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Josephine Borrillo LLC Posts

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

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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.

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Interesting reads #3

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2015 Survey of US Health Care Consumers (Deloitte Center for Health Solutions) trends in health care consumer engagement.

Engage with confidence: Managing online adverse event reporting. Ensuring digital engagement between healthcare companies and their consumers aligns with regulatory requirements. (White Paper: Nexus Social Media) (IMS Health) 2015

GSK working together with Apple ResearchKit to improve clinical trials designs.

Pharmaceutical companies are looking for new ways to attract patients to participate in clinical trials.

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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.

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Interesting reads #2

 

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Silicon Valley’s new darling: Healthcare, Just what the doctor ordered (Accenture strategy) July 2015

Up The Ante In The Age Of The Consumer (Forrester Consulting) March 2013. Three elements are essential in the Age of the Customer: 1) a customer – obsessed approach; 2) understanding of customer’s behavior and needs; 3) customer engagement strategy that responds to those behaviors and needs.

PharmaVOICE2011 (Showcase McKinsey)  capitalizing on social media listening first discussed in 2011, still relevant today.
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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.

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Interesting reads #1

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2016 Social media Impact Report: B2B Industry Edition (TrackMaven – 2016)  How do the best B2B brands move the needle on social? 500,000 content pieces analyzed from 316 leading B2B brands. Pharmaceuticals and Medical featured.

Pharma 3D Rewriting the script for marketing in the digital age (Wharton, Google and McKinsey (date not found on report))  Applying Discovery, Design and Delivery, otherwise referred to as the 3D, in the pharmaceutical sector.

The State of Consumer Healthcare: A Study of Patient Experience (Prophet GE Healthcare Camden Group – Summer 2015) Understanding the consumer health experience by understanding the gaps between patient and providers’ expectations and perceptions and what needs to change.

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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.

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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.

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