Brian J Kopp – Web Professional
Insights to social media in a regulated industry


Realizing the amount of effort need to pursue my MBA at Bethel University, which I started this January, I’ve fallen behind on posting my recent adventures in Social Media and a regulated industry.

I hope in due time, I will be able to continue to post here.

Wish me luck on my MBA. If all goes well, I’ll be done May 2012.

Photo By: Joriel Joz Jimenez

Photo By: Joriel "Joz" Jimenez

This past week I attend our first ever social media unconference along with ~60 other employees.

This was a break though event. It’s the first time that I’m aware of that scientists, marketers, hr personel, IT, corporate, and shared services has ever meet to discuss anything, period.

In traditional unconference fashion, we, the participents, brainstormed a list of topics to suggest, voted for our top three favorites, and then constructed an agenda. Topics covered included:

  • Social media strategy and who ownes it
  • How and what do we measure in social media
  • YouTube and Facebook
  • Privacy concerns
  • How to integrate social media into your existing merketing plan
  • Internal collaboration tools

We spent 3 hours discussing these topics in small groups and wrapped up with the whole group discussing some of the most important points that came out of each group discussion.

The biggest take away for me revolved around what the business unit marketers wanted form corporate. They were asking for the guidelines, for examples, and the rules of engagement.

They felt that if there were examples of social media campaigns, that they should be shared and used as a starting point for the next campaign. Something I’ve personally been trying to do for the last several months.

This was a surprise to me, since working in corporate, our biggest fear is that we’ll come off as being pushy by providing guidelines and rules. We’ve always thought the bu markters wanted to do everything on their own and each hire they’re own agency. At least that’s been their approach for web sites and email campaigns.

What I didn’t expect to hear was talk about being One Company. Sure our CEO and others have used that phrase, but this was the first time I had heard it coming from the bottom of the org. Perhaps social media can be the vehicale to drive the social change within the org.

The final thing that was really compelling to learn and lead in the coming weeks, is that this group of people are taking the initiative to put together a comprehensive list or questions and recommendations that will be presented to the FDA as a response to their inquery for social media and it’s use pertaining to medical companies.

Coming out of this meeting, everyone who attended made a commitment to edit the wiki page for this event and add their notes, impressions and ideas.

With a resounding “Yes” by the audience when asked if we should do something like this again, we’ll be schedualing another unconference for sometime this coming spring. One action item I’d like to take for that meeting is to bring in house a few industry experts so share thier opinions in the group discussions.

I still think we face a lot of hurdles, but as we slowly integrate more social media tactics into our marketing plans, things may get easier.

A few important points to remember and may prove difficult for the org. to overcome are:

  • Social media is a long term commitment, there’s never a predefined end date when you can turn it off or stop contributing, like a email or regular web site.
  • Creating original and compelling content, unlike most other marketing campaigns where all of the content is generated at the beginning and no further development is needed, social media marketing requires content creation on an ongoing basis.
  • Monitoring, once you begin to listen, you have to be able to continue monitoring and provide answers or content to those seeking information.

My overall fear is that social media tactics will be employed in normal product launches and everyday marketing plans. These will fail due to a lack of resources, lack of planning, and the short term thinking about how SM can benefit the individual marketer.

As a company, we need to control this. By controlling it, we’ll be better suited to protect our brand, monitor the conversations, leverage existing SM campaigns, and have fewer SM activities which will result in a lower number of failed efforts as a result of product marketers leaving the company, moving onto the next product, or just forgetting about the SM campaign.

Let me tell you though, After the unconference, I feel reinvigorated, uplifted, reenergized. The unconference was great, and I’m ready to take on more SM activities this fall and winter with the excitement that I’ll get to share my experiences at the next unconference in the Spring of 2010.

If your organization is trying to determine how to get involved with social media, I recommend holding some sort of get together that open to everyone in the company and discuss concerns and opportunities that may exist both internally and externally with regards to social media.


The results are in!

In my first post A Medical Device Companies Twitter Experience, I described my experiences with a newly created Twitter account that was created with the goals of communicating with physicians at the #hfsa conference in Boston last weekend. In this follow-up post, I’m sharing some of the metrics and results.

Metrics I could track and report on include number of followers, number of impressions or are reach, and comments. The tools I used to gather these numbers included: TwitterCounterTweetReach, and Twitalyzer. We were planning on posting several links using, but those links got pulled, otherwise I would have included our click-though metrics. A side note, TwitterCounter bases it’s metrics off of the last 50 tweets for each search.

First up, followers. Since this was our first foray into the use of Twitter, we didn’t set any goals around number of followers we wanted to gain, the only goal was to see growth over the course of the conference. With that said, we saw a 20% increase in followers on average, per day.

Growth rate over conference time frame

Growth rate over conference time frame

Secondly, reach. We were interested in producing high quality tweets that would be picked up by others and retweeted. We knew that with a new account the number of followers we could gain before the conference kicked off would be limited. So, if you could have a few retweets we could extend our reach and grow our followers. Having only ~70 followers, several of our tweets reached close to 500 people through retweets.

The power of a retweet

The power of a retweet

And most importantly, comments. We were hoping to receive some valid feedback regarding the use of Twitter for our company and the industry as a whole. We got a few comments which both greatly appreciated and useful. From these comments we gained two insights. These were:

  • Despite the Twitter account being aimed at physicians, there were patients who were interested to learn as much as possible about the company and asking for more. More content, more photos, and more insight into the company.
  • Leaders in the Twitttersphere were surprised to see us tweeting, were open to it, and interested in seeing how we’d engage in this new medium.

I would say we’ve started using Twitter slowly. First by listening to what’s being said, then choose to engage in a low risk environment that provided content to the conference attendees. Now we’ve reviewed the some of the early results and are working with legal to work out appropriate messages that can be sent via Twitter.

There is also talk about continuing to use this Twitter account at more conferences in the future and expanding the experience to our booths at the conference. We’re hoping to provide an environment were people visiting the booth can see the conference stream, sign-up for Twitter and post to their accounts, all from within the booth.

I think Twitter as a social media tactic is here to stay for our organization and we seem to be embarrassing it. More and more people within the organization are asking about it and interested in engaging with our customers and patients.

More to come on this I’m sure, as the next initiative we’ll be working on is to respond to the FDA’s call for feedback on social media for medical products. Now that we have some experience, we’ll have something to say.



I had the distinct honor and privilege to participate in the planning and execution of our first real Twitter experience at my company over the past few weeks.

This first entry to the social site Twitter wasn’t only setting expectations for our company, but our industry as a whole. This was a key topics we always reminded ourselves during the planning process.

The planning process itself involved lots of brainstorming around the types of tweets we’d deliver, possible types of RTs we could post, and of course, what to do and how to handle tweets to us.

Along the way we learned a lot about what our legal and regulatory teams wouldn’t allow us to tweet. We preferred to error on the side of caution this time out, which definitely meant no tweets or RTs relating to Press Releases, clinical claims, links to sites that did not provide fair use and definitely no off-label use.

We also used a custom background image to display contact information for our technical services team (for physicians) and to our patient services team in case patients were reading or viewing our profile page.

So what were we able to tweet? Luckily, the main focus the past few weeks has the the annual HFSA conference held in Boston, MA this year. This allowed us to use Twitter to communicate information to the conference attendees, employees who couldn’t be at the conference and everyone else who cared about the happenings at HFSA.

We specifically used Twitter to announce times and presenters, as reminders for conference attendees, posted pictures from the standing room only presentations, remind attendees to stop by our booth and meet with us, and to visit Clinical Row.

Part of the plan identified individuals from patient services, technical services, engineering, legal and regulatory, etc. These lucky individuals were on call in case a tweet came in that needed immediate attention. We had a full triage flow map defined on how to handle such tweets with the most important thing being to provide answers to any questions in a timely manner and respond initially via Twitter to show the community that yes we were listening and willing to help and engage.

In the coming week, I’ll be looking at the number of new followers gained during the conference promotions (we advertised our account and the conference hashtag in our booth), and generated by RTs. I’ll also be looking at the number of people who clicked through on our links, and judging our overall reach on all and specific tweets.

Based on this information, the team will be evaluating the level of effort to maintain the account and possibly grow the account with thoughts about using similar tactics (and maybe a few new ones if legal and reg relax a little) for the next upcoming conference.

The goals for this account were firmly finalized as an avenue to communicate with our physician audience. I think it has been a successful experience and will hopefully lead the way for more accounts to be created and maintain including accounts to specifically communicate with our patient audience.

Twitter is a great place to disseminate information, collect feedback, and gain new insights about our implanters, support staff and patients.

Photo By: Joriel Joz Jimenez

Photo By: Joriel "Joz" Jimenez

An unconfernce, what it is it? An unconference is a facilitated, participant-driven conference centered around a theme or purpose. See wikipedia for more information on unconferences.

So how will an unconference work behind the firewall? Were gearing up to find out. In the true nature of an unconference, we have a Microsoft Sharepoint Wiki as the home base.

From the wiki, employees can submit discussion ideas, self register, and edit the content of the site. We’ve also worked with our Yammer community to educate, promote and help with logistics for the unconference. To date, we have about 2 dozen participates signed up and 2 dozen topics suggested.

Most of the topics suggested to date have come from only a few members, but cover lots of different topics surrounding web 2.0, social sites, and enterprise 2.0. Some of the topics include:

  • Facebook – how to run a Facebook page
  • Discussion of collaboration tools for our sales force
  • What do you want to get out of an employee social network?
  • How can blogs be used to interact with our customers?
  • Discussion boards and Wikis — What is there to be afraid of?

The unconference will be a half day, held at our Mounds View facility, in 1 room. The thought is, we’ll meet as a full group for a few minutes to describe the unconference format, and then allow 2-3 discussion groups to split up and use different areas of the room to discuss. Each area will have a white board for quick diagraming and a projector in case theres’ something to show (PPT should be banned).

Since we are an international organization, we’ve also considered streaming the unconference sessions or at least record them for those in remote locations. Those logistics still need to be worked out.

I’m excited by the possibility of a behind the firewall unconference and I’ll be sure to post a follow up. Should be interesting. (fingers crossed).


Microsoft Surface - Main Menu

Today I got to see a Microsoft Surface table in action. Sure the first app I saw was the now famous Pond, but the custom apps I saw definitely blew my mind.

The menu shown to the right, was an attractive design, simple, and elegant. It easily allowed the user to choose which app to interact with.

The three apps include a product catalog, company timeline and an interactive app of the Visible Heart.

I’m not going to dive into the apps, I’d just like to give some general opinions regarding the Microsoft Surface. Even though, the Visible Heart app was REALLY COOL! Think OR in the Minority Report.

I was amazed at the actual screen surface. Being an avid iPhone user and familiar with other “touch” pcs, I wasn’t prepared for the tactical response I received.

The surface feels similar to very very fine sand paper. It’s not going to sand your finger tips down, but the surface does create a dragging sensation. You definitely know when your making contact with the screen.

I also wasn’t prepared for a audible feedback created from your fingers moving across the surface. This is why I stated the surface was similar to sand paper, the thing is LOUD!

If you were in 25′ sq. room, you’d know exactly when the user was dragging their fingers across the surface. I think it’s much louder than the average keyboard when someone is quickly typing an email to their SO about what time they’ll be home for dinner.

Don’t get me wrong, there is definitely a WOW factor with the Surface and a plethora of possibilities. Seeing what I saw today, my mind wanders off into better remote medical procedures, 3D rendered surgical mappings, more advanced education programs for new docs and for new medical procedures.

Similar to how Air Force pilots have to log so many “seat” hours in simulation before they get to fly the real thing. The Microsoft Surface will allow physicians to get their “seat” time for new procedures.

The Twitter Book - By: Tim OReilly, Sarah Milstein

The Twitter Book - By: Tim O'Reilly, Sarah Milstein

Oh to Tweet. OK so I wasn’t in the first wave of people to sign up for Twitter, but I was still an early adaptor, joining in May of 2008, long before the Opera effect.

Even though I’d been using Twitter for over a year, The Twitter Book contained lots of great information.

Most of the information I was aware of only because I’ve been following Mashable for the past few months. However, The Twitter Book was a joy to read and a great resource, listing and discussing many web sites that you can use to enhance your Twitter experience.

If your new to Twitter or have only been using it casually, check the book out. They go through hashtags, @mentions, D messages, RT, and adding your own comments to RTs.

The most beneficial aspect of the book, besides the comprehensive lists of Twitter related resources, was the last chapter.

In the final chapter, The Twitter Book goes into great detail of how to use Twitter for businesses. Everything from how to run a Twitter account with multiple authors to best follow practices. This information has been extremely valuable for me since I’ve been working recently with one of out business units to set a new communications strategy that leverages Twitter.

In fact, since reading the book, I’ve passed it onto to several people within my organization, explaining that the book is a great read, quick, but most importantly, for them to read the last chapter.

I highly recommend The Twitter Book, it went above and beyond even Twitter’s own 101 for Business web site and with Twitter expected to roll out commercial accounts later this year, we should all brush up on our Twitter skills.

One last thing, I’d like to give a shout out to for putting together a complete list links from #TwitterBook and to @SarahM for sending me the link.

The Open Brand: When Push Comes to Pull in a Web-Made World - By: Kelly Mooney & Nita Rollins

The Open Brand: When Push Comes to Pull in a Web-Made World - By: Kelly Mooney & Nita Rollins

I had the opportunity to borrow The Open Brand from a fellow co-worker who got the book for free. In the end, that’s a good thing. I’m glad I didn’t purchase The Open Brand. If I did, the book would now be available on my wife’s Swaptree account and probably would have been traded in a three-way trade for the newest MaryJanice Davidson Undead book.

The concepts in the book aren’t bad, it’s just that it seems like most of it has been said before.

There were two highlights of the book. One was an idea I hadn’t heard about or thought much about and it’s key to any brand in a regulated industry.

The idea is this, in order to capture comments about your products or posts, make sure you not only have moderated comments, but that you state in the Terms of Use policy that you own the comments.

By owning the comments you have full right to edit or delete any portion of the comments that do get displayed on your site.

The downfall here is that your readers will have to take any comments with a grain of salt, knowing that the comment may only be a half truth.

The advantages are that you can collect feedback from your customers, provide some reassurance to your legal/regulatory department that nothing bad will be said about your products/company on your web site.

To take things a step further than the book, I’d advocate to display comments in their entirety as long their not obviously hating you. If you are going to be editing comments, I’d suggest visual indicating to your customers that this was an edited comment. Clearly make note that edited comments do exist and point them out.

The second item to note from the book was the concept of a Fish Funnel replacing the traditional sales funnel. Social media plays a much larger impact than product marketing. Once someone enters the Fish Funnel, companies no longer have control for how that customer interacts and learns about the brand or products. The Fish is filled with all types social media which impacts the customer’s decision to purchase. The brands that embrace the concept of the Fish Funnel are accepting the importance that social media has and are recognizing that that the customer now owns the brand.

In the end, if you’ve read Groundswell, my recommendation is to skip The Open Brand.

Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us - By: Seth Godin

Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us - By: Seth Godin

Tribes is the first Seth Godin book I’ve read, that’s not to say I haven’t heard of Seth Godin before, I just wasn’t into reading books.

When I head Seth was going to be a keynote speaker at this years MIMA Summit in Oct. 09, I decided that I should get acquainted with Seth.

Tribes was a natural choice since it’s his most recent book and already made the Amazon Best Seller list.

When Amazon delivered Tribes to by doorstep, I was surprised how small of a book it was, physically. Inside it was a totally different story.

I was expecting Tribes to discuss and inform me about the power of tribes, read some examples of how tribes have done good and bad, and perhaps a little about why why should join tribes.

Instead what I got out of Tribes was more about the sub-title to the book, We Need You to Lead Us. Tribes could have gone by another name, and still have been powerful as long as the sub-title remained.

What Tribes is, is a great motivational book and “call to arms” for all of us to take the lead. There are all kids of tribes in the world, from political tribes, to finding a cure for cancer tribes, to making organizational changes within Fortune 100 companies.

Tribes makes it clear with repetition, that managers are not leaders. Leaders can come from every level of an organization. Leaders constantly fight the status quo. It’s easy to give up, give in, and accept mediocracy.

To be a leader, you need to never accept mediocracy and never give in to the status quo. Tribes leaves out the check list to become a leader and instead inspires you the reader to find a cause, a tribe, and lead them to greatness.

When I look at my career and where I am right now, I see the beginnings of a leader. I always thought I wanted to manage a team, now I realize I’ve always wanted to lead a tribe.

What does it take to get to the next level? More passion and more courage. It doesn’t matter what you know, to be a leader all that matter is that your willing to fight for what you believe in.

At the end of Tribes, Seth asks you the reader for a favor. By writing this review and forwarding my copy on to my co-workers I’m fulfilling his request.

By commenting or sharing this review, you to, the reader, can fulfill Seth’s request.

Spread the word.