use Twitter and have had success with it. Following are a few snippets of what some of those folks had to say:

1)    John Jantsch, Duct Tape Marketing founder – “I get great insight when I ask questions.” And, “People on Twitter spread my thoughts to new places.”
2)    Tony Hsieh, CEO – “In the long term, Twitter helps drive repeat customers and word of mouth, but we’re not looking to it as a way of driving immediate sales.”
3)    David Meerman Scott, bestselling author – “I have personally connected with hundreds of people I otherwise wouldn’t have, and I booked an interview on NPR and a big daily newspaper using Twitter.”
4)    Brian Clark, Copyblogger – “Twitter Search is an amazing way to see what people are saying about your products or services.”
5)    Terri Rylander, B2B copywriter – “I’ve been in my particular niche for over 10 years and know who the players are (though they don’t know me). When I checked who [a colleague] was following on Twitter, there they all were! It read like a ‘Who’s Who’ list.”
6)    Pam O’Neil, BreakingPoint VP of Marketing – “A writer for ZDNet wrote about us and linked to us based on something we tweeted and that resulted in a huge spike in web traffic and at least one deal with a major service provider.”

If you’re like me and you want to see how companies are using Twitter successfully, or if you’re still trying to figure out what Twitter is all about and how it can benefit your company, I encourage you to visit some of the abovementioned folks on Twitter. Read their tweets for a few weeks and note what they’re talking about. It may inspire you start Twittering or step up your Twitter game!


skittles tasting success with latest social media experiment?

skittlestwitterAs many of you already know, Skittles caused quite a stir in the social media world last week by posting real time “tweets” on their Web site. Originally, we didn’t want to write about this because it happened last week. However, I couldn’t resist commenting on this after reading what has been said since.

Marketing Pilgrim wrote a post recently stating that the Skittles Web site traffic experienced “a 1332% increase in web visitors on March 3rd.”  Pretty impressive considering only one day had passed since Skittles launched this social media experience.

Was this a complete success for Skittles? I don’t think it was because I think most of their traffic came from Twitter users. I also think it may have been a mistake for a brand of their size to expose their reputation to uncensored tweets. BusinessWeek published a recent article that highlighted some of the challenges marketers and companies will face as social media focused strategies continue to evolve.

For those who aren’t familiar with the Skittles campaign, the home page of the Web site originally showcased Twitter comments about Skittles in real time. BusinessWeek points out that, “Skittles was forced to rethink its social media strategy after users deluged the site with inane and often profane tweets.” Skittles has since had their Web address direct users to a variety of social media applications including their Facebook fan page, Wikipedia page and YouTube. I think this was a smart move because cycling the landing pages is keeping users guessing and potentially could get them coming back to the site in the weeks ahead.

This is clearly a lesson on how companies have no way to control what their customers say, and I think this is the ultimate challenge of using social media to create relationships with consumers.

Now for a lesson in why you shouldn’t get a transplant from a guy named Jose.

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