Wednesday I attended the Advanced Learning Institute’s Social Media for Pharma conference in New York City. There was a great line-up of speakers, each with some interesting and diverse perspectives on the state of pharmaceutical marketing online today. Some highlights from day 2:
Bill Evans, EVP & Chief Digital Officer at Team Chemistry/WPP hosted and presented some interesting thoughts on pharma and social media:
- Pharma companies want to be innovative, but they don’t want to be first.
- In the world of pharma marketing online, “new” often equals “no” when it comes to legal and regulatory departments. Data doesn’t solve this problem. It takes education.
- The bandwagon effect: “I just saw that so-and-so company is using Google+ now. Why aren’t we?”
- The fallacy of scale: Bigger doesn’t necessarily mean better. Or the myth, “We can’t use this new media tool, because it doesn’t work for everyone.” Brochures don’t work for everyone, but we still use them.
- Skeuomorphs: I know … I didn’t know the term either. A skeuomorph is a legacy element to an object that is in there because it’s always been there but serves no real purpose (maple syrup bottle handles, spokes on hubcaps, using a floppy disk icon for “Save As”). Many people at organizations like to keep these legacy processes simply because … they’ve always been there.
- Be sure you’re considering to socialize everything rather than coming up with a social media program.
- It’s okay for pharma companies to have real-time conversations with consumers. They do it all the time. It’s called the telephone.
Eileen O’Brien of Siren Interactive and founder of the Twitter chat #socpharm stressed the point of creating “shareworthy” information. When you create content, think to yourself, “Would I share this?” Next up was a panel of patient advocates who told some pretty gripping stories on what they face on a daily basis, living with a chronic disease (or two or three). From their discussion emerged one telling statement as to how they wish to be treated. “I’m not my disease, but if you haven’t met my disease, you haven’t met me.”
I have to say that my favorite of the day was David Thompson, U.S. Social Media Strategist for Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals, Inc. His charming English wit was accented by an honest and no-nonsense approach to social media strategy for internal comms. He even managed to pull off a metaphor of Old MacDonald’s farm to represent internal social media policy. Healthy Women & Mom Central Consulting have been doing some interesting work together to reach moms via a network of influential mom bloggers about health topics and products, without being overly commercial in their outreach.
Overall, it was refreshing to see that over half the audience worked at one pharma company or another. Pharma is taking more interest in how social media affects their company and their brands.