We Got Game

Once again in Boston, Memorial Day weekend means it’s still basketball season. I've been watching the Celtics make their way to the Eastern Conference finals and was again reminded about how important balance is to succeed in this sport. It's sometimes referred to as having an inside-outside game. Your team’s big men (centers and power forwards) dominate inside, and the guards and small forwards perform well along the perimeter. This keeps opponents off balance  and provides balanced teams with numerous scoring options. 

The same principle can be applied to health marketers looking to burnish their thought-leadership credentials through social media. The organizations that do it best are able to strike a balance between bringing their internal knowledge to the outside world, while also keeping an eye on what’s going on in the world and bringing those insights to their audience. 

And just like in basketball, it’s best not to try to go it alone. Unfortunately, many organizations make this mistake. 



It’s fine (and sometimes recommended) to have a single point of contact to be the ultimate manager of a thought-leadership-inspired social media endeavor. However, it works best if that person doesn’t try to be (or is forced by management to be) the entire team. In this case, it’s best to think of that person as a point guard, whose job is not  to just score and rebound when the opportunity arises, but to run the offense and rely on teammates to achieve a collective goal.

Inside Game

Just as in basketball, it helps to have a dominant center. (See also: Rings, Bill Russell)

For health marketers, think of your centers as the organization’s internal content creators. These folks do the heavy lifting of content. They write research papers, newsletter articles, speak at Grand Rounds or lead continuing education programs.

Of course, the original content’s format is often not conducive to being pushed through social media channels.  Therefore it’s wise to have a fresh pair of eyes (and hands) take a pass at breaking them down a bit. I call these people “deconstructors” but you could think of them as power forwards. In my experience, power forwards tend to be the best players on the court at slashing to the hoop. And when it comes to research papers, there most certainly needs to be some slashing involved in extricating digestible portions that will work in social media channels. 

Outside Game

Concurrently, you need eyes and ears looking beyond the walls of your organization. There are thousands of links to informative health content flying across the web every second.  In basketball, no one epitomizes a shooting guard like Ray Allen. Few have ever been able to catch-and-release more quickly and more effectively.  Thus, it helps to think of scouts like shooting guards. Scouts are always keeping their eyes open for interesting content that could be of interest to your organization’s audience. 

Now here’s where my metaphor breaks down like a bad zone defense. I have one more role, curators, and one more position, small forwards, so I’m just going to go ahead and link them up. 

Curators, in this approach, are responsible for taking what’s found by scouts, and evaluating it and synthesizing it to ensure that it’s really worthy of sharing with a larger audience. Sometimes that requires the curator to reject suggested links. Sometimes it requires a follow-up with the scout to determine the relevance. It often involves writing an alternate headline to help your organization’s specific audience clearly understand the value of the link. By putting these responsibilities on a curator, who then hands off approved content to the social media manager (point guard), the social media manager is better equipped to handle the many other aspects of the thought-leadership social media equation, such as audience engagement, analytics and channel management. 


The end result: Ubuntu, a word which has its origins in the Bantu languages of southern Africa that means, "I am what I am because of who we all are."

And that message also happens to be the unifying slogan for the Celtics. 

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