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.




Powered by Facebook Comments

7 Responses to New Changes for Facebook, New Perspective for Pharma

  1. Kimbery, great expanded info. Thanks. Also, look for some follow up from me in a week or two, as more details get sorted out.

  2. admin says:

    Hi Matthew,

    Just spreading around some important new to our pharma & healthcare-specific audience – your blog post was an incredible resource 🙂

    Definitely looking forward to your follow-up post!



  3. Thanks for the helpful info in your post. In order to create “safe” social media, most of us in pharma end up not being very social. And while there are legitimate reasons for caution, it should not result in paralysis.

  4. Okay..this is the second place I’ve seen the claim about Facebook making this change and yet I’ve seen it nowhere else and in none of the obvious sources (e.g., Mashable, AllFacebook).

    What’s the source for this information? The people at Facebook I’ve talked to have never heard about this.

  5. admin says:

    Hi Jon,

    As of today, the news about Facebook’s changes comes from two origins (both cited above): a blog post and presentation by Matthew Snodgrass of WCG, and a blog post by Jim Dayton, Sr. Director of Emerging Media at Intouch Solutions, which cites a phone call between himself and his Facebook representative. I contacted Radian 6, which was cited in Matthew’s presentation, for confirmation and a source, and will surely report my findings as soon as I receive an answer.



  6. Jim Dayton says:

    Hi Kim,
    These are really two separate issues:

    1. WCG has reported a possible functionality change for Facebook pages. I’m not saying that it isn’t happening, because things change at Facebook pretty rapidly (as I pointed out in my blog post), but I have been unable to confirm with any of my sources at Facebook that there will be a functionality change in June.

    2. I reported a change in policy at Facebook. According to my rep, the change to the whitelisting policy was announced internally at Facebook on March 31st. It is in response to the high volume of requests to turn off commenting functionality.

    Granted, I have not revealed who my rep is. Therefore, feel free to take what I say with a grain of salt. But I’ve worked hard to establish my relationships and am somewhat hesitant to throw my sources to the rest of the agency wolves. Had we talked, maybe I would have been able to clarify.


  7. admin says:

    Hi Jim,

    Thanks for your clarification. I am removing the section referencing your post. As it is not best practices for us to retract published content, I will replace it with a disclaimer referencing your comment. My apologies for the confusion, and I hope that you find that a reasonable solution.