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Social Media for Pharma Conference: Key Takeaways

Posted by | 2:25pm on Monday, June 7, 2010

The speakers espoused the transparency they recommend for social media interactions by being very honest 

A few weeks ago I was fortunate enough to be invited to speak at the Social Media for Pharma seminar alongside Clarissa Trujillo, Manager, Communications at Lundbeck and “chief tweeter” for @lundbeckinc, and Mary Dunkle, VP for Communications at the National Organization for Rare Disorders (@rarediseases).  We talked about the use of Trust Agents by pharma in social media as illustrated by Lundbecks’s Raise Your Hand campaign for Rare Disease Day 2010.

The moderator, Bill Evans (@ohnoitsmrbill) from Fleishman Hillard, kept things lively and interactive breakout sessions helped to get the audience talking with each other. While all the speakers were excellent, for me, the highlights were the pharma case studies.  The speakers espoused the transparency they recommend for social media interactions by being very honest. Many shared their mistakes along with successes and provided practical tips on how to get started.

Pfizer: Social Sharing
Kate Bird (@KateBird) from Pfizer and Paul Dyer (@NewMediAroused) from WCG described the evolution of Pfizer’s social media presence.  Kate noted that the public expects large corporations to have an official presence on Facebook and other sites. Pfizer tapped into their existing call center and online processes for Adverse Event reporting.  After first establishing @Pfizer_News on Twitter, they decided that if people know you they like you better. The next step was to identify the person behind the tweets, Jen Kokell, via a photo and brief bio on the Twitter page background.

Kate recalled a technical glitch that enabled comments regarding the videos on Pfizer’s Facebook page. She laughingly called this a “career limiting move,” but then used Twitter to discuss what had happened and explain why they were disabling the video functionality. She also reached out to the one person who had commented. This responsiveness and authenticity worked to Pfizer’s benefit.

Kate made the astute comment that what Pfizer is currently doing is “social sharing” as opposed to engaging in a two-way online conversation.

Novo Nordisk: First Branded Tweet
Ambre Morley (@ambremorley) and Lois Kotkoskie (@loisdabt) from Novo Nordisk discussed the first pharma branded tweet. It evolved as part of their sponsorship with racecar driver, Charlie Kimball, who has diabetes, and uses Novo’s medication every day. They were surprised at the attention the branded tweet received as it was only one small part of a bigger relationship between Novo and Charlie around diabetes education.

The sponsorship was successfully implemented only through close collaboration of marketing (Ambre) and regulatory (Lois).

Lois provided Kimball with media training so he knew how to speak about the product appropriately as a spokesperson. Ambre noted that Charlie Kimball was an avid user of Facebook and Twitter before they began their sponsorship so it was already part of his daily life. Ambre provided Charlie with the mandatory language that would be part of a branded tweet (link to Prescribing Info, full drug name) and Charlie has the few characters left. Also, Novo sent a whole sheet to FDA regarding what the Twitter page would look like and included example tweets.

Acorda: Integrating SM into Overall Marketing Campaign
William Martino (@wmartino), Saatchi Wellness, and Maria Verastegui, Acorda Therapeutics, presented the “I Walk Because” campaign. The company wanted to expand the offline presence they have at MS Walks to the online social space. At the MS Walks they took photos and videos of participants which they loaded onto Flickr and YouTube. The videos have received more than 9,000 views via their website.  Acorda also had a contest to have a podcast made about a specific MS Walk team and the resulting video was very moving.

Kudos to Advanced Learning Institute for organizing a great conference. They are also utilizing social media by putting the presentations on a private wiki for attendees.

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 See-ming Lee via 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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