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Pharma Social Media Case Studies

Posted by | 6:14pm on Wednesday, December 14, 2011

That's 10,800 units of Allegra sold coming from the Facebook page 

Last week I spoke at the Advanced Learning Institute’s Social Media for Pharma conference in New York City. “The pharma paradox is everybody wants to be innovative but nobody wants to be first,” said cochair, WPP’s Bill Evans. What was great about this intimate event was the specific case studies shared that offered examples for other companies. I’m going to highlight a few that resonated with me.

Facebook Page Contributes to Bottom Line
Shermon McMillan, Senior Marketing Manager from Chattem, a Sanofi Company, and William Martino from Saatchi & Saatchi Wellness discussed Allegra’s marketing efforts during the transition to over-the-counter. As part of their strategy, the Allegra team created a Facebook page with an open wall to communicate with their large target audience. The team has all of the content preapproved by medical/legal, and they work 2-3 months ahead. They have a variety of frequently asked questions, standard responses and thanks messages pre-approved. Many of these are also used for Allegra’s Twitter account. The brand team promoted the social media tools via ads, including Facebook ads.

Allegra monitors comments for adverse events (AEs), utilizing the experts at LiveWorld. The brand has had a few potential AEs, and they state on the wall that an Allegra rep will reach out privately via a Facebook message. They take this conversation privately, but the response on the wall shows publicly that they are following up. McMillan noted that potential AEs came up only 0.88% of the time. The team did have to ban one Facebook user after repeated warnings for refusing to follow the stated code of conduct.

The benefits from the Facebook page include insights that the brand team would not have had otherwise, for example, learning about some packaging concerns. Real-time feedback from consumers who were unable to get Allegra at local stores at launch also alerted them to distribution issues.

McMillan is able to track the effectiveness of these Facebook efforts by offering a unique Allegra coupon downloaded via the site. The coupon offers $4 off the medication, and out of the 30,000 coupons downloaded from March to November 2011 they have seen a 36% redemption rate. That’s 10,800 units of Allegra sold coming from the Facebook page.

Private Community Provides Product Insights
Sharon Landa, Director of Diabetes Care, Franchise Strategic Marketing for LifeScan, and Julie Schlack from Communispace discussed private online communities. These communities are not indexed by search engines and are invitation-only. The LifeScan private patient online community is administered by Communispace and is used only for new product development, not marketing. The participants are recruited from specific target audiences, and the community includes 400 people who take part for a year. Every few months participants are assessed, and those who are not participating are phased out and replaced by new ones. Both moderators and patients can start discussions and activities. Members know the moderators and develop relationships with the moderators and each other. In keeping with industry norms, participants are reimbursed $10 per month via gift card for 1 post per week. However, the intrinsic benefits of being part of the community mean that participation is often more than that.

Communispace monitors the community and forwards any off-label conversations and AEs to the appropriate LifeScan rep. Landa noted that LifeScan is very pleased with the community and has launched one for healthcare professionals. She said they are finding the feedback valuable for new products and discovery. Landa can use the community to experiment and get quick feedback on a variety of issues. Communispace offers threaded discussions, surveys, image galleries, live chats and brainstorms. There are lots of different ways to get feedback from the community and encourage participation.

LillyPad: Adding Value in a Crowded Space
Eli Lilly’s Amy O’Connor, Director, Digital Government Affairs, and Greg Kueterman, Director from Corporate Communications, Government Affairs & Access, talked about the launch of the LillyPad blog in September 2010. When the company was considering entering social media, they looked at the pharma landscape and saw an opportunity that worked with what they wanted to accomplish. They chose to start a blog focused on public policy, corporate responsibility, advocacy and life at Lilly. Posts do not talk about products, people or in-depth disease states. The posts are bylined, and these few, select writers have ownership of the success and failure. With these parameters, they do not need to get their content preapproved. This makes it possible for them to respond quickly to relevant topics–sometimes posting up to 10 times a week. This timely engagement with hot topics has been an important factor in the success of the blog.

O’Connor explained that their target audience is policy makers, advocacy organizations and the media. The team decided to launch the blog at a previously scheduled event: the National Journal Policy Summit. The target audience would be attending the event and they were able to make a splash. The team also placed banner ads on Ezra Klein’s WonkBlog on the Washington Post website. This was another way to introduce potential stakeholders to the blog. The team also sent 1,000 emails to key contacts.

From launch through December 1, the Lillypad blog has had 53,000 total visits and 38,000 unique visitors. O’Connor and Kueterman have the right attitude: they are focusing on the quality of the audience rather than the quantity. Lilly senior management is extremely pleased with the results because the target audiences are reading the blog. Lilly has gained media and other opportunities as a result of posts.

The Power of ePatients
I was fortunate to have Jordana Holovach, founder of Jacob’s Cure, copresent “The Power of ePatients and How Pharmaceutical Companies Can Benefit from Online Conversations.” View the video below to learn about the amazing research they are funding.

I’ve ended up focusing on the presentations from the first day of the conference; luckily, Matthew Snodgrass wrote about the second day.

(Image courtesy of  Johan Larsson 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

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