It’s no secret that more US adults are turning to the Internet for health information. Just think about the last time you or your loved one experienced health-related symptoms or was even diagnosed with a health-related condition. What did you do? You went online to Google and searched to find any and all health information about the symptom or condition.Â Users now even search the Internet on their smartphones as they’re watching brand ads on TV.
According to Manhattan Research, this health information trend is ever increasing. In 2010, over 183 million US adults went online seeking health-related information, with over 169 million US adults specifically researching prescription drug information.
ListenLogic Pharma Social Intelligence deeply discovers what patients and caregivers are discussing online about your specific therapeutic area, brand and competitors. Not only is this information valuable to understand current online patient and caregiver mindset, it provides valuable insight into the information that everyone is reading as they’re seeking out this health-related information.Â This patient-to-patient influence is massive, as patients and caregivers discuss efficacy, lifestyle impact, costs, dosing and other valuable topics that in turn can drive or negatively impact sales.
Source: Manhattan Research 2010
I hope you read Josh Bernoff’s blogs (from Forrester Research). Â Josh blogs aboutÂ social applications and technology empowerment inside and outside companies; and is an author of the books Empowered and Groundswell.
In his June 6, 2011 blog he summarizes his new report Competitive Strategy In The Age Of The Customer. Â The report first summarizes previous sources of business domination (manufacturing, distribution, and information mastery); but notes the we are now in a whole different era. Â Business is now in the Age of the Customer, and the power of the business comes from engaging with the empowered customer.
And his four priorities as you set your 2012 objectives, strategies and budgets:
- Invest in real-time insight (via social listening) to build products customers will embrace.
- Spend more on customer experience and customer service to build relationships.
- Fund sales channels that deliver intelligence about customers, not just push.
- Shift marketing funds from one-way ads into useful content and interactive marketing.
If you haven’t read the full report yet…do so now. Â You can’t afford to continue doing things the same old way.
2009…nothing. Â 2010…nothing. Â 2011…doesn’t look like it.
According to the FDA’s “Guidance Agenda: New & Revised Draft Guidances CDER is Planning to Publish During Calendar Year”, Â “Promotion of Prescription Drug Products Using Social Media Tools” was nowhere to be found. This was brought to pharma’s attention last week by John Mack, aka Pharmaguy. Â You can access John’s blog here; his blog also includes the link to the FDA’s Guidance Agenda.
But who needs to wait for the FDA. As per Marc Monseau & Shwen Gwee’s presentation at the May 24, 2011Â MM&M Virtual Summit, the 3 key areas where pharma should currently be involved in social include:
- Identifying deep insights about the people who use our products and services and the markets we operate in
- Encouraging direct dialog between our company, products and brands and different stakeholder groups
- Creating relationships
Social can, and should, be done. Our patients expect it. Â You just have to be transparent, smart, establish policies, and most of all, remain flexible. Social’s not going anywhere…deal with it.
Pew Research does a great job with the big picture of social and health information. Â And their most recent report doesn’t disappoint.
The social life of health information is robust. The online conversation about health is being driven forward by two forces: 1) the availability of social tools and 2) the motivation, especially among people living with chronic conditions, to connect with each other.
Some of my favorite numbers:
- 6% of internet users have posted comments, questions or information about health or medical issues on a website of some kind, such as a health site or news site that allows comments and discussion.
- 5% of internet users have posted health-related comments, questions, or information in an online discussion, a listserv, or other online group forum.
- 4% of internet users have posted such comments, questions or information on a blog.
And if you remember there are close to 200 million internet users in the US alone, those are some pretty big numbers.
Social is not a brand Facebook page or a corporate tweet. It’s not a one-way push. Social is engaging and interacting with individuals at a personal level; that’s a two-way street. Â To date pharma has barely scratched the surface of one-way social, let alone done much of anything in terms of true, two-way communication.
Yeah…Yeah…Yeah…regulatory concerns. Â But if pharma uses common sense, a sound strategy, and sticks to their corporate mission, participating in two-way social is a win-win for everyone.
A recent article by Vernessa Pollard entitled FDAâ€™s Social Media Enforcement: Emerging Rules of Engagement nicely lays out a handful of social guidelines pharma companies need to consider in the absence of specific guidance from FDA.
Should be required reading for all of Pharma.
Michael Brito recently summarized Â The State of Corporate Social Media Report, by Useful Social Media.
Many interesting points. Â But the one key item that I believe is most relevant from a pharmaceutical corporate perspective is:
43% of surveyed corporations keep their social team within marketing, while only 15% keep them within corporate communications (and another 35% aren’t within any specific department)
Social should be an enterprise-wide initiative, with applications in product development, market research, corporate communications, marketing and more. Â Think big.