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hashtag activism

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay 

#pharma, hashtag activism is the new form of advocacy.

What is hashtag activism?

  • Hashtag activism is a term coined by media outlets which refers to the use of Twitter’s hashtags for Internet activism.

Why hashtag activism?

  • it is user generated
  • it can control the narrative
  • it raises awareness to causes that have been neglected
  • it is a potential for global participation

What is the potential impact of hashtag activism?

  • it can break through the noise
  • it can dominate a discussion
  • it is great for visibility
  • a lot of engagement is what will make it trending
  • it is the new form of advocacy 
  • a call to action can take place
  • it can bring awareness to a given issue

What constitutes a successful movement if it starts as a hashtag? 

  • one example in the healthcare field was #ThisISMyLane
    • doctors were for the first time vocal around gunshot wounds and what they face every day

Does it lead to change?

  • social media platforms are a tool that can support the larger goal for activists
  • it has the ability to bring together liked minded people, to connect and organize events
  • hashtags are being used to inform and take action

#pharma should be treating content as an asset

Image by Nattanan Kanchanaprat from Pixabay 

#pharma, like many organizations, treats content as an expense and not having any value. #pharma your content is an asset. It is a *currency*.  It is the voice of your organization.

why is your content an asset?

  • it is the voice of your organization
  • it is the face of your organization
  • it has value
  • it is useful to the business
  • it reflects on organization’s bottom line

what is content?

  • content is information
  • it is distribution of knowledge
  • it promotes
  • it starts conversations (engagement)
  • your content reflects who you are – it is the voice of your organization

forms of content include the following:

  • company’s website content
  • blog posts
  • reports  – ebooks
  • white papers
  • images
  • social media channels
  • videos
  • email newsletters
  • events
  • conferences
  • comments – opinions
  • engagement

how do you manage content as an asset?

  • track and measure your content (marketers today have more access to data than ever before)
  • work together to have one voice
  • make sure it tied into your goals
  • have in place a content strategy

why is content portfolio management so important?

  • consider it as a currency
  • content has a life cycle:
    • creating content
    • auditing content
    • evergreening content – that is refreshing old content
  • always try to find ways to amplify the value of content

#pharma these are the unwritten rules of social media

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay 

#pharma is used to working in a very highly regulated environment, but the social media platform has its structure and unwritten rules. Some of the unwritten rules of social media include the following.

self-promotion rule: 80 % information 20% self-promotion

stay away from trolls

it’s not about followers but about the quality of relationships

stay away from click bait

no substitute for authenticity / authenticity rules on social media

#pharma, constraints are a big driver of creativity on social media

Image by Frank Winkler from Pixabay 

Social media constraints can be drivers of creativity. As social media platforms evolve, people are ways looking for ways to *pushing the boundaries* to grab attention. Pharma should be *thinking outside the box*.

character limitation

  • you have limited space so get to the point
  • long ads don’t work

capture the opportunity

feed moves fast

  • capture people’s attention with great content
  • traditional advertising doesn’t cut it anymore

hashtags say it all

  • this is what people will remember
  • communicates your key message

videos and images rule

  • the best way to grab attention in a busy feed use images

is #pharma creating content in a vacuum

Image by Cindy Lever from Pixabay 

Inspiration for this post comes the tweet below posted during #efpphilly. Why is no one reading your content #pharma? How do you get your content read?

start by asking yourself what do you read #pharma and why do you read it

  • is it from someone you trust
  • is it something that you are interested in
  • does it solve a problem
  • is it funny
  • is it creative
  • is someone asking me a question

are you creating content with a purpose

  • each content piece you create needs to have a purpose
  • to educate
  • to share information
  • to drive engagement
  • to answer questions
  • to developed trust
  • your content needs to provide something valuable
  • do not adapt your advertising to work as content:
    • still treating social media platforms like broadcast, as if people are going to pay attention
    • avoid vanity content

treat your content as an asset

  • quality content can be used over and over again (evergreen content)
  • invest and aim for high-quality content
  • repurposing blog posts – great content can be used in different formats
  • include content as part of your overall marketing strategy

what kind of content does your audience want to see

  • are you listening to your audience
  • are you answering their questions
  • what kind of information are they sharing
  • where are they going for information
  • what are they saying about your content

do you have a content strategy in place

  • content strategy helps in creating content with a purpose
  • content strategy should be part of overall marketing strategy
  • content strategy needs to be updated – social media platforms are evolving all the time 

#pharma can understand patients better through #socialmedia

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay 

A lot of discussion around being patient-centric or patient first during #efpphilly.  #pharma you can learn a lot through social media platforms about patients.

finding patients on social media platforms

  • get the right hashtag
  • try using symplur
  • participate in tweet chats on dedicated medical topics (symplur is great for this)
  • follow medical conferences on twitter
  • #pharma conferences some patient participation here also
  • during awareness days
  • clinical trial updates

listen to patients online

  • what are they talking about
  • what problems are they trying to solve
  • what kind of information are they seeking or sharing

each platform a different audience (so listen to all)

  • ways of communicating may differ on different platforms
  • younger more popular on certain social media platforms than others
  • family friends pretty popular of FB
  • twitter is fast, information and engagement can be overwhelming at times
  • patients are always experimenting with ways to use social media platforms (for example emergence of patient influencers)

engage with patients online

  • besides listening ask questions
  • answer questions quickly
  • experiment with UGC (user generated content)
  • get input / feedback on the content before posting
  • provide useful content not advertising

integrate in your social media strategy

  • integrate findings into your social media strategy
  • refine often, social platforms are evolving fast
  • a lot of experimenting still ongoing on social media platforms

online movements highlights for #pharma

Image by analogicus from Pixabay 

The printing press in Europe allowed for wider distribution of ideas and information. Today social media platforms are the new means to reach the general public.

defining online movements

the internet provides democracy

  • social media platforms are the place for public discourse, exchange of opinions, comments and information
  • it means connecting people
  • it means citizen journalism versus traditional journalism
  • it means online movements
  • it means social causes


  • able to reach people faster
  • lower costs then traditional media methods
  • provides channels were people can be heard
  • can be accessed by mobile


  • not having access to a device, mobile device or internet
  • not having the skills and knowledge
  • censorship of platforms in certain geolocations
  • lack of trust of social media platforms
  • willingness not to search information online and to be on social media platforms

does one platform work better

  • all platforms can create a social movement
  • important is hashtag identifies the online movement:
    • #ThisISMyLane
    • #ThisIsOurLane
    • #boycottIngramAdverts
    • #epigate

when are followers, shares and likes important?

Image by Alexandr Ivanov from Pixabay 

I get asked these questions all the time by #pharma.

How important is the number of followers on your social media platforms?

  • well it is the number one criteria by which all are judged upon on social media platforms
  • look at who is following you and not only the number of people following you
  • look to see how many of the followers really have an interest in your content
  • need followers otherwise your message doesn’t get any where
  • the bigger the brand the more followers you should have 

When are shares of your content / posts important?

  • everyone’s wish is for content to go viral
  • everyone likes to see sharing of their content – it gives a certain psychological high
  • not all likes and shares are the same though – are your followers sharing because it is good content
  • when people share it means they are introducing your content to others
  • sharing of content may also make you vulnerable and set you up for judgement

How about the importance of likes?

  • the question to ask yourself is what do you do with the likes you receive
  • likes could mean that content was relevant
  • likes can also be viewed as an engagement

“Likes are always an indicator of social standing, at my age,” says an anonymous 17-year-old survey respondent. “As someone who gets anxious and occasionally struggles with self-esteem, the amount of Likes on my posts can be both hugely uplifting or depressing.”

2017 January The New Statesman

How important is engagement?

  • it is where people thank you
  • it is where people criticize you
  • it is where people turn for answers
  • it is where relationships are built

Is how fast your audience grows important?

  • yes
  • it must be organic
  • don’t buy followers
  • create content relevant for your audience

social media democracy and what does it mean for #pharma

Image by Johannes Plenio from Pixabayh

Social media platforms have become the public place for public discourse and exchange of opinions, comments and information. What does this mean for #pharma.

What do we mean by social media democracy

focuses on the empowerment of individual citizens and promotion democratic ideals through the spread of information

It means connecting people

  • social networks have broken down the barriers
  • social media is a virtual public platform where people can be heard and share information
  • it allows for an open and collaborative networking

It means citizen journalism versus traditional journalism

  • citizens are news producers
  • citizen journalism is not filtered when compared to traditional news media which is edited
  • citizen journalism can have an active role in movements
  • citizen journalism and mainstream media can build relationships and work together

It means online movements

  • #ThisIsMyLane 2018
  • the NRA (National Rifle Association) told doctors to *stay in their lane* doctors created a viral movement in response

It means social causes

#pharma getting inspiration from your followers

Image by Dean Moriarty from Pixabay

To stand out and grab attention in a noisy social media world you need to be creative. One way #pharma can get more creative with their content is to let your followers inspire you.

Start by listening

  • what is your audience talking about
  • what problems do they need solved
  • what questions are they asking
  • ask questions yourself

Start by following hashtags

  • hashtags create a sense of community
  • hashtags go with new photos or videos
  • hashtags help you stay up to date on topics your audience is interested in
  • hashtags work better on some platforms than others

Start by following where discussions are taking place

  • tweetchats
  • forums
  • comments
  • reviews
  • groups
  • trending hashtags

Start by what seems to be working with other #pharma companies

  • find out what kind of content is trending
  • what are followers saying about your competitor
  • how are they building a relationship with followers
  • are your followers getting the information they need from some else
  • which content gets the most engagement

Try experimenting with UGC (user generated content)

  • develop a model 
  • test the hypothesis or model
  • if successful then add as part of content strategy
  • always monitor and analyze what your audience is saying