Social “Strategy” takes time – Lessons Learned!

I think many communication and social media practitioners are looking back over the last few years and making assessments. We are looking at success, failures, challenges, and where to continue on this path of social understanding. One of the things I have some to realize is that it takes time!

It does…it takes time. Working with major, large organizations…I have learned a lot. What have I learned, well…employing a social strategy takes time. One of the biggest selling points of using social strategies is the low cost for the technology and commitment to community building. Well…the investment is strategy and the human capital. Over the last two years, I have learned a lot. So here are a few lessons I have learned along the way, especially with large organizations.

Lesson #1 – It is more than Twitter and Facebook. It is more than just opening an account, seeking out followers, and trying to have a conversation. Opening an account is easy, but it begins with creating a plan. I look at this as writing a start-up business plan for an entrepreneurial company. It is creating a path that is a barometer, not a ruler. Especially in large organizations like hospitals & universities, there are so many silos. So they plan has to start small and build on successes. Test one area, find a good model and begin trying to execute in other areas of the organization.

Lesson #2 – It takes a commitment from leadership. It is more than getting the mid-level decision makers involved, you need top brass involved. They are the ones that not only support the message, but can also engage in the strategy. We found much success with building blogs for the C-Suite, allowing them to write passionately. When employees feel like they can access the top brass, they are willing to engage in social, online conversations.

Lesson #3 – It takes commitment to community. Reaching out to brand ambassadors has to happen beyond the marketing and pr departments. They are the ones who can guide the organization, but they must empower those inside the organization to use the technology as a way to connect with others. Go where the people are and allow the technology enable to connectivity. One the smartest things I heard was Clemson University started an advisory board for Social Media. This board met once a month and guided internal departments on best practices. Instead of micro-managing the community, they worked with them on graphical standards and allowed the community to naturally connect.

Lesson #4 – It requires a commitment from IT/IS/HR. Yes…many hospitals are struggling whether to allow employees inside the organization to be able to access social outlets. It is a productivity and bandwidth conversation, yet more and more employees can access social outlets using smart phones and tablets. Opening access empowers the community to connect within the walls of the organization. Working with IT/IS and HR is important to find ways to allow employees have access to social outlets and educate employes on best practices and social media guidelines for their jobs descriptions.

Lesson #5 – It takes commitment from Brand/Graphic Standards gatekeepers. Building graphics, avatars, and other elements for organizations social outlets takes a shift in thinking. It is more than protecting the brand, it is about how to take a brand and represent it in social outlets. When people see a company logo on a social outlet, what is the expectation of engagement? Also…thinking through how to take logos that do not resonate in 50×50 pixels takes lots of thought especially when considering traditional branding guidelines. Engaging these gatekeepers is key, bring their input to the table and educating all parties how to implement graphics across an organization. Take a look at large organizations with many departments. Maybe it makes sense for each to have multiple social accounts, how do you represent the brand yet differentiate between departments…it takes discussion, thought, and planning.

Lesson #6 – It requires engagement with your brand ambassadors including employees. This goes back to the IT/IS/HR discussion. Especially for large organizations, your employees can be your largest brand ambassador. If you restrict the technology that could connect these individuals, you may be restricting your greatest potential. Brains on Fire did something special with the Fiskateers, connecting them under a message and passion for scissors. They recognized an area with tremendous potential for community connection and engaged them using technology that made sense. Hats off to BOF!

Lesson #7 – It takes passion, passion for your mission and message. Social outlets are being used for “Push” marketing, pushing our messages on people. Well, is that an engaging conversation. It takes passion. The people that lead your social cause should be passionate about the cause, allowing the social technology to naturally connect them to others. Fan bases, followers want to connect with people they trust and who share a common passion. If those who are socially leading are not passionate, then it becomes noise in this big ole pond of digital discourse. Passionate writing, passionate tweeting, passionate video content, passionate message…passionate people connect with passionate people.

Lesson #8 – The message has to come from within…let the community empower the message. It does…outside advertising/pr/messaging firms should not tweet, update, blog, etc. for  the organization. The message has to come from the people that believe in the message, that live inside the organization/community everyday. It is about people, stupid…and people want to connect with real people.

Lesson #9 – Their are so many more social outlets than the mainstream outlets. There are so many other social outlets out there than your typical Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Quora, etc. My wife interacts on a social outlet called “The Bump.” A chat room for women who are expecting babies. She is connecting with tons of women all over, building relationships and sharing stories. How about Polyvore, my sister-in-law loves this social outlet for fashion trends. You have to go where the community is engaging, build relationships where the conversations are the best.

Lesson #10 – It does not happen overnight. It does not…it takes time, patience, a good plan, and commitment to building a strong, long-lasting community.

4G is a game changer in hospital social media policy

The more and more marketing professionals I chat with across the country, the more conversation I hear about Social Media policy. So what is at the heart of the matter when it comes to Social Media policy in hospitals…usage. When can employees access Social Media outlets. This is a cultural issue.

Many of the arguments discussed, will Social Outlets change productivity and effect bandwidth. Another issue, one that I think is even more exponential is patient information. Can we protect patient information and privacy. Do we want healthcare professionals engaging with patients online and discuss healthcare matters that deserve to stay inside the walls of the examining room.

From a marketing position, hospitals want to grow fan bases and followers fast. It is the new age marketing outlet that has more mass appeal than the billboards and other collateral. Many hospitals are restricting access to Social Media outlets on internal networks. But, if you are not opening up the opportunity to access to Social Outlets inside the walls of the hospital, you are marginalizing your biggest fan base, your brand ambassadors…hospital employees. They are the true touch points to the patients.

So if the internal IT departments can lock down access to Social Media outlets inside the walls based on the social media policy…you can control usage. Not anymore, that is changing and changing FAST. I wrote a few months ago about the effects of Verizon’s 4G LTE inside the walls of a hospital. I detailed my fears how this technology can penetrate walls further with faster speeds, faster than what is available inside the internal networks. Bottomline, mobile devices provide the access that the internal networks restrict.

4G is changing hospitals’ Social Media policies. Why, because now controlling access is so much more difficult. Bandwidth is no longer an issue and productivity is now truly a management/leadership issue. Even more, hospitals will be writing Social Media policies that include patient usage. 4G speeds and penetration will now allow employees, healthcare providers, patients to access social outlets outside of the cubicle/workstation. Walking around the halls, typing under desks and conference room tables, patient rooms, etc. are the areas individuals with mobile devices will Tweet, update Facebook, post pictures, comment on videos, Google doctors’ names, check-in, and the list goes on.

The speeds of these devices and the broader access no longer requires a hospital employee (healthcare provider) to go through the login process of the terminal or workstation to look at Facebook or watch a video. Just pull out the iPhone, Droid, Blackberry, or whatever to surf, scan, update, and connect. Then, if someone walks by, it is small enough to pop back in the pocket. 3G and now 4G provides the faster access to do this where walls used to restrict. The desktop computer is not necessary to access the outlets.

The mobile 4G offering is forcing the hand for many organizations. But more than that, the numerous devices with the ability to offer these speeds is part of the equation. If you walk inside any organization, walk down the halls, count the number of devices in the hands of people. Regardless of the place, we do not think about what people are typing on these devices, how they are surfing the web, if they are typing a work email or updating Facebook. Mobile devices are everywhere.

Hospitals are now going to have to think through policies, procedures, and education. Yes…educating not only the employees but also the patients. When it is appropriate to use devices, where it is appropriate to use mobile devices, how to use the Social Web. Social Media policy is about usage…not about restriction but about access. 3G and 4G now brings patients and their families into the Social Media usage policy equation. It is a game changer.

Recent Related Blog Posts:

4G LTE Technology: The Good, the Bad, and the Hospitals.

Healthcare Innovation & Mobile Devices

Hospitals should open the “pipes” for Social Media!

Video and Blogs together…hmm, great combo

There is a reason why video and blogs work together…well, it brings personality. People want more than just a reading experience that is based on search-ability and getting information; they sometimes want to connect. As much as they hate to admit it…they want to learn more. They want to learn what makes the writer tick.

Video is such a crazy thing in this world of blogging, online media, social media, and mobile connection. Video provides depth. It takes us further than the textual words, those words that writers work so hard to bring color inside each syllable. Video does that…it brings texture.

There are a few reasons I work with clients to bring video into the everyday web experience, here are a few reasons:

  1. It brings emotion to the screen. People get to see how someone talks, breaths, laughs, sighs, expresses, etc. It reveals the true emotion behind the written word.
  2. It brings texture. The written word is a two dimensional field where we write our thoughts and hope that our ability to craft sentences provides depth. Video provides a three dimensional look into the screen that Brenda Laurel describes as the “theater.”
  3. It connects social platforms together. If video is placed on YouTube, Vimeo, Viddler, or any of the other social video sites…it connects rich media outlets together creating a great SEO experience for the user looking for information.
  4. It breaks up the monotony. As bloggers and writers, we get into a habit of just filling the screen with text within our blogs and web experiences. Bringing video into this online experience can bring a depth beyond the words providing connection points. People get to see who they are reading, and hear those words that are typed.
  5. Video reinforces the brand experience. It allows the user to see the branded message in action, connecting those visual cues to the written word.
  6. It takes the pressure off writing too much content. Sometimes it is better for something to be explained visually in video form, those ideas that are sometimes normally hard to explain in the written word. This takes the burden off of the copywriting or creative writing experience; allowing visuals, music, interviews, graphics to take the place of the written word.

There are many times in the world of blogging, people have a hard time articulating thoughts in written form. There are many times that a thought comes to mind, but we are not in a place to write. We are surrounded by devices that allow us to capture video. We can capture a special moment, an interview, an emotion, or we just want to talk into the camera. What ever presents itself, sometimes the camera is better suited to capture the moment than trying to write down the thought.

Use the media, do not be afraid. Video is a powerful tool especially if you want to supplement the written word.

Here are a few people who do it so well in the blogging context:

Organizations that do it well:

So bottom-line, do not be afraid to use that camera and integrate some video into your online experience. You can provide the rich insight many people are seeking.

What is social video???

So I have been thinking what makes video social? Yes….what makes our video content connect with audiences in a social, fluid environment. Well, it is my opinion that it comes down to technology and content. Seriously, there has to be relevant content that relates to an audience in a way that makes them have the desire to share. Then, once they want to share…it has to be supported by technology that does not prohibit the ability to share.

Recently I have been harping on Flash Video and how it marginalizes certain audiences…and this is all about technology. If I have a device and a friend shares a video with me, I click to watch and cannot view the content because the technology does not support Flash…then the video is not social.

So when I think about the technology aspect of social video, it can be broken into two arenas: enabling the ability to share the video and enabling the ability to search and find the video. But before we get to technology…let’s try to talk about characteristics of social video. So let’s think through this a bit…ways we can make our video content social.

Content:

  • The video message has to be compelling.
  • The video message has to have an action item.
  • The video appeals to our emotions.
  • The video message makes us want to share.

Technology:

  • The video has to be hosted and compressed so that it plays fluidly in majority of online environments.
  • The video player that displays the video is using the latest technology to meet your target audience’s devices needs. If it is HTML5, Flash, Quicktime, or what ever…it needs to be able to reach the largest section of audiences to consume the video content.
  • The video content has to be associated with searchable terms. We know what it means to make our webpages rich with searchable words…but now our video has to SEO rich. So whereever it is hosted, it must support searchable tags and video descriptions.
  • The video content must have a permalink to link directly to that video. You do want people to share your video, so it must have a link to post on social sites and email for reference.
  • The video content must have rich embed options. You want the masses have the ability to embed your video into your blogs, websites, and other online media outlets.
  • The video content needs to have the ability to have a title that is associated with the video. Places like YouTube and Vimeo provide that option to make the content searchable.

Let me give you two examples:

1) IT-oLogy Open House:

I worked on a project a few months ago with the sole purpose of telling the story of a new brand at an open-house. IT-oLogy was formerly the Consortium for Enterprise Systems Management. They were launching their new brand at the open house for their new building. So we produced a video that had all their partners and supporting agencies describing IT-oLogy in their own terms. We made the video fun, goofy, yet appealing to the 250 plus people that would attend.

When I showed up to make it play on their new big screen, the people were still installing the technology that supported video playback. So…we uploaded it to YouTube in full 1080p and played it on a big 50 foot screen from YouTube. They had the bandwidth to support the higher quality and it played well. When we uploaded it to YouTube…we made sure we named it properly, gave a rich description, and implemented logical tags. When people left, they wanted to go find the video. Why…because it was cool plus most of the people in the room knew the people in the video and wanted to share with their co-workers. They were able to embed in their blogs, email the YouTube link to their friends, share it on social outlets. A quality message maximizing technology to enable sharing.

2) My Class at Clemson

I was putting together a presentation about finding your passion. I found this great video called “Where good ideas come from.” I wanted to share it with my class during my afternoon session. I like to use my business Facebook page as a place to save cool links that I might want to comeback to later. So I posted the YouTube link to my Facebook page with a description of it’s intended purpose. So when I got to class, I pulled up the video from my Facebook page and played it for the class and they loved it. Afterwards, I noticed that a conversation started happening on Facebook under the link I posted.

The conversation was around entrepreneurship and where great ideas come from. People from the academic world, business world, entrepreneurs, etc. were commenting and discussion the underlying theme behind the video. At the same time, before I could email the link to my students, one of them posted the link to their Facebook page thanking me for sharing in class. That means that they were able to do a Google search for the video, find it, grab the link from the video, and share with her friends. Steven Johnson was the speaker in this video and a group called RSA Animate produced the visuals. These people not only inspired me to share with my friends, students, and colleagues….but they also inspired and enabled others to share. The content was engaging and inspiring and the technology was seamless to enable the ability to share.

What are your thoughts? How are you using video socially?

Social Video – Get with the program!

What the heck do I mean by this? Well…for many of us digital geeks out there, this might be a no-brainer. But…the world is changing in the Social Video space faster than someone can upload the next YouTube video.

If you want to compete in the viral, social marketing space…then just go ahead and give in to YouTube and Vimeo. Seriously…if you are self-hosting content or have vendors hosting video for you, then you are in a DARK DARK ROOM.

Over two years ago, I was pitching to clients to be skeptical of YouTube, Vimeo, and other free video hosting outlets. I was telling them that “they” own your content that is uploaded and you would have to worry about protecting your brand. Well…I was saying that because I was trying to sell video storage, compression, and distribution like I was the next big venture. GUESS WHAT…that game, that technology is just a commodity.

If you are a marketing department, you really need to know the following about your video content:

1) The ability to play your content over a wide range of devices from Windows, Macs, and Linux based desktops and laptops is necessary. You also need to be able to reach the real growing crowd…MOBILE DEVICES. With 4G here…we will be watching video content like we are drinking our favorite frosty beverage…GUZZLE, GUZZLE, GUZZLE.  So…if someone cannot watch you latest marketing video because it is hosted using a Flash or WMV player…the you are marginalizing a large portion of your audience. HTML5 players are the next innovation for playback of your video content. Why do you think YouTube, Vimeo, Brightcove, Sorenson, and many others have implemented this technology.

2) The local production shop who is hosting your video DOES NOT have the SEO like YouTube and Vimeo can provide. Seriously, when you embed a video hosted on these two platforms…you are connecting some of the largest search engines to your page via the video content. When you upload the video to YouTube and Vimeo, you can provide a detailed description, tags, location where it was shot…and all of this follows the video when you embed it into your website. The local shop is not owned by a search engine, so they do not specialize in SEO. So if you are paying to host content on their private servers, then pay to have the final video released to you and upload it to your YouTube channel.

3) YouTube and Vimeo also come with a community. Yes, people are searching these sites for video content based on their interests and comment right below the video. So…the community is built around the content, engaging audiences beyond the website you have it embedded. The search engines like this!

4) The quality of the playback is great. You can look at HD quality video right over your home network. That is backed by huge teams of technology experts that make it their mission to make your picture quality look great. Why do you think Hollywood uses these outlets to release Trailers…hmm?

5) It is so CHEAP. YouTube is free and Vimeo is $60 per year. So why are you paying monthly fees for hosting when your marketing message cannot be viewed on some the latest mobile devices? I do not know, but you might want to reconsider.

This post is truely meant for viral marketing efforts for video. There is TREMENDOUS value in using private hosting and Flash video for private video messages. You not only can control the distribution, but you also force individuals to watch the content in specific types of technology. There is value in this model.

Thoughts…think I am crazy? There are some business that would like to scream at me…but oh well. Why am I writing about this…because large organizations are still operating in yesterday’s thinking.

Marketing Departments- Say NO TO FLASH VIDEO, please

Seriously, the debate is the debate…Flash Video, HTML5, H264…I get it already. We still have not decided on a standard for web video. But seriously, Flash just is not working. I do not care if you think it is the best thing slice bread…instead, take that sliced bread and make a PB&J while reading this post.

So why is Flash not working, seriously? Because we are in the world of mobile users. Yeah, those smart phones that your audience is enjoying right now.

If you have a marketing department and spending tons of money on video hosting for your public marketing video…then you are getting freaking bad advice. Dump the video hosting for your marketing video and put everything on YouTube and Vimeo. Seriously…if the White House and every other major marketing group out there is doing it, then you should too!

Here is why:

1) YouTube and Vimeo are in the business of providing high quality video content to the masses…it is their business. So they are going to have the latest technology when it comes to players. Bottom-line, you will be able to watch the content on just about any device out there!

2) YouTube and Vimeo will have better SEO opportunities than any other private hosting option out there!  Why, because most of the video content out there is on their servers and it is their business to optimize for searches. Oh yeah, last year…YouTube was the Number #2 search engine.

3) YouTube and Vimeo provide a multitude of options for embedding in web outlets and social sites. Every time you upload a video to YouTube or Vimeo, they provide an easy embed option into your website and blog. They provide easy click options from playing solely in HD, changing the size, etc. Also…the share link makes it so easy to populate into Facebook, allowing the user to watch the video inside Facebook without having to leave to go to another website.

4) YouTube and Vimeo have figured out this whole compression thing for you. You can practically upload just about any video file and it convert the file for you and give you thumbnail options, so you do not have to manually choose and upload some image as the pause screen.

5) YouTube and Vimeo display HD Video content and it looks ROCK SOLID! For a huge conference in Columbia, we uploaded a completely uncompressed HD video to YouTube, and played it for an auditorium for a dignitaries from YouTube. Why, because the computer in the conference room was having a hard time working with about every video file we put on the Windows 7 desktop. So, since it looked great in HD and it played nicely without pause via YouTube…it was displayed in 1080p over a 50 foot screen. The crowd cheered at the end!

6) YouTube and Vimeo offer private viewing of video content. So, if you want to restrict the audience and move away from totally public consumption, the option is there. Yes…you can even restrict to private links so that you have to have that specific link to watch the video content.

7) If you are a large organization, you can create categories to separate video messages according to topics, departments, etc. You can create your own video vault without the hefty price tag! Seriously…YouTube is FREE! Vimeo is also free but offers a premium package for $60/year! YES!!!! Between FREE AND $60/YEAR. Compare that to your monthly spending on your pretty server for marketing video.

Why did I write this…because I was irritated the other day when I tried to open a video message on my iPad and the video was Flash. The video link was from a Twitter and Facebook post of a major organization. I went to my desktop and the video message was intended for a mass audience. Now I realize that iPads and Apple devices are only a finite portion of the user audience. BUT…Apple users are a major audience in mobile video usage. WHY MARGINALIZE YOUR MESSAGE! Just put the dang thing up on YouTube/Vimeo and take advantage of the community.

So if you are  spending tons of money to host video content for marketing purposes…RE-NEGOTIATE! If your marketing message needs to hit a broad audience, take advantage of the technology, SEO, and community of these outlets. BTW…YouTube is one the top search engines…NUFF SAID!

Done with my rant.

social media – an entrepreneurial cultural

If you think back to 2008, well many of us do not want to go back in time. It is October 2008 and in one single week, we witnessed a financial fallout of epic proportions. I remember sitting in the office of a business we just started; our fresh new furniture, big ole office, watching on the 52 inch HDTV as the market crashed. I knew right then and there, we were in trouble.

At that same time, we were in the upswing of one of the biggest online movements we have witnessed since the web was WWW. Yes, the Social Media Revolution. Twitter was growing faster and faster…here is a video in June 2008 of CEO/Founder Jack Dorsey presenting the idea of Twitter and actually beginning his talk by explaining Twitter as an idea.

Now most of you know that Twitter is not the only outlet that has defined this Social Media Revolution…but while Twitter was ramping up, gaining users…Facebook was growing just as fast. YouTube was growing and getting ready to become the second largest search engine behind Google.com. So how did all of this happen, well I have a few theories…and it is this premise that I think has totally shaped how Social Media influences marketing efforts today.

It comes down to jobs. Yes…jobs. It also comes down to community based innovation. As the stock market crashed, millions of American’s lost jobs. Businesses closed their doors. More American’s began using online resources to connect with friends, look for jobs, become entrepreneurs, and connect with opportunities. The job market was bleak so many groups around America began having social events, finding ways to connect and leverage relationships in the search for work. So we began seeing more and more groups created…and Twitter, Facebook, and other Social Media outlets were the connectors of these networks.

These groups were teaching each other how to connect with others, using technology to connect; building new spheres of influence, and generating innovative ideas. These social media connectors were “new” and fresh. The numbers on these networks began to shoot up, more and more people were using these networks and learning the in’s and out’s of how to leverage them.

At the same time, big box businesses were suffering. If you remember…there was a huge scare around Christmas shopping. Were people going to shop for gifts in 2008. I remember we bought most of our gifts that year using American Express points. No one could afford to buy cars, buy houses, buy gifts, etc…so big box companies were struggling with ways to connect with the consumer with their brand, then turn it into dollars. At the same time, Social Outlets were growing in numbers and they became a hot bed for consumers…a place to “hang out.” This is the critical point where those who were looking for new income streams began to realize…they could market how to use these Social Media outlets to big box businesses. Social Media entrepreneurs were being born left and right. They understood the consumer and how the consumer used these Social Outlets.

As the market began to recover, business began to recover with more dollars to spend. These dollars could be spent with people that understood these social communities and the technology that supported these same communities. Big and small business were being formed with the sole purpose of helping organizations use Social Media outlets. We began seeing more people speak at big conferences about these outlets, and small civic groups were entertained by local advocates for this community and technology.

Now as we fast forward to 2011, the market is flooded with individuals, plans, strategies, and businesses that implement social media strategies for companies. The numbers have grown so much with this big shift with more online engagement of social exchange. Now in 2011, there are social outlets that measure other social outlets, measuring the influence of individuals and communities. This velocity has completely shifted the way many organizations market their goods and services.

This Social Media Revolution created a culture, a series of communities, that now command the perception of brands. So why should we care? It is this culture, the Social Media entrepreneurs that are now influencing how many people are doing business. It is shaping the way we broadcast news and information. Everyday, someone else wants to figure out how to measure the success of a community in dollars in cents. But we have to think back…how did all this happen. How the hell did Twitter, Facebook, YouTube begin to shape the way we communicate?

Some of the best and brightest innovation comes from a time of economic recession. I am not a Rhodes Scholar…but I think it because people are forced to find ways to generate revenue to support life, and they have time on their hands to generate these ideas. This time leads to new market ideas that leads to new innovation. This culture was a community of innovation that is shaping the way we communicate and do business today.

What are your thoughts? Am I totally off base?

Can someone explain conversation?


The other night while interacting with folks in the #Blogchat community, one person asked: “Can someone explain conversation?” As I was watching this Twitter dialogue fly by…this update caught my attention. The context to this question, how to build a community of conversations on your blog.

Let’s define a conversation: “Informal interchange of thoughts, information, etc., by spoken words; oral communication between persons; talk; colloquy.” Thanks Dictionary.com.

So how can you have conversations on a blog, you might ask. Well, to have a conversation…there has to be an exchange, a dialogue, two or more people have to engage in social discourse. People have to engage in conversation.

Before there is exchange of dialogue, there has to be the introduction of a thought. Someone must take the time to write something that invokes a conversation. So how do we write to engage in a conversation on a place like a blog? Well, we must write passionately. Some of the most successful blogs that I read are ones that write straight from the heart. They write about topics they are passionate about. These blogs are the written form of their advocacy. They have a reason to write, they have a strong sense of ethics.

These blogs have a system of measurement. When I mean measurement, they do not necessarily mean that they measure the number of clicks or actions. They measure something that quantifies what they write touches another person in a way that engages  a response. Whether it is clicking, referring, sharing, commenting, etc…they have some sense of measurement.

These bloggers/writers know who they are “writing for” or “writing with.” Hmm…what does that mean (writing with)? Well, they have determined in their mind who they are talking “to” or “with.” And as the conversation around this topic increases, the writing moves from a one-way monologue to a dialogue of conversation allowing a community to write with each other.

This blog has focus, a passionate focus. Each blog post has a passionate focus. With this focus to the overall message with each and every post, consistent writing follows. Consistent writing establishes and reinforces the credibility in this ever growing space, allow the search engines to index more words spreading the reach. This focus allows audiences to connect with content, and a relationship begins and grows. This blog is the type of community that mirrors a tight community like Facebook, but has the mass appeal of Twitter.

People engage with the passionate content and respond by returning to read more. Then…maybe they take the time to nudge over the hump and comment. They might even sign-up to subscribe to the blog, then reply via email. People read, react, and engage with the content of a blog. Passionate writing invokes a change, the change to see a point-of-view differently thus wanting to further the conversation. They reach out.

Conversations build and multiply. As more and more people respond and comment to passionate writing, community of conversations build in the comment section. People not only comment about the passionate writing of the author, but also respond to others’ comments below the post. Those who came to connect with the author of the post connect with other commentors…a community is building.

It all started with passionate writing. Someone writing from the heart, consistently. Conversations.

4G LTE Technology: The Good, the Bad, and the Hospitals.

4G LTE Demonstration Let’s just say I was amazed by the Verizon 4G LTE demonstration today at Verizon’s Corporate Office here in Greenville, SC. As I watching them describe and demonstrate the capability…I was thinking, man this is going to change the way we do business.

The 700 Mhz is where the LTE network will exist, the part of the spectrum that will penetrate walls and buildings further than any other part of the spectrum currently in use. Also, the speed of the 4G LTE network is just as fast as my home connection, if not faster than my Charter home network of 8 Mb/s download and 3 Mb/s. Yes…over a wireless connection! The demonstration test using Speedtest.net showed the speed of the 4G LTE card in the laptop was running 14 Mb/s download and 8 Mb/s upload speed…THAT IS FREAKING FAST! Fast enough to do full 720p video calls over the wireless, mobile network…with plenty left over for the video grid demonstration.

My iPhone4 phone with 3G probably is running at roughly 2 Mb/s download speed and 0.3 Mb/s upload speed. So, in the next few months, the Greenville/Spartanburg area will see this new network released with a whole new set of devices tapping into this speed. Many of the major metropolitan areas like Atlanta, Charlotte, LA, New York already have access. 38 markets and 60 airports currently have this network. So what does any of this have to do with healthcare?

First…more connectivity to the grid. Devices will be a part of everyday life in healthcare.  From tablets in emergency departments to ambulances with streaming content/video back and forth, assessment of patient care during transport. This is just one of the areas healthcare will see this change. But here is another, hospital administrators will have a harder time restricting access to the Internet and social platforms.

Yes, many hospitals have been debating whether to “open up the pipes” to employees, allowing them access to Internet sites and social outlets. Two major concerns, bandwidth and employee performance. Well guess what…the hospital’s Internet and  Social Media policy just became harder to write and enforce. LTE technology not only provides speed but also hospital building penetration with the 700 Mhz spot on the spectrum. Yes…it can get through more think walls.

These devices are going to become even more necessary, as a part of the connected network for making diagnoses. Also, who is going to provide these devices to healthcare professionals? Will the hospitals pay part of the bill, splitting it with the professional. Then which part of the content created on the device is owned by the hospital? Then, can the other part can be used for personal reasons?

But let’s put aside the concern over hospital employee productivity. How about the patients and patient families. They will have access to the these devices, speed, network, and the spectrum. Now, they can get online, post pics, maybe do some video over Skype. But with this upgrade to LTE technology…more pictures, videos, and information will be shared inside the walls of the hospital. How about patient privacy? How about the media outlet that dresses up in street clothes, walks into a hospital, and streams video content from inside the walls of the hospital. Now, these are extreme cases to consider…but access to the network and speed will no longer be an issue. And hospitals are not the only major organizations facing this change in accessibility and connectivity.

Yes…LTE technology is going to force us to rethink…A LOT! I know I am going to re-think my current AT&T plan, but it looks like they will be releasing their own LTE network. How about our home Internet providers? Especially given the comparable speeds. And many business will be rethinking their internal policies, what employees can do while at work and what devices they can use.

The velocity of the social space…

I have been really thinking why we as marketers been so focused on a discussion of Social Media(s) return. In 2010, the Social Space experienced an un-precentented number of professionals fighting for the same space…the space for marketing dollars and jobs. That is why we heard so much conversation on placing a numerical value on the media that captures social exchange. The two reasons for the term Social Media ROI…the economy and job lose.

When the economy declined dramatically late 2008 and in 2009, we felt the ripple effects in the world of business in 2010. Especially in the business of banking, real estate, academics, and even healthcare. People were loosing jobs and marketing budgets slashed. Advertising and PR Companies including departments were laying off and closing doors. Many more “entrepreneurs” were forcibly born looking for ways to connect in new ways.

As outlets like Twitter and Facebook gained lots of traction…and professional outlets like LinkedIn carried those resumes; relationships began to become key in finding work. As we built more and more online communities, marketers realized that there was a space to find communities to share brand conversations.

Why bring this up and re-kindle the unwanted conversation around the great American depression that effected so many individuals. Because, I was a part of this movement. As I watched a business I help build crumble, I was seeking to find new business opportunities and new relationships. But what I found was more than the ability to speak credibly about a digital, social space…I found relationships with people. Most of these people I have yet to meet, but these people are ones that I share conversations with daily…online

So why must we measure this space. Why must we measure the conversations that were fostered during a time of new connections. Yes…we can count the “Likes” and the “Followers”. We can look at the clicks to the blogs. We can aggregate the impressions created for brand recognition. But it is really my honest opinion, from a corporate marketing perspective, this space leads to credibility and connections between kindred souls.

I was meeting with a Land Investment Group talking about how they could use the Social Space to benefit their business and their initiatives when raising capital. The social space I believe will not 100% guarantee a deal for someone to invest. But what I do think is that it will help the conversation. Any business deal is about relationships…especially when it comes to investing money. But after the meetings and the “pitch” is done, those individuals interested do what we all do…they do some due-diligence. They go home, open the laptop and do a little searching and investigating. What the social space provides is the SEO to guide the person searching back to content the group has created. They start Google”ing”. This space provides conversations that have taken place around that brand. It provides the reinforcement to a potential decision.

I am not saying that having a “social strategy” is for the birds…what I am saying there is more than just spending time trying to measure conversations wrapped around relationships. The space is getting more and more flooded with these conversations, these blog posts, these “thought leaders”, all fighting for the same space. The velocity of conversations online is ever increasing and just as fast as the technologies that are connecting these conversations.

What this velocity has provided…more and more access to real time information and content. On the day when Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was shot in Tucson, AZ…real time streams of information from common folks were competing with “credible” news sources. Most of all the outlets were reporting that she had past away, while “social” outlets provided platforms of people surrounding the scene to share information. Imagine the burden on news outlets competing for space with fact hungry, online socialites. We have all become news journalists trying to find and share information. We are all competing for that space…we want to be heard.

Now…there are billions of listeners. It all comes back to connecting with like minded individuals.

**Picture is from Hunting Island in 2006 right before the erosion destroyed our beach house.

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