Is PharmaWall The Tool You’ve Been Waiting For?

keep out

by Briana Campbell (@MsMatchGirl)

There has been a lot of talk, over the past few months, over Facebook’s changing commenting policies and the pharma industry. Our friend Jonathan Richman clears things up nicely on Dose of Digital, so we won’t bother going into too much detail here. Basically, though, Facebook has changed its policy regarding comments on a gage. Wherein, in the past, a pharma brand could request to have comments disabled on their brand’s page, the policy has changed to allow only pages that are dedicated solely to a prescription drug to have the option to disable commenting.

Since pharma itself is such a highly regulated industry, this change has caused a problem for brands trying to engage (where their users/patients/communities are) but still control what is put on the wall of the page. What’s the problem, you may ask, in users posting what they think about a pharma brand/drug/product on the wall of a page?

It’s not so innocuous as it seems. The pharma industry, as those who are regular readers know and can relate to, is a highly regulated industry. There are a ton of rules. And a drug can only claim to be and do what the FDA has said it is OK to claim it is and can do. With open comments, companies run the risk of the general public suggesting uses that the drug is not approved for or making accusation against the company or even sharing unsupported (yet enthusiastically positive) praise. And much to the dismay of nearly everyone in this space, the FDA has not offered clear any guidance on the subject of health care and pharma social media.

There are ways (and were more when there was the simple option of disabling wall comments) to get around the touchy points and stay on the good side of the FDA when a pharma company has a Facebook presence. They include great community management (We’re talking someone monitoring and moderating twenty-four/seven) to using a spokesperson whose page would need less stringent regulation, but would still need a large amount of management, moderation and an eagle eye. Facebook has some filters in place for pages – where, for instance, a brand can set a list of words to block and checked before the comment will be approved – but the spammers and malicious commentators who want to get around them will do so. And easily.

Last week we heard about a new product, a Facebook “monitoring and moderation tool,” called PharmaWall, whose features (from their website) include:

  • Ability for Facebook members and page owners to create new posts and comment on posts
  • Ability to receive notifications of comments on a users own post or comment
  • Ability to display messages in the news feeds of all Facebook members who have “liked the page, keeping them up-to-date on the latest news and information displayed on the page
  • A moderation queue enabling easy content review and approvals
  • Ability to use an interstitial message for external links
  • Areas that allow for the display of safety information
  • 24/7 monitoring services available
  • Administrator alerts for rapid awareness of new user-generated content
  • Documentation of all company- and user-generated content ¢‚Ǩ” whether published or not ¢‚Ǩ” for future reference

We are curious if anyone has had a chance to play around with the live demo or implemented this product on your own pharma Facebook page yet. What do you think? Is this the tool you’ve been looking for? Will it make your role as a page administrator any easier?

And hey, if you think it’s still all too complicated, there’s always traditional advertising…




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7 Responses to Is PharmaWall The Tool You’ve Been Waiting For?

  1. I think I’m on the record in a few places saying that I don’t like this concept at all. While I’ll admit that PharmaWall is well done from a design and technical standpoint, I think that it (along with other Wall substitutes like it) suffer from a few limitations that are pretty serious.

    First, PharmaWall is an application. So, in order to use it, you must not only Like the page, but also give permissions to the application. In this case, the application wants access to your profile, to be allowed to post to your Wall, and to access your content anytime. Nothing sinister about this, but people don’t like giving permissions like this especially in the times of hypersensitivity to privacy on Facebook. They’re doubly likely to be hesitant when it comes from a pharma company’s page, as the industry isn’t exactly the most trusted out there. It’s a hassle to post, so people won’t.

    You have a choice. Either don’t be on Facebook or let Facebook work as people expect it to work. If you don’t allow Facebook to work as it is supposed to work (meaning open comments), then don’t bother. The reason for this is simple. No one will ever see your page or its content. The vast majority of people who go to Facebook start with their News Feed, which has content ranked based on an algorithm. THE key factors in this is “edge”, which is basically the past interactions between you and the page and the current number of Likes and comments on a piece of content. If you eliminate this last one (and PharmaWall interactions don’t count), then people never see anything from your page. Period. It’s like it doesn’t exist.

    PharmaWall says that it can “display messages in the news feeds of all Facebook members who have “liked the page”. Sure. Assuming that the algorithm says it’s important, but it won’t and let’s not forget that this is a basic function of Facebook Pages already.

    Alerts are already built into Facebook, so you know when someone posts or comments. Deal with it then. What is going to happen if someone posts something off-label and you delete it after an hour of it being on the page? If the FDA thought that you were completely responsible for this content (i.e., it’s the same as you talking off label), then they would have cited a bunch of pages that have open commenting already. They would have clearly said in those non-existant warning letters that you should not allow commenting. But, you don’t have that.

    There are quite a few pages out there already from pharma that allow open commenting and guess what? Nothing. They work and no one gets a letter. People actually see the content in their News Feeds. The pages exist and people are engaged. What’s more, when you talk to the people that run these pages, you find that the posts that could be an issue almost never happen.

    Use Facebook the way people expect it to work or don’t bother. Really. No one sees your stuff if you ignore that rule and if you force people to jump through hoops to talk to you, then they won’t. Knowing that, why bother.

    Jonathan Richman
    Dose of Digital

  2. Jonathan-

    Thank you for commenting so thoughtfully.

    It’s exactly the type of conversation we were hoping to encourage when stating our curiosity about this product here.

    I wonder if others have anything to add.

    Hopefully they will share their opinions to the positive or negative as well.

  3. John Stacey says:

    I had great hope and interest (inititially) with PharmaWall. It seemed like a great way to triage posts, and get people talking within the straight-jacket (real or imagined) that the FDA makes us all wear.

    However, after a quick ping with PharmaWall, it became clear (as Jonathan points out) that this solution is in ADDITION to the actual Facebook wall, not ON the Facebook wall. Instead of commenting where they usually do (read: WALL!) – users will need to click to the PharmaWall page, where their comments will be vetted in the system.

    Thus, come August 15, unbranded pharma Facebook pages are STILL going to have the problem of two-way conversations happening on the Wall.

    So, to me (like Jonathan above), PharmaWall falls short of a real “solution.”

    So, we keep looking. A band of pharma marketers walking along in straight-jackets, trying to interpret the continued silence of the FDA….

  4. Thanks for the insight, John!

  5. First, Pixels & Pills thanks for covering PharmaWall on your great blog! We appreciate the mention and discussion. And congrats on the Dosie win!

    Jon Thanks for your thoughts on PharmaWall. Everyone has their perspective and opinions, and we believe ultimately each pharma company will decide whats right for them, as they should. Many discussions are happening behind Pharmas “walls right now regarding what to do. Rather than fill up the comments box here, to answer the question “Is PharmaWall The Tool Youve Been Waiting For? Ive provided my (admittedly biased) perspective at the following links:

    John Thanks for your feedback as well. Regarding your statement, “unbranded pharma Facebook pages are STILL going to have the problem of two-way conversations happening on the Wall ¢‚Ǩ¬¶ This is actually incorrect, representing a common misunderstanding about the changes to the Facebook policy.

    Page owners absolutely have the ability to avoid (live) two-way conversations on the FB Wall, if that is their desire. They do so simply by not posting anything to their own wall. Thats because page owners will still have the ability to block user-generated POSTS on the FB Wall. It is the COMMENTS policy that is changing. So, as long as the page owner does not POST on the original FB wall, users cannot COMMENT on those posts.

    John, I know you havent seen a demo or spoken live with anyone about PharmaWall, but wed welcome the chance to give you or anyone else thats interested a demo to help clarify details such as this. Just visit

    Thanks again for the feedback, and for letting us help provide clarity on the issue.

  6. BTW, I thought it was interesting that when I submitted my comment, I received the reply that my comment was awaiting moderation. I moderate my blog too, as many of us do…

  7. Pingback: Pharma and Social Media: Does it work or we should give up? « ScienceRoll