Pharma’s New Media Playbook

There is no playbook.

There are no desktop instructions.

There are, however, opportunities.

I’ll mention a few here, but I’d like to first list Pharma’s top social media networks:

  • Trust
  • Experience
  • Trust
  • Trust
  • Experience
  • Patients
  • Patients
  • Patients
  • Patients
  • Knowledge
  • Trust
  • Trust
  • Nurses
  • Physicians
  • Pharmacists
  • Trust
  • Patients
  • Trust

“Why is our trust level so low?” I hear this often from Public Relations professionals. Well, the low public trust level in Pharma is a PR disaster. It’s up there with the French and German invasions of Russia.

Trust is a bankable medium – without it, Twitter and Facebook and Google Plus and Blogs don’t matter.

But Pharma plowed through the trust account for decades – it traded trust for blockbuster earnings.

But the bank’s funds are low. There’s not much interest left to pay out.

And now the industry is seeking solutions in social media and mobile and other emerging technologies.

These are not tools of trust – they are simply tools.

Here’s my advice to the Pharma industry:

  • Forget about Facebook. There’s no rule that says everybody has to be on Facebook.
  • Don’t sweat Twitter. Nobody reads your tweets. Not even mine.
  • Banish the word ‘viral’ from the lingo. It’s like the Uncertainty Principle: the harder you try to make it viral, the less viral it will be.
  • Stop being murky and vague about paying patients for advocacy. It’s cheap, stupid and dangerous for everybody involved.
  • Stop trying to do “Social Responsibility Programs”. Brands and machines aren’t social. Period. Social responsibility is literally in human hands.
  • Develop teams of human knowledge leaders – let them do the social media stuff. That is, have employees be the social media presences – just as the salesforce  met face-to-face with physicians, so too should employees be the direct faces online.

And now, for some free tips:

  • Stop firing your sales force
  • Retrain your sales force for today’s new technological conditions
  • The sales force is more social than social media experts – they just need to unlearn the pick-up lines. Know what I’m sayin’?
  • Exploit mobile and social media to build networks
  • Use these network connections for backchannel sourcing and leads and value provision to physicians and nurses and pharmacists

As I said, there is no playbook.

But if you want to play, you need to understand the game.

Phil Baumann

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