I was interviewed at the recent CONVERGE conference in Philadelphia, PA by Michael Spitz, SVP/Managing Director at Zemoga, and man-on-the-street for the video interview channel Pixels and Pills. Spitz asked me about the role of the consultant in social media marketing, the right … Continue reading
If you’ve ever visited Liz Strauss’s website, you’ll recognize the title of this post as the tagline to her site. They appear across the top, two words, written in lower case letters, punctuated with a period at the end to connote a foregone conclusion, and that – really – nothing more needs to be said. I’ve talked a lot about the elegance inherent in simplicity lately, and this two-word call-to-action embodies that notion, as does the woman who’s placed them as the tagline to her website.
It’s been a very insular 8-10 weeks for me, ironically at a time that I should be anything but insular and introverted – this is a time for me to build my business, connect with others, convert contacts into clients, make magic, and fuel my entrepreneurial bonfire. It’s true – as timing goes my now insistent internalization is not well scheduled. So, I’ve decided to schedule externalization in ways I’ve not had to before – to visit the blogs of others, steep myself in knowledge, ideas, and facts that are outside of myself, and reach out to those with whom I need to connect in order to turn notions into business practice – and you know continue to support my kids. That said, it should be of little surprise that one of the first stops I made on my journey was Liz’s website, and there I read her latest post What’s Your Most Irresistible True Story? replete with this truly irresistible photo.
In this post Liz tells us her most irresistible true story. One of the things I found remarkable about this story is that it’s not about her. Instead, Liz has chosen to convey a story that is irresistible to her, and undoubtedly to many of us who have read and/or heard her tell it, as a means of connecting us to a larger notion of becoming a part of something irresistible. That got me to thinking – this call-to-action to be irresistible isn’t about telling others how irresistible you are, or even about showing them. It’s about conveying something to others – a moment in time, a narrative, a story – that lets your audience know that you understand irresistibility, you can recognize it, reframe it, and relate it via your own lens and perspective…and that you can, in turn, potentially recognize the irresistibility within them. When we can relate to the stories of others, we can become a part of that story – and in turn we can become part of something outside of ourselves – a business, a family, a movement, or even irresistible.
So, heed Liz’s call. Go and be irresistible. Tell your most irresistible story. Become a part of someone else’s irresistibility. Relate, externalize and connect – we’re all better off for making connections than not making them. And, Liz, if I’ve totally screwed up your notion…well I trust you’ll tell me – in a way that I may or may not like, but will find irresistible. It’s just who you are.
It’s easy to pick on big pharma. For good or bad, the industry continues to appear aloof and isolationist, and many are happy to wag a finger and declare big pharma solely a revenue-generating machine, sacrificing patient care and access to medicines for the almighty dollar. I happen to disagree with (most of) that sentiment. Having worked alongside diligent colleagues inside of big pharma for a number of years, I know there is an urge to improve patient lives, improve access to medicines, and make life-altering and life-saving drug therapies. It is from this perspective that I say, earnestly, the pharmaceutical industry is fucking up when it comes to social business…big time.
While many of us have led the charge to bring pharma into the age of social media marketing, pioneers like John Pugh, Alex Butler, Marc Monseau, Ray Kerins, and Shwen Gwee have broken barriers in the use of social media within the pharmaceutical industry, and there have been breakthroughs in the use of social media to advance the industry (@PhRMA, pharmaforum) and improve engagement with patients (Roche Diabetes Blogger summits), it’s not enough. Over the last several years, many of us have had the conversation about how, if, and why pharmaceutical companies should, or should not, use social media. Honestly, it’s time to change the conversation and have a new one, because the old one is stagnant, and – frankly – I don’t care about the latest Pharma Facebook page that’s been launched or taken down, or about the number of Tweets sent by pharma Twitter handles in the last hour/day/week. I care about better patient outcomes, access to medicines, empowering both patients and HCPs in the treatment and prevention of illness, and accurate information about therapies on the market – and about using social media to facilitate and forge the partnerships necessary to enable this new reality. So, to pharmaceutical companies I say this: some of you are “doing” social, but you’re not “being” social, and here’s why - you’ve not done enough to alter your DNA so you can (begin to) function as a social business.
What is a Social Business Anyway?
The term social business was originally defined by Nobel Laureate Professor Muhammed Yunus as a non-loss, non-dividend company designed to address a social objective within the highly regulated marketplace of today [that should] seek to generate a modest profit [which] will be used to expand the company’s reach, improve the product or service or in other ways to subsidise the social mission*. This definition has morphed in the last few year into a fiery buzzword, its meaning has become mutable to suit the speaker and conversation. Of these mutable definitions, one of the most apt I’ve seen comes from Peter Kim who, along with David Armano and Jevon MacDonald wrote about Social Business Design, saying:
Social business draws on trends in technology, work, and society. Companies should care about social business because they can improve business outcomes (i.e., increase revenue or decrease costs). The core principles touch on all areas of a business, whether for business-to-customer engagement, employee-to-employee collaboration, or supply chain optimization. Making social business work requires focus on a company’s culture, connections, content exchanges, and measurement and analytics.
This is a brilliant piece of writing. It not only tells us what a social business is, but takes the time to inform us why we should care and how to make it work – in reality it’s a social business blueprint in the purest form.
Don’t regulations stop Big Pharma from adopting a social business model?
In a word, no. More specifically, they don’t have to. Don’t take my word for it – former FDA Associate Commissioner Peter Pitts has been vocal about the pitfalls, and opportunity, for Big Pharma when it comes to social media use in his battle cry Pharma, Guide Thyself. And FDA regulations, or the lack thereof, haven’t stopped companies like Boehringer Ingelheim or Sanofi US, companies who continue to roll out social programs as a matter of course and are beginning to evolve into a business with social DNA. So if regulations are a red herring, what is standing in the way?
Rigid, unchanging culture, a blinding focus on a narrow definition of ROI. A continual push on profit as THE leading indicator for pharma marketing business decisions instead of making the pivot to seeing profit as AN indicator, along with acknowledging the business benefit of building relationships in today’s marketplace – the return on relationship (#RonR), as Ted Rubin would wisely counsel us – these are all factors that continue to block major pharmaceutical companies from embracing a social business model.
If relationship building and #RonR still seems too squishy to be a “real” measure of business success, and therefore not something big pharma needs to focus on to be a social business, Harvard Business Review disagrees by the way, and you can read why in recent posts like Tweet Me, Friend Me, Make Me Buy and The View from the Field, I would point you instead – my doubting friend – to the trend the pharma industry is missing out on: harnessing big data. Big data, access to it, and adaptability, scalability, and usability of it by patients, payers and HCPs is THE future of healthcare social media – not Facebook, Twitter or any of the other current platforms out there. End of. We need to create new models for a new hybrid of business; just as our healthcare system needs a major overhaul if it’s to support a growing and changing populous, the healthcare business model needs to change, grow and morph into something consumers, payers and PATIENTS can use to gain access to the medicines they need for proper care. And, speaking of Big Data, if there was ever a time to join Todd Park, Aman Bhandari, Aetna, Kaiser Permanente, Health 2.0, and others in the Big Data Revolution it would be now, when VCs are looking to hackathons in record numbers for innovative ideas, outside-of-the-box thinking, and startups are stretching the limits of what’s possible in a resource-constrained economy (more about the next Big Data Hackathon here: Hackathon for the Human Brain and about the groundbreaking SXSW 2012 Healthcare Hackathon).
Yet there is no groundbreaking news of a major pharmaceutical company leading a charge to be present at, promote or host a hackathon in any way. No one loudly promoting more patient engagement. There are no new faces at the table, but the same heroes pushing against a tired agenda and caught in a loop of off-label and adverse event conversations, debating ownership, legalese, and phantom compliance pitfall scenarios.
So, pharma where art thou? Who will lead your revolution? Your brand managers? Your CEOs? Who will step up. Even your agencies and thought leaders are failing you, becoming insular bobble heads delivering not on what you need but on what you ask. We must break from the norm, break out of our self-imposed silos and look outside of our expertise and our industry for the groundbreaking ideas that will lead us beyond a self-limiting focus on the current platforms and fear of regulations we can work within to optimize results. It can be done, because it has been done. The time for revolution is here. Who will join me in taking the first step? Who will stand beside me to lead the charge?
Revolutionaries to follow: I’m continually inspired by friends and colleagues who are pushing the bounds of the norm to disrupt the status quo.
- Regina Holliday: Regina recently announced the first Partnership with Patients Summit, September 21-23, 2012. Regina is a tireless advocate, artist, voice…revolutionary. For many of us we can only stand in awe and follow. Follow Regina’s tireless journey on her blog.
- Steve Woodruff: In his Impactiviti Blog, Steve recently called for some real-world forward thinking from our pharmaceutical industry friends as he incited drug companies to wake up to the mobile revolution with his post The (Inter)face of Healthcare.
- Andrew Spong: the definition of disrupter, Andrew contributes to the conversation with creation on his site www.stwem.com, see An Open Letter to Pharma: Please Employ a Wikipedian, and curation via his Scoop.it page. Want to know where pharma is going wrong? Ask Andrew. Then conference call me in and the two of us can talk to you about how we can fix it.
Disclaimer: Okay, I cannot for the life of me get the video to embed. The link to the presentation is below.
In one night, in one hour of one night, a tweet changed my life for the better. It was Sunday, April 1, 2012 when, after having
wrestled, tied down, lovingly settled the kids in bed, I turned up late for #blogchat…and I lurked. Not one to lurk quietly for long (I’m a bad lurker) I tweeted this
Now, little did I know that Josepf Haslam (@josepf) was an über connector extraordinaire, intelligent beyond measure, and funny as hell – I would learn all that in short order during the next hour(ish) of great conversation and banter. At this moment, he was someone who took the time to reach out and draw me in from the sidelines; he saw me looking for that ‘jumping in point’ of entry we all need when joining a conversation in progress, and generously offered one up to me.
That gesture of a single tweet was empowering, and led to a great conversation with a dynamic community of people. It would have been enough if our exchange had ended there, but it didn’t. An hour of conversation morphed into an introduction to the incomparable Mila Araujo (@milaspage), and an invitation to speak at the amazing #140MTL on May 15, the 140 conference Mila and Josepf were organizing in Montreal. They’d put together a phenomenal lineup of speakers, and I was thrilled to be asked to join them – you can bet I said yes!
Josepf didn’t stop there. In true über connector form, he later introduced me to Ric Dragon (@RicDragon), Ted Curtin (@TedCurtin), Sam Fiorella (@SamFiorella), Deb Weinstein (@DebWeinstein), Stan Phelps (@9INCHmarketing)…are you seeing a pattern here? Living inside the insular, vibrant but insular, digital health bubble for so long, I’d missed out on meeting these amazingly smart and talented superstars. Until now. All from one tweet.
Eventually, that one tweet led to this…
That’s the power of a single tweet. In just over a month, I’d connected with an outstanding group of people – new friends, mentors and contacts – and was given an opportunity to share my expertise speaking at an amazing event. And #140MTL was uplifting and inspiring. Don’t take my word for it. Check out the videos of the presentations here.
Before I go, for those of you new to it, #blogchat is a weekly tweet chat hosted by @MackCollier. It takes place every Sunday night at 8pm CT and tackles a range of topics. Come by and check it out. Just don’t lurk – at least not for too long. After all, look what can happen if you jump in!
We’re just over a week away from the first international #140Conf in beautiful Montreal. Hmmmm, that sounds too travel agent-y. Let me try again. Are you coming to the #140Conf in Montreal on May 15? You need to attend! Nope. Not working either. Don’t be an asshat, join us in Montreal for the 140Conf State of Now. It says something about me that the last line is my favorite.
Look, y’all there’s an amazing conference happening in Montreal on May 15, and it’s called the #140Conf: Exploring the State of Now. Don’t take my word for it, check out this list of amazing speakers. I mean, really. In one day you’ll hear words of wisdom and practical advice on how to successfully use social media for your business from Sam Fiorella (@SamFiorella), Mila Araujo (@Milaspage), Josepf Haslam (@Josepf ), JC Little (@LittleAnimation), Ric Dragon (@RicDragon), and many others. More than 30 presenters in all, there to give you proven, successful social media strategies.
Conference organizer Mila Araujo of Ogilvy & Ogilvy has put together a stellar lineup of presenters, covering topics ranging from branding and marketing, to customer service, social business strategy, education, leadership, gameification/location marketing, and more. Register now and join us on May 15 for an eye-opening event unlike any other.
Yes, I’ll be there too. I’m honored to be presenting alongside such business rock stars, and will be talking about “Online Communities: Rule #1 Don’t be an Asshat.” Where else can you see a presentation that delivers value to your business with the word asshat in the title?
Those of you who know me know that I have definite opinions, and I’m not afraid to voice them. While some of you have called me diplomatic (cue laughter from others), in the end I will express my opinions in no uncertain terms.
These very strong opinions often translate into passion about my work, and after a career of learning at the feet of numerous smart people, I’ve decided to hang my own shingle and turn my strong opinions, and proven successes, into a business model – one that creates connections which propel people to action – and contains these core elements:
Creativity: sometimes there is no straight, clear path to reach our goals and objectives; sometimes we need to make our own way. Tell me where you want to go, how you will measure success, what your objectives are and I’ll show you how to get there. Together we’ll create a roadmap to success – even if the path isn’t originally obvious or clear.
Integrity: I believe one of the biggest keys to success is doing the right things for the right reasons. If delivering patient care is a core tenet of your business, then it follows that your business strategies, online and offline, will – in one way or another – link back to that core tenet. In other words, if you’re in business to serve patients, your online strategy won’t involve direct sales marketing tactics, but it will involve creating an online community that serves patient needs to the best of your ability.
Futurescaping: okay this is a buzzword, and I despise buzzwords, but it’s a descriptor I believe in. Your business model, your strategies, your presence is built on the needs of the past to deliver results in the present. Where do you need to be in the future? How can you develop and devise an online program that gets you where you need to be? If you’re in a regulated industry you may feel like you’re playing catch up online, trying to get your message out there to the consumers searching for it. My response is stop looking in the past, or to the current campaigns of your competitors, as a means to plan where you need to be. What are your goals? What is your tolerance for risk? How will you measure success? Answer these 3 questions and I’ll show you how to get where you want to go in ways you never dreamed possible.
I’m creating a path to the future…are you ready to come along?
NOTE: it’s been a month since SXSWi happened. I almost didn’t publish this post. It felt “too late” – and then I thought about it. Is one month later really too late? In the world we live in it feels like it is, but then I also believe the reflection, time to digest and think, and to form opinions I still believe in, gave me time to write a better post. So, I clicked on “publish” and sent it through the interwebs. You may not agree with the timing. This may feel like old news to you – or you may just think it’s a bad post. Again, you might love it. Let me know in the comments. Either way, I’m glad I took some time to think. And I’m looking forward to sharing with you my impressions of the content presented at SXSW.
“How was South by Southwest?! Who did you SEE? Was it crazy? I was following it on Twitter and it looked cray-zee. There were so many parties!”
For many of us who make the pilgrimage to Austin, these are the questions we’re met with when we get back. Our friends, colleagues, and family members (under the age of 30) want to know all about the celebrities, the swag and the parties. I mean, SXSW is all parties, isn’t it? Just look at the media coverage, read the tweets – it’s all bar check-ins and mechanical bulls (ahem). There’s a SXSW stereotype – people who’ve never been buy into the media-hype off all film previews, girls gone wild antics all the time, and those who’ve gone seem to only remember the media-hype, girls gone wild antics – even long after the photographs have been destroyed and social media timelines sanitized.
Here’s the thing: on any given hour, during most days of SXSWi 2012, there were 60+/- sessions happening simultaneously – SIXTY. That is a lot of content. And, guess what – some of it was frigging amazing. Yes, there was content presented at SXSW. People keynoted, sat for “fireside chats” (sans fire, cause *that* would be dangerous. seriously), and paneled; they expounded, preached, pontificated, and exchanged philosophies – you get the idea. Yet, SXSW has gone from revered to reviled, with tips on how to block those annoying SXSW tweets from your Twitter feed, the content and purpose lost in a haze of beer-fueled tweets and legions of Foursquare updates.
My mom always taught us, it’s not what you say but how you say it. Typing that out loud for the first time, I’m not sure I completely agree. Yeah, okay, I get the point – how one delivers a message is as important as the content of the message – shouting sentiments of peace to a pacifist is not likely to go over well. I like to think that what is said, the content, matters as well though. Of course it does. And some amazing content was delivered at SXSWi:
- Tim O’Reilly’s fireside chat (sans fire), with Andrew Mcafee (MIT): in the fastest 60 minutes of the week, “human rolodex” O’Reilly pontificated on the parallels to the downfall of banking to the technology, maintaining value in society, the need for more people who want to make a difference, and – ultimately – creating more value than you capture. Wow.
“Banking went from a value creating industry to a value destroying industry…and this fits a pattern I’ve seen in technology. To maintain success you need to create more value than you capture, or you will have ultimate ecosystem failure.”
- Tim O’Reilly
- Billy Corgan: the No More (Music) Business as Usual interview w/Brian Solis. first of all, if you’ve ever seen Corgan live, you know he’s a huge emmer effer. Gargantuan. His size was further accentuated by the diminutive (it’s the best adjective I’ve got) Solis. And he had something to say. In the introduction, Solis set the stage by saying “What’s going on is not about age or technology. It’s about people. We make information come to us.” And with that, Corgan strode onto the stage and thus began an oration from one of the most outspoken artists of our time. Corgan’s battle cry was support of the artist, decision making of the public enabled by fixing the broken record label system and the end of artistic prostitution. Heresy that could have easily been spoken in a Euripidean drama were we in ancient Greece and not air-conditioned Austin. Acknowledging that “the artist has the technology and must create his own models” [outside of the record label and YouTube], Corgan also called on fans to step up:
“We have to grow with artists on their path – it’s going to be bloody. Fans have to be more sophisticated.”- Billy Corgan
And you know what? I can’t argue with him. He’s fighting for a system. ”Today’s artists have a vision. They need a system to plug into. What’s the system today? Upload a video to YouTube and compete with a fucking cat playing a piano? Get 1,000,000 views and not get paid for them? The music industry used to be about F-you. Now it’s a different kind of F-you with social media.” Heretic. And eye-opening. And not unlike the battle cry of patients, doctors and payors for a healthcare system. Be clear on this, people – patients, doctors, Corgan – aren’t asking for a system that works, they’re asking for a system. Period. (What? You didn’t think I’d pass up a chance to make a #healthcare reference did you?).
At one point Corgan stated “I don’t hear anyone saying F-you Corgan. I must be saying something right.” The speaker took one question. The guy opened with “F-you Corgan!” He was invited onstage to voice his opinion, which he did. Democratic discourse – only in Austin, and once upon a time in Ancient Greece.
“F-you Corgan!” guy gets his due. (photo credit: gpeterkin)
There was more. Gore and Parker waxed about the role of social media in politics. Rainn Wilson gave us a peek inside his head (brainstem). Patients and big pharma joined together on the Friending Pharma panel to discuss advancing the healthcare conversation-together. Pinterest’s founder explained the app (sorta – he more explained himself but that’s a different conversation). Baratunde Thurston used humor to make us think about using social media as a means to read the world.
Content. Glorious content – thought leaders, jokesters, politicians, musicians. All took questions from the crowd. Each stopped to pose for photos in the corridors. A democratic exchange of information. That is the SXSWi experience that drove me to navigate more than 10 campuses and 60 sessions/hour/day to experience the madness, mayhem and, yes, rowdy, drunken, late-night antics on mechanical bulls at SXSW.
Epilogue: Food For Thought
When it comes to SXSW, it seems to come down to how much is said. In other words, too much volume can mask a good thing, and highlight the bad.
I went to our old friends at Simply Measured to get the skinny on Tweet volume from SXSW 2012 – and boy was there a lot of it, as you can see from the graphs below.
It’s not just the volume, it’s the content that we choose to share. Check out this über comprehensive infographic from TNW - it goes in depth on everything, except content, and it’s built from our tweets.
In the end, what we discuss grabs the spotlight. In my opinion, it’s down to those of us who present, attend, and derive benefit from SXSW to be wiser about the content we share and how we discuss the experience. I hope this is a first step in that direction. Thank you so much for reading.