Twitter – A Villanelle

Twitter – A Villanelle

Be my friend in real life, more so than on Twitter.
A palm on hand binds us together like no single passing tweet.
Follow me down to the setting sun – we’ll revel in its glitter.

Though the Web may be the Great Transmitter,
we’re born to join hand-in-hand, face-to-face, seat-to-seat.
Be my friend in real life, more so than on Twitter.

The Web of Life is rare with sweet and full with bitter.
The human heart works its healing power beat to beat to beat.
Follow me down to the setting sun – we’ll revel in its glitter.

How can we make the most out of the dying time we’re given? We fritter.
Remember: the collective laughter of our childhood turned bitter into sweet.
Be my friend in real life, more so than on Twitter.

The Web we weave needs the skill and care and hand of a knitter:
to conquer death and fear and hate is the greatest human feat.
Follow me down to the setting sun – we’ll revel in its glitter.

We’re not here long at all my friend; don’t let the Web be our Quitter.
Let’s love the world in its human form and live deep within its dying heat.
Be my friend in real life, more so than on Twitter.
Follow me down to the setting sun – we’ll revel in its glitter.

by @PhiBaumann

Do Normal People Follow Big Pharma On Twitter?

Do “normal” people – patients, doctors, nurses, pharmacists, life scientists, etc – follow Big Pharma on Twitter? I’ve long had a hunch that most of the followers (and by followers I mean people who are actually paying attention) of Pharma accounts are primarily consultants, marketers, PR pros, social media evangelists and others interested in Pharma’s use of the Web (including myself).

So I decided to gather the key words in the profiles of a select group of Pharma companies. I used the service TwitterSheep to generate tag clouds of these profiles. This isn’t a purely scientific approach, but it’s reasonable enough to provide some insight into whose following Pharma. My friends Silja Chouquet (@Whydotpharma) and Andrew Spong (@AndrewSpong) each provided great insight into Pharma and Twitter. You can read their posts here and here, respectively.

Based on the tag clouds, here are the top ten key words in the profiles of followers of selected Pharma companies:

  • Pharmaceutical
  • Medical
  • Healthcare
  • Time
  • Social
  • PR
  • Marketing
  • Research
  • Web
  • Health

“Normal” people don’t have words like Marketing or PR or Social or Pharmaceutical in their bios. Now, I don’t think this is a bad thing. Pharma’s adoption of Twitter is relatively recent. But I don’t think that Pharma’s providing the most value that it could with its primary audience being marketing professionals.

Here’s a slideshare of screenshots for each tag cloud of the eleven accounts I examined (if you can’t see the embed, check it out here):

Pharma’s core base – patients and physicians and pharmacists and health care organizations – are the most valuable followers. Pharma certainly can’t do things that non-regulated industries can do. Nonetheless, Twitter does have many diverse business values: dissemination of news, consumption of relevant content, engagement with followers who can spread positive sentiments within the community and many other practical uses.

Currently, it’s not clear what specific goals Pharma companies have with respect to Twitter. Each can have completely different goals – and most of these accounts are maintained by people whom I’ve met personally. But the concern here isn’t so much about how Pharma companies are using Twitter (that’s another discussion). For as much as Twitter is about the humanization of communications and the ability to converse, audience is still a critical thing to build.

I realize Twitter’s still a shiny new toy for some industries (it’s actually a staple of communications for many others), but Pharma needs focuses and purposes and goals as it matures from the unilateral broadcasting skills it honed in the last quarter of the 20th Century towards the pliant, two-way and multi-faceted characteristics of the kind of media which the Web is giving birth to every day. There’s no guarantee that all Pharma companies will learn these new skills and new ways of thinking. There will be winners. There will be losers. Hopefully, it’s the patients who win. (Which is a good thing for the industry.)

What audiences should Pharma focus its tweets on developing, cultivating and engaging? That’s an important question. I doubt the CEOs of Big Pharma companies are terribly interested in dazzling Social Medi Gurus and Marketers and PR Pros. 🙂

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

FDA Changes Position on BPA

Image via Wikipedia

As a member of Better Health Network of medical bloggers, I had an opportunity to participate in a briefing on bisphenol A (BPA) in December. You can listen to the briefing read up about issues surrounding BPA here. This is an important story which will probably receive more attention as we learn more about the safety of BPA.

On Friday, the FDA changed its position regarding BPA over concerns about the chemical which is used in a wide range of consumer products from water bottles to baby bottles. The FDA is now expressing its intent to seek and fund more studies on the public health safety of BPA.

The BPA story has been a long-running controversy and provides us with a good view of the intersection of public health, scientific rigor, commercial enterprise, government regulation, the spread of memes via social media and the economic consequences of public policy.

If it turned out, on solid scientific grounds, that BPA does indeed pose a threat what would be the economic consequences of revocation and remediation? This isn’t to equate money with life or health – but it is a point about the important role that scientific rigor has in how we produce goods.

In an age of instantaneous propagation of information (either good or bad), how do we filter out the right data from the wrong? Additionally, given that public debates are necessarily human in nature (that is to say, emotional), how do we ensure that reasoning minds appropriately congregate so we achieve the clearest results?

What do you think of the FDA’s change in stance with respect to BPA? Do you think public debates on matters like BPA safety are healthy?

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Foursquare Is Powerful Enough to Cure Insomnia and Depression

So  I’ve been toying around with Silicon Valley’s latest toy Foursquare. I realize geolocation services are going to become very big this year as mobile and social become more common. But sometimes I wonder how carried away evangelists can get sometimes.

Anyhoo, I haven’t seriously used Foursquare but have been intruiged by its usage – it seems a lof of people on Twitter love to use the service and tell everybody that they became Mayor of Casterbridge or some such place. Harmless fun I suppose.

So I decided to see how useful this service could be. Does it have a place in health care? How can Foursquare be re-purposed for more utilitarian goals beyond telling friends what watering hole you’re Mayor of? (See note below this post.)

What if you could “check into” emotional places or disease states? (Yes, I like taking it to the absurd.) Foursquare doesn’t let you do that – not for very long at least. I can see how spam could become an issue for Foursquare (I’m probably not the only joker doing these sort of things). So here’s what I did: I added the items Insomnia and Clinical Depression and linked to them on Twitter. A few hours later, Foursquare removed (or “closed”) these places. Here are screenshots:

So wow! Foursquare could end Insomnia and Clinical Depression! Score one for Social Media!!!

I’m all for using social media for all sorts of things. And I’m sure Foursquare has its uses. But I also sense that social media mania may be getting out of hand. I wonder if the majority of the adopters of these servcies have a clear purpose in mind before they adopt them. Or are they just adopting them because they exist, with some getting lucky in finding purpose after?

What do you think? Do you use Foursquare? How do you use it?

On a more serious note, I’d like to add that perhaps we could take some inspiration from this sarcastic use of Foursquare – along the lines of a service which enables people with similar issues (diseases, practical problems, political affiliations, industries, etc.). A sort of mashup of Twitter and Foursquare and Yelp and Get Satisfaction.

Foursquare is based on one simple piece of meta-data – geolocation. It’s the primary social object around which all other social objects and behaviors and meta-data orbit.

But there are all kinds of meta-data. Think about that, developers.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Be A Linchpin Instead of a Cog – Reading Seth Godin

I received my advanced copy of Seth Godin’s Linchpin: Are You Indispensable and will review the book shortly. Seth has a knack for simple and light analogies that do heavy lifting. Cogs are dispensable; linchpins aren’t. As the Technology expands its dominance, The Age of the Cog is giving way to the Age of the Linchpin and Seth sets out to explain how any of us can achieve indispensability.

After reading the first few chapters, it’s clear that Seth provides us with a fresh historical perspective of how our civilization came to be dominated by the Cog-mentality. The ways in which we learned to do business, plan our careers and live our lives largely stemmed from the emergence of factory-like processes that consumed global economies.

But a new technological order is upending the status quo of the factory and the cog. Stability was a luxury that is now vanishing speedily. Replacing the stable order of things is a rapidly evolving Web. Seth sets out to offer us a way out of our fears of change: to become a linchpin – an indispensable presence in the world. It’s a difficult task, but increasingly a paramount one.

What’s the cost of maintaining the Cog system? Seth explains:

“…legions of frustrated workers, wasted geniuses each and every one of them, working like automatons, racing against the clock to crank out another policy, get through another interaction, see another patient.”

For those of you in the healthcare industry: does this sound painfully familiar? We really do need a re-frame of just how much the Technological mentality has influenced everything we do. And I’m glad that Seth – even if he might not realize it – is giving us a way to do such a re-framing.

I look forward to digesting Linchpin and conveying my thoughts and a full review in future posts. You can view of list of reviews and tweets about Linchpin here.

If you want to receive future posts and my upcoming review at your convenience, subscribe here.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Marketing Is Technology – Insight for the Perplexed

An ancient spoked wheel on exhibit in the Luri...
Image via Wikipedia

This post is the first in a series focused on revealing the essence of Technology.  These aim of these posts is to spark inquire into the nature of Technology and to provide some fresh insight for Marketers, PR professionals, technologists, bloggers, doctors, nurses and everyone else. It’s important that we understand the essence of Technology; to understand our relationship with it; how it influences our perceptions and feelings and actions; and how and why it’s critical to all of us to re-frame what we see and do in terms of a panning-out from our accustomed ways and habits. You can get these posts delivered to you by subscribing here. I’ve also started the blog Technescan: Revealing the Essence of Technology – you can subscribe to TechneScan’s Posterous here and follow @TechneScan on Twitter.


What is Marketing? Is it an Art? Is it a Science? It’s possible to attribute characteristics of Art and Science to Marketing of course. In its essence, though, Marketing is neither an art nor a science. Rather, it is part of the domain of Technology.  And we must understand Technology before we can understand Marketing. Let me provide the first installment of what I mean.


The essence of Technology is not just tools and gadgets. That may be how most people view Technology but that’s an incomplete understanding of Technology. A definition of Technology is very difficult without understanding its essence. Define Life – it’s not easy: and yet, like obscenity, we know it when we see it. Similarly, Technology is a difficult thing to define. The difference, however, is that we don’t always see or recognize things as Technology.

The root word of Technology is Techne. The ancient Greeks’ conception of Techne was not just tools or craft (in the sense that we conceive). Techne for the Greeks was a way of knowing and being – a way of understanding our relationship with the world around us. For them Art and Technique were bound up together into a way of interacting with the larger environment. It is this angle that can rescue us from our narrow conception of Technology which will reveal deeper insights into its essence. NOTE: This is a much harder task than one may think at first. You can read the philosopher Martin Heidegger’s works on the matter: but it’s very heady stuff.

Examples of Technology include but are not limited to: Culture, Law, the Internet, Capitalism, Democracy, Reading, Writing, Twitter, Politics, Civilization and Humanity. Think about the world you live in – the one which influenced your personal and professional history: it’s utterly bound up within the contexts and influences of Technology. Kevin Kelly is right to assert that Technology is the Seventh Kingdom of Life.

When we do things with Technology – say build telecommunications networks or cars or medical devices – the effect of our use is something beyond our initial perception of the technology. Technology offers us a new view of things: it reveals what was hidden to us before. Twitter, for example, has revealed a social construct which always existed but we just never realized. We didn’t know how much we could learn about each other in just a few bursts of 140 characters; nor did we know how far we would adopt Twitter and incorporate it into our daily communication and news gathering and sharing behaviors. If you were told four years ago that millions of people would be messaging each other en masse in 140 characters, you just wouldn’t believe it.

Thus: Technology is a Revealing influence.


So what does all this esoteric babble have to do with Marketing? Well, when marketers seek to solve problems such as getting the word out (WOM) or Branding or positioning or distribution, they are enframing their solutions within a Technological context. What technique shall we employ here? What metrics will we measure our success or failure? How can we engage our base? These are technological frameworks.

Oh yes, many professionals will respond: Well, what we’re doing is a human activity – we’re reaching out to humans and we engage in person-to-person communication. And this position is becoming increasingly popular in light of the emergence of a two-way Web. But even here, marketers who are just awakening to the conversational nature of modern Marketing are asking themselves technological questions: How can we properly use social media to reach and engage our customers?

How is a part of Techne. And that’s not to say that Marketing can’t be Human – it should be. But Marketers can easily confuse a Technological engraming for a human one.

So Marketers need to ask themselves what their efforts reveal. They also need to pan back from their day-to-day operations and re-frame what they’re looking at, so that they can reveal the essence of what they’re doing.


…if you’re not present, you can’t persuade.

Marketers often get stuck in certain ways of thinking and often over-focus on tools and tactics and techniques and algorithms. This explains why so many traditional marketers are struggling with “Social Media” and the shiny new social software and gadgets that continue to pop up. Even those who understand the need to dovetail traditional efforts with conversational ones maye risk forgetting the role Technology plays within the context of person-to-person communication.

If Marketers understand just how big Technology is, what it is in its essence, how it influences our daily perceptions and conceptions of the world around them, and what it might reveal, then they will find themselves with freshened perspectives and important insights into the essence of Marketing.

Marketing, just like Technology, is about Presence. Some marketers believe “all Marketing is Persuasion”. The fault in that mantra is simple: if you’re not present, you can’t persuade.

Technology reveals what is present in our world. Marketing reveals what is present in an organization’s or individual’s realm of possibilities. If you don’t understand Technology, you aren’t realizing the potential of Marketing in its fullest and most human form. After all, that’s the proper goal of Marketing: to transcend technique towards sincere human relationship.

Confused yet?

It’s OK if you’re confused by this. It’s a completely new way to view the world. That’s why I’m devoting a series (and a blog) to this topic. I hope you follow along, contribute in the comments and even contact me (Phil /at/ PhilBaumann /dot/ com or on Twitter or by phone – 484-3726-0451.)

If you enjoyed this post and what to keep up-to-date at your convenience, subscribe here.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]