Honored to be the No. 1 social media healthcare influencer on the HIT99 list

The list “is a way for you to recognize your peers, friends, and heroes who have been contributing to the #HealthIT, #HITsm, #hcsm, #HITchicks, #hcldr, and other related communities through their tweets, blogs, books, etc. “, according to the organizers.

Basically, the list is for people involved in healthcare in the areas of social media, leadership or IT. I spend most of my time working with healthcare institutions on their content marketing programs, which includes social media, blogging and enewsletters. Very thankful for all the votes and nominations.

You can find the full list here.

Here’s a look at the Top 13: 

In addition to being ranked No. 1, I also nominated 27 people myself. It’s my pleasure to be a part of the healthcare social media, blogging and content marketing community.

I actually had the most duplicate nominations as well (those weren’t counted) but only because I retweeted people when they nominated me. My intent wasn’t to add a vote to the total but to share their kind words.

Some of the nominations:

sandra fancher nomination nominations 4 nominations 3 nominations 2 saad khan nomination nominations mary sharp and andy gradel nominations better stories on social media adidng his voice sharing tips telling nomination storytelling nomination

Some other thoughts and pictures:

hit 1

top 10

Internet Marketing Association launches in Chicago

We launched the Midwest IMA Group on July 30, 2015, with an event at Google in Chicago. We had great speakers from Boeing, Google, MedTouch and Orbit Media.

About 50 marketers attended. Here are some photos:


We had a lot of leftovers so here’s what we did with those:


Also, check out this cool picture from my morning run in Chicago.

Possible? The “complete” guide/site/whatever to anything

I see websites – or offline endeavors – proclaim they are the complete guide to whatever their topic or niche is. I like the enthusiasm but is that even possible?

I’ve published almost 200,000 words on this blog on authentic storytelling. Could I say it’s the complete stop for everything related to authentic storytelling?

I certainly want it to be just that but really if it’s complete, why do I keep blogging about new thoughts, stories and technology related to the art of storytelling?

In today’s ever evolving world hardly anything – if anything at all – is complete. And as soon as it is there’s something new.

The same is true with more tangible products. The iPhone gets sold as a complete product but then there are software updates every once in a while.

The complete guide – Maybe it’s a good phrase for our audiences who are looking for that complete guide and belief the marketing talk. Maybe it will even be FREE but only on a “limited basis.” 😀

If that’s the case, please let me assure you that this is the complete guide to authentic storytelling. There will be updates at least weekly.

This story is now complete – for real! 

I prefer real names in stories…

Every once in a while we see sentences like this in blog posts and other stories that are being shared with us:

The person, we’ll call him Chris to protect his identify,…. (and then the story is told from there).

And that tactic does protect people’s identity. Sometimes it’s needed due to a serious threat to them, sometimes it’s simply a preference, and other times we think somebody might judge us and we don’t want to be judged. (Of course, we all judge each other all the time anyway.)

But what if I tell you that it actually hurts a story if we don’t use real names?

Knowing the identify of the people involved adds to the credibility of the story.

Why would anyone question the credibility of a story? Just trust me. Trust me. Seriously, you can trust me.

Can I trust you?



Maybe the writer is trustworthy, but actually knowing the identify of the person involved adds another level of trust.

As a former newspaper reporter and community news supervisor for a media company there were lots of discussions of when somebody even suggested not using somebody’s name. The reasons had to be very convincing for the newspaper to print a story without naming the person involved or changing the person’s name to something else.

So, what’s the point of using a fake name anyway?

We might think that it makes the person more personable. We can’t picture the person’s outstanding story unless we keep getting reminded of his fake name throughout the story.

It doesn’t even shorten the story – if somebody might think that that’s a reason.

John’s …” is actually longer than saying “His…”

People who blog about their own stories anonymously is a whole different story. You’ve probably seen those stories. When they are just a touch unbelievable – and unbelievable does make good stories – their validity is called into question.

I share stories that happen in my life all the time.  Sometimes I quote people or offer them the opportunity to share a story. Other times, I’m more general:

Once, I ran into this situation…. 

Then I share that situation’s summary without sharing all the people’s names or making up fake names. The point still comes across and readers aren’t wondering about the name.

A big piece of authentic storytelling is to be transparent and part of the story. It helps when we stand by our stories publicly. They will be that much stronger.

It’s about simplicity

Why do some people make some things more complicated than they need to be? Maybe because it’s actually harder to keep things simple?

Some items  that come to mind:

  • Processes that are so cluttered that you need a process to manage the process.
  • Websites that are designed by committees that argue over font sizes and other things most of us won’t even notice.
  • Blog posts that need to be approved by 15 people and by the time they all read them the topic has evolved into a completely different story – sometimes a wrong one.
  • Social media posts that were rewritten so many times that they are now promotional messages.
  • Email newsletters that have so much stuff in them that readers don’t even know what to do once they open them – if they do open them.

It doesn’t have to be that way. Things can be simple. Some of the best Tweets are short, to the point and not cluttered by stuff nobody outside the planning committee cares about.

One of the many things I love about my iPhone is how simple it is. It looks simple, but is really an advanced piece of technology. Not just that but it’s also super easy to use. I hand it to my 1-year-old and she swipes away at it without ever being instructed how to do it.

Some of my favorite eNewsletters have designs that only include the necessary and not a bit more.

Some of the most eye-opening articles can be super short and even if they are longer they are still written at a sixth-grade reading level – not because its readers can’t read at a higher level but because there’s no reason to make it more complicated.

WordPress is another example of keeping it simple. The back-end editor is easy to use and they kept its design simple. Yes, there are functions and add-ons but the bottom line is that it’s super easy to use.

plan languageMy hat goes off to the federal government which has noticed the need for simplicity – even when there’s a way to go, yet – with its Plain Language initiative.

To keep things simple, step one is to recognize the need to change. Step 2, figure out how to make it simpler and step 3 to do it.

I hope you’ll take this pledge with me:

Tell us HOW – not WHY – to tell our stories

Discussing storytelling at EntreFEST 2015 in Iowa.

Discussing storytelling at EntreFEST 2015 in Iowa.

I’m seeing a change in what organizations – technically the people inside those organizations – are asking for from me.

When they ask for guidance, training or maybe even a social media audit, most of the time now they no longer want to know why they should be telling their authentic stories. They ask me to show them how to do that.


We are moving in the right direction. Just a few years ago, I used to spend most of my time trying to convince people that sharing authentic stories is worthwhile to do – that it helps lift your brand, your public perception and ultimately will help you acquire businesses.

I still get questions from time to time:

  • Are you sure it works? (That depends on your definition of “works.”)
  • Will this get me customers today? (No, it’s a long-term strategy.)
  • Can we measure everything? (Probably not. We can measure some things. Can you measure the impact of being nice?)

But the discussion has shifted considerably from tell us the why to teach us the how.

Hearing and ultimately understanding the why seemed so hard for a bit there. But then more and more brands started to talk about sharing their stories. Granted, some are just talking the talk and not walking the walk. But even just a bunch of loud people talking the talk can help raise awareness and in turn the perception that something is important.

Either way it’s great to see that we have started the shift from the why to the let’s do this and how can we?

But spotting and sharing authentic stories that people actually want to read continuously can be a challenge. We fall back into what we’ve done for years. We use marketing language again. We leave out some of the most relevant facts, because – oh no – one to two people might not like them.

But there’s hope. We are sold that this works now. We just have to learn, institutionalize it and move the program forward.


Intent matters

Intent matters. Ask the people in prison for it.

Seriously, though, intent also matters in the stories and information that we share on our blogs and social media channels – two of my favorite content marketing channels.

What was our intent when we posted what we posted?

Did we try to teach? Did we try to show somebody off? Did we (knowingly) spread incorrect information?

Why did we do it? The intent matters.

Sometimes, we might misinterpret somebody’s intent or something was taking out of the so-called context – like when somebody quotes us. “That was taking out of context.” Do we really mean: “That wasn’t my intent to come across like that?”  Maybe. Being taken out of context also comes back to intent. Did they intent do be misleading with their quote or actually thought it was accurate? Yes, I know oftentimes, the actual words were spoken, but with the additional words also spoken around them don’t make much sense or have a different meaning.

The intent can come back to our relationship with the person and even their body language, which can be hard to read when the message is sent through a Tweet. :)

Maybe, just maybe, the person really picked the less-than-perfect words by mistake. So, instead of jumping on him or her with one of those digital lynch mobs, what if we ask a clarification question first:

I read your post this way. Is that right?

Can you explain that further?

Certainly, some statements people make are better kept in one’s head. So maybe they actually intended them that way. Sometimes I wonder. Maybe they just weren’t prepared for the digital onslaught of opinions.

Can we change our intent after the digital lynch mob has gotten a hold of us? Probably not. Sometimes people say after the fact that they didn’t intent to cause that reaction, but does that mean they intended what they said?

Intent matters. Let’s make it count for something. I try to share things with good intentions. Feel free to join me.