Directly Speaking - Lady Gaga and a Challenge

by Scott A. Meyers, Executive Vice President, RPh, MS, FASHP
November 1, 2011

Are you ready for a digital challenge?  I just got back from the 2011 ASAE (American Society of Association Executives) Annual Meeting in balmy (more like steamy) St. Louis, MO in mid-August, and as usual with ASAE, I have a bunch of great ideas to implement to make ICHP a more effective organization.  But the one I’m going to challenge you with will only work if you read the new digital only KeePosted and encourage all your pharmacy colleagues to do the same!

The ASAE meeting is the only non-pharmacy meeting I attend almost every year as part of my work here at ICHP.  It’s not an inexpensive meeting; it’s $895 for registration alone!  But by sharing a room with the Executive Director of PPAG and driving to St. Louis this year, it probably cost just a little more than an ASHP meeting in Las Vegas or New Orleans.  However, the difference is this meeting helps me and sometimes other staff members who may attend learn more about association management and running successful organizations than ASHP meetings could ever do.  This year, Trish and Stephanie joined me in St. Louis, so we could really learn a lot.  Stephanie (our newest employee, KeePosted designer and social media aficionado) attended on a scholarship (no cost), rode with me (no additional cost) and didn’t eat anything except what was provided at the meeting!  Just kidding – we fed her when the meeting didn’t, although those occasions were rare.  She shared a room with Trish (no additional cost), who attended on a discounted registration fee and who would have gone anyway.  Overall, we made it work for not so much money!  But I’ve probably told you way more than you want or need to know.

Back to the challenge!  At the ASAE meeting many of the sessions focused on social media, generational issues, effective marketing and communications, recruiting and retaining members and a bunch of other topics that have nothing to do with this challenge.  In fact, I attended a 75-minute session titled “29 ways to market like Lady Gaga!”  I was nervous going into that one, thinking I could possibly be the oldest person in the room by 15 years, I would be improperly dressed and I had no meat tenderizer should one of the speakers appear in a meat dress!  Needless to say my fears were for naught!  

Throughout the entire meeting, one theme seemed to be more prevalent than any other.  To communicate today, you have to make it short and sweet!  Or was it short and a Tweet?  For those of you yearning to catch some nuggets from the Lady Gaga session, hang in there; they will be interspersed.  But it seems Twitter, text and Facebook are now the new ways to communicate, and email is not only passÉ, but too slow, too cumbersome and probably too formal for the younger generations and some of my generation who can’t even keep up with the deluge of emails they currently receive.

First Lady Gaga tip: Quality over quantity!  I’ll let you Lady Gaga fans figure out if she delivers on that one.  This one should be no surprise as we move with faster and faster communications; it’s time to send only the important stuff, the valuable stuff, the critical stuff.  Make the details available somewhere convenient, but don’t clog the system with information that only a few people might be interested in or need.

Lady Gaga tip #2 (my tip #2 for you, not their tip 2…already broke tip #1):  Have a purpose.  Lady Gaga’s purpose is to entertain; that’s evident.  I promise that once you hear and see the challenge, every time I communicate with you in the new mode, I promise it will have an important purpose that should be valuable to you.  No tweets like, “I’m sitting on my patio, enjoying the sunset!”

I’ve let the cat out of the bag now by admitting that this challenge will involve tweeting!  So here’s the Full Monty so to speak.  I am asking everyone who reads this article to respond in some way!  Wow, I hope I didn’t just plug my email inbox, Facebook page and Twitter account, but I’m prepared if you’re willing.  If you have a Facebook page – friend me!  If you have a Twitter account – tweet me!  If you haven’t got either one, take a look at both to see if they are really as bad as your older colleagues have told you they are!  I assume older because I don’t know anyone younger than me who isn’t on Facebook and while my Twitter account is rather quiet, I’m sure there are tweeters out there just itching to tweet somebody new, so why not me?  

I’ve been on Facebook for a few years and have had no problems (knock on wood!).   I’ve heard horror stories and even experienced a couple of friends who have had their Facebook pages hacked, but if you don’t put too much information on your account and just enough so people will recognize you as the real whoever you are, then you aren’t at too much risk.  Keep birthdates off, or at least the year, although a lot of my friends love those birthday wishes on that special day!  Don’t provide your street address and zip code if you want to put your city of residence on the page.  Keep the personal information to a minimum, and the only thing you’ll have to worry about is your behavior!  And that’s all up to you!

I signed on to Twitter over a year ago, but have done little with it – kind of like LinkedIn.  I’m on it for connections to people who are mostly looking to promote themselves to the next employer, but I could be wrong.   I don’t do much on either but will from now on!  I’ve linked my Facebook page to my Twitter account, so every time I feel a profound Facebook post coming on, I know it will also head out to my peeps on tweets!  I may look into linking my Facebook account to my LinkedIn account just to see what it will do, but again, if we’re linked, I promise to keep it real on the quality and quantity!

Linking your Facebook page to your Twitter account is so easy that once Stephanie (also our resident Gen Y’er) gave me the URL to do it, I was on it faster than a viral video!  (In case you are not familiar with the term viral video, it’s that video clip you receive from three different and unrelated friends on the same day and when you click on it, you find that more than 3,000,000 others have viewed it since its posting yesterday.)  All you need to do to connect your accounts (Facebook and Twitter) is to go to and follow the very simple instructions.  You do have to agree to share your contacts, but the privacy agreement is better than average.  

Now when I post on Facebook, my Twitter peeps (don’t have the heart to call them Twitter twits) will catch the same message.  And as I promised, I now need to keep these postings/tweets high quality and do so only when really critical.  That’s my challenge to me.

So back to Lady Gaga and tip #3: Build a fan base!  As any entertainer would want to do, this one is straightforward for Lady Gaga.  I also promise to follow tip #4: Humility Matters as I build that fan base.  I will not really consider you my fans but really think of each of you as interested individuals who want me to keep them informed on issues ICHP is addressing.  So I’m asking/challenging you all to friend/follow me or at least email me if social media is still too much to trust so that I can see who communicates digitally and which route they prefer.  With Lady Gaga, her humility comes in the form of support for her fans.  When doing the Tonight Show with Jay Leno in February, Lady Gaga showed up at the theater in the early afternoon to find hundreds of her fans already lined up waiting in the cold of New York City to get tickets.  She immediately went to her dressing room and ordered pizza and water for all of them.  That’s humility and appreciation for the real fans.

Lady Gaga tip #5: You can’t appeal to all!  This clearly applies to Lady Gaga and here, too.  I know some of you will open the digital KeePosted and read it online, but you just won’t have the interest in taking the digital lane any further than the next exit.  I promise to keep putting the important news in KeePosted and in other email blasts to each and every member.  Hey, I wasn’t and still probably won’t be on the digital edge, but I’ve vowed to move further out on the ledge in order to improve communications to the folks that want to live life like the “Fast and the Furious”!  

Lady Gaga tip #6: Fake it till you make it!  This is something we will only do as we find ourselves in uncharted waters.  I vow to stay on top of things whenever possible, but as we move through the conversion to the digital age, there will be times where we have to promise the best and then do everything we can quickly to make it happen. At ICHP, we don’t fake/promise anything unless we know we can deliver it and deliver it on time.

So step up and take the challenge if you’re digitally inclined.  Join me and ICHP on Facebook and Twitter and see if we communicate like Lady Gaga suggests we should!

Are you up for the challenge? 
Add Scott and ICHP as friends and let’s go Gaga!  |   |

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