Now is an interesting time for pharma social media. The Food and Drug Administration is expected to release guidelines for promoting regulated drugs on platforms like Facebook and Twitter, but those rules have yet to materialize. That’s not to say pharma social media is the Wild West; the FDA is paying attention, and it’s reprimanded at least one pharmaceutical company for failing to disclose side effects while promoting a drug on Facebook.
This lack of guidance has immediate implications for PR practitioners in the pharmaceutical industry. These days, any pharma company that is not on the social media bandwagon is missing a bet. Any business worth its salt is expected to have a presence – an active presence - on all of the major social networking sites. On the other hand, the public relations practitioners in charge of these pharma social media efforts are left to walk the fine line between promoting the drug and risking FDA sanctions.
While pharma social media might be intimidating for those expected to establish and maintain that presence, it’s worth keeping in mind that these platforms are also great tools for allowing patients – any stakeholders, really – to independently connect with one another and talk about the effect pharmaceuticals are having on their lives. When these connections are fostered by a pharmaceutical company, and backed up with a quality product and good customer service, they create a strong potential for consumer loyalty and positive word of mouth. Ideally, the information derived from dialogue on social media sites can inform the pharmaceutical company’s marketing efforts, or even its research and development process.
That said, it is crucial for pharmaceutical companies to monitor activity on any and all social media platforms where they have a presence. While patients, doctors and caregivers can exchange productive and useful information with one another through pharma social media, one disgruntled person can easily dominate the conversation and draw negative attention to the company. Those responsible for pharma social media have to gauge the tone of the discussion on Facebook, blogs and the like, address users with concerns or complaints, and determine if and how to intervene if things get out of hand.
As with any corporation-generated social media, the terrain is tricky, and figuring out how to use this powerful tool effectively takes time. Classes, seminars and other resources exist to teach pharmaceutical company representatives how to manage social media presence. To be a contender in today’s marketplace, those efforts are crucial – and they’re likely to reap dividends in the long run.
Kevin Waddel is a free lance writer. To get more information about Public relations, Public Relations New York, New York city public relations, Pharma Social Media, PR, NYC Public Relations Firms, Financial Services Relations in New York visit http://www.makovsky.com