New Changes for Facebook, New Perspective for Pharma

UPDATE 4/20/2011: As of the publish date of this post, none of the information contained here has been confirmed by any official sources, either direct from Facebook or any leading media authorities on Facebook development. I have consulted the individuals and organizations cited below for the origins of this information, and will notify the Pixels & Pills community as soon as I receive a response.

By Kimberly Reyes (@CommDuCoeur)

It’s not best practices, but it happens anyway: pharma brands locking out sharing functions on their Facebook pages. It’s a common response to two inevitable truths; one, that pharma must be involved in social media, and two, that FDA regulations make participation exceedingly difficult.

At the DTC National Convention last week, DJ Edgerton stood before Jamie Turner, “the 60-second marketer,” and announced that Facebook would be changing its policy so that all brands, regardless of regulatory conditions, would no longer be allowed to disable sharing functions on their pages.

There are, of course, exceptions. According to this WCG blog post, the new rules will affect all pharma-sponsored pages, with the following exceptions:

  • Pages that promote, talk about, or support prescription drugs or devices
  • Pages that focus on a disease state where there is only one prescribed treatment (even if the Page doesnt mention the treatment)
  • Disease-state/therapeutic area Pages that have the PI/ISI on the Page

Fans of corporate pages, general disease awareness pages, and unbranded campaign pages can now post comments to a brand’s wall and contribute photos, videos, and other content. The changes are anticipated to roll out around mid-June 2011, and has huge implications for pharma. That said, WCG was kind enough to assemble a simple strategy for pharma to deal with the changes:

The easiest option would be to design a “custom wall,” or an app that lives within the Facebook page that functions as a discussion board, with the ability to screen content submissions for adverse events, etc. before sending them live. But what the industry needs to realize is that the significance of these changes is not simply for Facebook to make more money by increasing engagement and therefor page views, which can then be sold to advertisers – that’s just part of the story. The significance is that, for the first time, pharma is being forced to evolve or drop out of the game completely.

[NOTE: Text within this part of the post has been deleted, as it was rendered irrelevant to the current dialogue. For clarification, see Jim Dayton’s comment below.]

Here at Pixels & Pills, we believe that change is good. We agree that it’s scary, but we also believe that it’s necessary. Years from now, we’ll all have a good laugh about how big of a deal this was…and we’ll be sharing that laugh with all our new friends in our dedicated social media departments.

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