Over four years ago, I started working with Greenville Hospital System and their social media communications plan. When we started, there was just one Twitter account and a bunch of Facebook groups created by different employees.
As we started trying to get a handle on those initial social platforms, we began struggling with creating a visual brand standard for such a large hospital system. If you look at the current logo (to the left), you will notice it is a horizontal design with brand guidelines that would *barely* us to take parts of a logo and force into a square 250px x 250px avatar.
The goal of the first avatar for Twitter (to the left), and most of the growing number of social outlets, was to represent the brand and to share the main web presence. The more and more we worked, collaborated, and found our way through this social maze…the GHS Creative Services Staff designed the initial Twitter avatar.
Let me say…working with a horizontal logo in a social media space is not an easy task.
Just before Christmas, “Greenville Hospital System officials announced today that the organization is changing its brand to better reflect its current identity and to position the system for future growth. Beginning March 18, 2013, Greenville Hospital System University Medical Center will be known as Greenville Health System, and a new, streamlined logo will accompany the new name.”
If you look at the new logo (at the top), it is amazing the shift from the current design to the new look and name. The new logo incorporates considerations for social media outlets with the new circular design, easy to integrate into social accounts like Twitter, Facebook, and other avatars.
Even though I was not a part of the design and implementation process of the new brand position/logo design, it is *my opinion* the social space had a strong influence with the new design. It has been fun to watch the evolution of GHS’s commitment to the social space. If you go to ghs.org/socialmedia…you will see our footprint has grown.
“It was important to consider all the uses of a logo as we worked through the creative process. There are so many applications today that didn’t exist seven years ago when had our last logo change,“ said Sally Foister, director of marketing, Greenville Hospital System.
Not only has the commitment grown to an integrated approach to socially engaged communication…a commitment to online conversation has exposed new avenues for pr and marketing. Welcome Greenville Health System…welcome.
It is amazing…I am sitting here enjoying a 3 year birthday. This is not a birthday for a person, this is a 3 year birthday for my business. Bobby Rettew, llc is now three years old and I am excited, humbled, and reflective.
I asked myself this morning, how did we get here, how did we make it this far? Three years ago, Sarah and I made the decision to start this business with only one long-term signed agreement…but lots of relationships willing to engage.
The economy was in the tank coming off one the biggest recessions since the great depression. I remember getting ready for Christmas, Sarah and I were counting every dollar projecting how long we could make it if we did not sign another deal. It became a game, how much cash could we put away providing a little more security…especially if we did not pick up another client.
We had just bought a house a year earlier, two cars that needed to be replaced, and planning to have a child. I am thankful in 2006 we started one of the tasks we have ever under taken; paying off all of our un-secured debt. That effort was one of the major reasons we are here today.
So where do we stand today? Wow, I am working out of my own office, I have a wonderful set of relationships who are clients, Rose is now a little over a year old, and the business is growing. We spent two and a half years working out of a small office in the back of the house, building a business slowly on a sound fiscal approach…CASH IS KING.
I remember five years ago, I was taking a class learning how to start a small business. I remember how naive I was when the instructors explained the two-year mark is the toughest to achieve for any small business. Here we stand at 3…and growing.
There are so many things I have learned, so I wanted to share a few:
1. It is ok to be a small business.
I read a powerful book last year that really spoke to me, Rework by 37signals. Most of you might know 37Signals and even use some of their products like Basecamp. This book emphasized it is ok to be small, embrace it and leverage it. We live in the upstate of South Carolina surrounded by high-impact high-growth businesses and conversations. So many meetings I sit in, so many people I meet, so many entrepreneurial groups I interact with…the message is all about high-impact and high-growth. That is not for me and it was hard to resist. For the first two years, I thought I was going to have to pivot this business to become a high-impact venture. What I learned…it is ok to be small, especially for my current business model. Less stress, less overhead, more opportunity.
2. Live your passion.
I love working with people helping them tell and share their story. I also love to teach. Nothing more and nothing less. This has translated well into my business as I work with groups to capture and tell their story using documentary storytelling. From telling stories of grants with the Duke Endowment, stories of health care advocacy for South Carolina Hospital Association, stories of health care for Greenville Hospital System, to stories of advocacy for groups like Safe Harbor, to even stories of inspiration for the Clemson Athletic Hall of Fame…the list is growing.
This is also true with the three groups that I have helped grow their digital brand. If you look at Greenville Hospital System, IT-oLogy, and Serrus Capital Partners…we have been growing their social media presence as a part of their strategic initiatives of their communication efforts.
And finally, it is so true when it comes to teaching. Over the last year, I have been working with the new MBA in Entrepreneurship and Innovation at Clemson University as the Digital Communications Instructor, teaching students how to take their business ideas and share them online in the social/digital space.
3. You just can’t do it all!
It is ok to ask for help and empower those who have a larger skill set to help you achieve your goals. So many projects I take on, I realize I have no idea how to tackle small or even large parts of the goals. I have learned to ask for help. I am one person and I am a small business…there is no way I can do it all. Getting help is fun and promotes good business and a collaborative environment.
4. Take on projects and opportunities that scare the CRAP out of you.
Yes…this is what helps me grow both personally and professionally. Sometimes we need to be challenged, but these projects help us learn how to problem-solve and stretch our professional capabilities.
5. Read as much as possible.
I try to read as many books as I can for both business and personal growth. My brain needs nourishment and reading helps me stay sharp. I also subscribe to lots of blogs surrounding numerous topics areas. My Google Reader is loaded with tons of content to read on a daily basis like business blogs from Harvard Business Review to personal blogs from my friends who are screen writers.
6. Have a good CPA and Lawyer as a colleague and a friend.
My CPA is TJ Way and he was a fraternity brother at Clemson. We lived together when we were fresh out of school and now he is a vital part of my business. Andy Arnold is my attorney, a client, a friend, and is surprisingly a Gamecock. Oh well…but he is just a phone call away with my questions about contracts or our personal living wills.
7. Make time for the family.
This was a hard lesson for me to learn during the second year of my business. During year two, Rose was born and I was balancing my current passions with my newest passion, our little girl. So I learned at the end of the day to cut off business, close the laptop, and enjoy time with the family. This was one of the reasons I moved out of the little home office into my current office. I wanted to be able to come home and be home. There are times when I might work late or work longer, but Sarah and I have learned to integrate family into a small business. This is an ever-learning process…but is vital for the soul.
8. Give your time.
I do not have a lot of time to give, but I try to do one thing…give my time to one non-profit/advocacy group. Each year, I pick a non-profit where I feel connected. I donate my time as if they are a client. For the last year and a half, I have been working with Safe Harbor and they have a powerful mission. I try to make them feel like a client, providing my time and expertise to their initiatives. The best part, I learn from them and we grow together. To me…good business growth is more that just making money.
9. Go on vacation…A LOT!
Seriously, go on vacation at least three to four times a year. This is a huge priority for our family and we have learned that I must leave the laptop, turn on the email auto-responder, and go relax. This allows us to get away from the grind, enjoy some time together, and relax. Rest is huge if you run a small business…getting away is food for the soul.
10. Continue to Focus
Take time at the end of the year to assess your business. Look at more than your financials…look to see if you business goals/mission matches your passions. Look to see if the type of business you are doing matches your balance sheet. Then, ask yourself is this where you want your business to continue to grow. Then focus and write your plan for the next year.
11. Be an Advocate.
Advocate for something. Stand upon some alter and render an opinion. Pick a cause, an initiative, something and advocate. You never know…you might find your calling…your passion.
GHS and Clemson students collaborating on project! Robin Stelling and Kayce LeNeave of Greenville Hospital System and Brooke Carson, Jennifer Eckart, and Hannah Swank of Clemson University worked together to create a social media marketing plan for GoHuntScan, a Greenville Hospital System project. The three students won a competition for best social media marketing plan and as a part of the reward, they enjoyed a lunch at the Lazy Goat networking.
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.
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.
Have you sat back and thought about what has truly defined you both personally and professionally? Can you think about one point in time that has truly changed who you are and how you approach life and your career? There is not a better time to do so than at the end of calendar year…a time of reflection. I have numerous moments in time that have defined me, and a few have pop-up in my mind.
1) Defining moment in 2011 as a person.
It was January 1, 2011 and we were driving back from the Christmas cabin in Georgia. We had just finished enjoying a week of vacation in the Georgia mountains and it was time to make the treck back to civilization. As we were coming through Atlanta, Sarah asked me if we could stop to get a drink. I was sitting in the car waiting for her and she opened the door and hopped back in with tears rolling down her face.
I began to think of the many reasons why a female would come back from a restaurant crying. She looked at me and said…”I am pregnant and I am scared!” The past three years we experienced three miscarriages, not making it past 10 weeks. She was happy that once again she was pregnant, but upset and scared she would loose another pregnancy to miscarriage.
What I did not realize is that Sarah had been carrying pregnancy tests around with her for the last six months…testing on a regular basis. For those of you that do not realize…those pregnancy tests are expensive and she was carrying around a bunch. I would be willing to bet she had a half dozen in her pocketbook…we invested in a lot of those little things.
We immediately called our reproductive endocrinologist (RE)…we had made an appointment to talk about what were the next steps in getting pregnant again. We left a message that we were pregnant and we were wondering if we could reschedule the appointment. They immediately called back and wanted us in the office to run tests ASAP. January 1, 2011 was the day that we began thinking about Rose Frances…that little miracle was born on September 6, 2011. What a way to start 2011.
2) Defining moment in 2011 as a professional.
Have you ever had that one project that defined you as a person and professional. That one project that made you think harder and deeper…pushed you to work harder and see life through a different lens. Well, that happened to me in 2011. I received a phone call in January about a project The Duke Endowment was pulling together, one that was still on the drawing board.
They had the vision of telling stories surrounding individuals who are making a tremendous impact in their communities. These individuals are special people who lead organizations/initiatives that are supported by grants from The Duke Endowment. This project is called Profiles of Service…one that would allow me to practice all my journalistic skills of documentary storytelling. Over the next 8 months, I was able to work alongside The Duke Endowment, capturing stories of four individuals in both North and South Carolina. People that were and still are making a tremendous impact in their communities, leading initiatives that bring change.
Each story was located in a different part of North and South Carolina, allowing me to travel from the mountains of Western North Carolina to the low-country of South Carolina. Four individuals, four stories of dedication and service, and hours of interviews captured and shaped into a final product for people to enjoy.
3) What I am looking forward to in 2012.
I am really excited about 2012…two projects that I am working on for this upcoming year. The first is a project with Greenville Hospital System, telling stories from inside the walls of this healthcare organization. There will be more to come over the next year…but I am really excite about this project!
I am also excited to be partnering with Safe Harbor in Greenville, SC. Six months ago, they came to me in the hopes to produce one video as a multi-purpose tool from fundraising to sharing their story online. After spending a few days with them, I realized that one video is just not enough to really share their story. Over the course of 2012, we will be sharing some amazing stories, from those who been impacted by domestic violence to those who are trying to create change in the community. We have already been working together for the last 6 months and we are looking forward to sharing some amazing perspectives.
It is my belief to look back and reflect and to look forward to something amazing! I am excited to be embarking in my third year of business!
Here is the question that was posed during the 2011 Leadership Summit last week at Clemson At The Falls.
What are the biggest myths and/or mistakes leaders make in how they interpret and integrate creativity/passion into their leadership styles? What do most leaders often get right? Wrong?
A good leader knows how to find the creativity and passion in his/her group(s) of people, and help them unlock their god given natural talents to lead. My mentor Leighton Cubbage talks about this concept of providing a team to tap into their greatest potential. I also think about the idea surrounding how the Dalai Lama embraces this mentality, stating “there goes my people, I am following.”
I have worked for a few large organizations across the country, and leadership has mistaken passion/creativity as a threatening attribute. Whether it is insecurity or maybe they considered a person’s passion a liability. But, what if leadership spent time trying to fully understand where this passion originated inside a person. What if an organization’s leader learned to channel that passion/creativity, capitalizing that energy to benefit not only the organization…but the person who is craving to be a part of the team.
IMHO…leaders must learn to listen and recognize that they do not have all the answers. John Maxwell tells a story in his book “Everyone Communicates Few Connect” how a new leader (CEO) broke away from his corner office and put his desk right in the middle of the whole business. He allowed people to connect with him, share ideas, and allow the freedom of expression to thrive. He listened to his people and allowed his people to share. Once again…it is about language and the ability to communicate. I love the interview above as John Maxwell talks about the premise of his book.
I was also fortunate enough to work with a very smart leader, Mike Riordan. He wanted to start a blog to share his thoughts as a leader in health care and as the CEO of one of the largest health systems in the Southeast. His blog allowed him to connect not only with the outside world, but the employees of Greenville Hospital System. From topics of heath care reform, big budget decisions, to the new academic center in the Greenville, the employees of Greenville Hospital System began reading and connecting. Yes, he may have a corner office, but this tool allowed him to open his doors and engage in conversation with all walks of people right inside the walls of Greenville Hospital System.
It is more than communication…it is connecting. But…communication tools can provide the opportunity for leadership to share their passions and creatively connect with like minded individuals.
There are many groups that have gone ahead and created branded accounts for their organizations. I know I created one for Greenville Hospital System. We have been trained to claim our “domain,” not knowing what the future holds in each social outlet/space. We do not want anyone speaking on behalf or our brand’s behalf.
Look at the latest statement from MSNBC, they had their Google Plus account taken down by Google. So, one of their editors is now posting on their behalf, using a personalized account.
So what do we do? Well, I have a few thoughts…my opinions:
1) If you have created a branded account for your organization/hospital/company/brand…hold on to it as long as you can. Keep on engaging in conversation and testing the waters with your strategy. Keep the conversation alive and ask the Circles what they are wanting from this experience.
2) Be prepared to transfer this account. We do not know how Google plans to release the new branded/business accounts, but be prepared to transfer the current Google Plus account to the new platform. This may involve sharing with your Circles that you will be transferring, but communicate with them your intentions.
3) If you have not created a branded account for your organization/hospital/company/brand…maybe consider holding off for a while. Create a personal account and get acclimated with Google Plus. This is the time to play, research, and figure out what this new outlet is all about.
4) Starting formulating some strategy for the usage of these accounts. If you have to transfer or if you are waiting to create a branded/business account, and you want to create one, starting putting together a plan on how to use and/or transfer your existing account.
5) Communicate with your Circles and let your community guide you. Let your Circles share with you and your brand how they want to engage with you on Google Plus. This will help you determine your strategy and your process when Google releases the branded/business accounts.
“Here is a quick update on Google+ and businesses:
A few weeks ago we mentioned we would be doing a test of business profiles and asked people interested to apply. Believe it or not we actually had tens of thousands of businesses, charities, and other organizations apply to take part from all over the world. Many of you have reached out to me personally through Google+, e-mail, chat, and even other Googlers. Thank you. Your response has been humbling.
With so many qualified candidates expressing intense interest in business profiles, we’ve been thinking hard about how to handle this process. Your enthusiasm obligates us to do more to get businesses involved in Google+ in the right way, and we have to do it faster. As a result, we have refocused a few priorities and we expect to have an initial version of businesses profiles up and running for EVERYONE in the next few months. There may be a tiny handful business profiles that will remain in the meantime solely for the purpose of testing how businesses interact with consumers.
In the meantime, we ask you not to create a business profile using regular profiles on Google+. The platform at the moment is not built for the business use case, and we want to help you build long-term relationships with your customers. Doing it right is worth the wait. We will continue to disable business profiles using regular profiles. We recommend you find a real person who is willing to represent your organization on Google+ using a real profile as him-or-herself.
All of us on the Google+ effort are delighted by your engagement with this project – thank you all for taking the time to apply and offer such incredibly useful feedback. Keep it coming!”
For the last year and a half, I have been working with Greenville Hospital System (GHS) integrating the idea of blogging inside this major medical system. First off, let me just say there is not a perfect strategy (IMHO) for something that is such a subjective initiative to integrate.
Before I began presenting the idea of finding people inside the organization to blog at GHS, I spent a good bit of time talking and consulting with GHS and their Marketing/PR Department and also a long-time friend who runs all of the New Media Initiatives at Clemson University, Jacob Barker. We found many similarities between a large hospital system and a major, state supported university. First, their are many different departments/colleges at a University that match the many departments and service lines of a major health system.
The first thing Jacob and I agreed upon is that it is more than just a formulaic strategy to implement across an organization, it is all about engagement and learning from each other. We knew it was best engage a Social Media Advisory Committee or a Social Media Team. GHS had already established this team.
About the same time, President and CEO Mike Riordan began inquiring about starting a blog as means to engage with the employees and to clearly define his message as a leader of a major medical system. With healthcare reform all around us, it made sense for him to write about this topic and many others in a public, transparent manner. This is very similar to President Barker’s blog at Clemson. The only difference, Mike Riordan wanted to allow people to comment, he wanted to respond to people’s thoughts.
So this is where we started. I worked closely with the leadership in the Marketing Department along with Mike and his Chief of Staff to create a frame work for which he would write. Before we started, we had to really think about the mission behind the blog, what he was interested in writing about, and how often he was willing to commit to this social outlet. It was great…he began writing immediately. Over the last year, he has written close to two blog posts a week, sometimes more!
We set-up a streamlined approach to the technology utilizing WordPress which allowed him to write from his iPad with the WordPress App. I work with him consistently to clean-up the formatting and also integrate presentations and video into the blog posts. I wanted him to focus on his writing and I take care of the technology issues. He writes everything! Since we started the blog, over half of his traffic comes from the employees of GHS. His ability to write passionately as a leader translates to the employees and the local community of GHS.
This was the beginning, since then we have started other blogs across the system from physician practices to patients/community advocates who have special voice in healthcare. From a patient writing about her family dealing with Diabetes (http://ourhamandeggs.com), the head of PR writing about Women’s Health (http://ungirdledtruths.com), and even an Internal Medicine Physician Group writing about running a small practice of all female doctors (http://cypressinternalmedicine.com/blog). We have been proud of our growth and what we have learned.
These experiences guided us and we learned a few things as we began engaging other blog opportunities.
1. You have to find the internal ambassadors who naturally fit the blogging paradigm. These people naturally write in a social voice and genuinely want to connect with others.
2. Not all blogs have to carry the corporate look of the organization. Mike Riordan’s blog represesents GHS and the best interests of his leaderships position, so we gave it more of a corporate look. It matches the style of GHS’s color schemes and branding. BUT…there has been research presented that consumers find blogs that present a corporate look seem less credible and are not willing to engage in the conversation…that is why the “Our Ham and Eggs” Blog is a little more personalized.
3. You have to have a mission from the beginning that focuses the writing. As time moves along (and you have installed analytics to track the traffic), you can evolve the writing based on audience response, evolution of the organization’s mission, and topical public issues that bridge the audience to the organizations message.
4. You need to track success. We have found installing great analytics packages like Google Analytics and GetClicky Analytics allows you to compare traffic results with blog posts and campaigns…plus, GetClick is real time.
5. You have to share your blog using social outlets and other marketing pieces. We like to use our Twitter and Facebook presence to share blog posts with the consumer, but we also share blog posts using internal communication tools for employees. This was done using internal newsletters and intranets…which was vital during the passage of healthcare reform related issues. Also…put the blog URL on brochures and other physical media for people to see. And last, be sure to advertise the blog on the home page of your website.
6. If you decide to allow people to comment on your blog, you have to be willing to respond. These are people who are reaching out and want to engage in a conversation. Take advantage of this opportunity.
7. Write passionately and straight from the heart. People want to read stories and know your honest thoughts and opinions. This is an opportunity to take a stand on issues, ideas, and topical items relevant to your audiences and your mission. They can go to your website for corporate marketing generated content, but in the blogs…you have to write passionately. As Robbin Phillips of Brains On Fire says…”It’s people stupid.”
8. Do not be afraid to get personal. Some of the biggest traffic came when blog posts were written that allowed the audience to learn more about people’s personal side. Yes, you have to decide what your boundaries may be…but allowing people to see you as a person and not a position gives them a chance to relate to you.
9. Use pictures, video, and any other visuals to reinforce what you are writing about. People like pictures and it allows them to see how you smile or relate to a topic. Also…video gives a third dimension to the topic.
10. Transparent writing…what do I mean? Well Mike Riordan writes his own blog content and so do each of the bloggers. These posts come straight from the horses mouth, not from a series of over-site committees. It is all genuine content.
I am extremely fortunate to work with a smart staff at GHS, their smart direction and innovative thinking has allowed me to try new things with them. They are fun!
Final thought…Blogging is all about Telling Stories! Nuff Said.