Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Social Science

How Social Media Can Help BioScience Industry Better Communicate

There is a growing trend among the bioscience community and it’s happening online! If you search on twitter for #bioscience, #pharma, #genomics you will see streams of conversations and content surrounding these topics. More researchers and science communicators are beginning to embrace social media marketing for collaboration and business development.

Chris Gunter, Director of Research Affairs of Hudson Alpha Institute in Huntsville, Ala and
@girlscientist on twitter, gives us some insight into why the bioscience and tech community is creating more chatteronline and how these companies can utilize social media effectively.

Q. What trends have you seen emerge regarding social media and the biotech industry?

A. Twitter in particular has gone from being regarded as a time sink to a recognized way for companies (or nonprofits, in our case) to get out news and to reach interested people, anywhere. I also see companies use it to keep up with competitors, and to interact with meeting attendees and direct traffic to their booths.

Q. Why do you think scientists have become more interested in social media?

A. There’s definitely a generational effect: scientists from the generation above me often still regard it as a waste of time. Scientists in my generation are mixed, although more and more are signing up. And younger scientists recognize the potential for setting up collaborations and exchanging information. This is a revolutionary time in science — the way we communicate our results and experimental methods to each other will continue to be transformed. No one reads the print copy of journals anymore. And in the future, journals may be just placeholders for interactive, open data sites in different subjects. Science is inherently a social activity, believe it or not, and social media is the latest way to do our work.

Q. How have you used social media personally to connect with industry experts and build your personal brand?

A.There are two answers — I manage the twitter account for my employer, @HudsonAlpha, and then have my own, @girlscientist. For my own brand, I really started on twitter because I wanted to keep up with friends all over the world, whom I had met in my previous job. Then it turned into a way to keep up with the latest papers and news, and then it grew into a springboard for shared projects and academic collaborations. I couldn’t believe the day I crossed over 5000 followers. That’s amazing! We also have account for our upcoming conference, @immunogenomics. This is an area we are trying to build as it’s an emerging field. The account is becoming a meeting place for people in widely different fields. It’s great to watch.

Q. What are some of your favorite people to follow on twitter?

A. The easiest answer: a lot of my friends just got listed as the “Top N Accounts (Academic) to Follow For Genomics” -- unwieldy name, but great list (full disclosure: including me!). I also like following people who are just funny: @pattonoswalt, @pourmecoffee, my friend @NoahWG, @ReformedBroker if you’re interested in investing, and lately @SarcasticRover for another take from Mars. Through Twitter, I also discovered a vibrant science communication community, and attended their annual meeting, ScienceOnline. These are some of the nicest and most interesting people I’ve ever met, and they’re working to transform the public’s understanding of cutting-edge research.

Q. What are some practical tips you would offer to scientists, researchers and other biotech experts who want to use social media for business building?

A.Decide if you want your account to be more social, or purely business, and follow a group of people acordingly. That said, my account is a little of each at this point. It is full of pointers to interesting genomics papers I am reading. However, I keep twitter and Facebook separate, and send most of my personal updates to Facebook instead. Don’t use your account purely to advertise your products, because that will limit your interest. Let some of your personality show, but make sure you keep the tweets professional.

Q. What are some of your favorite subjects to talk about on tools like Twitter?

A. At heart, I’ll always be a geek for DNA, so of course that’s my favorite subject to talk about. One of the biggest benefits for me was unexpected: my account shows younger scientists, and people who are just interested in science, a lot about the day to day workings of science. It’s not all either big breakthroughs or endless lab drudgery.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Enterprise Trend Report: Social Media in HealthCare Marketing

Enterprise Trend Report 

Social Media in HealthCare Marketing 

More than ever, it’s essential for hospitals and health providers to rethink their healthcare marketing mix to include social media. 

The proof is in the numbers: 34% of consumers use social media to search for health information, according to research data from How America Searches: Health and Wellness. 

While it’s easy to identify demand, many healthcare marketers are not exactly sure how they might tap into the social web to reach business goals. To help understand the possible applications, consider these examples of how the social web can work for hospitals and others in the healthcare industry: 

Reach Mainstream Media 

70% of journalists now use social networks to assist reporting, compared to 41% the year before, according to a Middleberg Communications survey reported by PRWeek. With numbers that high, it only makes sense for healthcare marketers to leverage social media channels in order to achieve coverage by both mainstream media and industry publications. 

As part of healthcare marketing efforts, organizations can use social media channels – including blogs, forums and microblogs – to share success stories from out-of-the-ordinary operations or treatments, medical research or other significant achievements. For example, when Aurora Health Care tweeted a knee operation in April, it received significant media attention, both from mainstream media and industry publications including Good Morning America, the local Milwaukee public radio network and Hospital Management Magazine. 

Communicate in Times of Crisis 

When disaster strikes hospitals and healthcare providers are at the center of it all. Healthcare providers can leverage social media networks to provide real-time updates both for those directly affected by the crisis and those watching from afar. 

During the November Fort Hood shooting attack, Steven Widman of Scott & White Healthcare – one of the hospitals that treated Fort Hood victims, used Twitter to provide up-to-the-minute news. 

Through Twitter, Widman provided updates on emergency room access and hospital operation status, re-tweeted news from Red Cross and communicated with reporters.  

Twitter followers increased 78% in just three days. 

Scott & White Healthcare was listed on the front page of Twitter as a “trending topic” The hospital’s YouTube channel was ranked the 79th most viewed non-profit channel during the entire week surrounding the crisis.
Provide Accurate Information to Patients 

73% of patients search for medical information online before or after doctors visits, according to HealthCare New Media Conference. With the magnitude of health information available on the web – both accurate and inaccurate – it’s likely that these patients can easily be misinformed. 

By integrating social media into the healthcare marketing mix, organizations can share accurate, timely information regarding symptoms, diseases, medications, treatments and more. Social sites like Inspire are providing a forum for patients to share their health problems and questions about treatments with other patients, as well as qualified medical personnel. 

Saturday, April 7, 2012

B2B Crisis Management: Effectively Communicating in the High-Tech World

C-level executives and managers from B2B companies will ask me about their ROI on social marketing and how they can use social media as part of their overall marketing and sales strategy. The truth is social media should be less about consumer interaction for these companies and more about utilizing for internal communication, especially during a crisis situation. For example, a recent Mashable article emphasized the adoption of Google+ as enterprise business software versus just a social network. The article identified project collaboration opportunities in certain features such as Circles as well as hosting division meetings in features like Hangouts. While the idea of using a public social networking forum to conduct business matters may seem absurd to some people, companies should take into account a couple of factors. First, employees are prone to spending more time on social networking sites versus email or phone calls. Employees are fairly proficient in understanding social media and will be prone to adopting these tools versus complicated hardware. Secondly, companies need to think of social networks as cloud-based software that can help streamline internal communication and ultimately save a company time and money to implement.

So, how can social networks be used for crisis management?

Gone are the days of operating in a vacuum. Emergency communications now involve the highly interactive, high-speed world of social media. Reasons to incorporate and monitor social media include:

Effective communication: Attention needs to be given to social media communication at all phases of the disaster, crisis or emergency. It’s a dynamic, two-way street and the only way you’ll know if you are being heard is by monitoring. You can then respond in a timely and meaningful way.

Awareness of what is being said about your response to an incident.

Enhanced situational awareness, and the ability to keep in contact with staff, suppliers, clients and community activities during an incident or disaster.

The ability to dispel rumors and misinformation.

In Japan, for example, after the massive 9.0 earthquake and resulting tsunami, Tokyo’s transportation network and communication systems were paralyzed because of the constant network congestion. With the phone lines down for almost 24 hours, people utilized the internet to communicate with others and collect information. The internet and social networks became the platforms to retrieve information about disaster struck areas, nuclear power stations, as well as information to support those suffering and to direct donations.

Once a social media monitoring strategy is developed, it should be incorporated into semi-regular tests or exercises to ensure employees know what to expect and what to do. Additionally, mobile devices are often the easiest way to access social media during a crisis — plan how to best utilize them.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Using Mobile Devices For Company Communications

As smartphone devices become more widely adopted in corporations especially c-level, people can take advantage of tools and apps already available to handle communication.

When looking at these mobile tools, there are key functionalities to consider based upon what your management needs are…

1. Organizing and syncing key contacts
2. Accessing key documents
3. Exchanging notes
4. Communicate and track groups of people
5. To-do lists and reminders

So what are some easy mobile tools that could help you streamline communication between you and staff?

Sync key contacts
One option to consider is iCloud especially for syncing key contacts. If you have an Android device try a service like gmail, Google docs and Google Calendar.

Access to key documents

You can download apps for cloud-based storage services like Dropbox and Box.net. These freemium models also have premium services you can utilize for more storage space and bigger file downloads. You can also invite other people to share these files.

Access to important notes

With Evernote, all of your notes, web clips, files and images are made available on every device and computer you use.

Communicate and track groups of people

Group messaging apps such as GroupMe, Find My Friends, and Kik uses GPS to locate your contacts and send targeted messages with certain groups.

Shared to-do lists and reminders

Wunderlist is a fairly easy and free task management tool that allows you to create lists for projects and to-dos and share with colleagues so they can add to list. Wunderlist works on Android, iPhone and iPad. You can also look at calendar reminders like Tungle.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

When the Media Comes a-Calling: Top 3 Things not to Say—Email, Text or Tweet—During a Crisis

Amid a crisis, journalists don’t just listen for comments from the CEO, business owner or spokesperson; they also dig into the social media circuit to find digital comments that may make headlines.

Social media has become the newest way for executive leaders to proverbially stick their feet in their mouths.

Proven time and time again, crisis communication in a media environment is one of the most important factors in maintaining a company's corporate image. Part of the overall perception of a company and its leadership’s credibility is how well the CEO, owner or spokesperson can internally and externally communicate a message.

Accordingly, there are definitely comments employees and stakeholders should refrain from making public during a crisis—they could be misconstrued by the media and turn one crisis into yet another.

What not to Say:

1. “No Comment”
Classically, this is a no-no. This comes across to stakeholders, the media and the audience as unprepared or even arrogant. It says that you are choosing to give no account, no information, and take no responsibility for a crisis. It tells the world you feel you are entitled to privacy, while anyone knows that high-profile business people and spokespersons do not have that privilege.

What to say:
“As details of this situation unfold, we renew our commitment to this brand, its mission and you, our customers.” This way, you acknowledge the crisis to the media, but show the world that at such a critical time, you’re keeping a cool head and making considerations for the most important things: a commitment to your company’s standards and customers.

2. “We were unaware of the situation.”
A statement such as this causes leadership to look uninformed and out of the loop. People will question: How can a CEO or business owner not know what’s going on in his or her own company? What type of leader does that indicate? It says the company isn’t taking responsibility.

What to say: “We are aggressively gathering information and looking into this situation,” is a more in-control response, without giving the media details about what you do and do not know.

3. “The media misrepresented the situation.”
Blaming the media is a copout and reactive rather than proactive. While the media does sometimes get their facts wrong, trying to play the hurt sheep only makes your corporation look like a whining child. As well, it may be your company’s lack of clear communication to the media in the first place that caused misinformation to be published. Besides, even if the facts are incorrect, the audience will likely believe what is reported.

What to Say:
“We are willfully working with media outlets to clarify and correct misinformation regarding this situation.” This type of open communication shows you are proactively managing the media instead of them managing you. It also says you are directing them in the way that will best protect your brand and actively shaping the stories that will go mainstream.

In summary, a solid crisis communication plan is like insurance for your business. Will you be covered when the media comes calling with hard questions?

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Avoiding A Mobile Crisis: Protecting Your Company’s Data on Smartphones

While smartphone devices provide ample opportunity for companies to manage day-to day operations away from their desktop, there is also a risk that important company data can fall into the wrong hands if not careful. More than 70 percent of people surveyed by Sunnyvale, Calf based Dimensional Research say the use of personal mobile devices for work purposes have contributed to increased security-related problems. When one of those tools goes missing, not only would the employee's personal information be at risk, but company email, messages, client contact information, company log-ins and access codes all could be potentially exposed.

According to the report, the No 1 factor affecting the security of sensitive data over mobile is lack of employee awareness of their company’s security policies. Companies need to invest in software and gadgets to not only track company-affiliated mobile devices, but protect and manage the work information stored on those devices. In addition, companies should also consider these following tactics to further avoid a corporate mobile meltdown:

1. Employee training on mobile device security. Employees should be made aware of basic safeguards such as updating passwords and having the ability to wipe a stolen device.

2. Give employees the tools they need to make sure they can find their devices in case they go missing. ZOMM and Phone Halo are both devices that alert the user when they're about to leave their smartphone behind. With ZOMM, the user carries a small sensor, say on a keychain. Phone Halo's tag can be attached to keys, a wallet, purse or other items. Both sound an alarm when the user is parted from their phone. Your company can even host monthly or quarterly lunch and learn meetings to give demonstrations to your employees on these mobile tools. Be sure to include your IT staff in these meetings so they can help employees install anti-malware and encrypt confidential data.

3. Create company policies on what kind of company data employees can store on their personal mobile devices. You should also have contingency plans when an employee leaves the company and you can securely remove company data from that device.

4. If your company has an app that primarily stores your corporate crisis communication plan, it’s important to only give key stakeholders access to that plan (company personnel that will be involved in crisis situations). Be sure to keep your plan password-protected and have a policy in regards to the app’s distribution and content management.

As mobile devices continue to become more prevalent in business operations, companies should invest time and resources to stay updated on current technologies and news surrounding data protection. We’ll continue to explore these stories more in upcoming posts surrounding web 2.0 in corporate crisis.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Relationship Building Still Matters in PR

Our industry is in an exciting time with technological innovations. However, an article in the Harvard Business Review titled “Your PR Efforts May Be Hurting You” reminds us how we still need to approach traditional media and teach upcoming pr students to appreciate the relationship-based aspect of public relations. I found most of the article’s statements to be true. Most students of PR do not build relationships with the media. They also don’t take the time to learn about the company they are pitching for. The first time you meet with a company, you need to ask A LOT of questions. You also need to know about your company’s overall industry. Most PR firms are successful when they have a niche like lifestyle or represent healthcare companies. This allows a firm to become industry experts. Our firm uses wire service but very strategically. In addition to this method it’s key to follow up with reporters. Some PR people don't follow up when a reporter calls or after sending a press release. Especially during a crisis situation, the reporter's deadline is priority.

While we are in age with advanced communication tools like social networking, video chat and smartphones, relationships still matter in public relations. Here’s how you successfully build relationships with both traditional and digital media writers:

1. Reporters are people too. They have families, busy schedules just like we do. Get to know them.
2. Reporters are not out to get you.
3. Answer reporter's calls.
4. Help them when you don't have skin in the game (a story).
5. Follow Up.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Crisis on the Seas: Cruise Disaster Spreads on the Internet

Since Tuesday morning, Italian rescuers and divers continued their
perilous work locating a second "black box" and the remains of five
people in the wreckage of the Costa Concordia cruise ship. While we
have watched the tragic events of the cruise ship unfold, what’s even
more disturbing is how quickly more internal information is coming to
light that shows a lack of personnel responsibility.

Transcripts from CNN show an Italian coast guard official demanding
Captian Francesco Schettino return to his ship, the transcripts show.
"You get on board! This is an order!" the coast guard official
instructed Schettino.

"You have declared 'Abandon ship.' Now I'm in charge. You get on
board -- is that clear?" the port official said.
Port Authority to cruise ship captain: 'Get on board, damn it!'

If this same incident happened over ten years ago or even six years
ago, this same transcript wouldn’t have been made public until weeks
after the incident. When a crisis happens to any company, internal
and external personnel information can be made public just as soon
as the crisis occurs. Since this past weekend, Carnival stocks have
already plummeted. What’s more disturbing as this tragic experience
unfolds is the personal accounts and experiences we’ll hear from
survivors through social media channels and the internet. Although
the company can release official statements, they can’t deny the
stories from survivors that will proliferate throughout the internet in
days to come.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Is it the employers’ responsibility to train their employees on good social media ethics?

The answer is yes…and here’s why.
More employees are spending countless hours on social networks during office hours. But, what could be more troubling to companies is how their employees are conducting themselves online.

A study published this week by the nonprofit Ethics Resource Center (ERC) found workers spent more than 30 percent of the workday participating on social networking sites. In addition, 42 percent of active social networkers said they felt it was acceptable to blog or tweet negatively about their company or their coworkers, while just six percent of non-active social networkers saw such behavior as OK. Although, a majority of active social networkers (56 percent) said they would also be likely to post about good things their coworkers did.

A corporate crisis isn’t just an external communication breakdown but also an internal issue that can cause considerable risk to the company’s reputation and employee morale. With social networking showing no signs of going away, big companies will have to find a way to deal with the ethical changes that come along with it.

The Risks

One risk businesses face when it comes to social media is the sharing of information. Either employees can share opinions in ways that reflect badly on the company or they can release confidential information such as intellectual property. Confidential information being leaked, data breaches, privacy violations, offensive tweets – all of these possibilities make organizations hesitant to adopt social media.

However, not engaging in social media can become a risk in itself. Most every company and brand is being discussed through online social channels. It is important that the company provides its voice in these discussions and conversations.

Best Practices

Since social media is becoming a standard practice for many businesses or at the very least a good way to interact with customers and partners, it is important for employees to understand the best practices for engagement with particular emphasis on ethics and legal responsibilities. Having a good company policy on social media with an active governance plan is no longer optional. It is essential to mitigating corporate crisis communication risks.

You also need to work with your company’s legal and human resources team to understand current social networking workplace laws and procedures. According to a recent ruling of National Labor Relations Board, employees can write anything they want about your company on their own Facebook profiles in off hours, so anything limiting that usage in your acceptable use policy should be changed. Your IT and legal departments should revisit acceptable use policies once every few months or after major decisions to ensure that they are still current, and employees should be made to sign the updated copies.

A decent workplace social media/Internet acceptable use policy should do a few things well. It should bind the employee to using the Internet specifically for work purposes during work hours in the office, and ensure that any electronic forms of communication aren't used to disseminate confidential information about the company. Overall, to avoid risks related to online employee crisis communications, companies must train, educate and create protocol to address our society’s ever-evolving communication channels.

Image Credit: edudemic.com

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Why Using Social Media For Market Research is Smart: 4 Winning Strategies For Your Company

It remains to be seen if 2012 will indeed be the year if the social media bubble finally bursts. Analysts predicted this notion of “digital/social exhaustion” more than two years ago and yet the numbers are climbing in regards to social media usage. According to a recent Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project study, 66% of online U.S. adults use social media. More than two-thirds of adults are conversing online, posting reviews, and recommending products or services to their networks.

Traditional market research typically consists of mailing out customer surveys, conducting phone interviews and holding focus groups. While I’m not suggesting you alienate these methods, there is a huge opportunity to learn more about your customers or competitors through their online conversations. Social media monitoring can provide you rich, social analytics that you can track over time to determine your customer or potential customer’s habits, interests and even what is being said about your brand altogether.

Four Ways to Use Social Media as a Tool For Market Research


This can comprise of brand reputation monitoring, keyword search and online mentions about your company or industry in all mediums.


This is one of the easiest ways to crowdsource your customers for product feedback. What better way to utilize your brand’s online community than to let them be apart of your market research. Be careful to not come across too commercial or promotional when talking to the public.


Social media gives you insight into consumer behavior that you can use to detect growing trends or movements within your target customers. Use the data you collect to identify new opportunities to position your company in a new market or a different customer base.

Competitive Research

Not matter what your business is you have to know WHO your competitors are. With the current economy, many start-ups are popping up in various industries and it’s up to you to know who could be potentially taking away market share. Social media tools can help you understand your competitor’s business, their partners, employees and maybe even their business model! Many of these companies are surprisingly very open about sharing “insider” info online via tools like LinkedIn.