Later this month, I’ll be leading an interactive discussion at the first “Social Pharmer” unconference – a gathering of folks exploring how social media fits into the pharmaceutical industry. Others who will lead sessions include Mark Senak, Josh Bernoff, Jack Barrette, Fard Johnmar, and Michael Parks. Shwen Gwee is ably orchestrating the event.
My session will focus on the Key Business Needs that can be Addressed NOW with Social Media. And that’s where I could use your help!
I am not going to go to the event to present conclusions, but to engage in a discussion. And I’d like to prime the discussion there by beginning the dialogue here and now.
What do YOU think are the best opportunities for pharma/biotech companies to begin utilizing social networking technologies? You may have consumer marketing ideas in mind, which is fine…but also, what are some other inward-facing or outward-facing areas that may be low-hanging fruit? Are there some applications with fewer legal/regulatory snares that ought to be discussed and explored?
Where are there intersections of low-risk, existing technology/community, and clear reward?
I’d really like to get ideas flowing before the get-together on April 21. Feel free to put some thoughts in the comments, or if you’d rather communicate privately, you can e-mail me (stevew [at] impactiviti.com). My hope is to have a fistful of ideas that will spark rich discussion at the gathering, and perhaps find ways to hasten adoption of networking approaches in this conservative market sector!
(for the record, I do believe that the pharma industry will embrace social media. I would like to see it hastened by identifying clear business applications NOW)
greg rust says
Steve, I like the approach you are taking. My answer may be different than what you are expecting. However, I think you will appreciate where I am coming from.
I watch in amazement as pharma marketers, especially those in “e-marketing” are just now joining LinkedIn. I think that is part of the BIG issue. Many of the key players in a pharma company are themselves not using any social application for themselves. It is hard to fight for something when you have not embraced it and have no working knowledge of it. Face it, when we pitch a solution that is attractive to a marketing team, someone on that team has to champion it through the MLR process or it dies.
If members sof the marketing team are fluent enough with many of the social applications, they can begin envisioning what they need to do to sell it through the entire process, which includes senior and executive management. Perhaps thats the low-hanging fruit? Going in and teaching /training everyone whats out there and how to use it (as a consumer/professional first) so they can see it from this side of the fence.
Nat Bourre says
I agree with Greg’s comment. Both social media ‘experts’ and the pharma clients need to be actively involved in social media to understand its potential.
As well, I recommend to my clients that they use social media as a market research platform, whether or not they decide to be involved in it themselves. It’s incredible what you can learn about your customers’, competitors’, agency’s perspective of your company and your brand in these sites, and also about your competitors’ brands.
In Canada, we are in a different situation than the US as we cannot do direct-to-consumer (DTC) advertising (despite the fact that we get spillover from the US !!). However, we can do direct-to-patient (DTP) advertising.
I have been in several discussions on this topic with the Commissioner of the PAAB (Pharmaceutical Advertising Advisory Board – they approve all our pharma advertising materials in Canada), and this group treats social media advertising the same as they would traditional media advertising. Lots of controls to ensure that the consumer getting the information is actually a patient before giving them access to the media. One agency got a social media campaign approved by the PAAB recently, where those who are given access to the social media (ie. proven to be a patient), can use a social media application within the package to talk to their friends, but the way it is set up, there is no link to the drug in these communications amongst the users.
Best of luck at the seminar. I look forward to your tweets about it, and maybe some videos on YouTube of the session?
Marketing 4 Health Inc.
Eileen O'Brien says
Wish I could join you in Boston, but look out for Kristin Keller from Compass.
Currently, I think the best opportunity is to for pharma/biotech to simply LISTEN. Listen to HCPs on Sermo and other communities. Listen to consumers on health communities, blogs, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, etc.
Some of our more progressive clients are taking this first, baby step. Once pharma/biotech is faced with what people are saying about their products it helps ease them into the the social media landscape. Education is also key and Greg’s point about teaching and encouraging marketers (and med-legal teams) to participate on a personal level is important.
Enjoy the day!
Bill Senger says
I think this opens a new niche for engaging the services of medical writers and/or publishers.
Your product message has to get out there on the social media to keep up with the competition, but do you have time to keep up with the demands of reading and posting on a daily basis? I imagine Steve’s interactive discussion will probably cover this implementation challenge.
If Shaquile O’Neile and Kobe Bryant can afford to hire ghost writers for their Twitter sites, isn’t there some place in the budget of a major pharma company or service provider to budget the same?
There are resources to support these challenges, and Steve knows almost all of them, or at least the good ones.