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A final thought about drug sponsored online communities

Quite a debate going on in social media about my post on online communities.  That’s great as online debate gets people thinking.  While I have heard more reasons for “we can’t” than why “we should” there are some aspects of developing an online community that I would like to clarify.

First, online communities are not right for ever condition and for ever target audience.  I would make sure that my audience is interested in hearing from other patients and that they would find value in what they had to say.  Second, remember that the objective of the online community maybe a place where people can share their experiences.  Pharma’s role is twofold: moderate the board to ensure it stays compliant with FDA guidelines and use the brand to bring people together; act as a facilitator.

A March to June survey of US adults conducted by found that 84% of respondents felt that brands needed to prove themselves trustworthy before they would interact with them or other information sources. Moreover, the study found that there were 10 primary trust “elements,” or cues, that brands must establish in order to engender trust, including accuracy, expertise and transparency.  One of best ways to build back that trust is by letting people read and share experiences about living with a health condition.  You could even say the purpose of this community is to share with other your experiences of living with…

A great example would be people with IBS.  When you hear people in research talk about living with IBS you understand that, for them, it’s a serious issue. However in the research people were actually coaching others on how to live with the health condition along with do’s and don’ts.  Wouldn’t it be beneficial to have that information shared on a branded website for an IBS drug ?

I know there are a lot of online communities out there already but what I have found in recent research is that there are so many that consumers often don’t know which ones are credible and offer the best information. This in turn often leads to frustration as they spend more time online than they would like.

They are coming to your brandes site to get information on your product and health condition so why not also provide them with a chance to hear what others have to say.  Think about why not why not….


One thought on “A final thought about drug sponsored online communities

  1. Thank you for this Rich from today and yesterday. I could not agree more, and my belief is that in 10 years this will be the regular practice for appropriate brands/products. The only issue is that starting online communities from scratch is the largest problem and people are skeptical of experiences even if its is a community in a, and the med legal limitations do impact social considerably. For this reason there will be winners and more often than not, plenty of losers and at a certain point the amount of possible communities will be reduced because there will be much better places to get your information. So, my advice (completely biased of course) is:

    1) start soon, the sooner you plant your tree the sooner it will produce fruit. There are number of early adopters to compare who else is involved.

    2) Partner with companies that are in the business of Rx online communities that already have or have techniques to develop these communities through spends such as our model, or that of any of our direct our competitors. If there is not a suitable community then these companies know how to build them using spends in methods that are more sophisticated and less expensive than what a community might encompass, or their own social software in their experience. We work with marketing a number of other online communities (such as Novo Nordisk’s Cornerstones 4 Care project) and while it is impressive, my belief is our company could execute an equally as impressive project, which we have also done with another of other companies with excellent solutions.


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