Friday, April 03, 2009

The Rise Of Cultural Movements

The Rise Of Cultural Movements

Source: Mediapost (

Author: Chip Walker

In 2007, I fielded a global quantitative study of Gen-Yers in 13
countries and was surprised to find the No. 1 attitude unifying the
generation was: "I would fight for a cause I believe in." A large
majority of global Gen-Yers agreed with it from among dozens of other
attitudes. My colleagues and I were all puzzled by this finding and
weren't quite sure what to do with it. As I've created campaigns for
Gen-Yers during the past couple of years, the meaning of this finding
has become crystal clear.

Simply put, Gen-Yers have an activist bent. But their activism is
different from the idealism and rebellion of their Boomer parents in the
1960s and '70s. For today's Gen-Yers, activism is not about rebelling
against institutions -- there's simply not that much left to rebel

Belief in institutions like government and big business crumbled long
ago. Rather, in a world of almost infinite lifestyle choices, Gen-Y
activism is about young people knowing their own inner priorities and
making a vow to live by them -- even in the face of adversity.

A big part of Gen-Y activism is what I call "self-activism." They treat
themselves and their dreams almost like causes. It's less based on
idealism and more a matter of necessity: If they don't activate the
revolutionary inside, they simply won't get anywhere in today's
hyper-challenging marketplace.

According to the Wall Street Journal, half of all new college graduates
now believe that self-employment is more secure than a full-time job.
According to a Gallup pool, over two-thirds of high school students say
they intend to start their own companies. Clearly, an independent spirit
pervades this generation, and it's fueled by a strong sense of their
personal values and beliefs. Among GenYers' most important personal
values are authenticity, altruism and community.

Yet, it is this generation's consumer activism that makes them a unique
challenge for marketers. Gen Y-ers don't just want to buy brands, they
want buy in to what a brand believes in. They flock to brands like Red
and Livestrong that spark movements.

Some are social movements -- the sweatshop-free and socially responsible
clothing movements are making clothing brands like Timberland, American
Apparel and Patagonia must-have items for GenY. Others are cultural
movements -- rather than selling processing speed, Apple invites GenYers
to join a creativity movement. Obama became the choice of Gen-Y voters
because he asked them to join a movement for change, not simply to vote
for him.

Would your brand fight for a cause it believes in? Would your employees?
Most Gen-Yers would. Today more than ever, GenYers are seeking to summon
their own passion, courage and determination. Thus, if you want to
connect with them, it's time to stop doing traditional marketing and
start believing in something bigger than making money.

It's not easy for a brand to spark a cultural movement. But it's worth
doing because it allows us to go beyond having a point of difference and
actually have a difference-making purpose in the world. I, for one,
believe Gen-Y's unique activist spirit will be its lasting generational
hallmark, one that will change the future practice of marketing for the

Editor's note: If you would like to contribute to this newsletter, email
Nina Lentini
> .

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Thursday, April 02, 2009

Sources: Google In Late Stage Talks To Acquire Twitter

Perhaps the stage is a little earlier then techcrunch is reporting, but either way it appears that the two companies are definately in discussion ... And it makes perfect sense as twitter promises to be an extremely powerful real-time search engine, while google already has the infrastructure and gianormous base that could make twitter really soar.  

My guess: there will be a lot of wild speculation for a few days, then some kind of announcement about the relationship -- which might start of as a "strategic partnership", and quickly end up in a full-fledged acquisition. 

We'll see.

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How Physicians (Should) Use Twitter

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You're Invited: Join the New Social Network for Type 1 Young Adults from JDRF

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Become a Fan of Facebook Pages With a Text Message

March 26th, 2009 by Adam Ostrow
source: Mashable

This is potentially huge news for brands that are using Facebook Pages. You can now promote your Page using text messaging – or rather, by simply asking people to text the name of your page ( - to Facebook’s shortcode, 32665, to become fans.

For example, text “fan Mashable()” to 32665 (which spells out ‘FBOOK’ on your phone) and you become a Mashable Facebook fan.

The feature appears to be very beta, and hasn’t been enabled for every Page admin yet. An additional caveat seems to be that for Fans to successfully opt-in, they need to have setup their mobile phone to receive texts from Facebook(), which can be done from your Settings page. Unfortunately, T-Mobile isn’t on Facebook’s list of supported carriers, meaning I currently get an “access denied” error when trying to Fan stuff via text (most other major carriers are supported, however).

The blog Buzz Marketing Daily, who seems to have first noticed the new option, explains the possibilities: “Imagine the scenarios- you can ask 10 people in a Board room to take their phone out and become Fans, or 100 people at a rally to become political supporters, or 30,000 people at a concert or ballpark to become fans via mobile device.”

Likewise, you could also include that very simple prompt in all of your company’s marketing – brochures, commercials, print ads, websites, etc, as well as encourage your current Twitter() followers to become Facebook fans, which, Facebook would surely love for you to do. Twitter already does the same thing on its service by letting you text “follow [username]” to their short code – 40404.

Assuming this feature eventually goes live for everyone, we think it will have a huge impact on increasing brands’ following on Facebook. We’re certainly excited about getting this feature enabled on our Facebook Page, and will likely be integrating it into our own marketing going forward

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Social Media Cartoon: The Twitter Follower Bots

Source: Mashable

The Social Media Cartoon is brought to you by HubSpot. HubSpot is a marketing software company that enables inbound marketing through the use of social media, blogs and search engine optimization.
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Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Johnson & Johnson’s Zyrtec runs mobile banner campaign on app

By Dan Butcher

March 31, 2009

The expanded version of Zyrtec's mobile ad

Johnson & Johnson's Zyrtec allergy brand is running expandable banner ads on The Weather Channel for iPhone 2.0, which is now ad-supported, but still free for consumers.

Consumers can click on the ad to expand it and check out the advertiser's offer page without closing the application. The newest enhanced version of The Weather Channel application for iPhone and iPod touch is now available in the Apple App Store.

"Our upgraded iPhone application has launched, and we included features that customers ask for the most, such as looping radar so you can see which direction wind and precipitation are going and images from roads in major cities," said Louis Gump, vice president of mobile for TWCi, Atlanta.

"We launched a true mobile advertising product, and Zyrtec signed on as an advertiser, so we're really excited about that," he said. "This is the first time that we've done an expandable banner ad—it's user-initiated, there's been tremendous activity on it and Johnson & Johnson has been extremely pleased with the ad's performance."

Zyrtec is an over-the-counter allergy medication designed to relieve runny nose, sneezing, itchy, watery eyes and itching of the nose and throat. It was the top new non-food product of 2008 in the U.S., generating the sales of $315.9 million.

The default display of the Zyrtec banner ad on The Weather Channel iPhone app

When a consumer clicks on the Zyrtec banner ad, it expands to take up most of the screen without actually closing The Weather Channel application.

There is a picture of the medication's packaging and the following messages: "The fastest 24-hour OTC allergy relief. Love the air. Try it. If you don't love it, it's FREE."

Consumers can lick on the 'Offer' icon to get more information.

Advertisers such as Johnson & Johnson will receive multi-platform impressions across online and on mobile for one month.

Consumers can click on expandable banner ads to link to a WAP site or click-to-call, video or other locations, all without closing the weather application.

This creative execution was based on industry feedback from advertisers, who told TWC that they are looking for services where consumers can interact with the creative without being redirected to another site.

"Johnson & Johnson's Zyrtec has been a long-time advertiser with us on the mobile Web—the brand has had run-of-site advertising as well—and they are one of our most prominent and loyal advertisers," Mr. Gump said. "When we launched our new ad product, they jumped on it, and they'll get a lot of great value from it.

"Johnson & Johnson is a company that's been very pleased with the mobile Web, and it has done a variety of ad buys, and now it has extended to a new platform, our upgraded iPhone application," he said. "Advertising funds a lot of innovation, and free apps are going to have ads, but there are the many different ways we can make it consumer friendly, to put the consumer first.

"The expandable ad has a cascade of information, but the consumer elected to open the ad, so it's less intrusive and more effective."

TWC upgrades mobile content
Last year, NBC Universal, Bain Capital and Blackstone Group bought The Weather Channel from Landmark Communications.

The Weather Channel Interactive is a leading provider of broadband and wireless weather products including, The Weather Channel Desktop and The Weather Channel Mobile.

The Weather Channel reaches more than 38 million unique users online each month and is the most popular source of online weather, news and information, according to Nielsen//NetRatings.

The free Weather Channel iPhone application includes enhanced functionality such as in-motion weather maps, metro traffic cameras and a snapshot of weather conditions for saved locations.

The No. 1 request from TWC consumers was for map animation, and in response to that feedback, The Weather Channel Interactive now includes animation of the radar and cloud layers on the already fully customizable maps.

Consumers can now view traffic cameras for local roads and highways (for supported markets), larger forecast windows and a snapshot of weather conditions for favorite locations, with multiple graphical enhancements throughout.

The Weather Channel has also made it easier for customers to edit, delete and nickname their saved locations.

The Weather Channel Interactive, in partnership with home improvement retailer Home Depot Inc., launched an updated section dedicated to do-it-yourself home improvement projects (see story).

With more than 3 million downloads in the first three months after launch, The Weather Channel for iPhone remains the No. 1 weather application in the Apple App Store.

"As far as content is concerned, we've noticed the increasing reach of the mobile marketplace, increased page views on the mobile Web," Mr. Gump said. "This is a real medium with real reach, and it's not just for early adopters anymore, which is a big topic of conversation.

"The mobile Web is and will continue to be the largest reach play, in our view," he said. "However, there will be a lot of discussion at CTIA about the proliferation of applications and app stores."

The Weather Channel is bullish about the growth of mobile advertising, despite the recession.

"We're certainly seeing mobile advertising come into its own, even in a soft economy," Mr. Gump said. "We're going to be up in ad revenue terms in 2009, and that lets us continue to invest in the mobile platform."

Staff Reporter Dan Butcher covers banking and payments, carrier networks, commerce, database/CRM, manufacturers, music and software and technology. Reach him at

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FDA Announces Guidelines for Pharmaceutical Companies' use of Social Media

FDA Announces Guidelines for Pharmaceutical Companies use of Social Media

[Update April 2, 2009: BTW, this was an April Fool's joke by John Mack. Thanks for the smile, John!]

April 1, 2009

Media Inquiries: 301-827-6242
Consumer Inquiries: 888-INFO-FDA

New FDA Draft Guidance Aims to Improve Health Information Obtained via “Social Media” Websites

The Food and Drug Administration today issued a draft guidance document designed to improve communications to consumers and health care practitioners about health conditions and medical products that they obtain on “social media” Websites such as Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and online bulletin boards. The guidance is the result of FDA research and policy development, and was influenced by the success of the recent social media based peanut recall program (see

“We intend to do all we can under the law to make sure that the information conveyed by prescription drug promotion is as useful as possible,” said acting FDA Commissioner, Dr. Joshua M. Sharfstein. “Our new regulatory guidance provides new direction to sponsors on how to provide higher-quality health information to the public via social media sites, based on recent evidence on what works and what doesn’t. The evidence shows that social media promotions directed to consumers can play an especially important role in helping patients start a discussion about conditions that are often unrecognized and therefore undertreated, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, depression, and obesity. And we think those discussions should reflect a better understanding of the key risks and benefits of a product. Without participation by pharmaceutical companies in those discussions, there is increased likelihood of false or dangerous information being promulgated throughout the Internet.”

According to an FDA study, a majority of interactive agencies surveyed feel that social media product messages increase patient awareness and involvement, and improve compliance. That study also shows that social media-stimulated visits to a physician can help identify a previously undiagnosed condition. Importantly, of patients who visited their doctors because of an online discussion they participated in, 95% actually had the condition the drug treats. That percentage was even greater than that reported among patients who viewed DTC ads on TV.

The draft guidance provides (1) a simple method by which sponsors can insert a notice about reporting adverse events in their posts to social media sites, (2) “safe harbor” conditions that relieve manufacturers of responsibility for reporting adverse events they may hear about on social media sites, and (3) advice for manufacturers on the types of branded and unbranded communications that fall under the rules set forth in the guidance.

“Clear, evidence-based regulatory guidance will help FDA use its limited resources to police the marketplace as effectively as possible,” said Sharfstein. “FDA will take action against sponsors whose ads violate the law by presenting false or misleading information to the public via social media sites. Our new draft guidance is intended to help responsible companies comply, for the benefit of the public health. If they don’t, we now have an even stronger basis for pursuing enforcement actions.”

“Improving our nation’s health literacy a critical step in improving our nation’s health,” said Jean-Ah Kang, special assistant to director Tom Abrams. Kang was tasked with developing policy on pharma social media marketing and was responsible for the social media communications that was instrumental in the success of the recent peanut recall program. “More and more patients are seeking health information online and through social networks of their peers. The FDA’s new guidance will help empower these patients with accurate information from manufacturers rather than relying upon unsubstantiated claims made by anonymous online sources. It’s also way cool.”

The draft guidance document is part of FDA’s strategic social media plan, one goal of which is to help create better-informed consumers. To access FDA’s strategic plan go to

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Fantastic video: "DID YOU KNOW?"

This is an incredible video... worth every second of the 5 minutes. It was researched by Karl Fisch, Scott McLeod, and Jeff Bronman. Enjoy!

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Tuesday, March 31, 2009

IAB Reports Internet Advertising Grew 10 Percent Last Year; Outpacing TV

IAB Reports Internet Advertising Grew 10 Percent Last Year; Outpacing TV

Posted using ShareThis

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Social By Design

Social By Design

By Joe Marchese

Source: Online Spin (

> For marketers and publishers of the social Web, design matters.
Creative matters. Ideas matter. It is true that properly utilized data
can drive better decision making, but it is also true that all the data
in the world doesn't create innovation without interpretation, and data
doesn't always lead to great design (especially when the data is about
the wrong thing -- clicks, anyone?). Caroline McCarthy has a great post
on cnet titled "Facebook, Google, and the Data Design Disaster,"
> which makes a good case for the
need for digital players to balance the art vs. science of design. As
the Web becomes a more "social" experience, we are going to see a lot
more of the data vs. design discussion.

It's hard to overstate the importance of design to both marketers and
publishers on the social Web. Success is dependent on your ability to
design messages that people will want to share and environments that
enable, promote and reward sharing. There will be unparalleled amounts
of interaction data coming from the social Web, and it will be very
important to know how to interrupt the data for your business, whether
you are marketing soda or building an online community (or doing both of
those at the same time). But data doesn't make something social, data
just tells us what people think is worthy of being socialized. In short,
data gives us the "what," not the "why." In order to have data, we have
to give people something to react to, and if we want people to react to
something new, we have to create it.

The fuel of social media is people sharing content (that they or that
marketers/publisher create); people want to share things they consider
new, interesting, funny, sad, entertaining. If you could simply read the
data and create those things, movie studios would have a much greater
"hit to flop" ratio. Instead, movie studios continue to balance the art
of creation with the science of market research. A studio can take into
account all of the lessons learned from past films and research done
today, but eventually the studio puts the movie out and success is
dependent upon how people react.

The advantage marketers should have is the ability to constantly iterate
based on how people are reacting by watching the data. I say "should,"
because most marketers do not utilize their ability to iterate on design
during a campaign. Instead, marketing on the social Web is done much
more like a movie release: all the thought up front, trying to use a
wealth of social data like reading tea leaves, then a launch into the
fickle waters of the social Web, hoping the idea floats.

It is during the campaign, not before or after, that data has the
greatest potential to lead to better design. And the data can still only
do that if there are people with ideas and creativity to interrupt the
data. Data can lead to marketers creating a sort of "social spam" if
misused, while design can lead to impactful engagements.

Designing something to be social means to design something people are
going to appreciate and talk about (the emotional aspect of social). It
also means giving those people who want to talk about your content the
ability to do so easily (the utility aspect of social). Great design,
like great art, can be subjective, but the difference between "social
spam" and good social design, while hard to define, is like what the
politician said about the difference between art and pornography: "I
know it when I see it."

How do you think we can balance the data vs. design issue? Drop me a
line on twitter @joemarchese (
> ).

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Monday, March 30, 2009

Dallas Mavericks Owner Mark Cuban Fined for Twitter Comments

One of the many lessons social media will teach us...

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Physicians Use Copyright Infringement Threat to Block Patient Ratings on the Web

Featured Story March 30, 2009

Physicians Use Copyright Infringement Threat to Block Patient Ratings on the Web

Reprinted from INSIDE CONSUMER-DIRECTED CARE, a biweekly newsletter with timely news and insightful analysis of benefit design, contracts, market strategies and financial results.

By Michael E. Carbine, Managing Editor, (

More than 40 Web sites, ranging from to Zagat, now offer consumers the opportunity to rate physicians. Most allow anonymous postings, and most offer physicians the opportunity to post rebuttals. Advocates argue that the information helps consumers who are looking for physicians or other providers. And physicians can use the information to improve their practices.

But Medical Justice, a North Carolina firm run by Jeffrey Segal, M.D., J.D., a neurosurgeon, takes issue with these sites. Two years ago he launched an "Internet defamation protection" service to help physicians force Web sites to remove negative comments. At the heart of the service: a mutual privacy agreement (MPA) that, when signed by a patient, in effect prohibits the patient from posting comments — positive or negative — about the physician on public rating sites.

"Reputation is a physician's most valuable asset," Segal tells ICDC. "These sites are not self-policed, and they are largely protected from lawsuits." He argues that the anonymous information could come from nonpatients with an ax to grind. The information is anecdotal, he claims, and it deals largely with customer service, not quality. "Physicians want to be rated on quality of care, not 'comfort of care,'" he contends.

MPA Relies on Copyright Infringement

To date, 2,000 physicians have signed up for the Medical Justice program and, according to Segal, are asking their patients to sign MPAs. What makes the agreement unique is its use of copyright law. Segal says that Web sites are immune from accountability under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. But they aren't immune from copyright infringement suits. So when a patient signs an MPA, the patient automatically assigns all intellectual property rights for anything the patient may write (and publish) about the physician to the physician. Should the patient post a rating on a Web site, the physician can then claim copyright infringement and issue a "take down" notice, forcing the Web site to remove the review pending further legal action.

Medical Justice wouldn't provide a copy of the MPA. But a copy obtained by ICDC.reveals a document so broadly drawn that patients could be limited from discussing their treatment with anyone but medical peer-review bodies, other medical providers and government agencies. Attorneys and other experts who were shown the agreement call it "breathtaking." But they question its broadness and ability to withstand court challenges. ICDC knows of no actual lawsuits that have been filed.

Steve Zansberg, head of the digital media and online practice group of the law firm Levine Sullivan Koch & Schulz, L.L.P., tells ICDC that while he couldn't predict that a court wouldn't honor the agreement, he's skeptical about whether all courts would honor it. "A judge may find this to be an extremely broad waiver," Zansberg says. "The key word is 'airing.' That could be construed to mean that the patient is precluded from discussing the physician or treatment with a spouse, family members, friends and colleagues." Zansberg says that he could see a court saying this was unenforceable because it is overly oppressive and broad, and even unconscionable. "It also creates an adversarial relationship between the physician and patient." Is a Popular MPA Target, a physician rating Web site with more than 700,000 posted ratings of 187,000 physicians, has become a major target for take-down notices. John Swapceinski, co-founder of the site, helped launch it in 2004 after successfully launching and Swapceinski tells ICDC that he receives threats of lawsuits on a weekly basis, and that six have come from physicians claiming copyright infringement under an MPA. Swapceinski adds that in a new tack, one physician has gone after the site's Internet service provider (ISP). So far, no physicians have taken actual legal action against either the ISP or, he says.

Swapceinski says that allows anonymous postings because consumers are afraid of being blackballed by their physicians if they post negative ratings. He dismisses the argument that anonymous postings encourage postings by nonpatients. "We have found that, for the most part, people who are sufficiently motivated to rate a physician are indeed patients." The site, according to Swapceinski, monitors postings and uses various tools to flag suspicious postings, including duplicates. Physicians can respond to negative postings and ask that a review be "re-reviewed." Physicians who use MPAs are listed on the site's Wall of Shame. So far, two physicians are listed on the Wall. When asked how physicians know that ratings were posted by their patients when the postings are anonymous, Swapceinski says it's obviously a shot in the dark. "It's why I don't think this [strategy] will hold up in court."

Responding to Medical Justice's argument that customer-service measures are not relevant to physician ratings, Swapceinski counters that "patients don't want to waste money, and until physicians start giving away their services for free, patients will be interested in how they spend their money."

Angie's List Avoids Anonymous Postings

Angie's List, which began posting physician ratings in 2007, recently polled both its members and physicians who have been rated on its site to measure their attitudes about the use of MPAs. "Our members were almost unanimous in saying they were against them," Angie Hicks, founder of Angie's List, tells ICDC. "And 60% of the physicians we surveyed said they would not use them." Hicks argues that consumers should not have to choose between their First Amendment rights and their health care. "The most important thing about a physician-patient relationship is trust. And if a physician asked me to sign a waiver, it would make me suspicious and call that relationship into question," she says.

Hicks notes that consumers have been discussing their physicians since day one and that the use of the Internet to do this reflects a shift in societal norms. "The issue is how a Web site is collecting and using the information [from consumers]," she says. Angie's List does not use anonymous postings, and providers have the opportunity to respond to a negative posting. If a physician doesn't recognize a patient's name, Angie's List contacts the patient to verify the patient's identify and the validity of the complaint, Hicks says.

Hicks contends that customer-service measures are as important to consumers as clinical quality. "All elements of a physician's service are important to consumers and should be evaluated," she says. "Physicians need good interpersonal skills and should be running consumer-friendly practices." She argues that non-clinical factors make a difference in terms of the larger customer experience.

Medical Justice Pushes Ratings Standards

Segal tells ICDC that Medical Justice isn't opposed to physician ratings on public Web sites. Rather, the company wants the sites to apply certain standards developed by Medical Justice for collecting and posting comments. Among the standards:

  • The site must verify that the individual posting the comment is indeed a patient of the physician, and
  • Anywhere from 30 to 50 evaluations of a physician should be collected before a review is posted.

Segal also says that Medical Justice has been working with, a new Web site that collects patient-satisfaction measures from patients and then provides feedback to the physicians. He says Medical Justice's goal in working with sites like is to make sure that "ratings are done right." According to Segal, Medical Justice has provided feedback to on the standards Medical Justice is advocating for rating sites.

Steven Feldman, M.D., founder of, confirms that he has been working with Medical Justice. But he sees MPAs as counterproductive. "They limit the public's access to very positive news about doctors," he tells ICDC. "But even when the patient feedback is less than positive, those comments are a benefit to doctors because they enable us to see what we need to be doing better." Feldman also asserts that patient anonymity "is critical to ensuring that patient comments are unbiased, honest and candid."

Segal says that his goal is to "develop a [rating] system that is credible and reliable." He wants more self-policing of the rating sites so that they are less "name and blame" sites. "If there is more self-policing [of these sites] and the use of the standards we're recommending, then I say we've accomplished our mission."

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ADHD's Facebook 'friends'

Parents should be skeptical of a drug company's Facebook page on the disorder.
Source: LA TIMES (
By Katherine Ellison
March 30, 2009
I'm the mother of a child diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. What this often means is I feel lonely and stigmatized, and turn to the Internet in search of support.

In other words, I'm just the kind of mom for whom McNeil Pediatrics, manufacturer of the popular, long-acting stimulant drug Concerta, is offering "practical, credible information" on its ADHD Moms Facebook page, launched last July.

"Our research is telling us that these women feel very isolated," company spokeswoman Tricia Geoghegan told me. "We saw these moms going on Facebook. They're going on WebMD late at night." The Facebook page was designed to "put the information in their comfort zone," Geoghegan said.

Naturally enough, this Facebook page, with its atypically non-interactive content, is especially comforting about the use of stimulant medications to treat ADHD. At a time of a growing national backlash against the $250-billion drug industry, parents taking this route -- even as a painful last resort -- can feel like pariahs. But McNeil, a division of Ortho-McNeil-Janssen Pharmaceuticals Inc., assures us we have lots of company -- and furthermore, that the outcomes can be fabulous.

"After dinner one night my son sat and played with Lego for hours it seemed, he looked so happy, peaceful, and I turned to my husband and said, 'We did good,' " wrote Michelle Goodman-Beatty, a mother of four, a recent medication convert and one of the page's more than 8,000 "fans." Another mom boasts that her daughter has made the honor roll and "become a more focused dancer."

I'm not against medication per se. Concerta helped our family during a crisis, allowing us the emotional wherewithal to make difficult, time-consuming changes in our behavior.

But that doesn't mean that McNeil Pediatrics is my "friend."

Check out, for instance, the "advice" about drug holidays -- periodic breaks from medication. Federally sponsored researchers in a follow-up phase of the largest ADHD study to date, published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry in August 2007, found this common practice to be supported by clinical evidence that the initial benefits of medication "completely dissipated" for many children as they matured.

These authoritative findings aside, Washington pediatrician Patricia Quinn, a paid consultant for McNeil, declares in a podcast conversation with a mom named Laura Willingham that medication breaks aren't a good idea for "a good number of children," including Willingham's third-grader, Jackson.

(Willingham, in a telephone interview from her Texas home, described herself to me as an "average-Joe mom," but also acknowledged she'd been recruited to the Facebook page by McNeil's Chicago public relations firm, drawn by her musings on Cafe Mom, a social networking site. McNeil also paid Willingham a fee and expenses to attend a New York conference on adult ADHD.)

Kids like Jackson "really do need to continue on their medication because their ADHD symptoms are continuing to interfere with their functioning," says Quinn, who characterizes such interference as "problems with organization or listening or following directions or even interacting with other children."

Whoa, that describes quite a lot of kids, don't you think?

Quinn, herself the mother of three ADHD children, continues, in a tone that sounds urgent: "It's important for the family interaction. I know that by keeping my son on medication after school and on weekends and on holidays, we could have family vacations. We even went to Disneyland in an RV!"

My two Facebook friends then proceed to allay listeners' worries about reported side effects of the stimulants with some artful misinformation. "I did my own research," says Willingham, "and found that children who did receive treatment, whatever the path, typically have lower rates of addiction."

In fact, this long-lived claim was disputed in a peer-reviewed study last year in the American Journal of Psychiatry, which found there was "no evidence that stimulant treatment increases or decreases the risk for subsequent substance use disorders" in young people with ADHD. But Quinn doesn't correct the record.

Willingham goes on to say she'd feared the drugs would stunt her son's growth, until she talked the issue over with her pediatrician. "He told us we could expect some weight loss or no weight gain," she says, "and we talked about how to pad his diet."

Now, here's what I mean by "artful." My Facebook chums don't mention height, which you can't make up by "padding," unless you "pad" with growth hormones. But height is indeed an issue, according to that federally sponsored study, which found children on meds lose on average about three-fourths of an inch after three years, apparently permanently.

When I asked Geoghegan, the McNeil spokeswoman, why the company didn't make sure its podcast was accurate, she said, "Patricia Quinn is a doctor. I'm not. It's her medical opinion. Plus, she's a mom. Remember, this is moms talking to moms."

Oh, right! Shame on me for forgetting!

We ADHD mothers are really in a pickle. There is so much misinformation and disinformation out there about brain disorders and drugs and how best to cope with the difficult children we love. There is so much that even top scientists still simply don't know. What's more, a few of these top scientists have been revealed by recent congressional investigations to be taking questionable payments from ... yep, pharmaceutical firms.

The difficulty of doing our own, independent research when we're feeling panicked, isolated and stigmatized makes it all the more tempting to rely on people we feel we know, like the smiling Facebook moms or the site's former paid celebrity hostess, Deborah Phelps. (Phelps, mother of Olympic champion Michael Phelps, left the page in January, for reasons she and Geoghegan say were unrelated to the dust-up arising from a photo published that same month of Michael with a bong.)

Alas, there's still no such thing as one-click parenting. Our choices about how to treat our children's emotional and mental travails surely shouldn't be as lonely, painful, costly or shaming as they are today. But virtual "friends" aren't the answer.

Katherine Ellison is a Pulitzer Prize-winning former foreign correspondent. Her latest book, "Hotheads: A Mother, a Son, and a Year of Paying Attention," will be published next year by Hyperion Books.
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Cancer Patients Connect with Online Communities for Care and Support

Cancer Patients Connect with Online Communities for Care and Support

Manhattan Research Module Looks at the Growing Number of Cancer Patients Using the Internet and Health 2.0 Resources for Condition and Treatment Management

Source: Manhatten Research ( / Thanks @shwen

March 30, 2009, New York, NY – Connectivity and community are key components of the growing population of cancer patients using innovative resources to take more of an empowered role in their condition and treatment management. According to Manhattan Research’s Cybercitizen Health™ study, more than sixty percent of cancer patients are eHealth Consumers, reporting to go online for health information. While cancer patients report to use online health and pharmaceutical resources along all points of the disease continuum, they are most likely to rely on the Internet right after receiving a diagnosis from their physician.

Cancer patients are also more avid users of health-related social media than age would predict. This condition group tends to be more comfortable with sharing information and resources than other types of patients - eHealth cancer patients are twice as likely as the average eHealth Consumer to post health content online.

Several health organizations and pharmaceutical companies have taken notice of this community’s interest in connecting and sharing online and launched social media initiatives. The American Cancer Society offers a virtual network for cancer patients, caregivers, survivors, and information-seekers, while Genentech BioOncology sponsors the Herceptin HER Story Community specifically for HER2+ breast cancer patients.

“Cancer is a difficult and emotional disease to navigate, leading patients to turn to their physicians, caregivers, and, now more than ever, the Internet for support and information,” said Monique Levy, Senior Director of Research at Manhattan Research. “And cancer patients’ willingness to share treatment experiences and advice is helping the online community to flourish – social media will continue to play an important role in the cancer care.”


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