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Pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies are shaking off their hesitance to employ social media tactics by forgoing potential marketing applications in favor of connecting with patients and providers in conversations that engage and inform. Most experts would likely agree that until recently, pharma and biotech companies have taken a toe-dip approach to social media as a communications strategy. “Given the risk of violating FDA regulations, our industry has been understandably slow to embrace social media,” says Jamie Manning, manager, digital communications team, commercial IT, for Biogen Idec. According to a Best Practices study, Best Practices for Using Social Media To Drive Business Outcomes, marketing organizations in highly regulated industries such as pharmaceuticals, healthcare, and utilities are still challenged to incorporate social media into their marketing plans effectively and safely. Companies told Best Practices that even though a majority of their social media employees undergo formal training on marketing, communications, and customer service, only a third require these employees to have training specifically focused on social media, and only about half have written policies in place to govern the use of social media at the workplace. However, there are clear signs that life-sciences companies are getting a much better feel for social media and its place in marketing and communications strategies. Casey Ferrell, research analyst at Cutting Edge Information and lead author of the recent report, Pharmaceutical Digital Marketing and Social Media: Managing Growth, Mitigating Risk and Mastering Strategy, says the company’s research depicts an industry much further along the path toward social media adoption, both in terms of activity and the allocation of resources. “When more than 82% of surveyed companies claim to be involved in one type of social media activity or another, I see an industry that is clearly not waiting on the FDA,” Mr. Ferrell says. Pamela Buford, director, U.S. urology franchise and leader U.S. consumer marketing center of excellence, for Astellas Pharma US, notes that common social media tools such as Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter can be problematic for branded communications due to their lack of on-demand, interactive information exchange and monitoring required for FDA reporting. But employing these solutions for unbranded and corporate communications programs may offer more flexibility and impactful engagement with customers. “Success in social initiatives is more about connections, community, and relevant on-demand exchange, and less about push advertising,” she says. “Advertising is acceptable as long as its relevant and timely, but entering these environments creates an expectation of participation.” According to Mr. Ferrell, to proactively ensure regulatory compliance means that pharma companies must make sure their choice as to which social media tactics to employ is informed by a clear understanding of the desired result. “Rather than simply jumping in with a Twitter account and a Facebook page, brands need to identify very specifically what they want from these endeavors,” he explains. “That involves planning and strategizing among all the stakeholders, from marketing, to legal, to regulatory and vendors. A smart strategy will include contingency plans, SOPs, company policies, and review processes that make compliance an integral feature of the activity.” Peter Dannenfelser, director of digital marketing for the Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson, believes appropriate parameters for social media already exist in the longstanding FDA guidance on direct-to-consumer communications and promotion to healthcare providers. “We know how to engage when we discuss products, disease states, and our corporate identity; social media is no different,” Mr. Dannenfelser says. Pat Connelly, associate director, digital strategy and communications, at Millennium: The Takeda Oncology Company, agrees that what pharma can and cannot say about its brands doesn’t change when the delivery vehicle is digital. “We know how to engage people; we need to internally establish easy-to-understand adverse event and product complaint reporting so the conversation can happen,” Mr. Connelly says. “I think as an industry, we haven’t let people know there are a lot of real, dedicated, passionate people behind the efforts to come up with new medicines. One of the things social media allows us to do is let people see behind the curtain. What we want to do is to let people get to know us a little bit better.” “Carefully and consciously implemented, social platforms can play a vital role in customer service and adverse event reporting, and might even reduce internal customer service issues or provide learnings for optimizing this process,” says Tyler Steele, product manager for Galderma Laboratories. “More importantly, social platforms allow people to become familiar and then engage with the very products we offer, which can provide miles of ‘street cred’ with regard to brand reputation management.” And, as Ceci Zak, VP, commercial capabilities for Sanofi, observes, patients and providers are going to be looking for information and engagement via social media regardless of biopharma’s involvement. “The place where we can bring social media into play is as it relates to improving patient outcomes, being focused on disease and not necessarily on the brands,” Ms. Zak says. “Enabling discussions with thought leaders, where the conversation is on the disease and not around promotion, allows greater flexibility in helping patients and physicians get to their end goal: better and faster outcomes. We just need to make sure that the discussion is focused on what those engaging want to talk about and that we strictly adhere to our adverse event policy.” “One of the greatest benefits of social media — listening — is virtually risk-free,” Mr. Manning says. “Understanding the attitudes, needs, and behavior of our patients and healthcare professionals helps us be more relevant and valuable to them.” Todd Siesky, public relations manager for Roche Diabetes Care, says when participating in the social media space, a company brings its brand identity along, regardless of whether it is specifically mentioned in the discussion. “Just by being there, the pharmaceutical brand is there, so focus the conversation on how to help the other folks in the room better manage their condition,” Mr. Siesky advises. “If we want to be involved in the online conversation with patients, we have to bring value. We try to do this by talking about how they can better manage diabetes or giving them connections to other people in the online community.” Better Integration Ms. Buford believes that integrated marketing programs incorporating offline, online, and mobile social media channels are no longer novel, they are good business. “Integrated campaigns enable message consistency and increased reach, frequency, and cost efficiencies while engaging customers when, where, and by what channels they prefer,” she explains. “Integration also helps communications to better achieve strategic objectives and offer more relevant and timely information to customers.” Mr. Ferrell notes the question of integration “points to a fundamental dichotomy within pharma: those companies that view digital and mobile technologies primarily as vehicles to advance marketing objectives versus those that perceive them as strategically important for achieving high-level, cross-functional business goals.” He names Boehringer Ingelheim as an example of the latter, citing the company’s use of digital, mobile, and traditional distribution channels to present a unified brand identity to physicians and patients. “The result is that people who encounter the online version of the company will find a familiar experience when they access the company via their smartphone or see the company’s traditional printed material,” he concludes. According to Mr. Dannenfelser, a company should consider its current use of each of these tools to arrive at an optimal integration strategy. In today’s world, he says, customers who have a relationship with a brand, regardless of the industry, expect to be able to engage in person, online via laptop or desktop computer, and on the go via a mobile device. “Taking advantage of this mindset in the pharmaceutical industry is critical to success,” Mr. Dannenfelser says. “Brand engagement with healthcare professionals and patients must be considered from all of the ways a customer wants to gather information and, perhaps more importantly, it must recognize the expectations of customers as it relates to the channel they are employing.” Of the three channels, mobile is perhaps the most critical piece for pharma companies looking to implement a well-integrated marketing strategy. Cutting Edge Information data show that while over the last three years social media as a percentage of the overall marketing media mix has doubled, mobile has nearly tripled. “Mobile should not be an afterthought — it should be part of the integrated communications plan,” Ms. Buford cautions. Mr. Siesky agrees that companies would be wise to start from the mobile piece when working on an integrated marketing plan. “Everything’s headed toward mobile, which may be a challenge for some businesses, but I think it also provides an enormous opportunity for folks to be better-connected with their consumers,” he says. In her presentations on social media, Ms. Zak says she often discusses “SoLoMo” (social, local, mobile), a concept that’s been around for years, but is now starting to gain traction amid the explosive growth in smartphone adoption. “The social piece is already established as a way for people to gain information and enable them to make better decisions,” she explains. “Local in this context is defined as the ability for patients to gain more information at an area level and for our industry to gain patient behavioral information at this level, so we can develop more targeted (vs. national) solutions for improving patient health. And then there’s the mobile piece, which is making the Internet explosion of the 1990s look like child’s play.” One example Ms. Zak cites of this integration in action is Asthmapolis, a company that is testing sensor-embedded inhalers that reliably determine the time and location when the device is used and send that information to a remote server. The company’s goal is to use the information to better meet the needs of people with chronic respiratory disease by summarizing and revealing their patterns of use and trends over time. “There’s a tremendous amount of information that this one device is delivering to improve patient outcomes that brings social, local, and mobile together,” Ms. Zak says. Mr. Steele says effective integration should always keep the customers’ needs front and center, rather than using the latest mobile apps or social media tools because they’re trendy. “Each platform or medium is simply a different avenue for communicating with a customer, and should be targeted and optimized to do just that,” he says. “Companies shouldn’t build a mobile app because of the latest buzz, or run a print campaign because it gets millions of media impressions. Instead, marketers need to consider how their target audience will use each medium, then use it to provide the relevant information.” “As an industry, we haven’t let it be known there are a lot of real, dedicated, passionate people behind the efforts to come up with new medicines, and social media allows us to see behind the curtain.” Effect of Lack of FDA Guidance on Companies’ DTC Social Media Strategy “When more than 82% of surveyed companies claim to be involved in one type of social media activity or another, I see an industry that is clearly not waiting on the FDA.” Casey Ferrell Cutting Edge “We know how to engage when we discuss products, disease states, and our corporate identity; social media is no different.” Peter Dannenfelser Janssen “Effective integration should always keep the customers’ needs front and center, rather than incorporating the latest mobile apps or social media tools simply because they’re trendy.” Tyler Steele Galderma “The place where we can bring social media into play is as it relates to improving patient outcomes, being focused on disease and not necessarily on the brands.” Ceci Zak Sanofi “Understanding the attitudes, needs, and behavior of our patients and healthcare professionals helps us be more relevant and valuable to them.” Jamie Manning Biogen Idec Vladimir Rogiers Managing Director Belgium Across Health Leveraging Digital Intelligence Multiple channel marketing is not always multichannel marketing. Digital is often a new channel added to existing ones. If you start connecting the existing channels and leveraging the intelligence captured in each channel, you are doing a great job. The focus should not be on channels or systems but on the end-to-end interactions with customers. Personalized, consistent, cross-channel messaging will be crucial to these interactions. Changing customer behaviors and preferences should be reflected in the way multichannel marketing processes/systems are organized. Alex Gochtovtt Principal, Enterprise Analytics Practice Cognizant A Mobile Bridge With the proven ROI of offline and the rich customer engagement provided online, mobile can be positioned as a bridge. A QR code on a clinical publication can drive to a brand website. Or a physician consulting a drug reference database on a mobile phone can call a pharma company with a single click. Marketers, media publishers, and solutions providers can leverage the integration by focusing on behaviors like tablet usage on weekends and mobile usage at point-of-care. Erin Byrne Managing Partner, Chief Engagement Officer Grey Healthcare Group Optimizing the Use of Social Media Pharma companies can leverage social media by borrowing, building, or even buying their way into social networks. One option is to create a community around disease states and drive dialogues and links to corporate sites as a gateway to branded sites. Driving members to rally around a cause or charity can also be very successful. For professionals, we’ve had success building closed communities to help them share cases and validate perspectives. Advertising on social networks can be a valuable opportunity, especially when the advertising goes beyond promoting a brand and contributes to the needs and desires of community members. Integrating Strategies Companies can best take advantage of integration opportunities by redefining creative. Instead of starting with advertising, and then figuring out how to make it work in other channels, pharma companies need to challenge their agencies to create great stories that reach target audiences in an appropriate way across every communications medium. Transmedia storytelling can provide a consistent user experience across all channels to help move from share of voice to share of engagement, and ultimately drive user actions. Leigh Householder Digital Strategist and Managing Director iQ, the innovation lab, of GSW Worldwide Social Starts with Listening More than 65 pharma brands have engaged in social media. The secret of success: knowing that guidelines are guidelines — regardless of the medium. The opportunity for all brands starts with listening and tapping into the bigget focus group in the world. The next step is opening a customer service channel to help direct people to programs and services that can solve their challenges. Start with the Goal in Mind Every initiative should start with one simple question: what do you want it to accomplish? Each tactic identified should move the brand toward that goal. Each individual tactic should have measurement and metrics, but the ROI — the real return to the brand — comes from the interaction between them. Archana Jagannathan Associate Principal, London McKinsey & Company A Hub-and-Spoke Model As consumers increasingly turn to multiple sources for info, the lines between offline, online, and mobile communication are becoming blurred. Brands can take advantage of a hub-and-spoke model, providing key data about a treatment or therapeutic area across the different outlets where consumers look for information — social, mobile — while leveraging the channels to develop a 360-degree view of the customer. Close coordination of channel strategies is key to delivering this vision. John Whang, M.D. Engagement Manager, N.J. McKinsey & Company Toeing the Line Pharma can reduce its compliance risks when engaging social media in several ways: create closed communities, use scripted language when interacting with the community, and control two-way communications (e.g., moderate or restrict blogging). In the absence of external guidance, and with the bright lights being shined on pharma marketing practices, these approaches are some of the paths forward in social media participation. Terry Nugent VP, Sales MMS Using Email as the Nexus Integrated marketing should be employed. Email is the nexus where online, offline, and mobile intersect. Email can drive traffic to online applications, such as websites and social profiles. It’s accessible on mobile devices and can be used to promote apps. It can create engagement with offline marketing such as personal promotion and exhibits. Direct mail should also be included in the mix, as there is less competition in the offline mailbox. Christopher Cullmann VP, Digital Strategist Ogilvy CommonHealth Interactive Marketing, part of Ogilvy CommonHealth Worldwide Share and Share Alike Social media does not have to necessarily manifest itself as a Facebook page or Twitter account. There are many ways to approach social media and have a presence in the space that is both compliant and lends value for customers. One way is making approved materials easily shared. ShareThis is a company that supports social media sharing by way of a special set of data that make support of safety and fair balance effective without influencing search engine optimization. More aggressive tactics include a controlled YouTube brand page, consumer offerings via Facebook brand pages, and leveraging contextual advertising on social networks that support targeted ads. A Social Gaming Advantage Competition is natural, and being able to test skills against a friend or colleague can be a very powerful motivator. Where an online game may not be compelling past the first few levels by itself, that same game played as a challenge against a peer is now a motivating experience that involves ego and may keep someone coming back again and again. It’s this gamification that make services such as foursquare and Foodspotting compelling for participants. To a lesser degree, social media barometer Klout is using this same principle to keep users engaged. Every day, social media users promote co-workers, check their status, and try to increase their Klout Score to affirm they are relevant. Chris DeAngelis VP, Strategic Initiatives SSI A Productive Dialogue Social media is a continuous conversation with customers. It’s natural to associate marketing with campaigns that are time bound, but social media is an ongoing dialogue and marketers need to make a long-term investment in sustaining the conversation. The good news is that if they listen they can gain valuable insights from people telling their stories. That said, it is important to remember that social media is just one route for gathering information. SSI research shows that people have strong concerns about companies eavesdropping on social media conversations — and they still prefer to share information through surveys. It is also important to remember that just a fraction of those on social media — slightly less than a quarter — have actually posted a comment or joined in a discussion. Game On Games are used to attract and hold interest and to increase understanding. Mobile is going to grow rapidly. It satisfies the needs for information, entertainment, competition, and reward. Mobile games targeted to younger audiences are a natural fit. Games also can be targeted to seniors, who want to connect with others and have interactions that can support their well-being. It is important to remember that when gamification is used in market research the desired outcomes are motivation and engagement — getting people to fill in a survey and pay attention. use your QR?CODE?READER or go to bit.ly/PV0112-SocialMedia Pamela Buford. Director, U.S. Urology Franchise & Leader U.S. Consumer Marketing Center of Excellence, Astellas Pharma US Inc., the U.S. affiliate of Tokyo-based pharmaceutical company Astellas Pharma Inc. For more information, visit astellas.us. Pat Connelly. Associate Director, Digital Strategy and Communications, Millennium: The Takeda Oncology Company, which delivers biopharmaceutical medicines to patients with cancer worldwide. For more information, visit millennium.com. Peter Dannenfelser. Director, Digital Marketing, Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson, a group of companies that includes Janssen Pharmaceuticals Inc., Janssen Biotech, and Janssen Therapeutics. For more information, visit jnj.com. Casey Ferrell. Research Analyst, Cutting Edge Information, a research, consulting, and publishing firm focused on best-practice benchmarking for the pharmaceutical, biotech, medical device, and healthcare industries. For more information, visit cuttingedgeinfo.com. Jamie Manning. Manager, Digital Communications Team, Commercial IT, Biogen Idec, a biotech company that discovers and develops therapies for serious diseases, with a focus on neurology, immunology, and hemophilia. For more information, visit biogenidec.com. Todd Siesky. Public Relations Manager, Roche Diabetes Care, a division of Roche that provides tools for diabetes monitoring and insulin pump therapy to patients with diabetes and their healthcare providers. For more information, visit roche.com. Tyler Steele. Product Manager, Galderma Laboratories LP, a specialty company providing therapeutic, corrective, and aesthetic solutions for dermatology. For more information, visit galderma.com. Ceci Zak. VP, Commercial Capabilities, Sanofi, a global and diversified healthcare company that discovers, develops, and distributes therapeutic solutions focused on patients’ needs. For more information, visit sanofi.com. Let the Games Begin? In an industry like pharma, where people are often dealing, quite literally, with life-and-death struggles, social gaming can be a sensitive topic. While many thought leaders see the value in including a tool like social gaming in a pharma or biotech company’s new media mix, they also caution that the very mention of “gamification” can be seen as insensitive depending on the context. “From a product standpoint, I don’t think we can look at social gaming without really looking at social identity; people are very mindful of their identity online,” says Pat Connelly, associate director, digital strategy and communications, Millennium: The Takeda Oncology Company. “I think social gaming also depends in large part on the disease. If the target audience might have a younger patient subset like diabetes or ADHD, for example, I think there’s more of a natural fit.” According to Pamela Buford, director, U.S. urology franchise and leader U.S. consumer marketing center of excellence, Astellas Pharma US, social gaming, like all integrated campaign components, should enable marketers to better reach and engage customers. “The same rules should apply to gaming environments as any other social or online environment in that your communication or branding must be relevant,” Ms. Buford says. “In my experience, gaming sites by definition have high interactivity and are driven by personal preference; however, although promotions in these spaces have the potential to provide high awareness, they are usually not highly engaging.” Casey Ferrell, research analyst, Cutting Edge Information, says while he’s “not yet sold on gamification,” he sees great potential for its inclusion in the social media mix, particularly in disease states where it can help improve patient outcomes. “I would encourage companies — and especially brands — to take a close look at their core consumer demographics and decide if gamification actually aligns with those,” he advises. “Can gamification improve patient education, disease awareness, brand recognition and loyalty, or even adherence? I’d argue that it has the potential to impact all of the above. But if the drug’s consumers are primarily for the elderly, for example, gamification may not achieve the same results that it would with other age cohorts.” In one example of non-social gamification, Jamie Manning, manager, digital communications team, commercial IT, Biogen Idec, says on its MSActiveSource.com website, Biogen Idec offers a series of memory-builder games designed to help multiple sclerosis patients challenge themselves cognitively. “Compliance issues preclude us from incorporating social features into the games area,” he adds. “But a future state could see us creating a rich community for our patients by allowing them to play games together, share scores, and game strategies among each other, or introduce competition by providing a top scores area.” Although not a game per se, Mr. Connelly cites Millennium’s 1000 Cranes of Hope website, through which visitors are invited to make a wish related to the progress the company is making as a community against cancer, as an example of using social interaction to forge a powerful connection between the corporation and investigators, patients, caregivers, and even fellow pharma people. “It’s actually quite powerful, because we have wishes from patients in the lobby that we scanned in that are then bronzed and added to a monument that represents our commitment to patients,” he says. “When we walk past this monument, we see a tangible reminder of why we come to work each day.” Ways Organizations are Currently Using Social Media Applications Experts Pamela Buford. Director, U.S. Urology Franchise & Leader U.S. Consumer Marketing Center of Excellence, Astellas Pharma US Inc., the U.S. affiliate of Tokyo-based pharmaceutical company Astellas Pharma Inc. For more information, visit astellas.us. Pat Connelly. Associate Director, Digital Strategy and Communications, Millennium: The Takeda Oncology Company, which delivers biopharmaceutical medicines to patients with cancer worldwide. For more information, visit millennium.com. Casey Ferrell. Research Analyst, Cutting Edge Information, a research, consulting, and publishing firm focused on best-practice benchmarking for the pharmaceutical, biotech, medical device, and healthcare industries. For more information, visit cuttingedgeinfo.com. Jamie Manning. Manager, Digital Communications Team, Commercial IT, Biogen Idec, a biotech company that discovers and develops therapies for serious diseases, with a focus on neurology, immunology, and hemophilia. For more information, visit biogenidec.com. Best Practices in Social Media Tactics Our thought leaders offer some recommendations on social media strategy and integration: Pamela Buford is Director of U.S. Urology Franchise & Leader U.S. Consumer Marketing Center of Excellence, at Astellas Pharma US. For more information, visit astellas.us. “I advise resisting the temptation to be drawn by the latest/hottest devices and technology. Don’t fall into the trap of chasing technology that doesn’t address or improve the ability to achieve strategic objectives. Technology and an integrated campaign should enable marketers to be more efficient, or to effectively achieve goals.” Pat Connelly is Associate Director, Digital Strategy and Communications, at Millennium: The Takeda Oncology Company. For more information, visit millennium.com. “We have to define what the best channels are and understand where and how people want to participate. Not every channel is appropriate. I think at the very inception of a social media strategy, the most difficult thing to do is to look past execution and realize what the syndication can be, whether via mobile or online, and where the message can go. A lot of it is creating an editorial or contingency plan for everything. We need to decide how the plan fits and what audiences can really benefit from social media.” Peter Dannenfelser is Director of Digital Marketing at Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies, J&J. For more information, visit jnj.com. “The very first consideration for engagement in social media must be: is this an appropriate platform for the message to be delivered? Appropriateness can be determined based on the social media outlet and its inherent limitations, as well as on the tenor of the community and the conversation. When we address these questions, more times than not, patient and professional education tends to be an easier entree to social media than traditional marketing.” Casey Ferrell is Research Analyst at Cutting Edge Information. For more information, visit cuttingedgeinfo.com. “Pharma companies excelling in social media tend to have internal structures along with dedicated personnel and budgets both at the corporate and brand levels, which is a reflection of those companies’ belief that investment in social media starts with an investment of resources and an understanding that social media is not just another channel in the marketing mix, but a transformative communication paradigm with the potential to advance business goals across the spectrum of company functions.” Jamie Manning is Manager, Digital Communications Team, Commercial IT, at Biogen Idec. For more information, visit biogenidec.com. “Like all digital communications, social media works best from the ground up. The key is creating and sustaining a genuine, open dialogue with patients based on things that matter to them, like practical ways to manage a disease state. For example, a daily tweet that offers tips for improving nutrition builds a greater amount of trust and brand loyalty than a large-scale branding campaign.” Todd Siesky is Public Relations Manager, at Roche Diabetes Care. For more information, visit roche.com. “The best way to approach integration is to keep things consistent. Customers shouldn’t open the Sunday newspaper, open their Web brower, and then go to their tablet and see three different messages. Messaging should all be consistent throughout, while making allowances for additional materials, such as interactive polls or videos, enabled by each of those mediums.” Tyler Steele is Product Manager at Galderma Laboratories LP. For more information, visit galderma.com. “A lack of internal knowledge about social platforms shouldn’t dissuade marketers. Assess if the legal, medical, and regulatory teams would be open to education on how social platforms work. Having this group of people on your side and on the same page with how the brand should be positioned is vital. It’s also important to start small and celebrate little victories, because everyone is learning at the same time.” Ceci Zak is VP, Commercial Capabilities, at Sanofi. For more information, visit sanofi.com. “Whether consumers are finding communities like PatientsLikeMe, or a physician is engaging virtually with patients through blogs, or payers are finding ways to get their members to participate in wellness programs, we all need to figure out how to make social media work where improving patient outcomes is the end goal. And for biopharma companies, we need to find a way to move away from just being recognized as ‘the pill providing symptomatic relief’ to providing more solutions around health and wellness that address greater numbers of consumers.”