Pixels & Pills’ Ultimate Guide to Facebook


By Sven Larsen (@zemoga)

How did this whole Facebook thing get started?

All it took was a college dropout and a dream. It was February 2004 when 19-year-old Mark Zuckerberg and his fellow Harvard roommates launched their closed social network, exclusive only to students of their alma mater. The idea was hardly new or novel; he borrowed elements from his from his former prep schools online student database and combined it with his Facemash site, which was basically a Hot or Not ranking of Harvard students. Eventually, the service grew to include other Ivy League universities, then state universities, then high schools¢‚Ǩ¬¶and the rest is history. Today, there are 400 million active users, half of which log in every day.

I have a profile. What do I do now?

Facebook allows users to create multi-faceted online profiles that include photos, videos, notes, links, and other interactive elements. The real value of Facebook lies in its level of interactivity users can comment on virtually anything in a number of different ways. The Facebook wall, which is a crucial component of a users profile, best illustrates this point. A user can post simple text, links, video, and more to another users wall. Additionally, users can “tag other users in photos, videos, and even status updates, which links directly to the associated users profile.

For some truly mind-boggling stats on the reach, scope, breadth and sheer SIZE of Facebook, check out the great infographic above, courtesy of Digital Buzz.

¢‚Ǩ¬¶And this relates to Phama how?

The top health-related Facebook applications tend to be non-pharmaceutical, with functions that help you track calories or exercise. That said, though, there are some pharma-related apps – Gardasil, Nicorette and Acuvue stand out as examples, but you can see the whole list at Jonathan Richman’s Dose of Digital Pharma and Healthcare Social Media Wiki section on Facebook.

Silja Chouquet at whydotpharma has a great post on Facebook in pharma, which you should also check out. One thing I notice from reading her summary is that many of the leading pharma companies on Facebook are the ones who are proactive in experimenting throughout social media – Boehringer Ingelheim, Sanofi-Aventis, Novartis, Roche, Wyeth. So it seems to be part of the whole, rather than engendering non-standard types of pharma activity.

Another great pharma blogger, John Mack, of the Pharma Marketing Blog, has his own thoughts on pharma Facebooking here – specifically, he’s talking about Johnson & Johnson’s ADHD Moms page and its (in his opinion) lack of interactivity. (Note: check out the useful conversation in the comments on his post. Also note: McNeil has since launched a complimentary ADHD Allies page.)

What are some wise words from Pharma bloggers on how to use Facebook?

Here’s a top three for you:

  1. Be empowering and engaging, not embarrassing or intrusive. Respect your target Facebookers and their privacy.
  2. Integrate your Facebook outreach with a wider social media program.
  3. Realize that attaching quantitative measurements to an effective Facebook outreach may require more thought than you expect.
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