There’s a reason why there was such a great turnout for the Digital Pharma Unconference this week…Hats off to Shwen Gwee, Jason Youner of eXL pharma, and all the speakers and participants. (#DigPharm)
Before I talk about Guard Rails, here are three other good reads from fellow bloggers: Steve Woodruff’s I Was There (Digital Pharma 2009), Jonathan Richman’s Dose of Digital How Pharma Overcomplicates Social Media, and John Mack’s Pharma Marketing Blog: Pharma Social Media Crips vs. Legal/Regulatory Bloods. Also check out the tools that Fard Jonmar and Jonathan Richman used in their social media workshop. Or Digitas Health Social Media POV given by Sarah Larcker of Digitas.
So what do we mean by Guard Rails? The Wikipedia definition reads something like this:
“Guard rail, sometimes referred to as guide rail or railing, is a system designed to keep people or vehicles from (in most cases unintentionally) straying into dangerous or off-limits areas.”
So what does this have to do with Pharma and Social Media?
First, I’d be remiss not to credit Marc Monseau (JNJComm) who used this term in his presentation: “We’re doing It and So Can You. J&J’s Use of Twitter”. Creating ‘guard rails’ was part of his 7 suggestions to Pharma: 1) Create your business case, 2) Connect SM with other initiatives, 3) Establish your personality–interesting people are followed, 4) Set guides around what you will and won’t discuss…guard rails, 5) Gain legal/regulatory support for guard rails, 6) Create processes and tap into existing processes e.g. reporting AE’s, 7) Tweet, tweet, tweet. Advice from JNJ; More lessons from JNJ (pictures courtesy of Steve Woodruff). (You may also want to read a great interview with Marc Monseau: J&J On Twitter)
Guard rails can help provide a ‘safety net’ to Pharma social media tactics and those running them by helping to insure that clear and simple guidelines are set up around certain areas to help frame conversation and engagement, and to keep social media efforts on safe regulatory and legal ground…
Other key takeaways and discussion points from #DigPharm:
Is your brand a lovemark? Is it irresistible to your consumer? Does it provide the right empathy to patients? At the core of every lovemark is RESPECT. How does a Lovemarks compare to a trademark? Trademarks are ‘owned’ by marketers–Lovemarks are ‘owned’ by their consumers. (Watch the T-mobile video: “Life’s For Sharing”)
What are consumers saying about your prescription product? Check out iGuard.org to read patient reviews. Monitor other social media venues.
“A patient is an unwilling customer”. They are ‘buying’ your medication to help their condition, but they’re not happy about the disease/condition that they have, often for life…(courtesy of patient blogger and tweeter: @amblass) This was part of 5 suggestions for Pharma: 1) listen 2) be honest 3) think big- beyond marketing a product 4) a patient is an unwilling customer. 5) be there for me.
BTW, if you’re looking for a community to continue the Pharma Social Media conversation, join Shwen’s Social Pharmer.
Other recent Pharma conference blogs that may be of interest: