Is Greenville Growing To Fast? Is Anderson Too Scared To Follow?

If you look around, Greenville is growing, the Upstate of SC is growing…and growing fast…with tremendous economic development.

With this growth comes the concern, how to fill jobs to meet the demand. Employers can’t find enough employees with a 3.5% unemployment rate and about 10,000 job openings in Greenville County.

Read More

Facebook Community Standards, Health Equity, and SDoH

Facebook just release their new Community Standards outlined here in this link. This is most likely a response to Mark Zuckerberg’s Congressional Hearings early April 2018. One thing that I took away from these proceedings, a critique on the necessity for users to have easy access to their Privacy Settings and also making Facebook’s Terms of Service (ToS) more consumer friendly.

During these proceedings, I called my partner Reed Smith and predicted that Facebook would take their Terms of Service (ToS), rewrite, and make it more consumer facing. Healthcare organizations should be on notice, this is a huge opportunity for growth across the healthcare industry.

Read More

GoPro and Audi GET IT! It Takes a Culture Change!

I just read a blog post from Mickey Plyler concerning the future retirement of Clemson’ Athletic Director. In his article, he built an argument articulating what the new leadership will “have” to look like when Mr. Terry Don Phillips retires.Regardless who follows, big shoes to fill.

Plyler states in his blog:
“Social media has become a bigger part of athletic departments across the country and Clemson needs an upgrade. Schools are trying to control the message more now than ever and Clemson needs a progressive thinking business person that understands how to create a brand in the modern business world.”

Guess what Mickey…this applies to more than just Clemson Athletics, it applies to many large organizations across the country. As I sat through a strategic meeting for a large organization yesterday, this all day conversation surrounded social media. To quote a person in the room…“It is a culture change.” I agree.

Organizations are having to trudge through a culture change from the leadership all the way down to those who are on the ground level. And it is not just social media or even the digital media strategy, it is an integrated communication approach. Social and digital media are no longer just a tool in the tool box, they are integrated strategies that warrant just as much, if not more, attention that your traditional marketing efforts. (This statement depends on organization and audiences goals.)

To be blunt, it is time for organizations to start curating content ONLY for social and digital efforts. Why…the audiences are looking for this content.

Look at Audi and this year’s Super Bowl, they created content specifically for the social space. They used the #SoLongVampires hastag in the Super Bowl ad that received over 2 million YouTube views and tens of millions of Twitter impressions a week after the ad appeared during the game.

After the 2012 Super Bowl, Murrey Newlands wrote“Capitalizing on vampiremania, they showed an Audi driving up to a vampire bonfire party and accidentally frying the vampires with its powerful headlights! The vampires immediately turned to ash, (unlike TrueBlood vampires who for the most part slowly burn to death once exposed to the Sun).”

They built excitement for their target demographic around the Audi brand, and it is still paying dividends with over 7 million YouTube views to date! That is what I can integrated marketing.

Look at GoPro and their photo of the day initiative on Facebook.  Each day, they share a photo of the day from one of their fans using their GoPro camera. LOVE IT! Talk about engagement, they have over 3 million fans and people love their product. This effort is all on Facebook.

Organizations are learning that it is no longer “just” a push marketing mentality. Brand management involves building community and leveraging word-of-mouth efforts. For the first time, social and digital media efforts provide an opportunity to engage digital word-of-mouth and a measurable outcome. We can build a community and track success. We can build sustainable efforts leveraging online tools and use them in specific tactical methods, then look back and see how we performed.

Organizations are also learning…they must take control of their own brand. Ed Bennet who manages web operations at the University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC) understood this strategy. He brought all web/social/digital efforts in-house. He built a team, he built a culture, and how is a leader in the hospital digital media space.

The Clemson Family is a large family and they engage in many online communities. It is obvious if you look at the Clemson University main Facebook Page and Alumni Page.  And even though many organizations like Clemson Athletics have built many online communities, it is now time to really see if they can build sustainable efforts. No more just pushing the message to a group, but engaging in online conversation.

It is a culture shift, not only for leadership but for those working these efforts on the ground level.

There is more to the story than just capturing the image.

Here is a picture that has being shared around social outlets, especially among my broadcast journalist colleagues. When I look at this funny little caricature, I am amused by the technological indicator of where we are as consumers, and how we have become a part of reporting the story.

If you look at the picture…ten years ago, you could flip flop this image. The paid photojournalists were on the right and the lay person was on the left wondering what is going on. Now, even our grandmother’s have access to smartphones that capture and record high quality images and video. They even have access to technology like Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, Instagram, YouTube, and a host of other technologies that have larger audiences than a television stations DMA.

It is funny how times are shifting and we as storytellers are having to learn to compete in a space flooded with “that” proliferation of information. It is a new paradigm and it is hard not to get scared of this digital media industry. We as practitioners are trying to find ways to bring value to the craft of photojournalism, digital communication, and documentary storytelling…and separate ourselves in this competitive world of “media.”

I was sharing this photo with a close friend and he asked, “Does this photo make you wonder if there is a timeframe to your industry?” I actually feel it strengthens my mission and my business. There is a distinction between the technology that captures and shares images and the craft of using media to tell stories. It is a difference between the practitioner and the technician.

I am excited to let the community act as the technician with their iPhones and Droids and using their 4G LTE service to share those images. Why? Because I can allow them to share the information and let me tell the story behind the information.

The craft behind storytelling allows “us” to use media(s) to capture, craft, construct, and share a story with an audience…inspiring them to create change. Let’s take the Tsunami in Japan, so many individuals captured this story in real time with their smartphones and share online. The storytellers were the individuals that found the people directly impacted by that wall of water…crafted stories that share the human element of this story. Those are the stories that still grip us and bring context to those images.

Both communities (practitioners and technicians) co-exist and leverage each other’s digital access…the consumer shares the action and the storytellers craft the human element of the reaction.

* Image by Gary Varvel 

Stories connect people…Nielsen Digital Consumer Report

Stories are amazing and I am always amazed how stories can connect people. I am getting ready to launch a project this week with Greenville Hospital System, and I have been amazed how the first part of this project has truly defined the meaning of stories.

The first story was one of connection…connecting people, connecting their thoughts, connecting their perspectives, and connecting missions. As Greenville Hospital System grows and spreads it’s footprint across the Upstate of South Carolina, relationships and trust become key. No better way to connect these ideas, missions, and perspectives than by finding a common language and stories fill that void.

Nielsen Research just released the 2011 3rd/4th Quarter Digital Consumer Report illustrating the point that we are growing more and more as a connected culture. Media has become our connection point and technology has provided that link between brands and consumers…and consumers as a whole. Let’s look at some of the recent stats from the US by  Neilsen:

274 million have Internet access
169 million visitors to social networks/blogs
165 million people watch video on a computer

117 million mobile Internet users
44% of mobile Internet users have a smart phone

70% of time spent using a tablet is at home

76 million tv homes are HD capable
35 million tv home have 4 or more tv sets

We are connected, but does that mean we are connected? Just because we have a device and we have internet access? Yes, we are online…but content brings us together. Specifically stories connect us…we seek out common threads, rich information that touches us in a way to read, watch, connect, and even purchase. We want something more than typing in a URL, downloading an “APP”, turning to a televisions show, or engaging in online conversation.

Our stories connect us and we are consistently seeking stories that take us to new places and times. We are seeing more story development during large events like the Super Bowl. Brands are recognizing that consumers want a story to follow. Audi’s Twilight commercial during the SuperBowl allowed people to continue following the Twilight storyline and connecting in conversation over Twitter using the #SoLongVampires hashtag.  Millions of people connected in conversation weeks after the SuperBowl…all via a story of vampires. Cool.

Stories connect us…we just have to find the right story to tell.


Audience is our friend…love your audience

I was having breakfast with a client and friend…Sally Foister. We were chatting about marketing, social media, digital media, etc. The one thing that we kept on coming back to was the idea of knowing your audience.

She has one of the most interesting jobs, in my humble opinion, as she is the Director of Marketing for Greenville Hospital System here in Greenville, SC. Imagine dealing with all the audiences and marketing efforts for the largest Non-Profit Health System in South Carolina. Audience is key.

As we were talking…I just thought more and more about the idea of audience. It is so key in today’s balancing act of digital media, traditional media, and even public/media relations efforts. We can get so hung up on our message, our brand, our services…but sometimes we have to sit back and think about those who are receiving this message. What about those who should be receiving the message and are being marginalized by virtue of our marketing efforts.

Sometimes it it is good to pull back and really think through the people we are trying to touch, have a conversation with, build community around, or just meet. Marketing is more than just delivering a message…it is also about engaging conversation. Before we can engage conversation, we must truly know who we are chatting with…who is on the other side of the coin.

When we use social outlets to post content, do you think through who you are posting the update to…who do you want to read this message? When you are creating a video…do you think through the audience? Can you visualize the audience and see the message, hear the message, share the message through their point-of-view.

Sometimes it takes just a few minutes to do a simple audience analysis, to sit back and visualize who you want share your message with. Then, imagine life through their eyes, ears, daily routines, and heart.

When we call our parents, talk to our children, share dinner with our significant other/love one…we talk and communicate with love and compassion. We do so because we really know our audience. We have taken the time to learn how they think, how they listen, how they see the world. We listen to their responses and try to respond with respect and more thought provoking conversation. Imagine if we used this same method with our marketing efforts.

Audience is key…and marketing is still communication.

***Sally is also writing a blog, just in-case you want to read…CLICK HERE