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Is it important for Pharma to be Present in Social Media?

Submitted by on February 14, 2011 – 4:32 pm2 Comments

Guest Post by Anne O’Brien

Graphic of numerous social media logosIf it is true that no publicity is bad publicity, then Facebook was the big winner at this week’s ePharma conference.  While the comments began as reprimand on the misuse and over-reliance on Facebook by the category as a whole, there were was the acknowledgement that Facebook can extend reach of programs and that content needs to live across multiple platforms.

FDA may have been another winner.   While there is frustration across the industry due to lack of guidance around new media;  Lucy Rose and her panel of lawyers reiterated the guidelines have existed since the 1960’s and any new device specific guidelines would probably be too narrow and become obsolete too quickly.  The challenge is for the industry to develop digital solutions that address both the needs of the consumer and comply with regulations, providing support data to FDA on effectiveness in achieving goals.

Publishers and agencies were most vocal about the need for pharma to have a presence in social media.  The on-going mantra is that these conversations are happening and it is irresponsible for pharma not to be participating.  AZHelps Twitter response with an 800# for 24/7 service was the best (possible only) example of at least providing a solution for true two way communication.

A panel of brand marketers provided a showcase of best in class campaigns, but like the agency panel earlier in the conference, they found that social media programs are akin to PR programs, they are not having series business impact.  ComScore’s newly released data did indicate that pharma ad click thru was the biggest indicator of conversion (and significantly higher than other industries.)

Presentations focusing on innovation did not provide any specific ground breaking ideas, but offered some principals and strategies for success.  Managing risk and securing buy-in from all stakeholders (especially LMR) early in the process is key.  The Monitor Group offered some very specific guidelines around driving innovation, most notably the importance of focusing on testing prototypes and seeking reaction from customers.

Throughout the conference it was declared that 2011 is the year of mobile, but no great insights on delivering a great branded DTC experience on the small screen were provided.   Klick Pharma gave a great overview with very specific tactical considerations for mobile solutions.  As in all digital, understand the user needs, test the experience and flawless execution are key in mobile.

Jonathon Richman offered a top ten list offering some great references and reminders.    While many tactical elements of mobile where covered throughout the conference, Jonathon drove home the fact that  consumers experienced are defined through all their digital interactions and the pharma experiences need to be as fast and user friendly as every other experience they have.  Are all your touch points on par with Amazon, Yahoo! and yes, even Facebook?

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  • PJ Hamel says:

    Thanks for this update, Jessica. I always enjoy your pieces – food for thought. I’m not a Facebook detractor – it’s an incredibly important communication tool for the patients I’m most involved with, middle-aged women. And, while other demographics might show some FB slippage, women 55+ are currently the fastest growing FB age group. So it’s a good communication tool for the verticals I’m involved with.

  • Jessica says:

    PJ – So good to hear from you! Yes, we are seeing the same things as well.