Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Mayo Clinic Launches Center for Social Media

How Mayo Clinic Uses Social MediaEveryone is trying to figure out how to use social media such as Facebook, Twitter, and blogs to market their business or handle public relations these days, but some companies have been doing it for years - and quite successfully. The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) recently looked at how Mayo Clinic is doing just that by talking to Lee Aase, the Clinic's manager of syndication and social media.

Yesterday, the Clinic announced that it would be launching a Center for Social Media, which according to the WSJ, "will expand social media tools beyond the traditional P.R. and marketing functions to use by staff, physicians and patients." Aase will be a leader at the center.

According to Aase, the center will "[look] for ways to increase the use of social media throughout the practice at Mayo...to provide in-depth information for patients in a much more comprehensive way, and to create connections between researchers, physicians and staff." It will have about eight full-time employees.

The interest in social media is not just from the business staff; the clinical staff is hoping they can use the platforms for business and training. One example cited was an introduction video for the head of one dental department. The video offers some background information on one of the doctors, as well as what patients expect from that specific specialty department. Mayo hopes such videos will make "consultations more efficient" and help patients know what to expect before being thrown into the process.

Mayo Clinic endocrinologist and the center’s interim medical director, Victor Montori, had this to say about the new center, "Staff at many hospitals wanting to get involved in social media have pointed to Mayo Clinic’s activity and experience to help make the case for engagement with their senior leaders. Some have even consulted with us informally and asked for advice on implementation. One of our goals for the center is to provide a mechanism for this consultation and sharing, so we can help colleagues in health care everywhere break down the barriers to involvement."

Aase also mentioned some consulting Mayo Clinic has been doing for a few other medical providers and organizations. They hope it will help build their relationships with other hospitals, as well as create a blogging platform for those organizations. The goal of this effort is ultimately to help patients, according to Aase. Not only will it help them get information more quickly, but it will help get information to the medical community, as well.

To hear Lee Aase talk more about the center, check out the video below:

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Americans are Top Bloggers, Tweeters

Americans are Top Bloggers, Tweeters

It seems like everyone in the world has a blog or a Twitter account these days but there's only one country that's number one. Sysomos, a research company, found that more Americans keep blogs and use Twitter than any other country on earth. That means about one third of all bloggers are in the United States, as are over half of all Twitter users.

The company looked at over 100 million blog posts and attempted to gather gender, age, and location of the blogger. The results were pretty interesting. Perhaps not too surprising is the fact that over 53% of bloggers fall into the 21- to 35-year-old category. Also, you may not be too surprised to learn that over half of all bloggers are women. As for location, American bloggers maintain about 29.2% of all the blogs out there on the web.

That may not seem like a huge number but when you compare it to other countries, the difference is shocking. The United Kingdom came in second place with 6.75% of all bloggers, followed by Japan with 4.9% and Brazil in fourth place with 4.2% of all bloggers.

It was noted that English-speaking countries seemed to dominate the findings, which isn't all that surprising, seeing as how the internet's language of choice is English. English is also the most spoken language in the world. But Spanish is also a language that is spoken heavily in many countries around the world and there was a notable absence of Spanish-speaking countries in the top fifteen. Spain actually came in at eighth place with 3.1% of all blogs. It was also noted that China wasn't included in the research, due to the oppressiveness of the Chinese government and lack of free speech.

When it comes to micro-blogging, Sysomos looked at over 13 million Twitter accounts in October, November, and December of 2009. As mentioned, over half of the Twitter-users or "tweeters" were in the United States. Brazil actually came in second with 8.8% of users and the United Kingdom came in third place with 7.2% of all users.

Check out these related stories:

1. 2o Tips for Better Blogging

2. More People Using Phones for Social Networking

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

5 Easy Ways to Proofread Your Blog

8 Easy Ways to Proofread Your Blog Have you ever published your blog and gone back a while later to read it, only to notice you made an error? Maybe you forgot the difference between there, their, and they're, or maybe your subject-verb agreement left a lot to be desired. I'll never forget an article I wrote about baseball on my own personal blog. I managed to get a major sports writer to read it and was so excited! Well, that is, until I realized I'd typed "picture" instead of "pitcher."

The point is, it happens to the best of us. No matter how careful you are, or how many times you proofread, you can still overlook an error. Especially after you've spent an hour or more working on a post. Proofreading isn't fun in any situation, but when your tired eyes have already been staring at a computer screen for so long, you probably have a tendency to not proofread as closely as you should. Having a second person to look things over is the best way to truly proofread something you've written - they'll probably catch things you didn't - but I understand that's not always possible. In the event that it's just you reading your blog post before it becomes published, here are five simple ways to help make proofreading a little easier.

1. Take time between writing your post and proofreading it. Walk your dog, eat lunch, take a shower, or go for a drive. Whatever you do, step away from your computer and put something else in your head for a little while, and then go back for a fresh perspective. Chances are, when you've spent so much time writing something, you probably have it almost memorized, and when you go back to read it over a final time, you aren't always seeing what is actually there.

2. Be aware of words you often misspell. I think everyone has a word or ten they have issues with - my number one is "environment." Every time I type the word, I have to stop and think about how to spell it. Even then, I often get it wrong. Of course, you'll always want to run spell check when you finish a blog, but technical issues can sometimes prevent it from finding every spelling error. Keep a list of those problem words handy, or here is something I often do: type the word into Google. Even if you misspelled it, Google will more-than-likely come up with "Did you mean [correct spelling of the word]." A good old-fashioned dictionary works, too!

3. Write as if the world is watching. Remember my story about the sports writer? Write as though someone who you want to impress is reading. So many blogs have become book deals or led their authors to permanent jobs in media. You never really know just who is reading your blog and where it could lead you.

4. Read out loud; read slowly. Often times, when we start skimming over a post, in our heads, it may sound right because of the way our brains are trained to read after we've been doing it for so many years. Read your post out loud, and do it slowly. Then read it again to yourself - again, slowly.

5. Let your blogging friends read your posts. If you've been blogging for a while, or even if you haven't, there are probably other blogs you read, comment on, and link on your own blog. If you've had a chance to befriend any of their authors, consider asking them to proofread your posts. In exchange, you can offer to proofread theirs. You'll make new friends and eliminate grammar and spelling errors.

Check out these related stories:
1. 20 Tips for Better Blogging
2. 20 Great Ideas for Blog Posts
3. Media Rentals

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Social Media: Positivity Is Powerful

For those of us with profiles on multiple social networking sites you know that a person's attitude makes a huge difference to the amount of attention you pay to that person. If there's a person in your twitter feed always posting negative or depressing tweets, you may start to ignore them, or just unfollow them all together. I can say I have done that myself, on more than one occasion. But have you taken a look at your own tweets? Are you falling into the negativity trap that many in social media fall into? This week at the #140conf, Tal Yaniv gave a talk on positivity in social media. And a few of his suggestions may help you become a more positive presence in your social network.

As I mentioned before, we can all think of someone within our network that is quite negative. But can you think of someone who is always positive? Can you think of a business with an online presence that is really positive? Now when you compare the options, wouldn't you rather talk to/buy from/associate with a company/friend/co-worker with a positive attitude and outlook instead of someone who drags your mood down?

Tal Yaniv suggests,

entirely removing all allusions to negativity from your social network posts. Try to say what you want to say without using the word no or not, without the prefixes un- or non-, without any hint of negativity or pessimism. Not only will this keep your tweets and status updates on the positive side, but it will also shorten your tweets, making it easier to fit within the 140 character limit!

He also suggests thinking about how you phrase things. Instead of using the negative "don't" to tell someone not to do something, or to avoid something, maybe try rephrasing it so it sounds positive.

If the child’s parent says, “Be careful! Don’t spill your juice on the carpet!” this only puts the idea of spilling juice in the child’s mind, making it more likely for the child to spill the juice. Now the child is only thinking of spilling. That is the wrong way to go. A much better way for the parent to phrase that sentence would be “Hold on to your juice!” or “Keep the carpet clean!” This puts the idea of a clean carpet and a safe, un-spilled cup of juice in the child’s head. When using your social networks, think about your phrasing and try to put only good and positive images in your readers’ minds.

Your mood is contagious, even online. If you want to give off a positive impression to people you may need to work at it. Whether your promoting your personal or corporate blog, tweeting from a company account like Tech Army, or using facebook to communicate with your family, remember, a little positivity goes a long way.

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Wednesday, July 07, 2010

SMB Blogging 101

Blogging Tips for SMBs

If you own or manage a small business, you probably find yourself wondering how you can use the internet to your advantage. Facebook, Twitter, social media, and social networking - how do you know where to begin? Which one of these tools is going to allow you to promote your business in a way that you're not already able to? If you're a little confused by it all, one great place to start is with a good old-fashioned blog. Here are a few tips that will help you get started and help you make the most of your SMB blog.

1. Pick a platform. You'll want to sign up for a platform that is well-known and easy to use to your advantage. Many people say WordPress is the perfect platform because it allows you to use lots of plugins and is easier to customize; other people prefer Blogger because its simpler to use and understand. And of course, there are other options; Posterous and Tumblr to name a few.

2. Think about hosting your blog on your own domain. What does this mean? Well, when you generally sign up for a blog, you are assigned a URL. For example, if you are using WordPress name your blog "Matty's Musings," the link to your blog is going to be www.mattysmusings.wordpress.com. But if you purchase the website mattysmusings.com, you can go to Wordpress.org and they will allow you to use their blogging platform on your own domain. So, basically, you're still using the WordPress interface, but customers can find you a lot easier and your URL is more clean and professional.

3. SEO. You may have heard about search engine optimization, but do you know what it is and why it's important? Essentially, you're looking to increase your ranking in search engines, moving your website to the top so that people will find it easier. There is a lot out there on SEO and if you want to see to it that your blog or website comes in at the top spot when people search certain keywords, you'll definitely want to look into it.

4. Use Google Analytics. With Google analytics, you can see how many people visit your website, which posts they look at, how long they spend on your site, which keywords they use to get there and more. Basically, the tool allows you to see what is working. Is one post a lot more popular than the others? This tool will let you figure out why.

5. Use social networking. If you do have a Twitter, Facebook, Digg, or other social media account, use it! If you make a blog post about your company, share it on any and all websites you belong to. Set up accounts just for your SMB and promote, promote, promote!

6. Make your site appealing. Have you ever landed on a blog or website and left within seconds because the look wasn't right? Maybe it was so busy, you couldn't make out what you were supposed to be looking at. Maybe it was so bare that you figured it was really not up-to-date. Maybe it had so many different flashing colors or ads that it just gave you a headache. These are all things you'll want to avoid when setting up your blog. The nicer-looking it is, the more likely people are to stay around and browse.

7. Make your blog interesting and relevant. One common problem people have when they start a blog is not knowing what to blog about. Obviously, you want to promote your company but are people going to read the same thing over and over? Absolutely not. Stir things up a little bit by giving your opinions on what's going on in your industry, interview a staff member, post something that has absolutely nothing to do with your business, but that you think would appeal to your customers. Remind your customers that there is a human behind your blog and let them get to you know. Personalizing your blog posts will help you build a rapport and keep customers coming back to read more. Also, consider answering customer's frequently asked questions or allowing customers to leave comments that you can interact with.

8. Blog often. There's nothing worse than checking a blog every day, only to see that it hasn't been updated in weeks. If you don't have time to post daily or a few times a week, get your staff in on it, too. People will keep coming back anxiously awaiting your posts.