Forget the Baby Steps, Do Something Meaningful

By my estimation, as it relates to Social Media for Rx/Dx companies, we're moving into at least year two of Social Media being a part of the regular marketing conversation. The Legal and Regulatory groups have weighed in, guidelines are written, and the pilots are underway.

So what are the results? In my opinion, there are plenty of good examples, you can go to Jonathon Richman's well read blog Dose of Digital and see a nicely done Wiki that chronicles the many examples.

There are many promising examples, but nothing that really moves the needle that gets out of the echo chamber of insiders and industry pundits and really impacts patients in a positive way that really realizes their insights. [Full disclosure: That includes the efforts I have been responsible for in my role at Roche.]

I wrote last week that I think that collectively that Rx/Dx companies are using the lack of FDA guidance as a rather poor reason for not moving faster. Taking that a step further, I think the results for Social Media have been valiant attempts but if you talk to real people with real diseases who are on the receiving end of Rx/Dx social media efforts I think they would politely tell you that they aren't overwhelmed.

In the end we need to move way beyond baby steps and into real social media that is more involved, engaging, interesting, interactive and about the patient.

How do you do that? Again, it's getting beyond the multitude of reasons why the industry is not moving faster and coming up with ideas that provide value, that involves the patient and that they think is valuable; it's not what we think they think is valuable. It has to be about the patient.

Starting here may help.

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  1. Wendy W. Blackburn said...

    Nice post Jim. I can see both sides of the “baby steps” vs. “doing something meaningful” debate. Sometimes organizations are very limited by their own culture and threshold for risk and starting small is a way to start at all.

    On another note, I wonder if some of the more meaningful social media efforts that we're looking for are actually happening, but are just less obvious … a corporate representative posting to a blog or in a patient community … a tweet reaching out to a patient who can’t pay for medication … blogger outreach that often happens behind the scenes … hosting bloggers on-site to share information. As you know, all of these things have actually happened already, but they’re not revealed or discussed on a large scale.

    Pharma is used to big splashes, big campaigns, big buzz. But perhaps inherently, “meaningful” social media efforts are the opposite of what pharma is used to … The most meaningful social media is connecting, engaging, providing value often on a personal level … and that can’t done in a mass-appeal, campaign approach.

    Thanks for continuing to provide your perspective - the industry needs more folks like you!

  2. Jim Lefevere said...

    Thanks for the note Wendy. I agree with your assessment and I am certainly not aware of everything going on. I suspect there are good things going on, but much of the discussion I see is focused on the lack of FDA guidance and how to take small steps.

    My opinion is rooted in the fact that if you step outside of the industry mechanics and look at it from a patient perspective, there really isn't a whole lot that is impactful.

    I used DoD recent baby steps post as a device, but I think it's really true that we need to move way beyond baby steps and take on something that is about the patient.

    I want see something that breaks through the clutter, makes people take notice and say, "wow, they really get it."

    I haven't seen it yet, but I think it will be coming.

    Thanks for the comment and RT. It's good to know someone may be reading.