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It’s Time For An Official Social Media Policy

Posted by | 11:49am on Thursday, May 19, 2016 | No Comments
Time for a Social Media Policy

Social media has been nothing short of a challenge in the pharmaceutical space from both a presence and advertising standpoint.  Manufacturers know that it makes sense but it has been difficult to be active when the advertising guidelines put out by the FDA are confusing, unclear, and sometimes just plain inaccurate.  Making matters worse and the guidelines even more suspect was the fact that the FDA was one of the few government agencies that didn’t even have its own social media policy.

All that changed in the middle of November (of 2015) when the FDA released its own policy on using social media.  This policy focused only on using social media and not advertising.  But it’s well thought out and a great benchmark when crafting your own policy.  That being said, it’s about time you think about developing your own social media policy.

Here are 5 points to think about when determining your own policy:

  • How do you plan to use social media?  To build community and encourage engagement, for marketing purposes, customer service or all of the above?
  • What social media channels do you plan to have a presence on?  Where are your patients or people you are targeting spending time?  Are they active on Facebook, twitter, Instagram, etc.?
  • What are all your consumer, patient, member touchpoints and who in your company currently interacts with these people in some way?
  • Who can post on behalf of the company on its respective social media properties?  How will engagement and questions be managed?  Related to this is that it’s imperative to define a social media content strategy from the onset.
  • Will you encourage employees to participate in social media or “try” to stymie personal use (no easy task)?  Consider providing guidelines for those who decide to participate such as a disclaimer indicating that the views are personal, conduct oneself in a mature/professional manner at all times, not disclosing information only privately available, etc.

While you’re crafting a social media policy, I’d suggest thinking about your entire social media presence too.  Given the way social media channels work, you will most likely need to advertise in order to be able to reach your target.  Even though the latest FDA Social Guidance is very general at best and includes some inaccurate suggestions at worst, it still provides parameters that should be adhered to when advertising via social media in the pharmaceutical space in order to remain compliant.  To be honest, the first two bullets would be the same as above with respect to advertising via social media:

  • How do you plan to use social media?  To build community and encourage engagement, for marketing purposes, customer service or all of the above?
  • What social media channels do you plan to have a presence on?  Where are your patients or people you are targeting spending time?  Facebook, twitter, Instagram, etc.?
  • Will your advertising be branded, unbranded, or both?  With limited characters available, defining this is vital when developing ads.
  • We strongly recommend having a separate budget for boosting Facebook posts from the rest of the more “traditional” online advertising that is ad based.

A well thought out social media policy, advertising plan, and content strategy can be the difference between a successful program (define success any way you want) and one that sputters and doesn’t result in the KPI’s you are looking for.  Leveraging the power of social media & digital advertising for community building, customer service, as part of a CRM program, and/or for more general advertising can be incredibly powerful and efficient if executed as part of a well thought out plan.

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