COMM0015 – Blog Post #4: Out of the Box

In a recent article for the Huffington Post, Mark Weinstein explores the surprising relationship between the new Healthcare.gov health data website launched in the United States and social media. The author notes that according to the privacy policy of Healthcare.gov: “If you have an account with a third-party website and choose to ‘like,’ ‘friend,’ follow, or comment, certain PII associated with your account may be made available to HealthCare.gov based on the privacy policy of the third-party website and your privacy settings within that website.”

Clearly, the American government intends to build a profile its citizens’ health that includes reference to their likes, friends, and online activities. Will this information be factored into the cost of healthcare, along with the patient’s weight, height and age? If this new application of social media takes off, what’s to stop life insurance companies from denying applicants based on their liking of a skydiving business page, or from denying someone car insurance because they’re following NASCAR on Twitter? This surprising relationship would be enough to discourage online participation in any forum. Would you change your online behaviour if you knew your healthcare costs could be affected by your online activities?

There are, however, some new applications of social media that are turning heads in a positive way. Take for example a new virtual eGift app from First Data, which allows users to buy virtual gifts that are delivered to friends via social media. An article at Elance.com explores the use of this new application by Cold Stone Creamery, and the success of a campaign that allowed Facebook users to buy one another an ice cream, with the gift being posted to a friend’s wall for all to see. The gifts are easily redeemed at a Bricks and Mortar location with the quick swipe of a barcode directly off the client’s phone.

This super creative application of social media could work for any type of business, to not only increase awareness of the brand, but also to drive traffic to the company’s Facebook site and Web pages, but also to their offline locations.

So… Who wants to buy me an ice cream?

References:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mark-weinstein/healthcaregov-and-social-_b_4551210.html

https://www.elance.com/q/startup-cloud/5-social-media-strategies.html

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