This might seem like a lot of effort just to let an undefined group who may or may not be patients have their say, but Harrison
describes the rewards for opening up on Facebook in very mechanical terms. "Companies currently blocking commentary on Facebook
are not reaching nearly as many readers as they could—or as meaningfully."
Harrison explains that when most people logon to Facebook, the first thing they see is their news feed. This is governed by
an algorithm that chooses what news you will see from the friends and other pages you most frequently interact with. This
is known as your 'EdgeRank,' and a page that doesn't allow comments will basically achieve a zero EdgeRank.
"That can mean that few will ever see your posts, which largely defeats the purpose of having a Facebook page in the first
Harrison believes the change in Facebook's policy will actually prove to be an opportunity for the pharmaceutical industry
"to engage in a heightened dialogue with consumers, customers, shareholders, and other interested parties."
And this is the promise of social media: the chance to connect with stakeholders and discuss how to make more of the good
things pharma does and how to fix the things that aren't so good.
There clearly is no silver social media bullet for pharma. The concerns of the industry are different from your local bakeshop
using Twitter to push two-for-one cupcakes. But that's no different from any other communications scenario we could imagine
before social media.
Pharma needs to approach social media in a way that works best for it; whatever platforms get used are secondary. Pharma blogger
Steve Woodruff wants the industry to spend less time worrying about "getting on" Facebook or Twitter, and more time "architecting
a social strategy that fits the industry–rather than trying to fit this square industry peg into a round, shape-shifting hole."
This might mean creating "walled gardens" where discussion is controlled among carefully managed groups; it might mean only
using mainstream platforms for corporate or non-therapeutic communications; it might mean something that hasn't been invented
yet. But what pharma should not do is walk away from social media, as this is likely to be, ultimately, the most damaging
course of action.
Benefit from industry updates and case studies related to this article
3rd Annual Life Sciences Forum on Social Media Regulations and Compliance
Leverage Digital Networks while Ensuring Promotional Compliance
June 19-20, 2012