Fallout? Pharma & The Facebook Wall

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by Briana Campbell (@MsMatchGirl)

About a week and a half ago all the talk was about Facebook and its policy changes, disallowing pharmaceutical companies to turn off comments on their walls. Jonathan Richman ran a deathwatch over on Dose of Digital. The Washington Post had a story. We wrote about it, too. Seems like everyone did. And the conversation just keeps going.

We thought wed take a moment to look back over the week and see what has changed and what has stayed the same.

Pharmaguy John Mack, over on Pharma Marketing Forum, just yesterday, shared a piece highlighting how Boehringer has revamped their page to make it more engaging and informative. And Jonathan Richman shared avideo of a new feature on Facebook, where a “more information section can be added that will persist on the bottom of the screen.

The JNJBTW blog (which for some reason pops up as malware, for me, on Chrome) from Johnson & Johnson had a nice take on their view of the Facebook changes, their companys policies and their hopes for exploring social media platforms further as they continue to evolve. From the blog: “We have at least 60 Facebook pages associated with our businesses and brands, and the vast majority of our pages were not impacted by the Facebook policy change because they already had commenting enabled. They go on to write: “That being said, Facebooks new policy has impacted a few group pages across our businesses, primarily a few unbranded pharmaceutical pages about certain disease states noted in the media. In these cases, decisions to close communities were difficult, but necessary, and they were communicated to those pages followers. The new policy altered functionality in ways that changed the ability to sponsor some pages due to regulatory, legal and other considerations.

Whether you agree or disagree with J&Js decision to take down some of their Facebook pages, Id like to give them credit for being transparent about why they felt the need to do so and for conveying that directly to the members of the pages.

Everyone has an opinion on the best way to use social media for brands and communities. Pharma is no different. And, while we wait (and wait and wait) for guidance from the FDA, pharma companies are navigating some difficult terrain. It seems obvious that they’re going to make a few (several?) mistakes along the way.

As Amy Tenderich said in a recent interview with NPR:

“The pharmaceutical companies could benefit, too, she says, by learning what problems patients are having with drugs, and how to make them better.

“They could get so much fantastic, free, very high-value feedback.”

We agree. Wouldnt it be interesting for pharma to utilize Facebook like other brands have always been required to, and for them to realize the quality of interaction they could get from that?

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2 Responses to Fallout? Pharma & The Facebook Wall

  1. Jason Boies says:

    Hi Briana,

    There is any manner of ways to utilize social media channels to either market your product or engage with your community. Luckily, that means there are all sorts of ways to ADAPT to social media landscape if it changes.
    You’ve highlighted here how some Pharma companies are rolling with the punches and maintaining their social media presence with no real issues.

    The new FB policy will likely mean increased interaction and engagement with Pharma’s customer base/fans. That’s a good thing.

    I keep repeating myself with regards to the new Facebook commenting policy; “The sky really isn’t falling.”

    Keep up the good work here at P&P.

    Cheers

    Jason Boies
    Radian6 Community Team

  2. Thank you for your kind words, Jason.

    Your use of “the sky is falling” is timely – as I wrote about that on Zemoga’s blog last week. Don’t be scared, it’s just technology!

    I think right now we are all watching to see where the industry goes. It’s still new and, in this industry specifically, new is terrifying.

    Thanks, again, for reading and commenting!