After Facebook, the Deluge

by Krissy Goelz (@krisgoelz)

Were not the first ones to tell you that Facebook is changing its commenting policy for pharma pages. Lots of our compatriots have done that in recent days. For a particularly great summary, check out Jonathan Richmans Dose of Digital: hes got the full story.

No, were not the first. But we ARE going to say something that nobody else has pointed out yet:

This is going to force pharma into the next stage of social media.

Facebooks changen is exactly what the industry needs. No company was going to go too far out on a limb on its own, and we all know that long-promised guidance from the FDA wasn’t going to materialize. We should have known that the only force that would make things happen would need to be external – not pharma and not regulatory – and it would need to be big.

And what external force is bigger in social media than Facebook?

So far weve been treated delicately – special – and Facebook was very, very smart to do so. To co-opt a great metaphor that John Mack used, they were the lifeguard letting the scared kid keep his swimmies. All the other kids had grown up and moved past that stage, but pharma still needed that extra security, that extra feeling of safety, in order to sidle in and get the feel of things.

But now Facebook knows that were hooked, and because of that, it can push us to change. Its a hot summer and we arent about to stop splashing around in the pool with all the other kids. Its time to grow up. We cant be the only ones with swimmies anymore.

So with apologies to Madame de Pompadour for misquoting her: after this, the deluge.

Facebook is telling us weve got to play by everybody elses rules. Were either going to have to hold our breath and jump in, or go play by ourselves and get left out.  And I dont think pharma can stand being left out.

It will be too big of a leap for a few, just as some kids never did get up the nerve to climb up on the diving board. But most of us will figure it out.

Just like most kids, we probably wouldnt have given up our swimmies of our own accord. Its pretty rare to voluntarily give up your feeling of security. Sometimes the person in charge of the place has to tell you that youve got to grow up if you want to stay.

So well played, Facebook. Starting August 15, the Facebook experience for pharma is going to be exactly the same as for for every other brand. No more swimmies.

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