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May 18, 2011
Social Media Demos From Two Iconic Locales
 
Here's a terrific example of how, and how not, to conduct social media relations out in Minnesota, or anywhere. Marty Weintraub on the aimClear blog takes us via his Twitter feeds from each to the Mall of America and the Mayor Clinic, both "iconic Minnesota brands." Guess which one excelled in social media interaction!

At the Mall of America, Marty tweeted a picture of a two-story Lego robot on his way to find some pistachio ice cream. A few minutes later a mall community manager got back to him with a tweet of thanks and acknowledgment. The exchanges continued all the way to an ice-cream stand in the vast mall, to which Marty was guided by the mall's tweeter. (And Marty includes a tweeted photo of the resulting cup of ice cream.) By contrast, on his annual visit to the Mayo Clinic a few days later, Marty got zero response when he posted a photo of Mayo's famed Gonda building and tweeted, "Anyone listening this year?"

One responder to Marty's post asked, "Why would the Mayo Clinic ever need or want to engage in Social Media? Might that not be seen as friviolous by patients who want to know that their doctors are working on...doctoring?..."

"Excellent question," Marty responded. "Yes, Mayo clinic has all the customers they could ever want, but that’s not my point. Mayo Clinic “Customers” are there to recover from cancer or have their heart repaired. Ask yourself, why do they have information desks? Why do they bother fielding a force of volunteers in blue coats, to guide, make visitors feel welcome, or pass out information? The reason is because those functions are necessary in such an institution."

Today, Marty continued, people are seeking that same "input, guidance, and warmth from alternate channels other than the traditional ones. That’s what Twitter, Facebook and other social media communication outreach tools are for. That’s why it’s important to listen and participate…so nobody using different tools is left behind."

Neither Mayo nor any other traditionally strong organization may relish having to add a staff person or two to monitor those "frivolous" social media channels. But Marty Weintraub provides an excellent example of why they'd better. The times, they are a-changing.

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Doug Bedell has a background in journalism and PR and is the owner of Resource Relations LLC in Central PA, focusing on organizational and crisis communication. He’s the community manager of SimplyFair.net, a social network on fairness. On the Web, Doug’s at www.ResourceRelations.com. On Twitter, he’s @DougBeetle.
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