Read Craig Underwood’s blog posts about technology.

A Collaboration Campaign – 5 Observations From 8 Days On The Front Lines In Georgia

Summary: We drove over 3,000 miles last week from Boston to Atlanta, Jonesboro, Ellenwood, McDonough, Riverdale, Montgomery, Griffin, Lagrange, Oxford and Covington, Georgia and back home.  We travelled south to work door-to-door canvassing to help the Reverend Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff win their runoff races to represent Georgia in the US Senate.  The bulk of our time was invested in “curing” rejected ballots – mail-in ballots that had been rejected because the voter didn’t include the requisite ID or the Board of Elections reviewer decided that their signature did not match the one on file.

We realized that voter suppression was not only real, but much more insidious and painful than imagined.  Warnock and Ossoff won because their campaigns and the efforts of the Georgia Democratic Party were far superior to those of the Republicans, and because Stacey Abrams and her 2018 gubernatorial campaign manager Lauren Groh-Wargo provided the strategy and the intellectual, implementational and inspirational leadership to win the Georgia races and  flip the US Senate.  We also experienced the highs and lows of Wednesday, January 6th.  We woke to see data convincing us that both Warnock and Ossoff would win, were moved and inspired by the words and Memorial of Dr. King next to the  Ebenezer Baptist Church and then watched the horrific events unfold at our Nations Capitol throughout the afternoon and evening. As heartbreaking as those images and acts were, we remain optimistic about our future given both the impact of the leadership and work we saw in Georgia and the words of Dr. King who reminds us that “the moral arc of the universe bends slowly, but it bends in the direction of justice.”

 “We came to Georgia to do GOTV work, we were blessed to have the opportunity to do civil rights work.”

The 5 Observations from 8 Days on the Front Lines in Georgia

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Note to Starbucks CEO: Don’t use technology (or loyalty programs) to demotivate your employees


Summary: While the Starbucks App is cool and makes buying coffee and food quick and easy without dealing with cash, credit or debit cards, the company appears to have developed the app without fully considering the impact on their employees. The app doesn’t offer users the option to tip baristas when making a purchase.  Other mobile payment apps like LevelUp and even taxi cab credit card machines make tipping quick and easy for users.  The Starbucks Rewards program also concerns us as it rewards customers for paying for one item at a time, even when purchasing multiple items, which could lead to increased employee and customer frustration.

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Collaboration Big Citizenship for Skateboarding in Brookline

Net: Realizing that our son had no dedicated places to skateboard in our town of Brookline, Massachusetts, my wife Patty organized a group of young skate boarders and parents, teachers, nonprofit and other leaders to advocate for the creation of safe places to skate in our community.  Although we have a lot of work to do and have only taken the first few steps in what will undoubtedly be a long journey, the collaborative efforts of our small but committed group, the over 100 friends who supported us online and the 60 young skaters and their parents who attended our presentation to the town’s Parks and Recreation Commission have successfully launched our campaign.


In his recently published book, my friend Alan Khazei – the social entrepreneur , Co-Founder of City Year and former candidate for the US Senate – makes the case for creating change through the collaborative efforts of public private partnerships, where citizen activists, business leaders and government agencies work together to address challenges and create new opportunities.  He refers to this model as Big Citizenship, advocating that the old models of relying too heavily on either big government or private industry are tired, ineffective and not appropriate for creating change in the 21st Century.

Big Citizenship CoverAlthough the concept of Big Citizenship is not intuitive to all, you clearly know it when you see it in action.  I had such an experience recently.  Realizing that our son had no place to skateboard in our town of Brookline, Massachusetts, my wife Patty organized a group of young skate boarders and  parents, teachers, nonprofit and other leaders to advocate for the creation of safe places to skate in our community.  Alan would see this as a clear example of the power of big citizenship, and I would agree. But I also see it as a compelling example of collaboration and, as we are beginning to increase our social and traditional media outreach, a great case study in how the internet can support and turbo-charge the efforts of a small but committed group.

None of this would have been possible without both Patty’s initiative and the phenomenal and strategic efforts of our friend Armin Bachman.  Armin is truly a Big Citizen.  (Last year I encouraged Alan to promote his book by starting a Big Citizen contest where people could nominate others for recognition; I had Armin in mind as a leading candidate.)  Armin is an entrepreneur; he is co-owner of Orchard Skateshop, by far the best skateboarding store in the Boston area.  He is a social entrepreneur, having founded the nonprofit Extension, to make skating more accessible in the greater Boston area.  Armin and

Armin and Myles the other owners of Orchard are big citizens in their community as well, giving 1% of their revenues to local nonprofits and helping new artists by hosting shows in the gallery above the shop.  He is also one very smart and connected dude, knowing leaders in the skateboarding space across the country and increasingly around the world, and very gifted at finding data related to developing safe places to skateboard.  (Full disclosure: Armin is also Myles skateboarding teacher.)

Other members of the original group included Nicco Berinstein, a Brookline High School 11th grader and avid skater; Eileen Amy, Nicco’s mother and a registered nurse; Michael McKittrick, a Brookline High School teacher and the faculty advisor to the school’s skateboarding club; John Wynne, a Cambridge businessman, skater, and a passionate skateboarding advocate; and our son Myles, an avid skater and the person who helped us see the need for safe places to skate in Brookline.

Read more uses Web 2.0, great service and rewards to score a Collaboration Evangelist trifecta

Net: provides great consumer value, excellent web and phone customer service and has one of the most rewarding loyalty programs I have seen.  The company shows how applying the philosophy and applications of Web 2.0, good customer service and a well designed and implemented rewards program can create customer loyalty.  Why book anywhere else?

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Three facts and 6 myths about Web 2.0

The three facts:

  1. Forrester’s 2008 Technographics research found that over 50% of the members of all major age groups are actively engaged with at least one Web 2.0 application, including blogs, user reviews and social networks.
  2. A 2008 McKinsey study of over 1900 large enterprises around the world found that only 28% were applying at least one Web 2.0 technology or tool.
  3. Of those companies surveyed by McKinsey that had applied at least one Web 2.0 tool to their business in 2007 and 2008:
    • 21% were very or extremely satisfied with their investments
    • 22% were very or extremely dissatisfied with their investments

 Yes, more businesses were dissatisfied with their investment in Web 2.0 tools than were satisfied.

The six myths:

  1. My customer (or employee or business partners) base is too old to engage with Web 2.0 and social media tools. This makes a lot of sense for businesses that cater to a younger population, but not for us.
  2. Our business is in a serious industry where privacy is very important. Therefore using Web 2.0 tools would not be appropriate.
  3. Web 2.0 is a fad and it will go away.
  4. Less than 30% of businesses are using Web 2.0 tools; if it doesn’t fade away, the next person in my job can deal with it.
  5. Social media applications do not need to be “launched” either internally for employee applications or externally with customers or partners. You should just put them on the web or your intranet and if they are valuable, people will use them. We tried an experiment and nothing happened, all of the above are correct.
  6. No one has been able to measure the business impact or the ROI of investing in social media technology.

Data and case studies to support 1-6 to follow in future posts.  Let me know your favorite myths. 

Customer service disaster non-recovery; Kimpton’s Hotel Monaco doesn’t get Web 2.0, earns first CHU “Un-recommends”

Net: Despite the fact that user generated ratings and reviews have been a mainstay of the internet since at least 1999, many large businesses fail to provide an easy way for customers to provide feedback and do not monitor and respond to customer comments on the Web.  I recently experienced this first hand from the Hotel Monaco in Washington, D.C. It is the first experience bad enough to earn a ” CHU Un-recommends.”

In our page Six Web 2.0 Imperatives for All Businesses, we emphasized the following points under Imperative Four: Build, Activate and Support your Communities:

  • If you don’t provide a place on your site for customers to ask questions, it is highly likely that at least some of them will go to a third party site where they will be prime targets for your competitors’ marketing efforts.
  • Whatever you do, make it incredibly easy for employees, business partners and customers to provide feedback. And go the next step by proactively asking for feedback. Then, make sure you authentically respond to their feedback.

A few months ago in the post A car for a car, a coffee for a coffee, $10 for free porn?” I wrote about several positive experiences where businesses seized the opportunity to turn service failures into brand building recoveries.   This post is from a different perspective.

A few weeks ago my wife and I were planning to attend Rhodes Scholar and Oxford University reunions in Washington, D.C.  I went to to find a hotel room for the weekend.  They had what looked like a great price on the Hotel Monaco, a Kimpton Hotel in a perfect location.  I have stayed at other Kimpton properties and always had good experiences, so I booked the hotel.  [ is a great business and will be the subject of a future post.]

I flew to Washington early in the day so I could take my fellow alum and Microsoft uber-lawyer Steve Crown to visit Year Up, the innovative work force development program founded and led by Gerald Chertavian, for lunch.  We had a wonderful tour and Steve had a great session with several students, sharing experience and advice from his years of success and answering all of their questions.   After our visit to Year Up, I went to check in at the Hotel Monaco.  My wife Patty was arriving later in the evening.

A Beautiful Building

The Hotel is in a beautiful historical building that used to be a famous Post Office and appeared to have all of the usual Kimpton features – cool lobby, interesting bar, water bowl for dogs, etc.  I checked in and went to the room.  Although we had reserved a “deluxe queen,” room, it was very, very small.  It felt like there was less than 12 inches of space from the side of the bed to the window or the wall and a small desk was crammed into an alcove.  The room was a fraction of the size of the rooms we have had in other Kimpton properties.  Not exactly the venue nor the ambiance I had envisioned for a romantic weekend in DC without our kids.



The King Room

No problem, I thought, I’ll call the front desk and get a better room.  All seemed good when the desk staff offered to move me to a “deluxe King” on the “first” floor.  It turns out that the first floor is subterranean, i.e. it’s the basement.  My initial concern was that the room would be noisy, being so close to the street.  The front desk clerk assured me that they were quite quiet, and it turns out that is true.  But as I descended the stairs to the “first floor” I started to notice a bad odor.   Despite my attempts to simultaneously act like a two year old and ignore the smell and try to convince myself that Patty wouldn’t notice, it was clear the first floor smelled like a damp basement with a mildew problem.  Nonetheless, I powered on to the room.  The room was actually nice, with a huge bed, high ceilings, decent bathroom, and more room for the desk.   The architect had done a great job making the half-windows to the sidewalk seemed larger than they were and let in a lot of light.  Best of all, the room was not noisy at all.  I thought I could still smell something but rationalized that the odor was just coming from the hall.  I cranked the AC on high, ran around the corner to get some candles to complete the romantic ambiance I was determined to create, and took off for the Rhodes event.

The event to honor Sir Collin Marshall, who was retiring as the Warden of Rhodes House, was held at the British Embassy and it was wonderful.  By the end of the event, Patty had arrived, checked into the hotel and met me and several of my classmates at a Georgetown restaurant.  The food was great, the company even better and we stayed at the restaurant until almost midnight.  On the way back to the hotel Patty said, “Did you notice our room is in the basement of the hotel, the hallway smells like dog pee and our room like mold? ” I briefly considered returning to my two year old mindset, but chose to say something like “maybe a little, but I bought a lot of candles” and quickly change the subject.


The candles and the AC helped cover up the smell, and we decided to not try and change rooms again given that the front desk told me the hotel was sold out with two wedding parties.  The next day, Patty discovered there was mold on the bottom of the shower curtain.  A definite first for me in a “four star” hotel or for that matter, any star hotel.  In addition to the smelly hall and room mold problems, the on-demand movies in our room were very fuzzy and the engineer on duty could not fix the problem.  And whoever cleaned our room on Friday night forgot to remove the mold, but did remove our wine glasses and did not replace them.  All in all, a pretty bad experience. Read more

BMW falls in the gap between consumer expectations and business engagement with Web 2.0

Net: The fact that 50% of all consumers are engaging with social media, but less than 40% of businesses are doing so means that some companies are leaving their customers exposed to competitor’s initiatives. BMW is one of many examples.

Last fall, I leased a new BMW X3 to replace my old one whose lease was expiring.The replacement X3 did not have the built-in navigation of its predecessor, so I decided to go online to search for a portable unit.First stop was, where I expected to find an owners’ community where I would be able to ask others for advice.

When Underwood Partners conducts a Web 2.0 audit for clients, one of the outputs is a “heat map” that visually shows competitive and complimentary companies’ use of social media technology tools. The map is color coded: green represents a highly visible and useful application; yellow represents an application that is either buried deep in the site, poorly marketed or has a confusing user interface; red indicates that either the company is not using the application or we can’t find it. And given the amount of time we spend online, if we can’t find it, we don’t believe customers will either. [Note this graphic was first developed by Max Palmer when we worked together at Social Sphere.  Max claims it was called a “Palmer Map.” He’s a great analyst, but not so good on the marketing front!]

If we were doing a Web 2.0 audit of, the column Customer Forums would clearly be coded red.Although “My Account” has lots of information about how to make payments, pay off my lease early, order a new vehicle, etc., I couldn’t find any place to connect with other customers.So, I logged onto, one of the pioneers of providing user reviews, customer forums, and other Web 2.0 applications in the automotive space.

On the Edmunds’ site, it was easy to find a BMW X3 Forum in their “Car Space” section where I was able to start an online discussion asking for help with aftermarket navigation systems. But as I was doing so, I noticed that Cadillac ads began appearing on the page. By not investing in Web 2.0 applications like customer forums, BMW literally drove me to a place where I was being served up competitors’ ads.

Some businesses delay developing a Web 2.0 strategy because they are afraid of “losing control” and fear their customers will post negative comments about their products on their own web sites. As this example shows, if you don’t provide an opportunity for customers to talk to you and each others about your products, someone else will. At best, you will have lost an opportunity for customer engagement, research and communication. At worst, you will be giving a third party the opportunity to monetize your customer through selling ads to a competitor. Which, at the end of the day, could ultimately cost you the customer’s business.

Web 2.0 ROI Must Read: EMC|ONE White Paper

Net: In 2007 EMC launched an initiative to develop a social media technology strategy because the company decided they should develop “social media proficiency” as a competitive advantage in their industry.  Despite the fact that the initiative did not have a specific financial return requirement, Chuch Hollis, the EMC executive who lead the development of their Web 2.0 strategy recently published a White Paper that estimates tens of millions of dollars of return on their sub-million dollar investment.

Last Thursday, I got up at an the ungodly hour of 4:45 am to fly back to Boston from Toronto to attend the Mass Technology Leadership Council’s Social Media Summit:  What’s the ROI of Social Media? (Travel note: in Canada you have to check in at least an hour – not 59 minutes – before flights to the US or have better selling skills than I to get through if you are late.)

Full of hope (and Red Bull) for more great case studies to add to my files, I arrived only a few minutes into the first speaker’s comments.  Danah Boyd, the brilliant and charismatic Fellow at Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society, was giving a very interesting presentation on youth engagement with various forms social media.  She was not – however – talking about anything remotely related to the “ROI of Social Media.”  Maybe I could have missed that flight and slept in?

Next up was a panel of corporate users and social media agencies, but they too seemed to be tip toeing around sharing hard numbers to demonstrate the financial returns of their investment in Web 2.0.  And then he said it. He was Chuck Hollis, EMC’s VP, Global Marketing CTO. More importantly, he was the executive tapped to lead EMC’s development of a strategy to utilize social media technology to enhance the company’s competitive advantage.  What he said was,

“…and we eliminated a multi-million dollar training budget by moving it onto our social media platform.”

Chuck went on to say that he had blogged about the experience over the past two years and recently published a White Paper, entitled EMC|ONE; A Journey in Social Media. Chuck and the other panelists, including Leslie Forde from Communispace, went on to detail a number of hard number savings, revenue increases and/or productivity improvements from relatively minimal investments in Web 2.0 technology.

If you only read one thing about the impact of social media technology applied to the employee sphere, I strongly recommend you read pages 26-35 of the paper, starting with the section “Impact and Measurements.”  You should read Chuck’s entire White Paper, but start here if you are a results junkie like we are.  Before sharing a few quotes from the paper, I need to first make sure you understand that Chuck went out of his way to downplay the financial returns of EMC’s investment in social media, partly because he believes the greatest impact comes from the more immeasurable benefits of improved employee and business partner engagement and collaboration and partly because, as Chuck wrote:

“The entire topic of measuring business impact is very controversial for these type of projects.  There is no consensus regarding generally accepted metrics for social media proficiency. Furthermore, this inherent lack of useful measurements and metrics can be used as an excuse to not undertake an investment in social media proficiency.

“A key part of any initiative is establishing general agreements regarding these success factors.  We ended up talking in terns of our ‘measurement philosophy’ rather than concrete measurements.”

That said, here are a few data points you will find inside the White Paper:

  • Accelerating time-to-revenue of multiple $100MM business initiatives by even a few months or even weeks results in substantial sums.
  • The group manager of EMC’s competitive group estimates his group is now 3x-4x more efficient and impactful by using the social platform.
  • EMC is now in the process of methodically complementing and/or substituting online community interaction with meetings in the physical world.  These efforts either result in costs savings (millions per year), better and more time interactions, or both.
  • A reasonable estimate of the combined value of EMC’s blogging capability (in terms of alternative investment) would approach 20-50 million dollars annually.
  • Putting a number on the business value of [EMC’s] open interrogation is difficult, but probably runs into the tens of millions of dollars annually.
  • Estimating the business value of tens of thousands of employees who are significantly and statistically more satisfied and engaged is a difficult task, but probably approaches tens of millions of dollars per year in terms of improved attraction and retention of talent, fewer costs associated with turnover and related aspects.

As impressive as these statements are, having listened to Chuck talk for a couple of hours last week and reading most of his White Paper twice now, I suspect he is most proud of this impact:

” In reality, all we have done is created a mechanism where people do what they already want to do – meet new people, discuss topics of interest, and help each other out.”

Our sentiments exactly.

I really don’t care what you had for breakfast – how social sub-network tagging can end irrelevance on Facebook, Twitter, etc.

Net: Facebook and Twitter updates are becoming increasingly irrelevant and brand diminishing as users broadcast information to their entire networks that are of interest to only some of their friends and followers. A relevance increasing solution could be the ability to selectively send and receive updates using social sub-network tagging.

I have written before about the importance of relevance; it’s one of the Four R’s of developing relationships.  We believe it is one of the most important elements of any effective communication – be it advertising or talking to a friend.  Relevant communications have a chance at being listened to.  Relevant messages that are interesting to the recipient have a chance at being acted on and looked at again.  Junk mail and spam isn’t necessarily something you didn’t request; it is most certainly about something you have no interest in.  I’ll gladly click on ads for Lib Tech snowboards 50% off; but not for Single Under 40? I’m an avid snowboarder; I’m also avidly married.

How many social networking updates are actually relevant?

If your Twitter and Facebook feeds are anything like mine, you get a fair amount of info about the details of your “friends'” daily lives.  A recent Jeff Koterba cartoon from the Omaha World Record (no I don’t read the Record, it was reprinted in the NYT), parodied this fact.

If you are reading this on a small screen, it says in part:

” You waste time boring the daylights out of your  friends with the most mundane details of your life.”

The concept of Social Sub-Networks

I have been guilty of boring friends and followers when I post updates or pictures that I know are irrelevant to many on the receiving end.  And I check in with Facebook less often than I would if I didn’t have to wade through updates I just don’t care about – e.g. what the weather is like in London this morning or what someone had for breakfast.  But when I do read through updates and tweets, I often find something I wish I had know about earlier – “U2 concert tickets go on sale Friday” or “this is the last day to get a discount for the Web 2.0 Expo.”   Relevance is subjective.  You don’t care if had eggs Benedict for breakfast, but my sister would as it was one of our father’s favorites. Relevance is person specific and it is at least partly by your interests.  One way to think about things that are interesting to you is to look at your sub-networks of friends.  Mine looks something like this:

My interests include:  work – Web 2.0, loyalty, customer service; my family; my nonprofit interest – Year Up; Snowboarding; Red Sox; etc.

My friends on Facebook or followers on Twitter likely share at least one of these interests with me – updates about them are relevant.  It’s probably safe to assume my connections would like to read about my experiences in a shared circle.  But when I post a picture of the sign in Leicester Square asking Londoners (e.g. users) to go to a web site and provide their input to redesigning the square, it’s safe to assume that many of my friends don’t really care about that – but those in my Web 2.0 sub-network clearly would.  Similarly, most of you don’t care about a photo of Myles catching big air on his snowboard, but those in my “family” and “snowboarding” networks would love to see it.  As the Venn diagram of my social networks illustrates, there are very few people I have relationships with who share all of my interests – I can’t think of one right now.  Therefore the majority of my updates are irrelevant to those receiving them. And thus, if you believe the importance of relevance to creating repeating behaviors – like visiting Facebook and actively participating in Twitter – most updates are actually decreasing the utility of those and other “social networks” whose greatest hopes of delivering value for shareholders relies upon repeated usage by members.

Facebook and Twitter have attempted to address this phenomenon by letting users select those they want to “hide” or “follow.”  But these features offer only an all or nothing solution.  They are giving me a meat axe when what I am looking for is a scalpel to select only those relevant updates and tweets from the many some post.

Your choice:  All or none of Ken?

The solution (at least a non-technical one): Social Sub-Network Tagging

So, how could these growing and therefore increasingly irrelevant updates become more relevant and increase the value of sites like Facebook and Twitter?  What if we could all set up our own sub-social network groups (and even sub-subgroups like “immediate” and “extended” within “family”) and “tag” or categorize our updates with these.  The concept is already being used on blog posts and other Web 2.0 applications.  Because I write about four topics – collaboration, Web 2.0, customer service and loyalty – I categorize each post or white page with one of these topics. That way, those who only care about loyalty can click on the loyalty header and see only the posts in this categorized.

If Facebook, Twitter and others gave users the opportunity to set up their social sub-networks and then “tag” updates to be sent to specific groups, they would cut down a lot of noise and – at least I believe – brand diminishing irrelevant updates that clog member’s home pages.  This could also be “receiver controlled” as well, by making it easy for followers to select the update categories they wish to receive.  For example, I would select “Enterprise 2.0” and “Red Sox” from Andrew McAfee but maybe not “andyasks;” “For Immediate Release updates,”  but not “London weather” from Neville Hobson; etc.

Or better yet, why not develop a new site or application that would be a simple “input page” where we could all fill-in the “what are you doing/thinking about/want to share” box, attach URL’s, pictures and video’s, categorize them to send to relevant sub-groups and then post on Facebook and Twitter?

For now, I’ve secured  I’ll leave it to the programming teams at Facebook, Twitter and Echo Ditto to figure out how to make this work.


  • Does this already exist and is in high use among those under 50, but I am clueless about it?
  • If not, do you agree this would add value to existing social network sites?
  • How would you develop the concept of sub-social network tagging?

If the Mayo Clinic can use WordPress blogs, Facebook and YouTube to help achieve their enterprise goals, why can’t you?

Net: Despite being in a business where privacy is heavily regulated and systems stability can literally be a matter of life or death, The Mayo Clinic has established itself as one of the leaders in applying social media technologies to build their brand and engage employees and customers (i.e. patients). And they are doing so with great agility and very little incremental investment.

How many times have you thought or said one of the following rationales for not developing an internal and external Web 2.0 strategy to build your brand, engage your employees, customers and business partners in the co-creation of enterprise value, and increase profits?

“Our brand is a matter of life and death to our business.”

“We are in a serious industry.”

“We can’t diminish our brand by playing around with something my kids do.”

“We are one of the country’s oldest and most revered companies in our business.”

“Protecting our customers’ information is a top priority.”

“Our lawyers and IT executives will take years to even think about approving something like this.”

I just listened to an outstanding interview on the For Immediate Release (FIR) podcast. Started in January of 2005 by Neville Hobson, one of Underwood Partners UK colleagues, and Shel Holtz, from Concord, California, FIR is one of the longest running podcasts. In addition to their twice weekly podcasts on business and nonprofit enterprise applications of Web 2.0 and social media technologies, Shell and Neville frequently interview leading edge practitioners. The February 5th FIR Interview featured Lee Aase, Manager of Syndication and Social Media at the Mayo Clinic. The interview is very well done, lasts about 50 minutes and is well worth your time. A few highlights:

  • The Mayo Clinic began experimenting with podcasts in 2005 by taking interviews with their doctors they had developed for their web site and posting them on iTunes . They were surprised to see downloads rapidly grow from 900 to 74,000 a month. As a point of reference, the Mayo Clinic treats about 50,000 patients a year, or less than 4,200 a month.
  • Lee’s team found using flip video cameras to interview doctors to be an efficient way to get breaking news (e.g. research findings) to media and patients. Paraphrasing Lee: “It was low cost and enabled us to be a lot more nimble. Instead of going through the four day process to get copy editing done for a traditional news release, we shoot a ten or fifteen minute interview and pull out five minutes of it for video news releases.
  • The Mayo Clinic created what they call “a culture blog”, where patients share their experiences with diseases and treatments.
  • Mayo uses WordPress for their blogs with the full blessing and support of IT. Lee: “We have been very blessed with our IT colleagues who were supportive of using WordPress.” Mayo uses CSS customization and maps the blogs to a sub-domain of their patient web site. The Mayo Clinic is paying about $55 a year per blog or “about a couple of Starbucks per month.”
  • Health care providers are all bound by HIPPA regulations that prohibit them from providing information about patients’ conditions. But the legal team working with Lee, whom he describes as innovative, supportive and “enlightened folks,” determined that if the patient decides to tell their story it is the patient disclosing information, not Mayo Clinic. He adds that the Clinic has blog guidelines and encourages patients to think carefully about what they put on the site.
  • Mayo Clinic has a Facebook group with 5,577 members. The Mayo Clinic main page on Facebook offers people a chance to write on their wall. Said Lee: “We did this so that people’s friends would see that they wrote on our wall and what they said about us.”
  • The Mayo Clinic YouTube channel was established 12 months ago. Although some questioned “whether YouTube was the kind of place for an august dignified brand” like the Mayo Clinic, Lee’s team did research and found that among those who had an opinion, 39% were positive about  a Mayo Clinic page and only 6% were negative .
  • YouTube was also a no or low cost initiatives as the videos come from interviews used for other purposes and YouTube is free for nonprofit organizations. They use YouTube as their video server because is far cheaper than self hosting and easier for others to imbed in their blogs and share with friends and colleagues. (They also make the raw files available.)
  • The Mayo Clinic engages employees with an internal blog “Let’s talk” and has used it to engage Mayo’s 50,000 staff members in their strategic plan by inviting comments and asking employees to collaborate on such topics as “What does quality mean in your area?”

Why engage in social media? Lee states that the primary drivers of patients to Mayo Clinic are word of mouth and stories in the news media. Their social media programs combine the power of both while increasing engagement and collaboration of many of Mayo Clinic’s stakeholders. He goes on to add:

“We treat 500, 000 patients a year and have 50,000 employees. Our goal is to engage and empower them and to get them involved.”


If the Mayo Clinic can use Word Press blogs, Facebook and YouTube to help achieve their enterprise goals, why can’t you?