Putting Social Media to Good Use

Today I’m honored to be presenting to a group of folks working (mainly) in local government communications, and I’m doing it in St. Paul, Minnesota, for the Minnesota Association of Government Communicators‘ fall conference. It’s a bit of a “back to the future” day for me, because I worked in government in St. Paul for about six years: partly at the Minnesota capitol, and partly as an assistant to a Ramsey County Commissioner. This gives me a lot in common with these folks, because I’ve been in their shoes (although it was in the pre-Web days.) So I’m looking forward to a great discussion.

If you want to join the discussion, we will be using the #magc hashtag.

Public Affairs Council State-Local Government Relations Seminar

I’m doing a presentation this afternoon in Alexandria, Virginia at the Public Affairs Council State and Local Government Relations seminar.

I’ve embedded the slides below (sans video), so the participants don’t need to try to take notes on 110 slides flying by them at 33 seconds each.

I welcome any questions or comments here or on Twitter. You may tweet me using my @LeeAase username, or simply use the #PAC09 hashtag.

I hope this helps public affairs professionals get a glimpse of how they can use social media to involve members of their organizations.

Is all health care local?

This presentation from John Norris caught my eye on Twitter because of how he promoted it through a tweet:

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Give his presentation a review and then I’ll share some thoughts that he stirred in me (since I work for @mayoclinic, and particularly with our Twitter account.)

I think this slideshow has a ton of useful ideas for a hospital interested in using Twitter or similar tools effectively. Phil Baumann’s 140 Healthcare Uses for Twitter is another good read.

When John says “All healthcare is local” that’s true…except when it’s not, just as Tip O’Neill’s “All politics is local” was occasionally trumped by national issues.

I would instead say “All healthcare is personal.”

And social media platforms are, above all, personal.

Most of the healthcare people get is local. But sometimes they look outside of their local for specialized expertise. And part of the power of social media is that it makes that expertise available to a community that can be globally dispersed.

But as John points out, the social tools (including Twitter) can be extremely helpful for a local community, too. Just because a Twitter community can be global doesn’t mean it has to be, or that the only worthwhile Twitter efforts are those with thousands of followers.

Ed Bennett’s list of the hospitals with most Twitter followers was interesting and fun, but as he says, you shouldn’t read too much into it. A hospital with a few hundred followers could be providing a great service and interacting with that local community.

The point is to be of service to the community, whether it’s geographical or interest-based. If the information you provide is useful, and if you can interact with that community, the activity can be valuable both to you and to the people you serve.

For example, people might want to follow and interact with @mayoclinic AND their local hospital (e.g. @InnovisHealth in Fargo, ND), and maybe a service like John is providing in Corvallis, Oregon called @CorvallisHealth. They would be likely looking for different information from each source, and to have different conversations with each.

Twitter lets users (including each hospital/corporate user) decide on suitable goals that meet their objectives. As John suggests, don’t let someone else’s Twitter strategy have too much influence on you. Look at what Twitter can do, and what you can do with Twitter, and decide what makes sense for you.

Then go for it, without worrying about “competition.”

I’m looking forward to learning about lots of other innovative uses of Twitter at the Health Care Social Media Summit Mayo is hosting in October in Scottsdale, Ariz,, co-sponsored by Ragan Communications.

If you’re using Twitter in an interesting or different way, I’d love to hear about it and help spread the word about it. By sharing what you’re doing, you may spark ideas in others. Not that they would necessarily do the same thing exactly, but it may help them see connections they could make in their communities.

And since most health care is local, you can just feel good if someone in another community can gain from what you’ve learned.