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BizReport : Blogs & Content archives : August 23, 2011

How pharma brands can use socnets to engage

Over the next two year, seven of the twenty most widely prescribed and profitable drug patents will release, making the creating of generic versions legal. For that reason, as well as the huge adoption rate of social networks, one expert believes the time for pharma brands to join the social media race is now.

by Kristina Knight

I recently had the chance to chat with Greg Singh of Visible Technologies about the benefits of a social strategy for pharmaceutical marketers. You can read Part I of our chat here.

Kristina: What are the drawbacks of pharma within the social space?

Greg Singh, Regional Director, Visible Technologies: We see three main challenges for pharma companies within the social space.

  • Adverse event reporting is probably one of the biggest challenges. This is a federal mandate that requires drug brands to respond to every single comment users make about their products.

  • Another barrier within the pharma category is the difficulty in translating elaborate sets of disclaimers that drug brands are required to attach to their ads on the Web. For example, an explanation about the side effects of a drug fits well in print media like newspaper and magazine ads, but there really isn't any room in a banner.

  • Lastly is simply the lack of guidance from the U.S. Federal Food and Drug Administration. It offers little help on best practices and remains undecided and somewhat unclear on its policies for social media for pharma companies.
  • Kristina: Most brands are associating social with retail - clothing/apparel, shoes, books. What does social offer pharma brands?

    Greg: Pharma companies can no longer afford to wait on the sidelines; it's time to start figuring out a social media strategy. There is an opportunity to open dialogue, build trust and create a more personalized healthcare service. Social channels represent an opportunity for pharma brands to build and foster customer relationships by opening up new conversations, gleaning insights and inviting human interest stories that give consumers the opportunity to advocate a brand. Carefully planned social media campaigns offer opportunities for adding digital capabilities that improve traditional investments and extend pharma brands to new audiences. Also, the majority of conversations happening online can be very powerful in terms of third-party endorsement value and crisis communication for pharma companies.

    Third-party endorsements: The majority of the conversations happening online can be very powerful. Becoming a skilled "conversation architect" is important for every pharma brand engaging with consumers online and in the social sphere. Pharma companies are wise to take advantage of the social commentary that can help educate their community and make each person in it feel that they're engaged in an honest dialogue.

    Tags: branded social profile, Greg Singh, pharma marketing, social marketing, social profiles, Visible Technologies

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