Social media emerged from the breakout rooms of past years at the Social Marketing in Public Health Conference to the Plenary Session this past Friday morning. With Paul Gillin and Bob Gold, we designed this 2 hour session to focus our presentations on the shifts in thinking brought about by social media and other new technologies and then allow about an hour for audience discussion and questions. A recurring theme across all our talks is captured in this picture from Lynette Webb.
My introductory comments followed much of the same trajectory as the presentation at the APHA social media and risk communication roundtable a couple months ago. My key themes revolved around the challenge of masses of media vs using mass media; personalization of social media use; thinking about social networks, engagement, interactivity and multiplexity rather than sources, channels, messages and receivers; communities, not audiences; mobility (cellphones); and that most people use the internet for tapping into social networks (not looking for information).
As we listened to the rest of the morning’s speakers and discussion, I proposed answering these four questions for how social media poses opportunities for social marketers and their mix of marketing strategies:
- How do I add social media features to my behavior change products, services and programs?
- How do I use these technologies to overcome psychological and social barriers (costs) people have to engaging in new behaviors, develop new incentives and reinforcers and create new ways of providing social support to people who are trying to change behaviors?
- How can I place-shift; use SNS, co-presence and virtual worlds; and add GPS to create scalable behavior change programs?
- How do I facilitate conversations among people, not aim messages at them?
Paul Gillin picked up on several of these themes, beginning with the changing landscape of marketing media including the observations that teens watch 60% less TV and are online 600% more than their parents; in 1965, 80% of consumers could be reached with three 60-second TV spots - in 2002, that same reach required 117 TV spots.
He also spoke of the rise of information democratization. He noted the many different ways there no are to interact with consumers and not just talk at them. He used several case studies to illustrate social media ‘gone wrong’ including the J&J Motrin backache ad and the consumer backlash it generated of more than 15,000 tweets, 400 media stories and 3,500 blog entries they had to contend with.
He then shared his secrets of engagement:
- Embrace the power of micro community
- Speak to people as people
- Enable sharing and linking
- Filter and aggregate for insight
- Make it a club
- Show that you care
- Never edit or censor
Bob Gold opened his part of the plenary with his perspective on eTools and social marketing :
- We have enormous technical capability; most of which is underutilized
- Applications have not yet caught up with the technical capacity of hardware
- eTools is plural
- The only digital divide is in our own minds
- Effective use of eTools benefits everyone
- The greatest mistake we make is in using eTools in ways that reflect what we do best and what we most enjoy doing
Why, we asked, could we harness technologies to do such things as land a man on a moon (which he pointed out was done with less computing power than most people in the room have in their cell phones), read ancient texts but not social interactions, decode the human genome but not how children learn, build impressive structures such as the Taj Mahal but not healthy communities, and have so many best practices such as the Guide to Community Preventive Services but not get practitioners to use them effectively?
Bob also focused on how we need to use these new technologies to enhance how we do our own work. He illustrated this by showing people how Google is more than a search engine, but a whole suite of productivity tools. He demonstrated Newsmap as a way for public health officials to understand what the important health issues are for media now. And he closed by showing a clip from Project Natal, one that when you see it, brings home the idea (and feeling) that it is indeed “tomorrow’s technology today.”
The challenge is: how do people in public health, and especially in social marketing, begin to tap into these technologies to do our work bigger and better? The discussion that followed barely scratched the surface, and it will take meetings dedicated to this question, and much experimentation and prototyping, to come up with reasonable answers.
Note: This was also the first Social Marketing in Public Health Conference to have a host of tweeters using #smph. You can follow what they were hearing and thinking about during the sessions.