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.

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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/

Interesting reads #6

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Seven steps to successful customer experience measurement programs. How to define the right CX metrics and use them to improve CX . Forrester. Maxie Schmidt-Subramanian. February 4, 2016. Update to previously published report. Tips on designing a professional CX measurement program.

                                                                                                    

Digital drug safety surveillance: monitoring pharmaceutical products in twitter. Clark C. Freifeld, John S. Brownstein, Christopher M. Menone, Wenjie Bao, Ross Filice, Taha Kass-Hout, Nabarum Dasgupta. Drug Saf (2014) 37:343-350. The study sets out to study if there is there a concordance between Twitter posts mentioning a Adverse Event – like reaction and spontaneous reports received by a regulatory agency.

                                                                                                    

The rise of digital influence. March 21, 2012 By Brian Solis with Alan Webber The Altimeter Group. Excellent resource for defining and understanding who is the digital influencer. Also understanding the features that distinguish an influencer.  What makes an influencer an influencer.

Disclaimers don’t work @PfizerCongress

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@PfizerCongress describes it’s Twitter handle as “tweets are for European-based healthcare professionals only” and then goes on to explain “house rules”. Sorry @PfizerCongress welcome to Twitter world where the rules are those of engagement.  Twitter has it’s set of house rules also.

Pharmaceutical companies feel that they can protect themselves from harm by putting out disclaimers such this. I have seen many of these kinds of disclaimers around on social media, but from all the articles I have been reading it appears that they meaningless.

Q1: Do disclaimers, such as in the @PfizerCongress, provide any real protection?

Pharmaceutical companies are working in a very regulated industry environment, I get that. FDA in the US and EMA in the EU.  The fundamentals of social media are don’t say something that you should not be saying.

Q2: How are you going to protect or monitor responses to your tweets or re-tweets and who is following?

Disclaimers such as these do not protect you in this case either. I take it that the reason you are on Twitter in the first place is to share information with your audience. If people retweet and comment then you are engaging, which is even better. So @PfizerCongress you have to make sure the information you share is accurate and is according to policy set forth by the pharmaceutical regulatory agency in your jurisdiction. No matter what you will always be accountable.

Q3: How do people or professionals view them?

I just happened to see this in my twitter feed. But many of your followers may not see your disclaimer tweet at all. You will have to tweet several times a day for followers to see and take note. On top of everything this is not reality and followers will just steer away. This is sad because you may be sharing important medical updates from conferences that could interest many of your followers.

You are also not very transparent. I had to click on the link under your Twitter profile in order to get to the your house rules.

Pfizer at EuCongress with red circle

Q4: How does this impact or reflect your organization and reputation?

Not very good. It tells me you do not understand social media. It also makes me think that you could be doing a sloppy job in branding. Your information should be correct and according to pharmaceutical regulatory policies and if your job is done right then there is no need for disclaimers. This in the long will reflect on you as a company and your brand reputation.

Q5: Why are disclaimers useless?

It’s all on record, so always think before you post.

Resources:

Disclaimer “these views are my own”. By Koka Sexton. March 31, 2015

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/disclaimer-views-my-own-koka-sexton

Whose opinions are these now? Fix your brand and we won’t wonder. The Schumin Web jpnuary 5, 2014

https://www.schuminweb.com/2014/01/05/whose-opinions-are-these-now-fix-your-brand-and-we-wont-wonder/

With twitter Disclaimer, you can still get fired. By Brett Snider, Esq. On June 18, 2013

http://blogs.findlaw.com/law_and_life/2013/06/with-twitter-disclaimer-you-can-still-get-fired.html

Why you should drop your twitter disclaimer. By Stuart Bruce March 11, 2014

http://www.prdaily.com/Main/Articles/Why_you_should_drop_your_Twitter_disclaimer_16221.aspx

The problem with adding “thoughts are my own” to your Twitter bio. By Claire deBell. January 29, 2013

http://sproutsocial.com/insights/my-thoughts-are-my-own-twitter/

Social media doesn’t sleep, so why should you? By Josephine Borrillo February 1, 2016

http://josephineborrillo.com/social-media-doesnt-sleep-so-why-should-you/

Interesting reads #5

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Social media “likes” healthcare. From marketing to social business. PWC Health Research Institute April 2012.

Four characteristics about social media that still hold true today; consumer generated content, community, rapid distribution, and open and two way dialogue. Interesting the concept of moving from a social media strategy to a social strategy.

                                                                                                    

2016 Social media Industry Index (Track Maven).

Pharmaceuticals may have the largest number of LinkedIn followers, but they need to work more on their interactions per post.

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Where are you on the path to CX management maturity? Assessment: the customer experience maturity playbook. Megan Burns March 28, 2016 Forrester. Update to a previously published report. Reviewing customer experience (CX) management and where you stand on CX management maturity model.

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.

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.

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.

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.