conversation is an engine

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Posts Tagged ‘social media

Thought Leadership Takes (too much) Time

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And don’t be deadly-boring

In content-creation, I talk with clients and potential clients about telling their story in a way that promotes them and their business as thought leaders. Most clients have a business expertise that is poorly understood outside their niche or industry. And that is always the way: who really knows or cares how someone else spends their day?

One of the big challenges with our social appliances (Twitter, for example, and blogs) is telling the details of our story in a way that, a) shows we know what we are talking about, and b) communicates something not-deadly-boring to a casual passer-by. This is a huge challenge because most of us are interested only in what we are interested in.

Telling what we know in a way that engages the passerby is the challenge. That’s why I often use the metaphor of talking with the stranger or telling something to a ten-year-old. When eyes glaze or when they simply walk away, then you know you’ve not told your story well.

The thing is, our social appliances do not let us off the hook with the casual passer-by. Yes, we write our messages to our core audience, those are the people we seek to help and serve and engage. But those messages still must have enough hook to stop and (possibly) engage the conscious human passing by our web page/tweet/handmade sign. Building our brand, whatever that looks like: whether marketing a medical device, marketing a specific line of knowledge about medical devices/healthcare or marketing your own book—all these require that we tell our story in a way that keeps detail in focus while showing why it all matters to life on this planet.

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Of course, the best way to do this is to know your topic well. Once you know your topic, mix in notions of how a stranger or passer-by would react and adjust accordingly. I find that knowing a topic and then adjusting the topic to the needs and interests of a particular audience has a miraculous effect of providing something I simply must say:

And that is a beginning of thought leadership: building out from what you know, day after day. It is very time consuming but if you are passionate about a topic, product or service—or a particular way of looking at life—than you can hardly keep from building the topic anyhow.

 

By the way, whether you write or not, everyone on earth should follow Jon Winokur’s tweets (@AdviceToWriters). His tweets should make anyone eager to create.

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Image credit: Kirk Livingston

Are Doctors “Ethically Obligated” to Tweet?

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No.

Although Wendy Sue Swanson, MD (@SeattleMamaDoc) feels that way about her social media presence (as demonstrated in this clip).

There is one piece of the Hippocratic Oath that calls for casting a wider net in “all my acquirements, instructions, and whatever I know” to those within the physician’s circle. The original oath also called all gods and goddesses to witness and observe, but these days the NSA serves that function (despite HIPAA).

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Yesterday’s MedAxiom post by Ginger Biesbrock (“Has anyone seen my Dictaphone?”) makes the excellent point that any new technology adopted should make taking care of patients easier. New technology should not get in the way of treatment, it should not be another hurdle to jump. Instead, technology should simplify meeting the patient’s need. That’s why I’m pleased with the movement to hire medical scribes to complete the electronic medical records in the moment—freeing doctors to treat patients versus keyboarding.

Dr. Swanson’s strong feeling about casting a wider net is likely shared by many if not most physicians. And it just so happens that putting correct information out where regular folks might read it may also be a way to grow your practice—which has been the capitalistic promise of social media from day one.

Sure: doctors are busy. But I cannot help but wonder if more and more physicians will make outward communication (blogging, tweeting, connecting) a priority as they work to free themselves from some routine tasks.

Many already are.

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Image credit: Kirk Livingston

Should a Doctor Blog?

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Only if they want to grow their practice. Or connect with other physicians. Or with patients. Or provide thought-leadership.

Greg Matthews, author of Missing the Forest for the Trees, has been studying the online presence of physicians for years. He’s found that the credibility of their position and the connections within that position can translate to large and devoted followings today.

But all that was counter-intuitive in 2007.

Back when Mr. Matthews was formulating his questions about physicians online.

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Back then he was sure—we all were sure—that talking about health information online would never fly. It’s just too personal. What kind of nut would diagnose and prescribe in public/online?

Plus, well, HIPAA.

But some physicians found a way to talk with regular folks (that is, us non-experts who live on the web) about pressing topics. Diagnosis and prescribing on the web was a non-starter, but presenting topics in a way that made sense to regular people did happen. And as we all took to the web to sort our maladies, these authoritative, personal voices became trusted sources of information.

According to Mr. Matthews, today 61% of physicians access social media weekly, 5000 physicians post daily to blogs and Twitter, and 50 physicians are followed each by more than 500 other physicians.  Some physicians even feel “ethically obligated” to share on the web.GregMatthewsReport-10222014 Download Mr. Matthews PDF for more stats.

In this blog (conversation is an engine) we talk about conversation. We’ve noted how conversation is a two-way street: not just in words exchanged, but actually causing conversation partners to go and do different stuff. We leave our best conversations changed and with new resolve for the most important things facing us. It’s a sort of speech-act theory for anyone willing to take a dumb-sketch approach to life.

And even physicians and even patients can gain from this. And what they both gain is far more than mere information.

It makes me wonder what paths might open for collaborative conversations in lots of different work settings.

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Talk With Those Who Talk With You (DGtC#25)

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Humans just want to connect

Social media, like sales, seeks an ever-expanding public. All tweeters want more followers. All bloggers—same thing. Just like the TV networks of yore, where Nielsen Media Research rated efficacy by numbers (and types) of viewers they brought in. Which just happened to coincide with increasing amounts of cash they could wring out of a sponsor for a 30 second span of monologue.

How to measure audience (and collect cash) continues in today’s social media world as various metrics are embraced and/or disgraced: clicks, views, comments, engagement, time spent on a site.

But real humans in earnest conversation don’t care about size of audience. They care about connecting with a person to tell the important thing they have to say or to hear the important thing a friend or colleague has to say. They want to remark on what is remarkable.

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Call me a mystic (please!), but I still embrace the notion that the people peppered through our lives are there for reasons beyond our understanding. And those talking to you—today, right now—have something you need to hear and they need to say. Those people right beside you are worth attending to. For their sake. And for yours.

It’s not wrong to widen your audience.

Just don’t lose sight of this moment with those right before you.

Also see:

 

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Image credit: Kirk Livingston

A Tale of Two Meetings

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Collaboration in person and on paper

Meeting #1: The entire department was gathered at tables shaped into a horseshoe, to facilitate discussion. Twenty to thirty of us waiting for the director to come in and explain his vision. And his vision was that the creatives needed to become analysts. Art directors, designers, copywriters, production personnel—everyone an analyst. Everyone focused on metrics. Give away the creative to outside agencies.

The director talked for 30 minutes and then asked for questions.

Not a single question.

Meeting #2: The entire group was gathered at tables shaped into a horseshoe, to facilitate discussion. Twenty to thirty of us waiting for a series of speakers to come in and explain their vision. Speaker after speaker explained their vision, the metrics they used to decode that vision, and the outcomes they experienced.

Each of the seven speakers spoke for a few minutes and then paused and waited for responses. Then they spoke again and waited. The entire group learned quickly that each speaker truly sought interaction.

Every pause elicited questions. Tangents were followed despite time constraints. After all, the point was the responses.

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In my social media marketing class we spend time talking about how to get interaction and comments from the communities we are building. At first it is discouraging for the students, their work feels like shouting treasured thoughts into a hillbilly hollering convention. Nearly impossible to be heard.

But gradually a few people show up at each student’s attempts. And we learned to treat comments from these few with great care: responding immediately. Thanking those who show up for reading. Engaging the thoughts of the people who showed up. Then the students learned to go visit others building similar communities and listen and comment. And soon they found their community growing (in the social world, people follow back those who show up). And they learned not just to put questions at the end of diatribe but to design pauses in the middle of their thoughts so people could respond. And they learned to break up a lecture into a series of engaging posts. And they learned to let their thoughts be shaped by what the people who showed up said.

Those two meetings had key differences: In Meeting #1 each audience member reported to the director so there was very little debate. Debate in that particular firm seemed not too far from mutiny. But in Meeting #2 (same company, oddly enough), the audience was composed of potential customers. And as each speaker spoke, they did their best work with verbal and body language to engage the audience. And each of the potential customers spoke freely, calling “BS” when they heard it, disagreeing vocally, undaunted by executive titles.

Our verbal collaborations point to our literate collaborations. Pauses in copy, short copy, even shorter copy, copy that talks about what people are interested in—all of these allow collaboration. But the key is how you think about the audience: do you really want their response? People are not stupid: they know when someone is lecturing. And lecturing is a sure-fire way to shut down collaboration.

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Image credit: Kirk Livingston

How Buzzwords Prey on the Unsuspecting (DGtC#24)

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Speak up to reclaim your humanity

They’re there. Circling overhead in the hallways between C-suites.

They move in a dense cloud between boardrooms and conference rooms.

They are those words of the moment that seem scalpel-sharp. But when you stop to define them, meaning vanishes. These are the words Dilbert makes fun of most every day.

That is the way of buzzwords and lingo of the moment. Whether you are a business or a church (wait—what’s the difference?) or a university or a think tank: you have a set of words insiders use to show they are insiders. And especially in our early meetings with new clients or the new VP, we trot out these words to show we really, frankly, know our stuff.

The problem with buzzwords is how easily they come to mind. Just like any cliché, buzzwords pop to mind free of conscious thought. And to your conversation partner those words give the appearance of a genuine thoughtful reaction. But any SEO specialist will tell you that tossing a buzzword into a headline ups your clicks. Same with conversations: say the thing you heard the CEO say and, presto, you are in the club.

Do buzzwords make you less human? No. They just make you sound robotic.

Please point us back toward connection

Please point us back toward connection

Frequent talks with clients move toward “dumbing-down” versus “simplifying.” Those are not equivalent concepts. Dumbing-down takes out gradation and difference and nuance to present a black-and-white version of something. Simplifying hints at gradation and difference and nuance to make a piece of the complex easier to grasp. Mark Twain simplified complex stuff and generations talked about it.

Dumbing-down does not respect the audience. Simplifying recognizes that smart people are smart in different disciplines. And smart people can understand all sorts of stuff.

Buzzwords are a kind of dumbing-down that takes concepts off the table by hinting that we all know this so it is beyond discussion. Because of buzzwords many useful conversations never happen.

What if we consciously worked toward vulnerability in our business interactions? It’s scary, this notion of revealing you have no clue what the boss just said, but could she explain it again using words like other humans use?

Be the thorn in the side today, the vulnerable fool who insists on clarity.

It’s a way of ordering the chaos of your workplace.

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Image credit: Kirk Livingston

Collaborate is the New Black

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Listening looks good on you

Work often looks like a flavor-of-the-month shop. Depending on which consultants get the ear of those with a budget for adjusting corporate culture, we could be talking about mindfulness, or total quality commitment or getting the right people on the bus—there is no end to the analogies and training seminars and tightly-packed sessions to buy.

Always these programs promise change. Sometimes they deliver.

Here's why you should care.

Here’s why you should care.

But the constant impetus behind these attempts is employee engagement. The days of just showing up to stand on an assembly line or sit in a cubicle are long gone. Putting in hours is not enough—was it ever enough?

Engagement is tricky, of course. Employees work with BS filters set on high, which is why suggestion boxes rarely worked. Everyone knew putting a well-reasoned argument on a slip of paper and dropping it in a box went exactly nowhere.

No—the will to listen, which is near the heart of collaboration—must come from within rather than without. There must be a kernel of mission that speaks to listening to the good people you’ve brought in. The trick is to find that kernel. Engaged employees have done that work, usually on their own time.

I’m excited about a particular client of mine with a compelling, collaborative mission. They’ve invested millions in a particular process that is doing something brand new in the world. My client is lining up eager collaborators from industry and from academia. They are just now setting up systems to deepen their collaboration with researchers across the globe.

But how far are they willing to go with collaboration?

Working and learning together is the stated center of their mission—and this organization lives it out in countless ways. But are they willing to make messages that reach out and pull people in—even with ongoing research? Are they willing to set themselves apart as leaders willing to share knowledge in endlessly accessible research bites that are media and social media ready? After all, my client is partnering with an industry known for its secrecy, so what will collaboration and the inevitable transparency look like with these steely customers?

All that remains to be seen.

But one thing is certain: the will and gifts and curiosity of engaged, collaborative partners and employees is the only thing that will help this move forward.

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Image Credit: Kirk Livingston

Written by kirkistan

April 7, 2014 at 9:37 am

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