Content Marketing

Three Keys for Global Social Media Success

Unbranded Engagement in Canada and Europe

Knowing is not enough; we must apply.

Willing is not enough; we must do.

With the gradual introduction of social media into the multi-channel mix for unbranded disease education in Canada and Europe, pharmaceutical and medical device companies have the opportunity to publish social content and interact with their audiences on the social platforms they are more likely to trust, including Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

Psoriasis 360 was a good example of an integrated experience for the public to learn more about the disease. Launched in October 2010 by Janssen Pharmaceutica, their Facebook Page was a shining example of the pharmaceutical industry embracing the social channel to engage with the public from an educational point of view. Although the page was removed from Facebook in early 2012, it was one of the first examples in Europe of a pharma company taking the plunge into the social engagement world.

European law is clear: no advertising of prescription-only medicines to the public. The ABPI takes it one step further with their guidance notes on adverse events and product complaints in the digital world:

1. Objectives, project owner and governance processes should be identified in a project management and oversight plan
2. Permissions and disclaimers should be prominent in the terms and conditions
3. Awareness of personal information gathering on internal company database for potential sharing with regulators
4. Ongoing monitoring of content and conversations for daily reporting of adverse events
5. Transparency of engagement purpose and parties involved to users
6. Mechanism for collection and follow-up of adverse events and product complaints

While the ABPI guidance is specific to AE/PC reporting, the same operational infrastructure and approach would also be able to collect and respond to conversations of interest, whether they are positive, neutral or negative interactions.

With the recent addition of the Schizophrenia 24×7 educational experience to the list of social media examples (Canada Facebook Page , Italy Facebook Page ), the industry has additional examples demonstrating that social media is possible in markets beyond the United States.

For global marketers who do decide to move forward in the social space, there are three key steps that can help drive success:

1. Prepare for a long implementation cycle

Given the market and regulatory constraints, successfully implementing a social media campaign is going to take time. In some cases, we have seen projects take more than two years from conception to launch. Knowing this before you begin is critically important in terms of setting expectations – both for yourself and with stakeholders.

2. Identify your champions
Given the challenges that may develop over time, it is critical that the project have a lead champion with the energy, commitment, and organizational goodwill to pull a social media project through to completion. This champion should not only have a clear vision for project success, but also be skilled in sharing that vision across various levels of the organization, recruiting and building additional champions along the way.

3. Stay flexible
Given the pace and persistence needed for these types of projects, and in many cases a cultural change as well, it is important that the marketing team stay flexible. Market conditions may change, internal staffing and support may change, and the social platform itself might change! Regardless of what happens though, the team should be ready to respond and keep moving forward.

At the risk of disappointing those of you who were looking for a secret social media solution, a large portion of global social media success simply rests on sheer determination and persistence. As Goethe pointed out long before the rise of social media, the key to success is moving from knowing to doing!


This post is provided by Cadient for information purposes only and is not intended and should not be construed as regulatory or legal advice.


For further reading: ABPI Guidance on Digital Media

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Gene Yuchin Miller
While understanding how companies operate in the past is important, I strive to see beyond traditional approaches to help plan for what brands need to do to be successful in the future. By gathering insights, trends and innovative ideas, I enjoy thinking through complex problems to apply digital technologies which can change the way we engage with each other. My core belief is that digital success is found through the innovative juxtaposition of brand goals and customer challenges. I have enjoyed applying this approach since my first digital strategy and website in 1994.

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