Social networking and the pharmaceutical business have a complex relationship that has pulled in a considerable lot of investment of late. From one viewpoint there are pharma’s well-known administrative shackles and on the other, the undisputed yet heretofore unexplored favorable circumstances that online networking can convey to the business.
A very important aspect of the pharma-social media relationship is research and development (R&D). Social media is fast becoming an integral part of clinical research and playing a critical role in patient recruitment and retention, as well as reducing time-to-market. Social media is also playing an important role in influencing physician communities via interactions with key opinion leaders. This will continue to be a core area of focus for pharma as they develop a finer understanding of how these direct interactions can help in raising the productivity of clinical research.
Pharma correspondence has dependably been constrained by stringent regulations. Accordingly, the business’ moderate selection of social networking opposite others like monetary administrations, telecom and cutting edge, ought to shock no one.
Pharma companies have focused on using social media for creating brand/product awareness, managing communities and reaching out to stakeholders like patients and physicians. Companies need to keep tabs on emerging trends as well as the competitive landscape, and then identify the internal capabilities and responses needed to address these. In order to do this, they need a well-defined, management-approved social media strategy that allows for continuous feedback and iteration.
Social media analytics allow marketers to get a quick glimpse into consumers and make adjustments to their traditional market research strategy. In addition, there have been efforts in creating internal social media channels across regions and functions. Methods like crowd sourcing have found relevance in this space. Examples like Roche disclosing internal social media principles speaks volumes about the mind-set change that is on its way in the industry.
In trying to manage the risks for a pharmaceutical company associated with a social media channel, these are the main points to bear in mind:
- Have in place a good social media policy, on which all employees receive regular training (although see below as to why this still may not be enough)
- Think very carefully about whether to allow user generated content on any site or social media channel for which you are, and will be deemed by the relevant regulatory to be, responsible
- Take account of all the guidance available, such as the ABPI’s guidance notes on the management of adverse events and product complaints from digital media
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