Your Input? Pharma and Social Media

I’ll have the opportunity next week to speak on a panel at the ePharma Summit in Philly, on the topic of social media in pharma.

In the 4 minutes allotted, my goal is to alert the audience (mainly pharma marketers) to the most crucial “cultural” aspects of the social media community as they consider any initiatives. What is the mindset, and what are the expectations of those who use social media?

I’ve tentatively thought of four, but since this is all about the community, I’d like to ask your help and input. What do you think are the most critical things for a marketer (coming from the healthcare space) to know ahead of time?

Here is my preliminary list, subject to revision depending on your input:

– Immediacy. For better or worse, this community thrives on “right now”.

– Participation. One-way messaging won’t cut it. Communications are multi-faceted, 2-way and multi-pronged.

– Long-term commitment. Don’t get in if you’re not going to participate over the long haul.

– Personality/authenticity. We can find impersonal message-driven communications anywhere. Here, we want a face and some reality.

As social media participants, what do you think? Are these the most important “intro” concepts, or can you suggest others? Feel free to give your input in the comments!


About Steve Woodruff
Steve Woodruff is a blogger, a Connection Agent, and a consultant in the pharma/healthcare industry. He specializes in helping people and companies make mutually beneficial connections.

5 Responses to Your Input? Pharma and Social Media

  1. document projects team says:

    Followed this in from Twitter.

    I would argue Relevancy as being a key cultural facet of social media marketing. The way that we naturally gravitate to groups with common interest, on a global basis is in my view of high significance.

  2. Ken Grant says:

    I think you’ve nailed it pretty well – the only thing I might add is “Value” – make sure you’re offering something worthwhile – I want to know what others are working on, I do not want a cheesey commercial.

  3. Scott Clark says:

    I think that online reputation management and crisis blogs would be of strong interest.

    From the topics above, I’m going to predict that many in the audience will look downward at their concrete shoes as you present. Not because the presentation is bad (I’m sure it will be great!) but because they feel the steely-eyed gaze of their compliance attorneys from across the room.

    This is especially true for those concerned with off-label advice and adverse affects reporting, but also for those involved in testing, etc.

    We can’t do blogging because legal must review all posts.

    We can’t do PPC optimization because legal must review all keywords, ad copy and landing pages.

    We can’t use microformats because our employees may be getting herded into a corner in the conversation.

    We can’t engage forum conversations because …
    …you get the picture.

    I would keep that in mind. Perhaps it’s just the clients I work with.

    Also, I’m jealous as hell. I would love to be at this conference.

  4. Dean Meyers says:

    Steve, having taken a haitus from pharma, meandered through education, and now reuniting with pharma in a Web 2.0-3.0 world, it’s interesting to see something strongly defined by the classis problem of who learned what when. My old-school pharma contacts are still playing catchup like mad, and “embracing” social medial isn’t in their vocabulary as they are working in their day-to-day dealings with compliance, product monographs…the standard bread-and-butter of how they have worked for perhaps 15+ years. And isn’t it natural that they are up at the top of their field? So, I tend to train by finding examples of what people know already, and perhaps social media has to be put into the context of the kinds of conversation people already know. There is, I believe, a negative connotation for many adults about “texting”, loads of whom would rather send endless emails back and forth (with the poor trail of old messages hanging on like an albatross to the emails)….Are you introducing community-based web sites, like LinkedIn, to their vocabulary? Is Twitter something you intend on tackling? Technophobia in the simplest form, i.e. (THIS IS SOMETHING NEW, LEARNING SOMETHING NEW MAKES ME FEEL LIKE A DUMMY, I HATE IT), in other words, being clear about the getting-over-the-it-sucks-cause-it’s-different part of the learning curve should be brought into the conversation when you talk.

    Social Media for Pharma:How do you see advantages? Benefits? Marketers should know: GOOD social media use creates immediacy, presence, a feeling of one-to-one relationship with an entity (if the “tweets” come from a conversational style) and, actually, some kind of excitement because of the speed information gets across.

    These are just some quick thoughts.

    I know that may not be so specific to pharma as you might want to get to, but in 4 minutes you can mention that if Obama can get his Blackberry OK’d through national security, there is a way to get good pharma relationships going with the market targets while still living within a compliant atmosphere.

  5. Thanks, gang, for the input and comments! It really is a challenge to bring dynamic, participatory communications into a regulated industry like pharma…there isn’t much about the situation I can directly change, but I hope to at least contribute some value on the “awareness” level!

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