Thursday, July 23, 2009

Manipulating Public Opinion Through Twitter

That damn Twitter bird again. I can’t get away from him. The healthcare industry and its legislative and media champions have become experts on using Twitter to get people to pay attention to their point of view – right, wrong, false, true, it doesn’t really matter. Who needs Harry and Louise when you have so much information to re-disseminate?

How many companies and people have made a name for themselves by searching the Web, then tweeting the links of what they find to thousands of followers? is a big one – some of its guides do nothing more than pick a topic, throw in an introductory sentence and put up links. Pretty simple stuff.

Twitter is a center of the healthcare debate. Public plan advocates push their agenda. Those who oppose it are pushing their own. Why is the White House with its great and powerful knowledge of the Web – not on Twitter? Because there’s too much junk on it.

We have become information junkies – all of us – on the topics that we care and don’t really care about.

Healthcare raises ire and passion. There are gut wrenching stories about people who lost everything because they couldn’t afford to pay doctors, hospitals, etc. for health insurance. There are gut wrenching stories about people who can’t afford healthcare at all so they die. There are even more gut wrenching stories about people who health insurers decide they won’t cover when they find out they are really sick.

A friend of mine had breast cancer. I say had because we all hope it is past tense. Her doctor ordered a stream of tests because her sister, who is in her mid-forties I think, had it when she was even younger. They found cancer. She had surgery – she is doing fine.

Her insurance company is refusing to pay for the tests because they say there is no family history of breast cancer. A sister evidently is lateral – which means she’s not part of her history. A friend of mine who works as a nurse practitioner said there was no reason to think because her sister had breast cancer she might have it. EXCEPT SHE DID and he saved her life. Her life isn’t worth the tests?

All of the people who say we don't want bureaucrats involved in our healthcare decisions (that's the argument of the Right which has plenty of money to pay for the best of care) are ignoring the fact that low level gate keepers are making decisions about what care the insurance companies pay for. Who gets treated for cancer and who doesn't. Is that better?

OK got off the topic on what some would call a liberal rant.

A lot of healthcare companies are raising their profile and making new connections through Twitter. It’s a great big Tweeting world out there.

But if you’re going to use Twitter – use it well. Learn from what the news organizations are doing. They are Tweeting about their best stories. Their journalists are Tweeting about their work. Original work.

Don’t be lazy. While Tweeting about the conversations of others may help you add followers it won’t help you build your brand.Anyone can post a link. Not everyone can add to the conversation.

So bring something new to the party. Give people information they don’t already have. Be provocative. The hell with what others are saying. Talk about what you know. Link to everyone you can. Build your followers. Build your company as a knowledge base. And keep track of the media in your business and what they’re Tweeting. You’ll be happy you did.


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