It’s not about you

Posted on October 19, 2011 12:51 pm by | Social Media

It's All About MeMore than once, I’ve heard tales of executives rejecting social media platforms because they personally dislike them. In one instance, a communicator recommend the company adopt FourSquare, but the executive dismissed it saying, “I just hate the concept that you’re letting burglars know your house is empty.”

Here’s a simple guideline for anyone evaluating social channels for their organization to embrace: It’s not about you. It’s about what your customers are using and the value your engagement in that channel will produce for the company.

Yesterday at the Mayo Clinic social media conference in Rochester, Minnesota, social media healthcare whiz-kid Chris Boyer told me about his decision to adopt FourSquare on behalf of his organization, Inova Health System, a healthcare network near Washington, D.C. As Chris tells it, he discovered that there had been thousands of check-ins at over 90 locations. That’s 90 locations within about a dozen facilities Invoa operates. Those locations even include the helipad.

Realizing that many people were checking in when they visited, Chris claimed ownership of each of those locations, which cost nothing other than a fair amount of time; he says it’s a laborious process. But now, whenever anyone checks in at any of those locations, Inova can make sure they get a message from the organization. One message reminds visitors that it’s flu season and they can get vaccinated at Inova facilities. The number of people who click through to more information would gratify a direct mail marketer. Those that actually get a flu shot represent measurable ROI.

Now, Chris is considering going to the next level, offering specials at Inova gift shops and coffee shops, but for now, he’s happy getting time-sensitive information into the hands of people who check in. He’s also pleased with the tips people are leaving—and there are a lot of them. Positive tips can help the network spotlight attributes they may not have thought would matter to people. Negative tips can direct Inova to make improvements in places they may not have known they were necessary.

Just imagine if an executive had told Chris, “FourSquare? Stay away from that. A friend of mine says it’s a notification system for thieves.”

It’s about being where your customers are, where you can connect with them and where you can glean insights about them to improve your relationships with them. It’s not about you.

Incidentally, Chris will be my guest on an upcoming FIR interview about his FourSquare experience.

10/19/11 | 7 Comments | It’s not about you



  • 1.Shel, I recently worked with Foursquare to claim about 75 DePaul sites in one fell swoop, including merging duplicates. If you have an organization with multiple locations, it's well worth your time to contact Foursquare and have one of their representatives assist you with this. You do need to provide them with the Foursquare URL of each location you want to claim, but you'd want to do that search anyway. It really trims down the time involved and also gives you a contact if any future issues crop up.

    Kris Gallagher, ABC | October 2011 | Chicago

  • 2.Great point. People have varying degrees of comfort when it comes to social media. Some like to disclose all while others tend to keep personal conversations to a minimum. You can choose whatever you'd like when it comes to personal use, but if you're going to use social media for business it's important to actually share in order to connect and form relationships with target audience members.

    Nick Stamoulis | October 2011

  • 3.I'm curious how many of those check-ins were from patients rather than employees? We see the bulk of our check-ins from employees - but patient use appears to be growing. Guess I'll have to tune in to FIR :)

    Jen | October 2011 | Omaha, NE

  • 4.Great post Shel. I've been fortunate to work with some clients who recognize their personal discomfort for what it is and not let it get in the way. Those who can't get past it, likely don't really understand the business value social media can bring. Getting that across is job one for communicators who are looking to go that route.

    Kim Herperger | October 2011

  • 5.This is a great post. I like how you outlined the good that foursquare is doing for Inova. I think sometimes it is hard for executives to understand that customers drive the bottom line. Since their job is not to connect with customers, they don't understand how to do it, or the impact that social media, when done right, can bring to their company.

    Nicole Delsanter | October 2011 | United States

  • 6.I loved this post. I am glad Chris Boyer used FourSquare to his advantage to further along his relationships with organizations that use Inova Health Systems. Using any sort of social media to boost business value helps you and your organization in the long-run. Executives seem to have a lot on their plate when working for a company/organization so they may not be able to find the value in some social media websites if they don't see the full potential in it. In today's world, if you understand what you're using, just keep going with it, just like Chris did.

    Kathryn Moore | October 2011 | United States

  • 7.Great post and excellent point. I hear these same objections to Twitter (less so now) and Foursquare. Those objections are as unreasonable as refusing to get a copy machine because someone once copied a picture of an inappropriate body part. Just because it can be misused doesn't mean the entire toolbox should be summarily dismissed.

    Heidi Miller | October 2011 | Seattle, WA

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