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Pharma and health hashtags

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Health hashtags are transforming healthcare research online, are encouraging collaborations and can bring like minded thoughts together and turn tweets into conversations. Let’s take a look at how pharma is using healthcare hashtags in their online engagement.

1) Is pharma using health hashtags?

I have selected some random tweets from pharmaceutical companies and below each tweet you can find my comments on health hashtags.

amgen

I would have added a specific oncology hashtag.

az-nami

I would have added psychology / mental health hashtags and also NAMI twitter handle.

gilead-science

If you can’t find a specific hashtag then submit one to Symplur.

az-fit2me

I would have added some diabetes hashtags.

Overall, I truly believe pharma can do a better job in using health hashtags.

2) How can pharma benefit in using healthcare hashtags?

It is an excellent way of getting your brand seen and heard

It is an excellent way of getting relevant information to the right audience

It is an excellent way to get clinician perspectives, since clinicians use hashtags

It is an excellent way of discovering important voices in healthcare

It is an excellent way to put lay people in touch with recent research & researchers with people with lived experience

It is an excellent way to encourage collaborations, especially around health care topics

It is an excellent way to identify topics of discussion

It is an excellent way to help collaborators identify each other.

3) Getting the right hashtag?

Sometimes hashtags can be overly specific and too generic making them hard to find and hard to collaborate on specific topics. I have come across hashtags that only have one or a few tweets. The Symplur Healthcare Hashtag Project is free platform for patients, caregivers, advocates, doctors and other providers that connects them to relevant conversations and communities. Can’t find a specific health hashtag, you can also add a hashtag on Symplur.

symplur-homepage

4) So how can pharma adapt to health hash tagging effectively?

First and foremost be sure to research a health hashtag before using it. If it’s rarely used it won’t reach a large audience. Do some social listening to identify health hashtags and topics of discussion. Sometimes pharma companies create their own specific hashtags, but it’s hard to develop a following. The best approach would be to have brand teams include in their campaigns popular health hashtags.

5) What are some of the most common health hashtags?

Symplur is your go to resource. On their website you can identify Tweetchat hashtags, Conference related hashtags, Disease hashtags and health hashtags that are regularly used.

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Resource:

Symplur: http://www.symplur.com

Self forming groups the new form of patient advocacy

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Pharma working with traditional patient groups may look like old school or so yesterday.  Inspiration for this blog post comes from  the New York Times article by Tara Parker-Pope, How parents harnessed the power of social media to challenge Epipen prices (August 25, 2016). Today self forming groups is the new form of patient advocacy.

Q1: What is the difference between self forming patient/consumer groups and traditional patient/advocacy groups?

With the advent of internet and social media, self forming groups have been coming together to organise online. They tend to quickly organise themselves around a certain cause or issue, driven be a passion and motivation and tend to generally be short lived. Jackie Huba and Ben McConnell referred to these consumers and their voice as Citizen Marketers. Traditional structured patient advocate groups on the other hand can be defined as “an individual or an organization, often, though not always, concerned with one specific group of disorders. Typical advocacy activities may include: patient rights, matters of privacy, confidentiality or informed consent, patient representation, awareness building, support and education of patients, survivors and their carers”.

Q2: How are they different in driving patient advocacy?

Traditional patient groups, which are built as traditional hierarchical organisational structure, which in todays internet world can slow decisions. Membership, plays a key role in sustaining these patient organisations and as political clout. Also fundraising is a cornerstone to sustainability and several, if not all, are bound to pharmaceutical sponsorship. Whereas self forming groups come together when there is a need, have no internal reporting and no binds to sponsorship. In fast paced world of internet and social media they are free and more quick to respond to consumer needs.

Q3: Should pharma pay attention to these groups?

They are a force with which pharmaceutical companies must learn to contend with. The self forming groups have the ability to gain momentum very rapidly and have the potential to bring about change. Through crowdsourcing, broadcasting or making our opinions concerns heard across the internet or through social media can come about very easily. Crowdsourcing can be defined as:  the process of obtaining needed services, ideas, or content by soliciting contributions from a large group of people, especially an online community, rather than from employees or suppliers. Each person’s contribution combines with those of others to achieve a cumulative result.

Q4: How could pharmaceutical companies work with these new groundswell groups?

Usually these groups are initiated by one influencer which has the capacity to bring together a crowd, through crowdsourcing. One way pharma could approach these groups would be to identify and build a relationship the influencer. Responding or engaging, which pharma is still trying to figure out, to the online discussion would also be vital. I also believe there is a possibility to work in both real and virtual spaces.

Q5: Do self forming groups have success?

Yes. Just take a look at the recent #epigate. A perfect catalyst for change initiated by one influencer, who had strong feeling of rage and anger, created a kick ass hashtag, and through crowdsourcing, was able to raise awareness and challenge epipen prices.

Resources:

How parents harnessed the power of social media to challenge Epipen prices. Tara Parker-Pope. New York Times August 25, 2016.

Citizen Marketers, a book by Jackie Huba and Ben McConnell

Which department owns social media in a pharmaceutical organization?

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Probably one of hardest and most often asked questions I get is “who owns or where should social media sit within an internal organization of a pharmaceutical company”?

Q1: So where should social media sit in an organization or who should own the responsibility of social media?

Social media across the years has come to play an important role in business. No longer is it just a nice to have, but rather it is an essential and integral part of any organization. In the same right social media has become a very sophisticated art and science that requires expertise, knowledge and the proper skill sets.

Therefore that is why today we speak of a “social media community management” that sits within an organization. Social media experts within pharmaceutical company should know social media platforms and audience best and what works and does not.

I believe that social media is not the responsibility of a sole team. Instead I see social media effecting the entire organization.

Owyang (2010) describes five different models in which organizations can organize internal for social media management . Dots represent those using social tools within an organization.

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Most pharmaceutical companies appear to be, in my opinion, in the “Organic” structure. Why? From the outside it appears that messages are not really coordinated and branch offices are doing their own things. There does not appear to be coordination of company message, but more of isolated initiatives. HR is using social media for hiring. Communications is just an extension of the PR arm pushing press releases via different channels  or communicating corporate messages / corporate reputation. Whereas, marketing, is using social media an arm’s length away by delegating to PR agencies, still need to work on how to use social media campaigns and product launches. Pharmaceutical is a very regulated industry, then even more so to have a more coordinated structure or multiple hub & spoke in place.

Q2: Should you be making your organization more social?

So how do you go about by making your organization more social. Start by building your expertise in house.  Giving social media the priority it deserves within a product team. Start by identifying employees within your organization that are using social media and understand it. Get them on board since they will understand how social media works. This will give you the competitive advantage and knowledge.

Q3: What kind of model works bets in coordinating a response in a crisis?

Many departments will have a role in a crisis management. This is further evidence why social media should sit across the entire company and not to a sole team or department. In a crisis situation all teams and departments will want to act swiftly and messages must be coordinated. Each department and/or product team knows their product and responsibilities best.

Best way to manage this would be to a have dedicated social media person on the team that would know how to respond.

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Q4: Who is the content expert and department expertise?

Content expert is the product team. Usually cross functional. But social media always is an expertise in it’s own. Departments are usually built around a certain function or supporting function that are experts with legal regulations and company policies and standard operating procedures.

Q5: What role does social maturity play in all this?

Social maturity plays a very important role in having in place an organization that incorporates social media. In my honest opinion I believe that pharmaceutical companies are still in the early stages of social maturity. They are aware that social media is changing our way of doing business. But there is lack of coordination. The marketing team has some agency Tweeting a conference. HR looking for potential recruits. PR posts a video or has blog about their corporate reputation. There is still doubt within the organization about the value of social media and what impact it can play in business.

modified-gartner-social-maturity-model

                                                                                                    

Resources:

Framework and matrix: the five ways companies organize for social business. Jeremiah Owyang. April 15, 2010.

http://www.web-strategist.com/blog/2010/04/15/framework-and-matrix-the-five-ways-companies-organize-for-social-business/

Where does your social media department sit in your organization? By Alan Cronin November 3, 2015

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/where-does-your-social-media-department-sit-alan-cronin-

The evolving social media department: a new approach to maximizing social ROI. By David Rush. Uly 24, 2014

https://earshotinc.com/evolving-social-media-blog-html/

Who “owns” social media data at your company? By Kevin Shively. July 26, 2016

http://simplymeasured.com/blog/who-owns-social-media-data-at-your-company/#sm.00000sqejtztd4ctxx4tydnulmz8z

Where should social media sit in an organization? By Will Bond. May 14, 2014

http://www.emoderation.com/where-should-social-media-sit-in-an-organisation/

Blurred lines: who owns social media in the enterprise? By Sam Fiorello January 15, 2014

http://www.senseimarketing.com/blurred-lines-who-owns-social-media-in-the-enterprise/

Why it doesn’t matter who “own” social media. By Jade Mangahis. January 28, 2015

http://www.prdaily.com/Main/Articles/Why_it_doesnt_matter_who_owns_social_media_17991.aspx

Who should own social media? By Karima Catherine March 12, 2013

http://3angelsmarketing.com/2013/03/who-should-own-social-media/

Why pharma should put social media influencers on their roadmap

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The internet has brought about many changes in the way we exchange, share and seek information. The internet has also created social media influencers. Who are these influencers?  Should pharmaceutical companies and healthcare start to have an influencer marketing plan and ditch the celebrity testimonial?

1)Who is the social media influencer?

Altimeter Group defines an influencer as follows:

“An influencer is defined as someone of notable status and focus within a community who possesses the ability to cause effect or change behavior among those to whom they’re connected”

In other words the social media influencer leverages his/her social capitol.

The Altimeter Group then goes on to describe the three pillars of influence: reach, resonance and relevance. Reach is built on popularity, proximity (geo location) and goodwill. When we speak of relevance, we are referring to subject matter expertise such as authority, trust and affinity. Resonance on the other hand refers to how many people see a post and for how long that conversation continues in time: frequency, period and amplitude.

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2) Is there a way of measuring the social media influencer?

As a society we love numbers and numbers guide us in our decision processes. If we go back a just few years ago it seemed like everyone was looking at their Klout number. Klout, an online platform measuring social media influence software, could calculate how “influential” one was online. Today we have moved beyond Klout and just relying on a number is not enough.

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The social media influencer has become more of a polished and refined profession. The social media influencer today picks and chooses the platforms or a platform that seems to works best for them and their business. In other words you can still be influential and only be on one platform.

The number of followers is still important, but it is not the only indicator of influencer since it can be misleading. In order to have an effect on others we must look at the engagement level of our social media influencer.

3) So how do you find influencers?

You can find influencers on any social media platform. Blogs, Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Instagram, Snapchat, LinkedIn. Each platform is different and engagement levels and audiences are very different.

4)Should pharma have an influencer roadmap?

Yes. First, start identifying where your social media influencers are and which social media platforms they are using.  Start by just listening, what they taking about? Who is their audience (that is their outreach)? How do they engage with their audience?

Everything in pharma is more complicated because of it being a highly regulated industry.  As a case study I think what comes to everyone’s mind is the Kim Kardarsian post on Instagram regarding a drug for the treatment of morning sickness. The post was immediately pulled after FDA sent a warning letter to the drug manufacturer.

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As people in pharma know very well, guidance in the US is given by the FDA. However, it would be of interest to also take a look at the FTC guidelines. The guidelines updated in June 2015 and focuses primarily on how brands should work with testimonials and endorsements. The aim of the FTC is to make sure that the consumers can clearly distinguish between a paid-endorsement and an independent third party review. The bottom line is always be transparent.

5)Why should pharma consider social media influencers in their thinking process?

As mentioned in the opening lines, the internet has brought many changes and todays’ consumer has fundamentally changed. To be in line with these changes pharmaceutical marketers need to start incorporating digital influencers in their thinking process.  In my opinion, it feels like DTC is so “yesterday”. I truly believe, the future could see a switch from celebrity testimonials to online influencers. Many factors point in this direction. Social media is becoming the more widely used source of information for patient information, you can reach a wider audience and it is way cheaper.

Resources:

Influencer marketing is the next big thing – just don’t make the same mistakes as some pharma companies by David Zaritsky, January 5, 2016

https://www.pm360online.com/influencer-marketing-is-the-next-big-thing-just-dont-make-the-same-mistakes-as-some-pharma-companies/

The rise of influencer marketing and the opportunity for marketers in 2016. By Nicolas Chabot December 10, 2015.

http://digitalmarketingmagazine.co.uk/digital-marketing-features/the-rise-of-influencer-marketing-and-the-opportunity-for-marketers-in-2016/2974

Getting a sharper picture of social media’s influence. By Jacques Bughin. McKinsey Quarterly. July 2015.

http://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/marketing-and-sales/our-insights/getting-a-sharper-picture-of-social-medias-influence

The rise of digital influence. A “how -to” guide for businesses to spark desirable effects and outcomes through social media influence. By Brian Solis. March 21, 2012. Altimeter Group.

http://www.slideshare.net/Altimeter/the-rise-of-digital-influence

Playing it safe

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LinkedIn is one of the fastest growing professional social networks. According to statista LinkedIn today has 433 million users.

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LinkedIn distinguishes itself, from the other social media channels as being a social network that brings professionals together. Historically, this is where recruiters go to find and recruit talent and where individuals can connect for business purposes. However, today it is becoming more and more a mainstream channel to promote your brand and company messages.

1) Ok so we all know by now that LinkedIn is well known for recruiting talent. How do the pharmaceutical and healthcare sectors rank on representation when compared to other industry sectors in attracting talent?

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By looking at the chart, I guess we could say pharmaceutical along with healthcare are one of the least represented industries among top attractors on LinkedIn. A sought after employer not only brings a competitive edge for the company, but also value and good reputation.

2)So what can pharmaceutical companies gain by becoming more active on LinkedIn?

First, it is probably the “safest” social media channel.  If you want to start in social media, start with LinkedIn. Since the network is built on professional network, many of the comments and material or content shared tends to “stay” professional. In stark contrast to content shared in other social media channels such as FaceBook and Twitter.

Second, many modern day CEOs today are on at least one social media channel.  So if a Fortune 500 CEO has to start on a social media channel, LinkedIn would be the place to get your feet wet.  Ian Read Pfizer CEO was among the early pharmaceutical CEOs to join LinkedIn influencer program when it broadened its’ program.

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3)What other features does LinkedIn provide?

Besides building reputation and getting your feet wet. LinkedIn launched its InMail service in February 2015 as part of its’ Marketing Solutions portfolio. Features of InMail include 1) real time dynamic delivery of sponsored emails / updates / campaigns to a target audience; 2) mobile-optimized templates making it easier to view on any mobile device, 3) rich targeting capabilities ( industry, job function for example).  These all become part or should be a part of marketing strategy. LinkedIn also is a way of by bypassing open comment possibilities. This is where the safer concept comes in play.

4)Pharma LinkedIn Influencers?

The LinkedIn Influencer program launched in February 2014. This may explain why we see a more diverse set of influencers, beyond, Barak Obama and Bill Gates. Some Healthcare & Pharmaceutical CEOs that are part of the Influencer program include

Pfizer Ian Read (120,370 followers)(accessed July 28, 2016)

Abbott Laboratories Miles White (113,524 followers) (accessed July 28, 2016)

Cardinal Health George Barrett (15,823 followers) (accessed July 28, 2016)

According to social CEO report 2015 “Highly regarded companies are more than three times as likely as those with weak reputations to have a CEO who participates in social media.”

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Younger CEOs are on more social media channels and they understand the benefits they can achieve from social media engagement. The advantages of being part of the influencer program allows a CEO to be able to think like a business leader, which the professional community looks up to. Pharmaceutical industry needs to learn that it must define itself externally above and beyond the brands and this is where the Influencer program can play a pivotal role. An Influencer can also help the audience understand the pharmaceutical process of bringing meds to market. CEOs engaged in social media channels can contribute to the companies ROI by bringing in reputation rewards.

5)How about leveraging all your employees?

Pharmaceutical companies can leverage one of their greatest asset, its’ employees, colleagues and associates. This is one of fastest and easiest way of broadening and reaching a greater network with your company message.

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As we can see from the chart above the bigger the company the wider the reach to build up your followers.

Social media and adverse events

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More people are online today searching and sharing health information.  Social media channels such as Twitter and Facebook, commenting on blog posts and participating in online communities such as tweet chats, facilitate this exchange of information. While people are participating and sharing their health experiences with others, it is a given that there will be discussion of treatments and possible adverse events. Regulatory agencies such as FDA in the US and EMA in Europe, monitor and collect data to ensure the safety of the public. Pharmaceutical companies also have the obligation to report to regulatory agencies adverse events. The question is can social media data mining and social media listening prove be useful in early detection of adverse events?

So what is an Adverse Event (also abbreviated AE or AEs)?

An adverse event can be defined as “Undesirable experience that is associated with the use of a medicinal product in a patient”.

In order to report an AE to the FDA, four criteria must be met and those are:

  1. an identifiable patient;
  2. an identifiable person reporting the event;
  3. a specific drug or biological product;
  4. an adverse event or fatal outcome suspected to be due to the suspect drug or product

What could be some of the opportunities of social media data mining or social media listening for adverse events?

  • It could allow for additional information to the already established safety profile of a medicine
  • Social media could be more useful for early trends detection or reveal new patterns, which can then be further investigated through research or observational studies
  • New technologies, could offer new possibilities for monitoring drug safety
  • It could provide for geo-monitoring for drug safety

What could be some of the challenges of social media data mining or social media listening for adverse events?

  • Adverse events or potential AEs can be ambiguous, especially due to the word or character limitations (for example Twitter 140 characters)
  • People use different language in social media (social media vernacular) such as hashtags, abbreviated words, slang words
  • There is a need to account for misspelled words, different languages, retweets or reposting, that is duplication within the same platform and / or across multiple platforms, and fraudulent postings
  • Possible bias regarding the demographics of Twitter users, such as age and location
  • People may fear being monitored or feel “Big Brother” is watching over your shoulder

What is being done to try and capture adverse events in social media?

Web-RADR (Recognizing Adverse Drug Reactions) Europe is funded by the Innovative medicines Initiative, which in turn is funded by the European Commission and the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations. The initiative also involves drug regulators, pharmaceutical companies and the World Health organization and universities.

Epidemico, a health informatics company and a subsidiary of Booz Allen Hamilton, is working on developing algorithms to pick up adverse events from social media as part of Web-RADR project. The FDA is also collaborating with Epidemico to develop the digital data-mining platform, MedWatcher Social. MedWatcher Social (MWS) is a validated GxP (good for practice) digital listening platform that is designed to monitor social media information about drug safety.

Treato, a company based in Israel, the company offers a reporting tool so that organizations can log adverse drug reactions and it’s website allows patients to search for information that has been collected about other drugs. The goal for Treato is to capture early drug signals and improve patient outcomes.

IMS Health, through it’s social media analytics company Semantelli, has been analyzing adverse events and picking up signals on prescription drugs and over the counter drugs. Also IMS Health has been working on capturing signals on efficacy of drugs.

This sounds like an overwhelming task?

Yes it may well be overwhelming, but the information shared on the internet cannot be ignored today.  These networks play an important role in consumer health management for today’s modern patient, caregiver and consumer. However when confronted with regulatory risks and considerations, such as reporting of adverse events, healthcare industry feel the risks may outweigh the benefits in social media listening or engaging.

Resources:

Social media and pharmacovigilance: A review of the opportunities and challenges. Richard Sloane, prod Osaniou, David lewis, Danushka Bollegala, Simon Maskell and Munir Pirmohamed. Br J Clin Pharmacol:Volume 80, Issue 4, pages 910-920, October 2015.

Systemic review on the prevalence, frequency and comparative value of adverse events data in social media. Su Golder, Gill Norman and Yoon K Loke. Br J Clin Pharmacol: 2015 Oct; 80 (4): 878-88.

Digital drug safety surveillance: monitoring pharmaceutical products in twitter. Freifeld CC, Brownstein JS, Menone CM, Bao W, Filice R, Kass-Hout T, Dasgupta N. Drug Saf. 2014 May;37 (5):343-50.

IMI Web-RADR Webinar: mobile technologies and social medias as new tools in pharmacovigilance.

Silicon Valley versus Wall Street

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Should pharmaceutical companies dip their toes or better yet move their head quarters in Silicon Valley in order to be closer to digital disruption?

So many industries have faced disruptions from technology driven start – ups and pharmaceutical companies I believe will be no exclusion to digital disruption. They may feel they are well protected, mainly due to the regulatory and compliance environment they operate in, but they are also burdened by old business models, complicated processes, multiple layers of approval and above all their aversion to risk taking. Pharma companies can benefit from learning from the innovative culture that is so embedded in Silicon Valley, but this comes along with a change in mind-set of legacy C-level and it’s employees.

Does pharmaceutical need a digital disruption?

Absolutely yes. They have traditionally and continue to this very day to “push” information out to their customers (doctors, patients/consumers/ payers). Whereas, today it is required that pharmaceutical companies adopt a more interactive experience or strategy with the consumer. That is they must learn to engage with the consumer.

What would be the payoff of engaging with Silicon Valley?

The payoff could be substantial. For one thing, pharmaceutical companies could learn more about the entrepreneurial (a culture of innovation) approach. An entrepreneurial approach would allow for disruption of present day business models and embrace learning through trial and failure. Second benefit would be to digitalize all of pharma’s present day silos (sales, marketing, medical etc). Third payoff, I believe pharma would learn to be more consumer / customer focused. Who is the true customer today for pharma? In today’s world it is not only the doctor.

How can pharma tap in or engage with Silicon Valley?

The easiest would be to simply visit for a few days and shadow some of the industries in Silicon valley. See the YouTube video below of one companies experience. Another possibility would be to form partnerships. One excellent example already underway is Google and the Swiss pharmaceutical company Novartis. Google and Novartis are working together in developing contact lenses that can monitor the glucose levels in diabetic patients. Open offices in Silicon Valley which would allow or facilitate to tap into local talent and cultivate a more innovate culture away from legacy,Wall Street, operations.

Here is an example of one company that visited Silicon Valley and their learnings.

How can this knowledge be incorporated back in headquarters?

Traditional company leaders can immerse themselves in Silicon Valley’s culture of innovation approach, that is all fine and dandy. But, once they get back to headquarters they need to be the agents of change. Continue with that “culture of innovation” of being open-minded and listen to the right people. There is not only senior level responsibility, this learning experience needs to be extended to heads of different departments such sales, marketing, medical. The question that pharma needs to ask itself is how well aligned is top management about the challenges on the horizon and what needs to be done to overcome these new challenges.

Does pharmaceutical face a future in which unprecedented technological change could disrupt legacy operations or business models?

The list of dead companies is pretty long and their stories tell it all. The failure of not responding to technology is a mistake one does not want make.

Social media and paying tribute

Social media is changing the way we express our shock and sadness for the passing of celebrities. On April 21, 2016 the world paid homage to one of the greatest pop music legends, Prince. People, organizations, companies and brands all used the social media channels to express their grief, shock and condolences. Personally, I found out about Prince’s death from twitter.

Why do we do it?

In my opinion we want to be a part of a relationship with people or a community. You want to join in the conversation of outpouring of grief, sadness and shock.

Can using social media to pay homage hurt or help your brand?

As a business your aim on social media is to form relationships with people by engaging. Just like in my previous article (“Educate or Engage” posted April 11, 2016) the key word here is “engaging”. Brands can and should tweet honoring or paying tribute to a celebrity. The fine line is not to capitalize on it.  It is more about brand reputation then brand awareness.

Not every brand  managed it well. Some tweets where tastefully done while others were just downright bad marketing, or opportunistic and were later deleted.

Cheerios tweeted then deleted.

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While Chevrolet was really appreciated and acclaimed by people on twitter.

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3M brand on the other hand made it more about them and their brand.

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Should pharmaceutical companies use social media to pay homage?

In my opinion, yes. Even though it may have nothing to do about their products but it does make you human and a part of the world conversation. When done correctly you can really connect with people.

Did any pharmaceutical company pay tribute?

I decided to do a little research to see if any tweets went out from pharmaceutical companies paying tribute to Prince.

The companies analyzed included the following:

Novartis

Pfizer

Roche

Sanofi

Merck & Co.

Johnson & Johnson

GlaxoSmithKline

AstraZeneca

Gilead Sciences

Takeda

AbbVie

Amgen

Teva

Lilly

Bristol-Myers Squibb

Bayer

Novo Nordisk

Astellas

Boehringer Ingelheim

Allergan

Daiichi Sankyo

Biogen

Baxter

From this very long list, I found that only Lilly had a post paying tribute to Prince.

Was Lilly’s tweet done “tastefully”?

In my opinion no. It appears that someone had paid tribute to Prince by writing on some sort of wall that Lilly was sponsoring. Lilly then took that to twitter, with a very unusual post reading “a timely tribute to #Prince” and “can we get that in purple?” Hey Lilly are you just using the hashtag of the moment, so that you can increase your chances of getting noticed by many people? What you post about people says more about you then you actually realize. What do you want to get in purple? And timely? I would say late. You posted it on April 23rd.

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Whereas the tweet below from Lilly was spot on maybe because this celebrity relates to a product?

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Participating in the paying tribute conversation is an excellent way for pharmaceutical companies to “humanize”. It has nothing to do about their products but it does make you human and a part of the world discussion.

Educate or Engage?

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I usually come across pharmaceutical presentations and their use of social media. In their talks I have noticed they always refer to social media and how they are “educating” the patient. I never hear them refer to “engaging” with the patient. Is this because traditional pharmaceutical companies are still using a “push” marketing model? Pharmaceutical companies should continue to inform however they also need to engage.

What do we mean by engaging?

Merriam Webster defines engaging as “very attractive or pleasing in a way that holds your attention.” The social media community refers to engaging as a “two way conversation”

What do we mean by educating?

Merriam Webster defines educating or to educate as “ to provide with information.”  When pharmaceutical companies refer to educating they are referring to offering disease-specific education information aimed at patients, consumers and healthcare professionals.

So why does pharma always use the word educate and less so the word engage regarding their use of social media?

I think it starts with social media was made for people in mind and not really for businesses. Think of sites like MySpace and LinkedIn in 2000 and Facebook and Twitter in 2006. These sites created a new way for people to communicate and share with each other. But I truly believe the main reason is that pharmaceutical companies are still in a one sided “push” of information approach. In order to be an integral part of engagement, they definitely will need to open their communication and listen to the consumer.

So what are pharmaceutical biggest fears for not engaging?

Social media platforms are increasing and there are several channels to provide information and education. Many pharmaceutical companies fear that being involved in social conversations will increase the number of adverse drug experience reports and force them to conduct investigations that could be costly and damaging.

What needs to change for pharmaceutical companies to start using more the word engage?

Social media platforms provide for an easy way to exchange information and above all dialogue. In order for this to happen there is a great urgency to rebuild the pharmaceutical business model and mindset if they truly want to “engage” with the consumer, patient and healthcare professional on social media.

Searching for the customer experience in #ActuallySheCan

Industries today are focusing more and more on customer experience. So what does this mean for pharmaceutical marketers? That you absolutely need to build a customer experience for your product or brand.  What do we mean by customer experience? Customer experience is about building an intentional or planned customer journey. It starts off by leading and then it is maintained though loyalty. I recently came across Allergan’s website  #ActuallySheCan, and did a review on their approach to customer experience.

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What is #ActuallySheCan website about?

As described by Allergan “this campaign is about fostering a discussion among women, not at them. This is a platform and medium for women to get more educated,” Allergan then goes on to explain “This is not just a traditional social-media platform with standard banner ads and tweeting content about a product.”  Right, so let’s move on to content.

Is the content relevant, valuable and useful?

Content experience is about making user experience a good experience. A good experience is what will create your lead and then loyalty.  According to Content Marketing Institute content must be relevant and valuable. In my opinion I really find it hard to see any information at all on the website, let alone it being useful to me. Maybe if I register to their newsletter / email I will receive useful information. But why would I register for information if I can’t find any on the website? May I suggest maybe to research and try to understand your customers first and then build your content experience on that.

Engaging on social media channels?

FaceBook, Twitter, & Instagram photos and messages are pretty much the same across all channels. Trying to foster a discussion with women? Can’t really see a discussion going on. Appears to be just a push of general messages. Suggestion, relevant and useful content will increase your user experience to share and engage with others. Content experience and sharing can only be built after researching and trying to understand your customers.

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Testimonials or influencers?

In seeking an authentic and balanced tone, Allergan states, that it partnered with celebrities including actor Lea Michele, reality television personality Lo Bosworth and Youtube personality iJustine. Maybe what you are looking for are “influencers” more than testimonials. Influencers have the trust of their followers and care very deeply about giving their opinion that is valuable and relevant for their followers. Testimonials are just a traditional marketing “quick” fix voice behind a brand. The outcome is very different. With influencers you will create a true following and fulfill the loyalty part of the customer experience journey.

Are you using emojis and “shemojis” just to attract millennials?

Millennials, although frequent users of emojis,  don’t want brands to communicate with them using emojis. They want to interact with the company in a different ways. Why not ask them how they would like to engage with you? As for “shemojis”, Allergan defines “shemojis” as a website featured technology that allows women to create their own emojis by uploading selfies so users can convert them to “shemojis”.  In my opinion it is always best to first test photo emojis such as is the case with “shemojis” first as a social experiment. See how it resonates before launching to a broader audience.