Twitter Tips, Tricks and Tweets

Twitter Tips, Tricks and Tweets

I had the chance to tech edit this new Twitter book by well known author Paul McFedries. The foreword is written by Pete Cashmore one of the founders of

I was pleased to be able to edit the book and excited that I got a sneak peak and was able work on it while it wasvery much still in progress. Paul Mcfedries has a writing style that is very easy to read regardless of where you are on the learning curve and he has unearthed some great Twitter tips.

I consider myself pretty savvy when it comes to social media, but I am by no means an expert. I always feel like there is more to learn and the mutations happen so fast that you really have to be on your game all of the time. I can tell you that I learned a lot reading this book.

As the title suggests, it is packed with tips and tricks on how to maximize Twitter to its fullest. Whether you are a newbie or an advanced user I assure you that you will learn something about Twitter in this book.

If you think you know everything about how to maximize Twitter--think again and check out this book.

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Why The FDA Will Give Rx/Dx Digital Marketers Enough Rope To Hang Themselves

Why The FDA Will Give Rx/Dx Digital Marketers Enough Rope To Hang Themselves

UPDATE: 4/27/12
Can any reasonable Rx/Dx digital marketing person still use the FDA as an excuse?

The word on the street is that the FDASM guidelines will be released within the next ten days - at least according to Fabio Gratton of Ignite Health a.k.a. @skypen on Twitter.  

I wouldn't doubt it at this point as it is in line with their previous guidance that the release would be pushed to early 2011. 

However, I want to remind readers to not put too much on the release of the guidelines. I wouldn't expect anything revolutionary in terms of thinking, but the FDA will more likely to stay focused in on the message and not the medium, as I noted previously. That I don't think will change. What will be more interesting to watch will be whether this provides the necessary "green light" for companies who have been waiting for guidelines to press onward or whether the anticipated lack of clarity will keep pushing social media further down on the agenda because of lack of guidance provided by the FDA, perhaps lack of a champion in the organization and the effort required to push guidelines through legal and regulatory? 

I suspect that the companies that have a strong champion are already trying to push forward in this area so those that have not ventured very far are likely to be left behind. Engagement is built over time and with repeated and consistent actions. I think it will be very tough for someone to enter the space and think they can instantly turn on their social media efforts. Particularly for Rx/Dx organizations where there is a natural and frankly healthy skepticism anyway. 

Anyway, see what I had to say on the topic previously, I haven't changed my stance.

UPDATE: 10/25/10

So the rumor mill has it that the FDA will release their guidance in December, which I am looking forward to reviewing. There was one paragraph at the end of the post that jumped out at me. 

However, the guidance documents issued by DDMAC will not be platform-specific. Abrams said that guidances for promotion of products on specific Web sites, such as YouTube, Facebook, or Twitter will not be issued. The FDA views these as fleeting, changing technologies and the guidance documents on social media are intended to be general, broad-reaching, and applicable to multiple areas, regardless of platform.
I think what this really says is what I wrote in my original post below about the guidance. Nothing has changed in the past few months to make me change my mind and in fact this reinforces my point a bit. In the end, I think what I said then applies just as much now. 

As an Rx/DX industry insider and an observer, I have been watching the continued shift to digital and social marketing. I’ve seen it up close and personal for nearly 10 years (egad, I’ve been at for almost a decade) and I have been blogging around digital and the healthcare industry since late 2007. So I feel like I am relatively qualified to speak about the regulatory requirements of digital marketing in the Rx/Dx industry.

I have seen first hand the process, documentation and rigor that is required to develop marketing in a regulated environment that seeks to ensure safety, quality and legal marketing. It is certainly not trivial.

I also watched the FDA hearings last November and saw expert after expert and presentation after presentation bring forward cogent and nearly consistent thoughts on how the FDA should best develop guidelines for managing digital and Social Media in the future. Most importantly, the discussion revolved around how to keep patient safety at the forefront of digital marketing yet allow effective outreach to patient communities of all types.

Since that time, we have learned that the FDA will likely present their findings in Q4 2010—one full calendar year after the hearings. Based on what I've seen over the last year, it seems that many people are counting heavily on the FDA to provide strict guidelines on what can and cannot be done going forward. Some companies, I am sure, are using the lack of guidance as a crutch to not move forward.

The recent Novartis situation and the FDA warning letter has certainly put a scare in some marketers for using the Facebook share functionality on their Tasigna website. There are some perspectives on this that you can view here and here.

We also know that the FDA plans to beef up their monitoring of this space with the first step in hiring a Director of Communications, I briefly touched on this here.

All-in-all, this has created the opportunity for some conversation, navel gazing and for some hand wringing while everyone waits with bated breath to hear from the FDA--I think there are going to be some people sorely disappointed with the findings and it will certainly not provide conclusive guidance that is black or white for how to proceed.

What I think it will provide is a summation that digital is important, interesting and permanent (if you’re reading this, you know that) and it will focus on keeping patient safety information within easy reach of the patient. This means balanced information, risk information within 1-click and ensuring that products claims can be substantiated. Beyond that, I think people will be left disappointed with what is not defined such as Adverse Event reporting guidelines or procedures specific to digital and social media. There will be alot of gray area and if you are a digital marketer certainly enough rope to hang yourself if you're not careful.  

We know from other sources that the FDA is most concerned with the message and not necessarily the medium, so my question is why does there seem to be an over-reliance upon the FDA and the guidelines? 
In any other circumstance, they do not tell you exactly what to do so I am fairly confident that they won't when it comes to social media either. 

In my view, it comes back to crafting strategies that are patient-centric and are from the outside-in versus the inside-out. Every disease and therapy is different so it’s hard for me to talk patient insights for everything under the sun, but I do know that when it comes to social media that if you focus on what’s important to the customer (engage, start a conversation, be an arrow pointing to resources) versus what’s important to you (broadcast) then you can circumvent many of the risks and fulfill the patient need. 

My New Favorite Quote

My New Favorite Quote

I am a fan of Jack Welch, former CEO of GE, for a number of reasons. I read his book, Straight From The Gut, with great zeal years ago and stumbled across this quote from Jack Welch via the blog Customer Experience Matters

Deal with the world as it is, not how you’d like it to be.

Let's face it, this is stupidly simple stuff, but it is a great reminder and applies to all facets of life and business. It's easy to get caught up in perfect and perfect is rarely achieved.

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Real World Lessons from the Frontlines: 10 Things I've Learned About Pharma Social Media

Real World Lessons from the Frontlines: 10 Things I've Learned About Pharma Social Media

Working for an actual company in the industry gives me real world perspective about Pharma and Social Media. It is exactly this real world and realistic perspective that I see missing from the discussion. Rather than wishful thinking from an ivory tower or the same topics rehashed in the echo chamber that Twitter is becoming, I can tell you many real reasons why social media has not taken full root in the industry.  This is by no means meant to be a comprehensive list or inclusive to all of the reasons why, but it does outline a few of the issues as I see them.

Most of these are covered elsewhere in my blog, but for your handy reference I've compiled the thoughts here into a list. This is in no particular order, but in keeping with what seems to generate discussion I've compiled a Top 10 list with some bonus coverage.

10. Social Media has just taken root in Pharma organizations. That means in most organizations that the knowledge, understanding and realization that Social Media is a paradigm shift and is in fact changing how marketing and communications functions is about 18 months old. Granted that is a broad assessment, but I estimate that it has only been since late in 2008 and early 2009 that Social Media really got traction. 18 months by most accounts is young, very young in Pharma organizations. Social needs time to develop and grow. It's certainly not something that causes organizational change within 12 months.

9. Social Media understanding is largely generational and most Pharma leadership is not of that generation. Therefore if you can't prove it, quantify it and show that it's better than tactic X, Y or Z it is hard to move it beyond a simple component of a campaign.

8. You get the behavior you reward. If Executive Leadership doesn't define Social Media as a primary business opportunity then goal setting will be focused on areas that attain defined business goals, which lead to individual goals, which are tied to compensation. Therefore, people aren't spending time on it in the quantity that brings substantial change. 

7. To drive new initiatives that aren't already planned and of the magnitude of Social Media requires Executive Leadership buy-in, which requires the buy-in of multiple layers of leadership, which takes time, knowledge transfer, case building and collaboration. That can often be in short supply when trying  in a bottom line business climate that is under pressure, which is basically all of Pharma. Further, in order to understand Social Media you have to practice Social Media. Many Executive Leaders are not doing that. Their kids are though, which doesn't translate to them as an activity that requires deep attention within their business.

6. Most Fortune 500 organizations budget on an annual basis. Seems trivial, right? But planning occurs 6-9 months ahead of time. If you don't make the window to be in the budget cycle you don't have resources to drive Social Media. It will likely move to "phase 2" or be the first thing that gets cut if there is scope creep of any kind.  

5. Within Pharma, marketing teams are often built by brand. Working across multiple brand teams, sometimes segment teams, corp. communications, and global functions, etc. to drive a new initiative that may not be well understood is a difficult, time consuming task. You have to build consensus.  As a result you see some efforts in Pharma that are working but if you look more closely they are probably focused on a specific brand or reside in a certain part of the organization. Therefore, you don't see an integrated, spot on strategic approach that is patient first. You usually see a blended amalgam that is not great. This will be, as they say, "life-cycle managed."

4. Big ships don't turn easily. Social is one part of a total marketing mix. Heck, it's a channel within a channel. It's not THE mix. Consequently, it is currently getting the level of attention that it serves within the overall mix, which today is relatively small.

3. Legal and Regulatory is an issue, but it can be worked around.What may not be understood is GPP, AdvaMed, and FDA are real concerns that have to be developed and managed, which again takes time and effort.

2.  Social Media in every Pharma organization needs a champion or champions who are strong willed, a leader, a cajoler, a consensus builder with an indefatigable spirit. Not every company has this person or persons that cares deeply enough, is of the generation and is at a level that has the skills to build consensus, cajole, and drive common understanding. If they do, Social Media is a component of their job, it's not their only job. This to will change. 

1. Social expertise is hard to find. Most large pharma organizations work with large agencies that develop media plans for the brands. Frankly, I haven't seen a great deal of novel ideas specific to social from agencies, in fact, I have seen more bad than good from full-service agencies. If a brand team relies on an agency to make coherent proposals for incorporating social into their mix and the agency can't make the case--who's to blame? Sure there are many great agencies out there, but those with social expertise are not already qualified and ready to work for Pharma organizations.  

Bonus Coverage...

1a. Change takes time. I'm not sure why Social Media is any different and the expectation is that it's supposed to transform large multi-billion organizations in the span of 12 months. That's either naive or idealistic, I'm not sure which. It took years for Web sites to get developed in the late 90s, why do we expect Social Media to be different than that? In the least, if you shave the time it took Web sites to penetrate Pharma in half you're still looking at a 24-36 month time line. As I stated above, from my vantage Social Media is only about 18 months old within organizations. It'll get there. Trust me on this.

1b. Bright shiny object syndrome/conflict resolution. There can be tendency for some to run to the bright shiny object and think that Social is a great way to pump up the brand. Bad idea. Real champions of social media want to do it the right way and fighting the urge and desire of some people to make it a brand platform takes effort and time. As Mark Twain said, it's better to remain silent and thought the fool, then to open your mouth and remove all doubt. 

Now I understand that this could sound like a pile of excuses, but I live in reality and reality being what it is, there are real reasons for why the industry is not further along. The easiest thing in life is to be contrarian or tell people what they should be doing. However, if you're pragmatic and dig a little deeper you can see there are challenges that are beginning to be overcome. It's going to take more time, but you'll see change, you'll see more advocacy, you'll see value add efforts and eventually relationship building and you'll see great social media from Pharma. There are many smart, passionate people in Pharma who want to do the right thing when it comes to social media but as I've said before in the past all revolutions start with a challenge to the status quo. That is happening. I've also said that technology and health care is like the turtle and the hare. Steady wins the race.   

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Why Leadership

Why Leadership

Pretty self-explanatory. Leadership is what separates good from great.
How Does Your Garden Grow?

How Does Your Garden Grow?

One of the things that I continually am on the hunt for is good info on how to explain social media to people who may not read as much as I do. From a marketing perspective, I think it completely changes marketing as we know it today. And when I say that, I think the shift is well underway but most people don't realize it yet.

Davia Armano from Logic + Emotion is definitely a thought-leader in this area had a article in the Harvard Business Review and talked about developing a social media strategy much like you would when planning a garden, which I think is brilliant. It's a great way to explain social media and the need to temper expectations. This is a marathon and not a sprint. My concern is that many Rx/Dx companies will roll out social media initiatives and see no immediate return and kill the programs. My cotention is that marketing today is a conversation and the conversation is online. It takes time to build, nurture and yield results--much like a garden.

Excerpt below and check out the entire article here.

This underscores a fundamental truth to social media that many organizations underestimate--being social means having real live people who actively participate in your initiatives. It's difficult to automate and a challenge to scale, but it can also help move your business forward in ways that produce leveraged outcomes such as new/better products or services.
The economics of using social media in business require the participation of people to fuel it. It is not simply enabled by technology that maintains itself. One of the biggest lessons to be taken away from a social platform such as Twitter is that the ecosystem it's a part of if, is itself built on people who keep it humming along with not only content, but a seemingly endless stream of third party applications. This phenomenon is not entirely new--it's been referred to as end-user innovation (innovation by consumers and end users, rather than suppliers).
There are a few considerations every organization needs to consider when developing their blueprints for their own unique social media design. While there is no one-size-fits-all solution, there are few things you can plan for as you review the many options before you.
Here are three to consider:
Seeding. As you plan your approach for designing your social system, take into account that you'll have to invest to grow your effort into a healthy ecosystem that can produce data, insights or even new ideas. People will be required in order to do this.
Feeding. Whether it's a community, Wiki or internal collaboration solution you've put in place, it will have to be fed with a steady stream of content. Some of this can be automated and some of it can come from your participants--but there has to be some editorial judgment made for every piece of content and functionality. People are required for that.
Weeding. A productive social business design will require efforts to prune and weed out material that can inhibit its growth (just like a garden). In some cases, automated moderation services can do this--but in others people will be required to ensure that interactions are productive. Weeding can also include creating a separate environment--for example, Nokia's "blog hub" encourages employees to vent freely internally (using anonymous aliases).You can bet that someone is looking at the data and analyzing it. If not, they should be.
It's worth noting that seeding, feeding, and weeding all take place after any social initiative has been launched. But not taking into account the manpower that's involved in these as you develop your social business design strategy can lead to a lack of adoption or participation--essential elements to any social initiative. Ignoring these realities will continue to propagate the myth that social media is fast, cheap and easy. As organizations look to grow or scale their current initiatives, it's proving to be anything but.

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Disease Management and Connected Health is a Marathon

Disease Management and Connected Health is a Marathon

I was cleaning my office recently and stumbled across a notebook that I had from a decade ago - it is dated October 2000. It is a collection of notes, thoughts and ideas.

I found a passage that particularly struck me and really reinforces the point that chronic care management and connected care are, and will continue to be, works in progress.

"Care of the chronically ill is inefficient, inconvenient, labor intensive and economically unsustainable with chronic diseases such as diabetes, hyper tension and asthma consume 70% of all healthcare spending in 1998."
That was followed by this nugget.

"The importance of the Internet -- look forward 5 years and where will we be in regards to the management of chronic disease and health management via the Internet?
 And then this last one.

"Use Bluetooth to send data via wireless networks."

The point is not that I am Nostradamus  when it comes to disease management and connected health care, the point is why is it taking so long? What levers need to be pulled to make this move faster?

That's the answer I wish I had. I think it starts and ends somewhere with behavior change and generational belief systems driving health changes, but that seems to acknowledge and accept the glacial pace we are on and that is not a good enough answer.

Image via

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