Author Archives: Katie Adams

About Katie Adams

I am a content strategist and developer as well as corporate storyteller. I am passionate about helping marketers learn how to apply insights from technology to better connect with their customers, strengthen their brand, and drive business success. I still think there's nothing better than the smell of a freshly-opened book and I listen to BBC just for the accents.

Should You Bag Your Facebook Advertising?

Just days before Facebook’s scheduled $100 billion IPO one of the largest U.S. manufacturers has dropped all of its paid advertising on the social media site. GM made the decision to axe its $10 million advertising budget based on findings that paid ads on the site “had little impact on consumers.” Before rushing to join the crowd suspect of the relevance of social media, it’s important to note what the car giant said about how they plan to continue interacting with Facebook users. According to a Wall Street Journal article GM marketing chief Joel Ewanick said that GM is “reassessing our advertising on Facebook, although the content is effective and important.”

Did you catch that? “Content is effective and important.”

As chief marketing officers grapple with continued tight budgets and increasing demand for ROI it’s worth examining how you’re using social media as a marketing tool. First, focus on the main reason people use Facebook in the first place. According to the study “Why Do People Use Facebook?” by Boston University researchers Ashwinin Nadkarni and Stefan G. Hoffman, the two primary needs that Facebook satisfies for its nearly 1 billion users are (1) the need to belong and (2) the need for self-presentation. Conversely that means that Facebook is not viewed by the majority of its users as a way to find or buy services or products. So it stands to reason that if you are purchasing ad space on the social media site as a way of quickly generating sales you may be disappointed. The question isn’t if Facebook is effective as a marketing tool, it’s how is Facebook MOST effective? Are you using the platform to its best marketing objective? GM has chosen to maintain its Facebook presence because it provides a powerful way to engage with customers and influencers as well as to have a pivotal presence in conversations about the industry and its own brand. But the company is aware that it can do that solely by providing CONTENT, not by purchasing paid ad space.

While GM’s decision may have prospective Facebook shareholders concerned it should be welcomed by chief marketing officers. GM’s insight should give you pause about your own organization’s position on Facebook as a marketing tool. If the two primary motivators for Facebook users are to belong and to be able to share personal stories and opinions (“self-presentation”) what types of material are you giving them to be able to do just that? Are you creating an engaging community for users? Are you sharing content — information, tips, and tools that they can use and share with others for free? Are you customizing your content so that you are one perceived as a highly relevant voice in their social media world?

Despite the contrarians Facebook isn’t going anywhere. The question is where are you going with Facebook?

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Filed under Healthcare Internet, Healthcare Social Media, Marketing, Social Media, Trends in Marketing

Guess No More: Google Can Help Your Content Development

Put away the Magic 8 ball. Google Analytics’ new “Social Plugins”report can help you learn what magic 8 ball marketingpeople visiting your site really want more of. The report, which can be found under the “Social” reporting tab on Google Analytics, tells you at a glance which articles on your site visitors are reading the most AND which social networks they’re using to share the content. Knowing where people are spending time on your site and which channels they’re using to tell others enables you to do two things:

1. Go narrow and deep. Drop the scattershot approach to content development. The Social Plugins report helps you determine (a) which few areas/topics you should focus on for content development work and (b) how to more deeply develop relevant content within those areas. For example, if site visitors are flocking to and sharing an article on orthopedic conditions, consider developing related content to build on their interest, such as:

  • a podcast or article on orthopedic surgery FAQs
  • a downloadable “Things to Consider” guide to help visitors select an orthopedic surgeon
  • a video of one of your surgeons explaining a common orthopedic procedure
  • a patient testimonial video

2. Coordinate your social media work. Back to our orthopedics example. If you learn that a greater percentage of your site users are sharing content about orthopedics with their friends and fans through Facebook make sure you’re posting orthopedics-related content on your own Facebook page. Ask questions to invite follower feedback, post links to relevant online tools, publicize your own ortho-related events. Likewise if Twitter is their favored WOM tool, regularly post questions, information, and links on orthopedics-related topics from your organizational Twitter account. In addition look for orthopedics-related groups on Facebook or regularly scheduled orthopedics-related chats on Twitter where you can extend your leadership presence.

Don’t waste time guessing where you should be investing your digital marketing resources. Think of this new Google Analytics tool as an online focus group. Learn from the data and test what’s driving your consumers’ behavior by adding more relevant content on your owned media sites. See if your efforts pay off with increased traffic and sharing across social media platforms. And a nice little bonus? You’ll be building a consistent brand message in the process. Not bad for one little tool I’d say. Not bad at all.

Have you tried the Google Analytics Social Plugins report? Did anything surprise you about how people are spending time on your site and sharing your content?


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Filed under Healthcare Internet, Healthcare Social Media, Marketing, Social Media, Trends in Marketing

What Healthcare Marketers Can Learn from the U.S. Debt Downgrade

by Katie Adams

All politics aside, there’s an important lesson for healthcare marketers in Standard &Poor’s recent decision to downgrade U.S. government-issued debt.  The rating agency’s response to the three-month long congressional debacle and subsequent unsatisfactory fiscal response to the debt ceiling limit, was essentially the company’s way of saying “we don’t believe in – or want – the product you’re selling.”

The debt reduction deal was in many ways a product that the U.S. needed constituents, the financial markets, and investors to buy.  While the S&P downgrade reflected the company’s uncertainty about our country’s future financial capabilities, it was also a reflection of the Hill’s failure to effectively market its own product.  The poor product and stinging rating agency response drew swift reaction from key stakeholders:

  • A record 82% of Americans disapprove of how Congress is doing its job[1] and their confidence in our country’s economy plummeted to -53[2]
  • China, the largest investor in U.S. Treasury-issued debt scolded the U.S. for its “addiction to debt” in the wake of the downgrade and said that as America’s largest creditor it “has every right now to demand the U.S. address its structural debt problems…”[3]
  • Financial markets went into near free-fall with the Dow Jones industrial average posting the sixth-largest one day point loss to date on August 8th

Even though Congress staggered across the finish line at the 11th hour, bloodied and bruised with a debt reduction agreement in hand, David Beers, the head of sovereign ratings for S&P observed: “We looked at the agreement very carefully, and we concluded two things…reflecting on the whole debate this year, we concluded that the process itself was likely to continue to create uncertainty, about the resolve of the U.S. government to take decisive action on fiscal issues.  The other was simply our analysis of the agreement itself on the debt consolidation program…it fell short in size and in its scope of what was needed to stabilize the debt in the medium term.”

In other words, the product was bad and the company that produced it can’t be counted on to make a better one anytime soon.

Whether you agree with S&P’s conclusion or not there are important take-away points for your own organizational marketing efforts:

  • The financial markets did not reward a poorly-executed political process.  Your market will not reward a poorly-executed marketing plan.  Essentially what Mr. Beers said was that even if the numbers had added up in the debt reduction deal, the chaotic and poorly coordinated process it took to get there undermined Congress’ credibility.
  • Building consensus internally will require exponentially more work than you expect.  I doubt that House Speaker John Boehner thought he would need to tell his own party members to “get your ass in line” at a closed-door meeting just days before the debt ceiling deadline.[4]  However GOP leadership hadn’t done the work necessary to rally support for its own debt bill.  The lesson here is painfully clear.  No matter how seemingly good a product is on paper never assume that everyone – or anyone – else in your organization will see its value.  You need to continually educate, convince, and cajole your internal stakeholders to reach consensus.  If your own people aren’t buying it, your market never will either.
  • A strong brand depends on a well-crafted, constantly delivered message using an integrated communications strategy.  Ask 10 faithful Democrats and 10 die-hard Republicans what their parties’ message was during the debt ceiling debates and I guarantee you’ll get 20 different answers.  Neither side of the aisle produced a clear party line.  Messages were chaotic and delivery was uncoordinated.  Neither party employed the effective communications techniques they rely on in election cycles such as blast email campaigns from party leadership or members of Congress, mass mailings, or mobile messaging campaigns.  We were left to make sense of cable news program sound bites at night and newspaper headlines in the morning.  Both parties abandoned traditional integrated communications strategies and the message (if there was one) was lost.  There may have been a lot of shouting, but no one was communicating.
  • Every campaign lays the foundation for your next campaign’s success.  If you blow this one, it will be twice as hard to succeed at your next one.  As far as S&P was concerned not only was Congress’ product a flop, but the way both parties managed the process didn’t inspire future credibility.  S&P has already said there’s a “one in three” chance of another future downgrade.[5]  It won’t be enough for the President or congressional leaders to give a few good speeches. They will need to produce the results that the market demands (in this case a $4 trillion deficit reduction package or another real plan for “financial restraint”).

Have you recently suffered a marketing failure?  Learn from Congress’ example.  Quickly circle the wagons, rigorously analyze what went wrong, and then get to work setting it right.  Use the failure as a catalyst to make real, needed change.  Build a better product.  Market it more effectively.

For now the world is waiting to see what the White House and Congress will do.  PIMCO bond fund CEO Mohamed El-Erian has urged Congress to use the downgrade as a moment for action.  He wrote in the Financial Times, “For the sake of their country and the wider global economy, both parties should resist the urge to begin bickering.  Instead they should seize this potential ‘Sputnik Moment’ – a visible shock to the national psyche that can unify Americans around a common vision and a renewed sense of purpose.”

Could this be your organization’s ‘Sputnik Moment?’

[1] New York Times/CBS News Poll, August 4, 2011

[2] Gallup Poll, “Economic Confidence Index,” Week of August 7, 2011.

[3] Xinhua News Agency, August 6, 2011

[4] CNN, July 27th, “Boehner to GOP members: ‘Get your ass in line’ by CNN Congressional Producer Deirdre Walsh

[5] John Chambers, S&P Managing Director, ABC-TV “This Week,” August 7, 2011.


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