Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Fence sitting and social media

About a year ago, I jumped head first into the world of social media, starting this blog, tweeting, blipping, facebooking and connecting with everybody I've ever met via linkedin.  My thought was that although I wasn't clear whether social media ultimately will prove out as a valuable tool... or whether we'll look back upon it the way we do bell bottoms and mood rings, it was worth a try.

After about six months, I made an assessment by looking at google analytics data and it confirmed that there was enough value in the blog to continue and that the other social media tools helped support it.  Employees here read the posts and people from around the industry check in periodically as well.  On occasion, I receive emails from people looking for health care services, which is the most gratifying and important reason for continuing.

But I do find myself more often than not thinking about that mood ring issue and sitting upon a fence regarding whether this is worth a continued investment of time and energy.  Here at the VNA of Boston, I gain a range of reactions that literally run from "total waste of time" to "I read your blog every day... keep it up."

This morning, I attended a breakfast presentation hosted by our friends at Solomon McCown.  The focus was on crisis management in the age of social media.  The panel included Linda van der Pool as moderator (Boston Business Journal), Perry Hewitt (Harvard University), Brian Leary (McCarter & English), Ashely McCown (Solomon McCown), Jeff Moriarty (The Boston Globe), and John Pepper (Boloco).  In short: their comments pushed me off the fence and toward a fuller embrace... for a while at least.  Here are some of the more interesting points:

Ashley: Johnson & Johnson will be long remembered as a company that managed its crisis (tainted Tylenol) with success.  Immediately after reports surfaced of trouble, employees took to the streets with megaphones warning citizens to return all product.  Boy Scouts were deployed in service projects to churches and other settings to get the word out.  The CEO was highly visible and immediately so.  BP will be long remembered for its failure.  It took seven days before the company tweeted on the issue.  The CEO?  Gone.

John: It's important to be authentic, real.  There's so much pablum out there, you can only stand out if you're interesting.  His goal in social media is to be "a little off center."

Perry: You may be conspicuously absent if you don't engage in social media.  An unhappy customer may post something negative on YouTube, so it's vital to post your counterargument right there next to it.

Ashley: It takes time to build loyalty.  The time to do it is before the crisis.  Toyota had 81,000 Facebook friends at time of the first recall.

John: It's not about the number of Twitter followers.  "It's about the quality of the listening."

Ashley: Asked about the risks of social media, she noted that "there is more risk in not doing it."

Jeff: One risk is that someone can impersonate you or parody your company.  Active and effective countermeasures need to be developed.

Brian: 53% of HR reps check Facebook status to vet candidates.  Watch what you post there.

Now before I forget, let me go tweet about all this...


  1. Great post! I have been making an effort to derive value from my LinkedIn, Twitter, and other activity, wondering whether to continue and you have provided some great encouragement. For those looking for a very practical, checkoff-list-oriented guide I highly recommend Inbound Marketing by Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah. Be on the lookout also for a book soon to be released by David Meerman Scott, Real-Time Marketing and PR, although all of his stuff is excellent. I hope to begin blogging soon. Lastly, check out www.HomeCareCommunity.org, a free social networking site for homecare, hospice, and private duty.

  2. Thanks for the comment, Keith... and for the suggesting reading. I'll check them out.