Saturday, August 31, 2013

#brandPTchallenge - Wrap Up Post

First off, I want to thank everyone who participated in the month long #brandPTchallenge. For those that missed it, check out the previous posts of week 1, week 2, week 3, and week 4. I especially want to highlight the All Star players that took participation to the next level. In no particular order, they are:

Some lessons learned:
  • Facebook is still an environment where people who already know each other continue their connections. Groups and threads are useful and certainly powerful, however, reaching out can come across a little "creepy" and forward under even the most pure-intended circumstances.
  • Google+ is still quite silent when it comes to post interactions; it remains largely a content distribution platform, not so much of an interactive arena. However, the Google Hangout feature is one very redeeming function for G+.
  • Twitter remains the most dynamic social media outlet. Utilized by professionals, celebrities, and people from all walks - it is one place where thoughts can be openly shared, interactions can be freely made mention of, and, where reaching out - while still a little awkward - is no more awkward than stopping a stranger on the street with some free advice.
We also reinforce the lesson that the days of old school advertisement are truly phasing out. If not done correctly, advertisement becomes an arm of marketing that causes more intrusion and disruption than value creation. However, strong marketing develops a relationship between the consumer and the supplier - a smart marketing department offers content for which the consumer already needs and/or wants.

Also, good marketing acknowledges that the consumer already has an image for a brand identity; meaning, they see brands in a certain light which may not always be the way the brand sees themselves. The strongest brands have congruence between their own perceived brand identity and what the public sees as a brand image.

This brings us to the core of #brandPT. What is our brand? How should we brand physical therapy and physical therapists at large? How does the public regard our brand? Where should we go with our brand for the future? Many other questions need to be considered...

What is the condition of brand image/identity congruence for physical therapy?
How else are we regarded? Are we counselors? Guides during recovery or relief from pain perhaps? Compassionate health practitioners? Are we truly acting as "therapists"? Do we specialize in movement? Human performance? Functional performance? (What's the difference...? some may wonder) Does the public consider movement the way we do? When the public hears "I'm going to see my therapist" - which therapist are they thinking about? I'll give you a hint: it's not physical.

However, I must say this: brands shape public opinion, favor, and support. In regards to the United States, we are a nation of laws; these laws are written by the people - the public has the power (theoretically) to make changes. The public's perception of our brand is what will shape our legal rights - not the other way around. Our license will not provide us full practice patterns until the PUBLIC consumer recognizes our ability, and, favors us to serve as such. Want direct access? Want even more? Get public favor! Market your brand in efforts to close the gap between brand image and brand identity.

Wrapping It Up:
What the #brandPTchallenge taught me is that, as a profession, we have a long way to go in reaching brand image/identity congruence. Closing this gap is a matter of stepping into the perspective of the consumers and driving market demand.

I'd like to close out this wrap up post with a branding project being done with excellence. Enter @MakovickaPT! This group has issued a branding raffle asking for What has Physical Therapy allowed you to do?

I LOVE THIS! Not only does this brand PT as a conduit for which people reach ability (presumably from being once "disabled"), this statement presents a service experience. In any case, there are prizes to be won, content to be driven, experiences to be shared, and most importantly, we are receiving from the CONSUMER - their perspectives; from here we can discern what our brand image is and where we can strengthen our brand identity. There are some pretty cool prizes so check out #makovickPT on Twitter, Facebook, and G+!

Take care, until next time!
-Dr. Ben Fung

Sunday, August 18, 2013

#brandPTchallenge - Week 4: #BackToSchoolWeek

We are now on week #4 of the #brandPTchallenge! Last week's topic was #shoulderpain & here is a snapshot of early last week and our participants:

This week, we're going to tackle a rather universal and less specific topic: #BackToSchoolWeek! This hashtag is averaging 15-30 new tweets every couple of minutes, so, it is certainly an active one - good for making connections.

This should be a nice, open topic since physical therapists can help students out with everything from posture, ergonomics, headaches, carpal tunnel syndrome, scoliosis, school athletics... the list is endless! Also, the reason I've decided to go with this topic is because of how widespread of a reach this can be.

Some of the best marketing tactics include the intention to go to the consumer rather than to draw the consumer to you.

Good luck! I hope you all enjoy this week's #brandPTchallenge!

Oh, yes! One last thing, Symplur has been kind enough to add #brandPT in their analytics! How cool is that!?

Sunday, August 11, 2013

#brandPTchallenge - Week 3: #ShoulderPain


Last week's #brandPTchallenge was the topic of #kneepain. While not as popular as last week's #neckpain, addressing #kneepain was very important because those of you who have accepted the #brandPTchallenge have organically begun to reach out to other users mentioning & hashtagging #kneepain.

Here's a snapshot of you rockstars participating in the #brandPTchallenge earlier in the week:

Now originally, this #brandPTchallenge was issued to the big three social media outlets. However, after a market survey, it was pretty much agreed that the hashtag volume and interaction on Google+ and Facebook are both pretty much silent. So, save your strength... for now - Twitter is still the best place to interact through the "reach out" method amongst social media users. However, if you are on Facebook & Google+ and snipe an opportunity (which some of you certainly have shared!), please do & share via #brandPTchallenge or #brandPT! (And rest assured, the #brandPTchallenge will soon move forward to it's next phase as is explained below)

Another quick note for those of you social media marketing nerds (like myself); Twitter is the place for new connections; an environment where politely stalking is just another way of making eye contact - just before you say "hello" in person. Also, a trend in G+ has shown that the environment is far more visual than written, almost a blend of Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram... the best way to utilize Google+ is that type of area... however, this arena is still maturing. Additionally, Facebook has been and seemingly always will remain a place where people connect with people they already know - OR - have found a page/topic of common interest for open forum. 

In light of these social media trends of etiquette, the extension for Week 3 of the #brandPTchallenge is to: 

Focus on #ShoulderPain (quite a popular topic) and GO TO THE CONSUMER!

Find the hashtags, the patient blogs, the consumer forums... find these places and make yourself known - and most importantly - share with your fellow PT's where our presence is needed!! Make connection with the social media users whose lives are affected by #ShoulderPain - AND - gather other PT's to demonstrate goodwill to these people who could very well benefit from our help.

Note: This week's challenge will continue the momentum of utilizing hashtags in social media to brand, reach out, and interact with other social media users. Additionally, this week's challenge begins a group, market survey to discern where our presence is most needed online.

In a very dynamic #solvePT chat last week, Tracy Sher MPT, CSCS (@PelvicGuru1) was one of the first to demonstrate her concentrated involvement in online forums and groups for her speciality. It is high time physical therapists follow her lead en masse to best #brandPT and help our communities!

Next month, our focus will expand beyond reaching out - our focus will turn to becoming part of the already active communities of discussions online.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

#brandPTchallenge - Week 2: #KneePain

Last week, I issued a challenge to strengthen the physical therapy brand via the hashtags, #brandPT and utilizing the #brandPTchallenge for internal discussion amongst the profession itself.

We set out to tackle #neckpain (see last post). What I intended on encouraging later, quickly evolved naturally - physical therapists reaching out to other social media users who had complained about their own neck pain experience. Customer engagement is something that is quite difficult to do when trying to expand a brand image; I'm very encouraged to see it happening organically.

The desire to quickly make these connections in a short period of time is a natural instinct, however, based on marketing principles - taking time is the best way to build stable brand equity in the long run.

And so, I issue week 2's #brandPTchallenge: #kneepain!

Remember that the additional challenge is to reach out to the users out there suffering from the topic of the week. Also, the deeper layer of this challenge is to reach out via Facebook and Google+ as well.

Oh, yes! One final thing! Props to the snapshot below - it's an early snapshot of those who participated to the #neckpain #brandPTchallenge of last week. Keep it up everyone!!