In this little microcosm of pharmaceutical marketing communications, we can get so focused on social media and the opportunities it could unfold that it can blind us to what really matters.
We are in this to help people be healthier.
Not to win awards, not to get a bigger budget approved next year, not to rack up stock options.
If this doesn’t ring true for you, you’re hurting yourself, and I don’t mean that in some spiritual sense. If you don’t believe that your work in health care is to care about health, you ultimately will fail to be as successful as the people who keep patients first. You won’t have the creativity, you won’t have the dedication, you won’t have the drive. Your cynicism will keep you mediocre.
What’s great is that social media forces you to be better at this, in two ways.
First: social media forces companies to acknowledge that their customers are real people. Patients have the ability to have a louder voice than ever before.
Second: social media forces companies to acknowledge that they are made up of real people. Gone are the days when impersonal, third-person corporate statements cut it. What really makes a difference is when your customers see you – or your scientists, or your customer service phone-answerers. When they see that it’s not an inanimate box but a collective of human beings, that matters.
What are some concrete examples of what these two acknowledgements mean?
You should not be afraid of having to deal with adverse event reports – you should be brainstorming ways to proactively seek and collect them.
You should not be afraid of your employees speaking out of turn about the company – you should be honing their skills, educating them, and creating a family of evangelists from the inside out.
Again, this is not altruistic or spiritual. It’s practical. What’s better for patients or for the corporate reputation or for the bottom line: reacting out of fear and paying the price later, or creating these systems now?
If you remember the individuals on both sides, your work is going to succeed. Don’t fight the ability of social media to keep this in your face. Embrace it and see how it’s going to make you better.