What can go wrong when pharma goes into social media?

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This is a compliation of a twitter disussion on April 1, 2011 in the #hcsmeu group. The topic is how pharma companies fail in social media.


  • 1. What can go wrong in pharma (and health care) involvement in social media?
    Thanks to @whydotpharma and all smart people at #hcsmeu for crowdsourcing.

2. Risks whatcan go wrong?
Adverse event reporting
Negative discussions around the pharma brand
If no-one engages with you because your content is irrelevant or not interesting
3. Regulations
Think carefully, proceed carefully, respond carefully
Fear mentality: no one wants to get in trouble -> risk aversion and slow innovation
However: regulations are less strict than pharma perceives
Pharma can do a lot within current regulations if willing to facilitate vs. lead discussions
Pharma worried about patients seeing branded information, but in UK, ABPI states that drug info related to brand MUST be viewable
4. Why do things go wrong?
Lack of understanding and strategy
Using SM as a megaphone - one way broadcast
Failing to be real, just an act to get more sales
Trying to BUILD when community is already there
Sanofi Aventis facebook clear fail, but graveyard of no engagement is vast
5. Why be in SM?
What do pharma use SM for? marketing? education? feedback?
SM forces pharma to generate better content
As long as you understand the limitations, SM allows direct useful engagement with your audience
6. Howto do it?
Diff. between promotional & informational material.
Beware of the agency folly.
Having someone internally who knows about SM, and sell it SM internally.
Pharma is a non-DTC environment, we will never be able to fully do what FMCG companies do in SM.
7. My five cents
Pharma is in SM tofulfill business goals.
Pharma must be verycareful (regulations, adverse event reporting, badvocates). When in doubt, dont do it.
If you do it: knowwhatyou do, do it yourself, havestamina, be honest.
Thanks from @vortexsurfer