Marketing in the Age of Facebook

I love traveling across the state of Wisconsin visiting the hospitals that I serve. But, I also appreciate those days when I get back to my desk. I tend to get a lot of deliverables completed on those days.

I try to make my self as accessible to our IT team. You may have seen that I regularly post my phone number on Twitter.  When I am at my desk I often answer my phone. So, on those days when I am at my desk, I will inevitably pick up a couple of cold calls in a day.  I cannot think of a less effective way to market.  The whole process is inefficient and leaves me completely closed to the idea of doing business with the caller even before I know what they are selling. I especially hate the obligatory chit-chat at the beginning of the call (I am super. Yes it is cold in Wisconsin…).twitter

Email campaigns are nearly as bad.  Come on folks, that is so 2005.

In the 21st century you get 140 characters to pique my interest. That is how much time I have and that is the length of my attention span.

I am seeing more and more IT companies joining the social network sites, particularly twitter. Today alone I received follows from Perot Systems Healthcare, ThotWave HealthCare, and NextGen Healthcare.

I applaud their use of social networks, this is a much more efficient channel for me to receive messages.  Their imbedded in the stream that I am already reading and the messages are short.  However, I believe these messages would be much better if the twitterers were actual people that work there, not a corporate moniker.

Whenever someone follows me on twitter, I take a look at their profile.  If they don’t seem to be contributing anything interesting to me then I am unlikely to follow them.  If they are talking about topics I care about (technology, healthcare, running, good restaurants in Wisconsin) then they become part of my online community.  If they are only marketing and selling, or talking about what they ate for breakfast, then I am not interested in following them.  If I see stock phtography on the profile page and more news releases than genuinely interesting content I turn and run.

People are more interested in marketing message when you first establish a relationship based on mutual interest.  Oh, by the way, did you know that St. Elizabeth Hospital in Appleton is the first in the area to offer Barrx (pronounced BAR-x)? It is totally star wars.  It targets pre-cancerous Barrett’s esophagus condition, a complication of chronic GERD.  See what I did there?

What is really intersting to me now is how we can unleash 10,000 Ministry employees and 4,000 Affinity employees to use their social networks to talk about the work that they and their co-workers do.   There are alread 700 such folks on Facebook.  If they can help others in our communities (geographic) connect their healthcare needs with our services, without an advertisement, that would be awesome.  Hmmm.

Managing The Project Pipeline

Annually I work with Ministry’s IT Customer Advisory Board (our IT Steering committee) to identify the IT projects for the coming year.  Like all capital budgeting processes, we have a IT capital target that is based upon a number of factors like recent financial performance and competing capital projects (usually new imaging equipment and construction projects).

At Ministry we really have two targets, money and time.  As I have posted Metal pipespreviously, we estimate how much time each IT employee has to work on projects (as opposed to support).  We add all of that time to determine the total project time for the year.  I am simplifying things, but you get the idea.

If we don’t spend as much capital as we had planned then we can save that money to spend in the future.  However, time is different.  Every hour that we had reserved for projects is lost forever if we are not using it that way.

We have such a great demand for IT projects, it is important to make sure we do not let that time go unused.  In past years we approved projects, then waited for those championing the project to bring them forward.  The problem with that approach is that our managers are so busy they tend to wait until the latter half of the year to get things going.  In the mean time that time set aside for projects is going unused.

This year we are encouraging our business leaders to getting things moving sooner and telling them the resources are available now.  This should better use scarce IT time and reduce the number of projects that carry-over into the next year (which ultimately reduces our capacity for a given year).

I will let you know how that works.