Pharma cannot afford to ignore social media

KEY TAKEAWAY: As more patients go online social media IS a part of the conversation. What we don’t really know is how much social media weighs in the healthcare treatment choices patients make but at this point in time biopharma cannot continue to ignore this channel. 

OK, I get it.  A lot of pharma companies are not willing to take risks when it comes to establishing a social media presence but what happens when your brand is hijacked with an anti-brand/company facebook page ?  Can pharma companies afford to do nothing ?

The answer to that is “hell no”.

There are a lot of examples of social media fail (see one against Progressive Insurance here)  but a key lesson that has to be learned is that companies, any company/brand, cannot afford to do nothing when someone attacks them on social media.   By doing nothing consumers who read or hear about the “issue” are going to assume the worst and right now there isn’t ANY company or brand that can afford that.

Here are some key guidelines for responding when you are attacked via social media:

(1) Respond as a human being, not with corporate speak- People hate it when you respond as a heartless corporation so respond as a person.

(2) Respond in Internet time not on your process timeline.  The loner the negative post/page stays up the more people are going to read it and the more damage is going to be done.

(3) Understand that some people are going to complain about everything so have a process for quantifying threats against your brand/company to determine which ones you should respond to.

(4) Monitor social media to identify both threats, but more importantly to also listen to the pulse of your target audience.  You can learn a lot without having to spend months in research.

(5) Marketers need to understand that consumers, in general, are angry about a lot of things and putting a target on pharma companies is a great way to express some of that frustration. Understand this and think about ways to overcome this with empathy.

Pharma can either join in the conversation or ignore it and, if they choose to ignore it, they are going to pay a huge price.