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Key takeaways from the Social Media for Pharma Conference

On Thursday January 13th and Friday January 14th, I had the opportunity to attend the Social Media for Pharma Conference in Washington, D.C.

The objective of the conference was to “assess the importance of a distinct social media plan in preparation for FDA guidance in the pharmaceutical industry.” Executives from Sanofi-Aventis, Daiichi Sankyo, and Roche were among the speakers who shared their experiences, stories, and insights around social media.

Unlike industries that interact much more liberally with their audiences, many representatives from the pharma space are eager to engage in social media, but tend to move apprehensively, fearing the FDA’s debilitating censorship.

Still, all conference speakers and attendees seemed to agree that social media has surpassed the tipping point and can no longer be ignored, even by the traditionally conservative pharma industry. It was also unanimously decided that, in the rush to join the social media fray, it is more important to consider whether social media makes sense for your brand. For some brands, particularly those brands that don’t require emotional engagement with customers, it may not make sense to dive headlong into a social media. If your brand’s customers aren’t on Facebook, maybe it doesn’t make sense for your brand to be there either.

It is also important to note that, at this stage, social media doesn’t translate directly into ROI numbers. ROI, therefore, should not be the most important consideration when you’re looking to get management buy-in for a social media strategy.

Those pharma companies that have already entered the social media sphere in a smart and strategic way are no longer wary or apprehensive of using such tools. These progressive pharma companies have discovered that they are now able to engage with a community of users in ways that, until the advent of social media, have never before been possible.

To summarize, I learned that the most important consideration one has to make when it comes to a healthcare brand in social media, is deciding whether or not social media is even an appropriate platform for engaging the target customer. If you do decide that leveraging your brand via social media makes sense, then be certain your communications to target customers are closely aligned with your overall brand strategy, personality, and voice. Only then will you truly succeed in maintaining consistency for your healthcare brand across all of its touchpoints.