Archive | Social Media

A Farewell and an Introduction for Lactation Matters

Robin Kaplan, M.Ed., IBCLC

Over the past 10 months, I have had the esteemed honor of acting as co-editor of Lactation Matters. When I first met with Decalie Brown, ILCA Director of Marketing, at the ILCA conference in San Diego, CA (2011), she shared with me as a member of the Marketing committee, the blog idea that had been recommended by (SAGE Rep) Courtney Pugh, ILCA’s Journal Human Lactation Publisher a day or so earlier. Courtney, Decalie and I met just as the conference started and virtually within 3 weeks created and launched ILCA’s Lactation Matters blog by publishing a blog article every day of World Breastfeeding week in August 2011, a huge and exciting task ! We had no idea what it would look like or the type of articles it would contain, but we knew that its purpose was to share pertinent, research-based information with our colleagues, the international board certified lactation consultant. Since July, I have watched Lactation Matters blossom from its infant-stage into a full-grown blog with over 60,000 hits in the first 10 months. I never imagined it would have such great success!

It is with this hope for continued success that I have decided to step down from my role as co-editor. I know that Lactation Matters has the potential to grow in ways that I, as a volunteer, do not have the time to nurture. I have had my own private practice, the San Diego Breastfeeding Center, for almost 3 years now and it is time to me to attempt to grow my business and help support my family of four. I have absolutely loved creating and maintaining Lactation Matters and I feel so lucky to have worked with my co-editor, Decalie Brown, and with such a fabulous team of writers.

Amber McCann, IBCLC

I would like to introduce my friend and colleague, Amber McCann, who will be taking my place as co-editor of Lactation Matters. As a contributor to our “Clinicians in the Trenches” posts since the launching of the blog, Amber has a real love of connecting people through the use of blogging and social media.

Amber says, “As a young mother myself, I found that connecting with other mothers online was vital to my survival in those early days. Now, 10 years later (and still friends with many who I met when my daughter was an infant), I use many of the same technologies, and a slew of new ones, to provide online support and information to breastfeeding mothers.”

When not working on a variety of online breastfeeding support projects, such as being the blogger responsible for the “Celebrity Breastfeeding News” section of the Best for Babes blog, she works as an IBCLC in private practice with Nourish Breastfeeding Support, just outside if Washington, DC . In addition to working directly with mothers online, she speaks professionally about social media to other birth and breastfeeding professionals. She also offers one-on-one social media coaching to her colleagues. When she’s not furiously composing tweets (you can follow her at @iamambermccann) or updating her Facebook page, she’s probably snuggling with one of her three children or watching terrible reality TV.

Lastly, I would just like to thank all of my colleagues and the Lactation Matters readers for their support and guidance over these past 10 months. It has been such a pleasure to ‘meet’ so many inspiring lactation consultants making a significant difference in the lives of mothers and babies. Your comments and suggestions have truly helped to create this amazing dialogue among our community. I am so thrilled you have enjoyed the blog thus far and I cannot wait to see how it continues to grow over the next few years!

Warmly,

Robin Kaplan, M.Ed., IBCLC

Message from Decalie:

Not knowing what lay ahead , Robin volunteered unselfishly to support me and the process of creating and developing ILCA’s first blog. Robin’s first surprise was she had a co-pilot that didn’t really know anything about a blog, let alone writing one! The experience working together was amazing and we took up the task and the challenge to birth Lactation Matters blog in August 2011 (in just 3 weeks) and continued to tailor this social media blog to the needs of the IBCLC . Moving though the months to today we have had a core group of amazing volunteer guest bloggers. Without them, and Robin’s input and coordination, ILCA’s Lactation Matters blog success may have been different.

I can still remember Robin confidently and eagerly stating early in the process, “we should be able to publish 2 blogs a week, no worries!” and this was actually managed most weeks.

On behalf of the ILCA Board of Directors and all ILCA members, I would like to sincerely thank Robin for her commitment, expertise, her professionalism and contribution to the Lactation Matters blog and for taking time to volunteer for ILCA. We wish her well in her IBCLC practice.

P.S. Fortunately, Robin she has agreed to be a Lactation Matters guest blogger and remain as a volunteer on ILCA’s Marketing committee. Thank you, Robin!

We are very excited to warmly welcome Amber McCann, who has kindly offered to be co-editor of ILCA’s Lactation Matters blog as of June 1, 2012 through the end of this year. After this time the ILCA Board is proposing to advertise this wonderful opportunity to members to apply.

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Got Twitter?

Written by Maryanne Perrin – MBA, graduate student in Nutrition Science, ILCA volunteer

Many of my friends who are die-hard Facebook users say they just don’t understand the power and appeal of Twitter. If you fall into this category, read on! We are trying to build an army of TwIBCLCs (slang for “IBCLCs who tweet”) to fill the social media airwaves with breastfeeding chatter in preparation for the 2012 ILCA Conference and World Breastfeeding Week. In this article we’ll give you five great reasons to “Get Twitter” and we’ll also cover some Twitter basics in hopes that you’ll pick up your phone (or laptop) and tweet.

Five Great Reasons to “Get Twitter”

(1) Significant improvements in breastfeeding rates will require major cultural changes and Twitter has a track record as a tool for driving change (think Arab Spring and Komen breast screening funding). The more people there are talking about a message, the closer we move towards a tipping point where breastfeeding becomes the cultural norm.

(2) TwIBCLCs can share real-time insights and sound bites from conference presentations with thousands of IBCLCs around the world who aren’t able to attend (Twitter makes it easy for people to view all messages associated with a certain subject – in this case #ilca2012). That’s a great gift to your colleagues! If you want to see what TwIBCLCs were saying at last year’s conference, click here.

(3) During the conference we’ll give away a daily prize (gift certificates, webinar certificates, and even a Conference Registration Day for 2014) for a TwIBCLC selected at random (just tag your tweets with #ilca2012 so we can find them).

(4) Don’t underestimate the power of Twitter as a networking tool! Relationships I’ve developed on Twitter have led to media interviews and even an invitation to attend a congressional briefing in Washington, DC. To help you further expand on your Twitter relationships, we’ll hold a Tweetup (“an organized gathering of people who use Twitter”) in the Exhibitors Hall on Friday, July 27, 2012 from 12:30pm until 2:00pm so you can meet your fellow TwIBCLCs face-to-face.

(5) Finally, you’ll master the art of brevity by making your point in 140-characters or less and earn groovy-points with your kids, colleagues and clients for embracing a new technology.

Getting Started with Twitter

Okay, you’ve just created a Twitter account. Now what? Like anything in life, you’ll get as much out of Twitter as you put into it. Here are some tips for getting started.

  • Make sure to complete your full profile, which includes a 140 character description of yourself, a photo, and a link to your website, so people can learn a bit about you and your interests. (It’s hard to feel connected to an image-less, description-less Tweeter.)
  • Find people to “follow” by searching on terms that interest you (e.g. breastfeeding, IBCLC). Once you follow someone, their tweets will show up in your newsfeed. Don’t forget to follow ILCA (we’re at @ILCA1985)!
  • Join in conversations, share news, or retweet valuable information others have shared. You only have 140 characters so consider using a URL shortening service like bit.ly, tinyurl, or goo.gl to create a shortcut for longer URLs.
  • Consider using hashtags (e.g. #breastfeeding) in your tweets for specific keywords that you are interested in. This allows others to find you and begin a conversation based on common interests. The hashtag for the 2012 ILCA Conference is #ilca2012.
  • Want more information? Twitter 101 provides basic information about Twitter and links to additional resources.

Are you a TwIBCLC? We’d love to hear comments on how you’ve used and benefited from Twitter.

By Maryanne Perrin – MBA, graduate student in Nutrition Science, ILCA volunteer

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Clinicians in the Trenches – Fleur Bickford

Written by Amber McCann, IBCLC, Owner of Nourish Breastfeeding Support

Fleur Bickford is an IBCLC in private practice who lives in Ottawa in Ontario, Canada with her husband and two children, ages 6 and 8. Lactation Matters is glad to profile Fleur and find out a bit more about how she has used social media to promote her business and connect with breastfeeding mothers.

I have always had a passion for helping others and I always knew that I would work in health care. After completing a Bachelor of Science in Life Sciences, I went on to become a Registered Nurse. It was during my maternity rotation at school that I discovered how much I loved working with new families. I got a job as a graduate nurse on the obstetrical unit of our local hospital and gained experience in labour and delivery, post partum care and pediatrics. After becoming a mother myself, and experiencing breastfeeding challenges with our second child, I discovered both La Leche League and a passion for helping other families with breastfeeding. I became a La Leche League Leader in 2007 and in 2009, I wrote and passed the exam to become an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC).

I chose to start my own private practice as an IBCLC after passing the exam as it gives me the flexibility to work around my children’s schedules. I see clients mainly in their own homes although in urgent situations, they sometimes come to me. In between consults, I can usually be found answering e-mails, making follow up calls, writing articles for both my own blog and the Best for Babes blog (ed. note: Read Fleur’s fantastic post “The Latest on Latching” with Best for Babes), and updating my Twitter and Facebook profiles. We are very lucky in Ottawa to have a large and very active group of IBCLCs and I enjoy volunteering some of my time as president of Ottawa Valley Lactation Consultants.

When I started my business, it seemed natural to use the Internet as a means to market it. After our first child was born, I frequently turned to online forums for information and support. I started to realize then how powerful the internet and social media could be. No matter what time it was, there was always someone online to chat with when I had questions and concerns.

Recent stats show that 95% of adults age 18-33 are online, with 80-89% of them using social networking sites. I created business profiles on both Twitter and Facebook, and I also started a blog. My goal was to use the blog as a means to market myself by providing up-to-date information about breastfeeding, and Twitter and Facebook seemed like good ways to promote my blog. As I started using Facebook and Twitter, I quickly discovered that along with the ability to market my business, there are many other benefits to social media. I have found that Twitter in particular is a wonderful medium for networking with others in the lactation community. I have made wonderful connections that I likely wouldn’t have made otherwise. I started a weekly chat on Twitter for breastfeeding professionals and volunteers using the hashtag #LCchat, and every Wednesday we share information, inspire and motivate one another, and connect with others around the world who are also working to support breastfeeding mothers.

Along with the marketing and networking, social media is a powerful way to reach both parents and other health care providers with accurate information, and to promote both breastfeeding and our profession. I also learn a great deal from the interactions I have with parents online. I am able to keep in touch with what parents are experiencing and worried about, and the interactions I have with parents allow me to refine my approaches to teaching and promotion so that I am better able to empower families to reach their breastfeeding goals.

You can see for yourself how Fleur is using social media on Facebook, Twitter and on her blog, Nurtured Child.

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Supporting Breastfeeding with New Technologies

A few months ago a story out of Australia caught my attention.  A research study conducted at Queensland University of Technology showed that new mothers who received cell-phone based text-messaging support (also referred to as SMS, which stands for Short Message Service) were four times less likely to stop breastfeeding than those who did not.  This collision of technology with nature’s perfect infant nutrition piqued my interest and I wanted to learn more (self disclosure – I’m a bit of a technophile).  While details of the study have not yet been published, I was able to talk with an IBCLC who uses SMS, as well as hear the perspectives of several nursing mothers.  This post is intended to share this story and also generate a conversation about what other practitioners have experienced using text-messaging to support breastfeeding moms.  Please join in the discussion!

An IBCLC’s Perspective

Robin Kaplan, IBCLC and founder of San Diego Breastfeeding Center, LLC, offers mothers the option to communicate with her via SMS after she conducts an initial in-home consultation.  She estimates that about 25% of her follow-up communication is through text-messaging, with some clients using it for 100% of their contacts.  The nature of Robin’s texts are primarily responding to questions from new mothers (moms can include a photo with the question to help in diagnosing some problems), as well as checking in with mothers to see how they are doing.  One of the benefits of text messaging is that it isn’t interruptive, like a phone call may be, and it can be managed from a time perspective (versus not knowing how long a phone call might last).  This seems to be important for new mothers, as Robin gets more responses from texting than she does from phone calls.  Texting is also conducive to the round-the-clock hours that nursing mothers keep.  “They can leave me information any time they want,” says Robin.  From a business perspective, she sees texting as time and cost-effective.  “It makes a lot of sense!”

Mothers’ Perspectives

“When you have a sleeping baby, or you’re just too tired to get into a long conversation, texting is so convenient,” said texting mother, Tracy.  “Robin was able to get straight to the point and offer quick responses to my questions, which were very helpful… Though some might think it’s impersonal, texting is still a conversation and a readily available one at that, I really appreciated the instant gratification.”

Adoptive mother, Danielle, said text-messaging support was a huge help in establishing her breastfeeding practice.  “The reason texting worked for me is that my consultant, Robin, was always quick to reply…  This [breastfeeding an adopted infant] is a new frontier and being able to text when your baby is asleep in your arms is so helpful…  For me, texting as opposed to verbalizing sometimes kept me a bit calmer. I always know I can call if I need to. The ability to have both options, however, was great.”

According to Erin, “Because newborns require so much attention around the clock, texting was the easiest form of communicating with Robin.  It allowed me to send her a quick message, an update or ask a question without regard to the hour or any of the long winded social niceties that a telephone conversation would require. By the same token, Robin was able to check in on my progress, offer much needed practical advice and soothe my worries with most welcome words of support.”

On the Bleeding Edge

How does text-messaging fit into healthcare privacy laws that might impact lactation consulting care?  This will vary country by country, and many governments are still trying to figure this out.  Robin said she is moving towards printing and then deleting text messaging conversations and adding them to patient records.  She deletes photos immediately.  Having a password lock on your phone is another measure of security.  It’s always important to get a mother’s consent before you begin sending text messages.

What has your experience been with adding text-messaging support to your lactation practice?  We’d love to hear your stories!

By Maryanne Perrin MBA, graduate student in Nutrition Science, and ILCA volunteer

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Why You Should Have a Facebook Business Page?

When I started my private practice business a few years ago, Facebook had just started to really take off.  I only had a personal page, which I used to post pictures of my kids and talk about my life as a mother of two young boys.  I also wanted to connect with my breastfeeding clients, but felt awkward sharing my personal life with them, at least on a semi-daily basis.  That’s when I knew that it was time to launch my business Facebook page.

You may ask, “How important is it to have a Facebook presence?”

My answer is: Extremely important! 

While you may not connect with your friends and family through Facebook, your clients and patients do…. And on a regular basis!  So, why miss this opportunity to continue your conversation with them?

Who should have a business Facebook page?
• Anyone or any business that wants more patients and clients.
• Private practice Lactation Consultants, Lactation Consultants in non-profits, lactation organizations, anyone who is looking to increase business through marketing
• It is imperative if you have a blog and/or private business.

Why Facebook could be good for your business?
• The new generation of mothers is not getting their information from traditional marketing arenas (i.e. newspapers, TV, radio, email blast).  Instead, they are looking to engage with content.  They want something interactive, engaging, and informal (hence, Facebook)
• When Lactation Matters posted Jane Morton’s article on Hand Expression of the 384 views to the article, 224 were ‘referred’ from Facebook.  It is a way to share your message.
• When I posted an article about Creating a Breastfeeding Basket , it got picked up by Kellymom and Hygeiababy, all because they found the article mentioned on my Facebook business page.  My San Diego Breastfeeding Center blog also received over 700 unique hits that day.  These are all potential people talking about my business and breastfeeding support.
• You can engage with your audience, clients, and followers in your niche groups by posting articles, questions, surveys.
• You can share great information with your followers.  You can follow others in your niche group.  You can enable a conversation.

A Few Key Rules to Keep in Mind:
• Keep your Facebook posts on a professional level, not a personal level.  Think about what you want your clients and colleagues to know about you.  They don’t need to see pictures of your grandkids’ birthday party, unless it is pertinent to an article you are posting.
• NEVER share info about clients, patients, etc.  Remember your HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act ) laws and keep your posts out of other people’s personal lives.
• Don’t post the same content or links over and over again.  Your followers will ‘hide’ you, or worse, stop ‘liking’ you.
• Share great, pertinent information that you think your followers will find useful.
• Answer followers comments
• Follow other business pages that are using Facebook well.  Share their information and comment on their pages.

Examples of businesses and organizations that have a great Facebook business presence:
Kellymom.com and Best for Babes

So, take that first step into Social Media.  Create your Facebook business page.  Start engaging with your clients and colleagues in a meaningful way.  It’s amazing what you will learn!

Robin Kaplan, M.Ed., IBCLC is the owner of the San Diego Breastfeeding Center.  She can be found playing around with social media on her website’s blog, her San Diego Breastfeeding Center Facebook page, and SanDiegoBFC Twitter account.   She is also the co-editor of ILCA’s blog, Lactation Matters.

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