Strategic Social Marketing: A Journey Not A Race

Alarms Mean Something!

Posted on Sun, Feb 14, 2010 @ 04:02 AM

Re-Post of my very first personal request:

(adapted slightly)

Sometimes you just have to find the right thing to motivate you to get started on something you really want to do. I've had this urge for months now to begin blogging, and often read the blogs of others, so I've felt a little conflicted about getting started. Their blogs are really good! Both personal and professional blogs have inspired and challenged me over the last several years. But tonight, as I sit at my mother's side in a hospital room, I have found my inspiration.

Alarms mean something!

alarm 0

Several times over the last hour, the alarm has sounded at the patients bed beside Mom. Having had quite a bit of experience in hospital rooms this last year, (2008),I have learned by the sound alone, which alarm it is.There are heart monitor alarms, and IV pump alarms, and oxygen alarms, and that is just to name a few. So this alarm was the oxygen alarm monitor. When your oxygen level falls below 90, it let's you know it! Why? Because the right amount of oxygen in your blood is critical to life! I could tell from previous noises coming from beyond the curtain that the patient was sound asleep. The snoring sounded almost like a death rattle. I was glad that Mom was heavily medicated or she wouldn't be resting at all.

As for me, I had my iTunes playing and was trying to drown out the snoring when the alarm started going off. I listened to it for what seemed like hours but was actually only about two minutes, when it cycled off. Then not thirty seconds later it started going off again. The sound was annoying but it wasn't my job to check the machine so I tried to keep working. This went on for about 15 minutes, when I couldn't take it anymore. I finally grabbed the only other person I saw that was awake roaming the halls and said, "this alarm has been going off for 15 minutes, do you think it needs to be checked?" "Uh, I'm not sure mam, I will get someone."

It wasn't too long before the nurse on duty came running into the room. By this time I would guess that a total of 30 minutes had passed. They began to try and wake the patient in the next bed, (the person I had yet to see.) "Wake up! Can you hear me?" "Wake Up!" I could hear the alarm in the voice with each "Wake Up!" For what seemed like another hour, they tried to get the patient to respond what seemed like no success. Finally, a deep gasp and a garbled voice came from behind the curtain. The sweet lady in the next bed had actually been suffering oxygen depravation, with me and several medical staff sitting and listening to the alarm and not responding. Fortunately, the annoying sound caused me to react and it was not too late. After about five minutes of disorientation and getting the oxygen back into her system, she was communicative again. (and hasn't stopped "communicating" since!)

At first I sat in disbelief at what had just happened and how close I had come to sitting here while someone else was basically dying. Then I became angry (hence the writing of this blog). Don't alarms mean something, I asked myself? Didn't we invent all these alarms to let us know when to respond to the urgent situations of life? Are the alarms just like the boy that cried "Wolf!" one too many times? Do they cry out falsely so often that we don't believe them anymore? Or is it deeper than that? Do we hear so many alarms and so often that we just are numb to them and no longer care? Are we just too busy or too self absorbed or too lazy to do anything?

Certainly I was guilty of something tonight as I sat and listened for many minutes before being motivated by aggravation, instead of caring, to do something about the alarm I was hearing. But what of the medical staff? What was their excuse? They actually have double alarms because it goes off loud enough to hear it outside the room and on their monitoring equipment at the desk. I decided I better look at my own life before I judged another. I believe that we all have opportunities to hear many alarms that could save our lives or the lives of others, but hearing the alarm is not enough.

The alarm calls us to action. It cries out for a response. It begs for intervention. What will our response be? What will my response be? In hospitals everyday, alarms go off, and decisions are made about how to respond. These alarms could mean life and death. But everyday, out in the world, alarms go off too! And those alarms could mean danger to ourselves, our family, or our business. Not listening could have long term consequences. What alarms are you ignoring?

"My desire is to not only hear the alarms in life, but to respond to them with love and care for those around me."

So what does all of this have to do with being a corporate social strategist. I am glad you asked! I believe that we are at the beginnings of a major shift in how we have to approach the use of social media. Social media is no longer just "a part of a marketing plan." Social media tools are vital to the future success of businesses and non-profits. We must change our way of thinking. Alarms and warnings have been going off all around us, are we going to listen? If we listen, are we going to act? The ultimate goal of social media is to cause a response, an action! What actions are your efforts showing? Are they quantifiable? Are you hearing the death rattle from your social media efforts or the "conversion" that just won't stop :-) ?

Hope I made you think!

Topics: social marketing