After a twenty year stint in the U.S. Air Force as a medical records expert, Bob Ross was destined for a life in healthcare social media. Somewhere he got sidetracked.  By some accounts it was when the Air Force stationed him at Eilson and he first saw snow-capped mountains. Destiny being the fickle force that it is took Bob's life in another direction. Today very few of us think of Ross as an Health Information Management (HIM) guru. Instead we remember him as the the afro guy who had the painting show on PBS. But, I think, were he still with us today, Bob would confirm my suspicion that he was really just preparing us for the social web. The Bob Ross Theory of Social Content Management is simple: Let your content live where it naturally wants to live and embed it in your own happy place.

Or, as I call it at work, the argument for having our own blog site. Social networks are by definition communities; and communities are all different. It is what makes life interesting. It is also what makes the initial entree into social networking a challenge for many healthcare organizations. Is it Facebook or Twitter? What about YouTube? Should we really be giving all that traffic away (does traffic really matter anymore)? The answer is more simple that it sounds. Let the content live where it wants to live and embed it on your blog.

Having a blog-type site is more than just having a place for long from posts. They are the blank canvas for our own social media oil painting. One of the biggest advantages of a content management system like Wordpress is the ability to aggregate all of your social web efforts. With a blog site, or "social hub" as we have started calling our site, content like videos can live on sites like YouTube. The advantage is that you can present them on a site you own and control. It also lets you showcase them alongside your other social content like photos from Flickr, audio from AudioBoo, presentations from SlideShare, etc.

There is another distinct advantage to The Bob Ross Theory. As hospital web content expert Ed Bennett often points out, YouTube is the third most visited site online, making it the second biggest search engine (after its parent, Google). Ed is also quick to share the tip that the more information you populate about your video, the more likely it is to come back as a search result. Where else would a happy little video want to live? Once uploaded, you embed that video on your blog site and share your own link via twitter or facebook, but the video still lives on YouTube. It is the best of both worlds.

The Bob Ross Theory is not limited to videos. Flickr is the 34th most visited site and second largest photo site after Facebook. Lets put a happy little photo right there. Now add some tags, a description and presto, it becomes a search result on Yahoo!. When you want to share that photo or slide show, you embed it as a blog post and share that link.

Pretty soon your blog site is not such a blank canvas, it is full of happy content. When prompted with: 'Bob, everything in your world seems to be happy.' Ross replied: "That's for sure. That's why I paint. It's because I can create the kind of world that I want, and I can make this world as happy as I want it." 1

For more information on getting started with a blog site, take a look at Lee Aase's SMUG site.

1 Wikipedia