Thursday, July 31, 2014

Don’t Kill the Protesters

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I was watching a show the other night and one of the key characters turns to his wife and says something to the effect “The world has changed. We can’t just kill protesters anymore. Everyone has a phone and a YouTube account.”

So why mention that TV show in this blog post about pharma and social media?  It points out a shift in power. Patients, HCP’s, caretakers, industry groups, and advocacy groups among others all wield more power than ever and it is growing. This is a good thing. But how does the in-the-know CMO, Marketing VP, Corp Comm Director, Community Manager, Digital Consultant, Social Media Manager... of a pharma company tap into that power so everyone benefits?

Here is your 5-count lift-off instructions. We strongly suggest you print them out and look at them each day. It’s sometimes easy to forget the basics...

5. Preach, cajole, bribe, or beg if you have to. Anything to help your organization understand the importance of utilizing Social Media to join and guide these groups and individuals outside your company who have this newfound power.

4. Lower the risk, and more importantly the perceived risk, of conducting online conversations. For those in the USA, new FDA guidance should help. Establish very clear processes and procedures; then use technology to aid and enforce these processes and procedures. For example, there are a host of new tools on the market that will enable a company to never, ever post an update, comment or response unless it is reviewed and approved by people whose sworn mission is protecting the pharma company from risk (legal, regulatory, safety). Gone are the days of having to send docs through email then pasted into a marketing and communication approval system built for a different age.

3. Be honest; but know what you can be honest about. People are not as stupid as we make them out to be. When a community manager explains that a post was not allowed or that it is not possible to respond because of the regulated nature of the industry, the community generally understands. They might get curious about the why’s-and-what’s but that is a good thing - they are more engaged.

Are you empowering stakeholders
through social?
2. Empower people and organizations. Invite people to guest post. ReTweet good stuff. Entice them to help. If you work with an agency ask them for ideas on how to best incentivize your stakeholders. If they are worth their hourly rates, they should come up with at least two to three good ones.

1. Challenge people. If a person really cares about a topic they will appreciate this. For example, if a pharma company that makes and markets a treatment for Type 1 diabetes challenges the community to come up with ideas on how to better educate school systems you will ignite a passion among some people. And if said pharma company backs up this challenge with a grant and expertise to help the best ideas materialize, perceptions about that pharma company will improve dramatically.

0. (lift off)… Be human. Companies are companies, and brands are brands, but both are filled with real, living, breathing humans. If it makes sense, name the community managers (CM). Do a quick bio. The CMs don’t need to have the condition shared by the community served by the therapy. Empathy. Understanding. Knowledge. And the ability to walk the line between the brand voice and a human voice is all that is needed.

Feel free to share additional lift off items in the comments below or call me out for something you think is wrong. I’ll try to respond to everything. I’ll be human and listen and learn.

Want more on how pharma can get the most out of social? We’ll have a whole day dedicated to content marketing at this year’s ePharma West. Save $100 when you register here and use code XP1956BLOG.  Download the agenda to see what’s on tap.


This post was contributed by Greg Wood from Woodhouse, a Social Media Agency with a focus on the pharma and life science industries.  Woodhouse clients include Merck Serono, Novartis, ARIAD Pharmaceuticals and Medtronic among others.  To see more Woodhouse posts and conversations click over to the Woodhouse LinkedIn page or call (+1) 617-306-2739 to learn more.

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