Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Sharability as a Social Media Strategy

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Today's post is contributed by Craig DeLarge, Director HCP, Marketing, Novo Nordisk; a presenter at this year's ePharma Summit West.

For the last couple of years I have been thinking and talking consistently with myself and colleagues about how pharma can meet customer needs via social media, even in the face of lack of FDA guidance. The fact is that there are a number of brands that are doing good work in this regard in the social media space. A consistent outcry I hear in my getting around is that “real” social media requires 2-way dialogue between brands and customers within the social media platform posts are made. I disagree. That said, I do agree that this 2-way dialogue, what I like to call “commentability” is optimal. It is also infeasible at this time. Here is where I caution not to let the perfect become the enemy of the good.


The good that trumps the perfect in this context lies in the savvy use of sharability and particability. (I love making up words.) I will take this post to address the strategy of share-ability. I will talk about particability in another post.


In the face of the infeasibility of commentability, I think that rather than sinking our energy into incessant complaining and hand-wringing over what FDA will allow us to do about this, we should be putting time, energy and investment into coming up with more “customer need meeting” ways of producing novel and compelling educational content that captures the customer’s attention and fancy so much that they go viral, sharing it frequently and broadly throughout their networks. In this fashion, we are actually giving customers and education and facilitating their ability to conveniently extend this education. This is certainly an aim is all our marketing plans in some fashion or other and social media share-ability is a grand opportunity for achieving these goals.


One might say, the content we have presently online is good for this, and I agree that on its face it is, but sharability goes beyond availability in that we need to do more than just make information available, we have to make it irresistable to keep to one’s self in the same fashion that our favorite shared quotes, videos and blog posts are. Think about the content formats and techniques you come across which you are most prone to share and then think about how these are evident in the online content you are producing, keeping mind that these days most every webbrowser and smartphone makes sharing of content to one’s favorite social media community possible in fewer than 4 clicks.


I will offer that my favorite shareables tend to have characteristics of 1) moving narrative , 2) rich media presentation as animation, audio or video, 3) a rich insight that make me go hmmm, 4) a controversial element which makes for a good debate starter, especially on Facebook, 5) of a game dynamic which sets up a competition or a community around common interest. How many of these elements are mandatories in the creative briefs you are writing now for online content.


As to measurement, it would be interesting to consider repost, retweet, Klout Score and other sharing related metrics as part of our KPI dashboards and even to set campaign success goals. This will focus us as much on earned media as on paid and owned media. It will also make us more Coca-Cola like as I love how they have lately set a strategic redirection of focusing on “customer expressions” generation more than “ad impression” generation.


Even as I write this post, it occurs to me that I can do a better job of practicing what I am preaching but I am only now writing the sermon. I look forward to your thoughts on this post, your sharing of examples where you have seen this done well, and even more so we all practicing this approach more and more.

Craig DeLarge will be one of the presenters at the workshop Social Media Driver’s Ed:What To Focus on Down the Road and What to Look for in your Rearview Mirror at this year's ePharma Summit West.  It is taking place July 25-27th, in Santa Clara, California. Mention the code XP1656BLOG when registering to save 10%. Don’t miss this opportunity to learn from the best in the industry over two informative days of sessions.
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