Social Marketing – an ear for success

Too often we decide that “doing social media” is a great idea so we launch a blog, open a Twitter account and wait for all sorts of great stuff to happen.  It just won’t!  Bruce Grant, Digitas Health’s senior vice president for business strategy.
Grant taps into some of the same ideas wool.labs touched upon in its report on why Avandia has fallen so quickly from the public’s grace: Health care companies and their marketers often fail to listen to what the public is saying.  As we assess and analyze how to best provide the HCD Wellness Resource Network for communities on of our best opportunities to deliver exactly the outcomes communities and their populations want and need is the ability to “listen and hear.”
Digitas Health, according to Grant,  has it down when they say, “We recommend creating a structured program of listening as an ongoing process.  After you’ve been listening for a period of time, and you’ve gotten a sense of the participants and their concerns, there comes a time when there’s an opportunity for you to say something. And in a real life conversation, the most important thing you can say is something that responds to the conversation that’s been going on.” Exactly, that is one of the most common skills in letting the other person know that you are actually listening to them.
Most people are comfortable making decisions based on the recommendation of someone they know or someone dealing with a similar circumstance. This tendency makes social media all the more important for health care marketers, because social networks allow companies to reach consumers in a space where they’re open to having a conversation.  We welcome your inquiries about how HCD will use innovative social networking apps, the “gamification” of listening and new technologies for engagement, validation and administration related to physical activity participation.
We aren’t talking about the traditional “health games” in this conversation.  HCD is implementing the power of connection between people and the influence that has on habit-change around physical activity participation. If you really want to understand how that operates, this study is well worth the read.
However, the opportunity to capitalize on a motivated and targeted audience gathered together –  in places such as WebMD, HealthCentral and other health care information exchange sites — have provided many  unique benefits. Listening to what people say to each other can begin there.  In the real world of physical activity participation HCD starts from the premise that social media is about people getting what they need from one other rather than from the “experts” who work so hard to deliver what we think they need and want.
The challenge is how do social marketers relate to this? How do they exist in a world where there’s a big conversation that’s been going on before they arrived on the scene? How do they exist where the level of trust that people participating in the conversation have for each other, is higher than the level of trust they have for any marketer seeking to enter the conversation?  Before we are social marketers, at HCD we are listeners – and that’s a strong place to begin.
Look for our next post on this topic when we discuss: The Graying of Badges, Mashups and LevelUps
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