Social: Hype or Reality

Having lived and worked through the first generation of the Internet in the 90s and early 2000s, at least as close as you can get living in the Midwest. I had the opportunity to work for multiple start-up’s, I think there are a few fundamental differences between the first wave and present so called Web 2.0. The primary difference is that the consumer Internet is fairly mature in terms of acceptance and usage. You are not confronted with acceptance as a channel, the debate of putting computers in every home like chickens in every pot or the questions of whether people will migrate to it and now do not have bandwidth, as a limiting factor. Today the user centered internet is not all that different than the original, but it’s just a little bit better. Now, let me say, that I approach this from a very pragmatic business oriented approach and how to leverage the Internet in a marketing plan.

The single biggest driver today is bandwidth and range of possibilities as a marketer you have when you can deliver compelling content to your customer with the increase in bandwidth. We’re not too far removed from days when Flash and video were limited because of download times and buffering. Those days for many users are gone. For health care organizations you still follow a standard awareness, attract, acquire and retain model and try to get people when they are in a lean forward mode (i.e proactively gathering information versus waiting for information to be delivered to them) you need be able to capture them when they are seeking information online and that usually starts at a search engine. From there, you can engage that user whether they are a sufferer a caregiver or interested in learning more and provide then with a breadth and depth of content offerings to help them in understanding a disease, condition, medical issue. The rub is that delivering this information in an interactive format is much better than reams of raw content. That is the opportunity.

The next generation Internet, call it what you will, provides an elegant opportunity to develop cross-platform interactive content that demonstrates product benefits, provides user testimonials and information to help that person either make a health care choice, learn how to use a product, make a recommendation, learn more, connect with others facing the same issue, provide ancillary information, either on the Web, face-to-face on a sales call, at a trade show or on CD-ROM. Providing an experience that helps that person can build trust, loyalty and in many cases encourage compliance with medication, testing, diet, exercise, etc. It’s not feasible to own the customer because they can’t be owned and will simply move on, but the goal is to provide a positive customer experience across delivery platforms, enhance the brand and contribute positively to that customer’s experience and providing the right information at the right time.

It will never be perfect, technology is imperfect, people are imperfect, businesses are imperfect, but it can go a long way towards making a difference for your marketing and brand if done thoughtfully.

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