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.

5 thoughts on “Marketing in the Age of Facebook

  1. I really identify with this concept of mission integrity – who we really are as human beings in this world IS the best marketing. Trading genuine human connection for PR/SPIN/talking points/ may seem more efficient but falls short of building community. I am convinced that the only desirable workplace is one with real community. I know I want to make health care decisions based on community and trust – who will reach out to me? It’s great to improve the quality of your programs and offerings but by building community it is possible to tap in to the most amazing power -the power of spontaneous innovation and improvement. When folks feel individually valued, individually secure and have a common mission..lookout competition for thy will be crushed!

    great thoughts (as usual Will)! This post made my morning.

    It’s cold in Wisconsin?

  2. Excellent advice! Will- gee- I’d love candid input like that on a regular basis….like taking vitamins and a flu shot all in one.

    Thank you!

  3. You will get bored of twitter soon.

    You will also get bored of facebook and similar.

    Any solicitacion is annoying.

    Companies should expose themselves in a searchable way.

    This is what made Google founders extremely rich. People click their way to what they want.

    I only do one announcement when I start something and that is it.


  4. I think that the vast majority of transnational corporations as it were ‘jump on the bandwagon’ of social networking websites because they know that the potential is there for the company to gain a great deal of exposure. I would say that these companies are very opportunistic. It’s a shame that they’re not more ‘moralistic’ and ‘ethical’, but hey, that’s life!

  5. As a marketer who is no stranger to the outbound marketing services you mentioned, I appreciate your feedback.

    I absolutely think you are correct. Direct marketing like direct mail, telemarketing, email are growing increasingly less effective. We are becoming increasingly adept and blocking that clutter, and so when one get’s through our first response is loathing and annoyance.

    That said, at a B2B level (particularly at an executive level like yourself), I think you will continue to see these tactics for a bit longer. Here’s why –

    1) They are measurable. Businesses can trace that activity directly to the top line
    2) While I agree Twitter is a great way to share messages (assuming they’re meaningful and not self-promoting spam), how many senior executives such are actually members of these communities? I don’t have formal research, but my gut tells me you are the enlightened minority. Bottom line Twitter is great for consumer product marketers but in some ways its effectiveness remains to be seen on a B2B level.

    Overall I agree with an earlier post on search being the primary “new” media tool for B2B marketers right now. Social media will have to become more segmented before b2b marketers really adopt this as a tactic. That said even Google is becoming incredibly cluttered, and I would not be surprised to see niche search communities really gain momentum in the coming years.

    Thanks again for your candid feedback. This is the sort of information that allows me to be better at what I do. I often blog on the topic of marketing and would welcome your thoughts (in fact I just discussed social media in b2b marketing yesterday).

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