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Online Reputation is Essential: Sanofi-Aventis Fake Facebook Page Has 3,783 Fans

Posted by | 12:32pm on Thursday, March 11, 2010

Ideally, they should be communicating with these patients and transparently sharing their efforts. 

The other day a Pharma BNET article described patients upset with sanofi-aventis (SA) who had gone to the company’s Facebook page. I followed the Facebook link to what appeared to be a legit, corporate page. It wasn’t until John Mack at Pharma Marketing Blog probed a little closer that we learned that it was fake.

This fake SA Facebook page has 3,783 fans and seems to have been live since December 2008. I’m assuming that SA has contacted Facebook and asked them to remove it. In the short term, it’s surprising that an authorized PR rep hasn’t commented on the fact that the page is fake (although one of the patients has recently noted this).  Unfortunately, in the meantime, damage is being done to SA’s reputation. An unhappy patient has posted comments to the page and noted that they were banned and previous comments removed. At cursory glance, people would be given the impression that this has been done by SA.

The Real Deal?
SA also has what appears to be a legitimate Facebook page: with only 366 fans. This page supports SA VOICES efforts to: “Empower employees, retirees, friends, families and communities to educate, engage, and mobilize with our grassroots network as we focus on healthcare industry priorities.”

SA has opened this page up to comments and these unhappy patients have also taken their issue to this public forum.  And SA has not responded to them in this space. I’m hoping that SA PR/Legal are working on a plan to handle this situation. Ideally, they should be communicating with these patients and transparently sharing their efforts. Social media strategies should always include an approach to handle this type of negative feedback.

A brand reputation takes years to establish and can be very quickly damaged online. No one knows that better than Dominos Pizza which dealt with a PR nightmare when two rogue employees posted a video to YouTube doing unmentionable things to their food. This is an extreme case, but an excellent reminder that companies should be closely monitoring the online space, especially what’s going on in social media channels.

This post was contributed by Eileen O’Brien, Director of Search & Innovation for Siren Interactive. You can connect with her on Twitter at @eileenobrien.

(Image courtesy of pinksherbert on Flickr)

About Eileen O'Brien

Eileen has more than 16 years of digital healthcare marketing experience. She is an opinion leader on social media and biopharma, and has been invited to speak at industry conferences and quoted in publications.

View other posts from Eileen

17 Pingbacks/Trackbacks

  • shirley ledlie

    Hello Eileen, i am the SA FB attacker. They have ignored me for 3 years so …….
    I have read above on this page
    Ideally, they should be communicating with these patients and transparently sharing their efforts.
    I think you actually mean ‘transparently sharing their DATA. This might be a PR nightmare for them (believe me i have only just got started), great, they have brought this situation on entirley by themselves by ignoring me and hoping i would just shut up. I told them this wasnt going to happen and gave them one last chance. They ignored this too. So, Sanofi, ignore me at your perile.

    • http://twitter.com/eileenobrien Eileen

      Shirley — Thanks for taking the time to read this post and share your comments.

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  • http://prforpharma.com/ Chris Iafolla

    The issue of the demise of a brand image–particularly at the expense of a fake Facebook account is one that many marketers are no doubt grappling with. Another interesting part of this story is the idea that your social media strategy may bear the brunt of shortfalls in other parts of your business–in this case customer relationship management.

    Thanks for the post Eileen and great analysis.

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  • shirley ledlie

    I enjoyed reading your article.
    In the 4 years since my treatment finished, i have spent the last 3 trying to get the word out.
    I have contacted every medical authority possible, and they all try to fob me off.
    Sanofi even wrote to me (via a breast cancer charty), well they didnt know it was for me, telling me that 7 out of 496 patients had been affected (trying to imply a small a number as poss). These patients had been put into 3 groups. What they didnt tell me and i only found out when i dug deeper was that out of the 496 patients ONLY 112 had taxotere ! So you see always trying to mislead.
    They cant keep saying its very rare when in fact it fally into the classification of ‘common and frequent’. For it to be very rare, as they say, it would have to occur in less than 0.01% which is definatly not the case.
    The study in NW France, happned because the oncologists etc were so concerned about the large number of pateints being affecting in this way. they had to inform sanofi and they were not happy about this survey being carried out. Why is that – what are they worried about.
    One EU authority i contacted told me to contact SA’s licensing group. I emailed them and within 5 minutes i recieved an unpleasant phone call telling me not to contact them.
    Thankyou for writing this article Eileen.
    Sanofi might have lost their VOICE – but i havent :-)

  • shirley ledlie

    I would just like to add that the 496 patients was just from one study presented at the san antonio BC symposium 2006. I am in contact with a doctor in Madrid who carried out a study on about 50 patients, years ago, he tried to get the reults published but the medical journal (not sure which one) refused to publish it.
    The study in NW France is due to finish anytime now and at the moment is running at 81 women and 1 man disfigured. There must be hundreds if not thousands all over the world and this number will carry on increasing as the more Taxotere is used on primary dx.

    • http://twitter.com/eileenobrien Eileen


      There are always two sides to every story. I certainly feel that both parties should have the opportunity to express their opinion.


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  • shirley ledlie

    So do i Eileen, so why are they so quiet? :-)

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