The End Of Janssen’s Psoriasis 360 Facebook Page

Janssen has announced the closing of its Facebook page, called Psoriasis 360. The social campaign was known in the pharma sector as the go-to best practice example for successful and creative social media use. What the audience – and the rest of the industry for that matter – didn’t see tho, was the enormous amount of work that goes into moderating posts and comments on a platform like a Facebook page.

Janssen was the first to use “post-moderated comments”, meaning that these comments were only checked – and pulled if necessary – after they were posted. This was definitely a progressive way of handling comments on Facebook, something that became mandatory after new Facebook policies were introduced in August last year.

So does this mean that pharmaceutical companies don’t have a place on Facebook? Does this mean that monitoring is a daunting task that cannot be completed? I’m sure a lot of people in the pharma industry would say so and use the closing of Psoriasis 360 as a proof to their case. But is it fair to point fingers and use a previous best practice as a bad example, or even as an excuse to stay away from social media? Can an award-winning campaign become a “failure” overnight? I surely hope the answer is no. If anything people responsible for the campaign should be praised for not letting the situation get out of hand and for addressing difficulties on time.

The end of Psoriasis 360 should not serve as a bad example, but as a great one for the proper way to handle social media risks and still keeping the main goals of social engagement and patient education in the limelight. Janssen made its announcement available on the landing page of Psoriasis 360 where they inform their fans about the reasons behind their decision. But they go a little further too, they point the patients in the right direction to get information by mentioning the websites and Twitter accounts of the Psoriasis Association, the Psoriasis Scotland Arthritis Link Volunteers and the University of Manchester Skin Research as accurate and useful resources. The company also decided to take a little time before closing down the page entirely to make sure its message gets through to patients. If anything, this process should be a best practice example of how and when to end a social media campaign.

And before anyone accuses me of being too positive and forgiving, this event should also work as a catalyst to generate  more ideas to better manage the task of monitoring social platforms, the handling of comments coming from the audience and keeping alive successful campaigns while staying in line with regulations.


22 Tips To Create Great Content

They say content is king. But what exactly makes your content worthy of that title? It is nearly impossible to be witty, interesting and informative at the same time post after post, article after article. The inforgraphic below tries to ease the pain of many publishers dealing with writer’s block.

Involving your team, your readers or interviewing someone seem like good ways to spice up your blog posts. Similarly case studies usually provide interesting material for practice-focused articles that attract a big number of readers. Check out further tips to create great content and to fight the lack of inspiration.

What’s your best method for finding subjects to write about? Feel free to share in the comment section!

(Source: Ragan’s Healthcare Communication News)

Comments On Pharma’s Engagement With Healthcare Professionals

Recently I stumbled upon a thought-provoking article online on pharma’s engagement with healthcare professionals. I found the questions and the subject of the post highly interesting. Reading the article made it even more clear for me that without set goals and selecting the most effective tools, we are going to ask ourselves the same question for years to come: “What has pharma really done to engage with healthcare professionals?”

The article is a bit contradictory in the sense that first it states that pharma is not actively involved in healthcare professional communities, but then goes on the emphasize pharma’s online engagement. In the beginning it argues: “The HCP communities are all independent, pharma’s not involved. Setting aside the fact that most survive commercially through industry sponsorship and funding.” First of all you can’t ignore pharma’s financial involvement. It influences the discussions and the operation of these communities. But is funding the right kind of engagement? Is it engagement? I don’t think so. Unless you are an active participant of the conversations happening online, you are not engaging. You might be providing the platform for the discussion, but you are not part of it. Financial tools are not social tools.

The article states that pharma is indeed engaging. But with whom? Patients? Healthcare providers? With each other? The post doesn’t clarify. This has to be decided. Pharma has to have a clear goal about who to engage with. Patients, healthcare professionals require completely different ways of communication and engagement.

The post also argues, that pharma is engaging online since “we are all patients. (…) the paradigm shifts in how we all manage our healthcare needs, as well as how we interact with healthcare providers.” While I don’t think this argument is 100% true I found the comparison between pharma and patients more problematic. Pharma shouldn’t engage online as a patient. It has an entirely different role in discussions. It should not operate in social media as patients, but for them. Pharma could certainly learn a lot about patients from the way they connect online, the way they use social platforms for health-related issues. But pharma has numerous other responsibilities that have to be considered. As the article mentions, this is a highly regulated industry, and so social media action has to stay align with all regulations. This is another reason why we can’t compare pharma and its online engagement to patients and their online presence.

So while further debating the role of pharma in social media and online engagement, we have to build on those debates and act on them. Discussions between social media moguls and marketing professionals about the importance of social sites and communication is not enough. It is also a classic case of preaching to the convinced. If pharma wants to connect with healthcare professionals it has to use the right tools. Not only the financial, but the social ones. The platforms to do so are already there.

(Source: PMLiVE)

The Social Fight For Pharma

The social fight for pharma companies has begun. As part of the never-ending rivalry between the social media giants, Facebook and Google, one of them is quick to realize what the other one missed out on. And while I stated numerous times that in my opinion Facebook “forcing” pharma to communicate is actually a good thing and doesn’t mean a big change, it gave a reason to a lot of people to start comparing the relationship of Google and Facebook with pharma.

Since Google made it possible for companies to decide what suggested videos appear on their corporate Youtube channels the score is 1-0 in favor of Google according to most pharma marketers. A lot of them only see the actions and not the consequences. They see that Google gives them more freedom on Youtube, while Facebook is introducing new restrictions.

But will full control and no communication stand against monitored conversation and active engagement? I doubt it. Sure, it is nice to oversee what kind of videos are suggested on your channel, but you can do that with Facebook ads as well. And picking the company you are in online is not the same as having the option to turn off the social aspect of a site. One is understandable, one is totally against the basic idea of social media.

So painting Google as the good parent, who gives you freedom, while making Facebook seem like the strict, evil one is nowhere near fair. Even comparing the two actions (allowing selected suggestions and turning on comments) is like comparing apples and oranges. And while people like to keep score and watch the social media moguls compete we should remember that maybe it is not worth to compromise the essence of being social to gain more traffic or an industry’s support.

(Source: ePharma Summit Blog)

Social Media Marketing – Just How Powerful?

It’s time for another inforgraphic. In this post we look at how effective certain social channels can be when it comes to advertisement campaigns. When you look at numbers separately it is hard to decide if your campaign was a success, or what kind of rates you should be looking for. The charts below compare some of the top ads that received the highest level of responses on different social media platforms.

The numbers are almost mind blowing: for example Evian’s ad featuring roller skating babies got 65.5 million views in 2 years. That seems to be outrageous. Until you see, that the “Will it blend?” iPad video received 12 million in only 4 months, while Coca-Cola’s promoted Twitter trend reached 86.5 million impressions in a single month. While Facebook seems to be popular for small businesses, since 70% of them use the social site for marketing purposes, sharing ads is becoming more and more expensive with prices increasing 70% in just the first half of 2011.

Even if you don’t compare your campaigns to the ones featured in the infographic (to keep at least part of your self-confidence), it is interesting to see just how big of a buzz you can create through creatively using social channels.

(Source: Mashable)

Facebook Comments Don’t Hurt The Socially Engaged

Well the results of the commenting changes on Facebook are everything but surprising. They can be summed up very easily: companies already using Facebook to engage with patients don’t mind letting their fans actually participate. Others who delete their pages most likely were not using the social site to communicate anyway. It’s a really obvious statement: commenting changes don’t hurt the socially engaged.

This is what Silja Chouquet proved in one of her recent posts on According to her summary that observed the Facebook activity of five pharma companies, organizations, for instance Boehringer or Johnson & Johnson, who are actively involving their audience on their page welcomed comments long before the changes. Their posts are directly addressed to their fans and they encourage them to comment. And as the results show, followers respond to their questions and their shared content. Others, like Novartis closed down their fan pages, saying no to the Facebook commenting changes. The charts below show how many posts the five companies (Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, GSK, Boehringer and Novartis) shared and how many likes and comments they received in the last week. The connection is obvious:

Either you engage with patients, or you don’t. You either need Facebook, or you don’t. If you decide to have a dialogue with your audience, than the policy changes don’t effect you. If you decide not to have a discussion with your followers, you don’t really need Facebook, so once again, the changes don’t effect you. They only matter to companies, who needed that last push to really dive into social media and use the tools what they are created for. Like Pfizer, who had the highest number of fans but only started posting more frequently and receiving feedback.


For more, check out and follow Silja (@whydotpharma) on Twitter.

There Are Bigger Concerns Than Facebook Comments

I kind of feel like the fear of Facebook forcing pharma companies to allow comments is getting out of control. I do realize that it is something new and like always, that generates opinions and slightly nervous expectations, but the level of alleged resistance is greater than it should be.

There are three reasons for that. They are rather simple:

  • You have a choice to be on Facebook or delete your account. Maybe comments can be forced, but participation can’t.
  • You can use applications to moderate the comments before they appear on your page. And that is real control.
  • So far there is no obvious evidence that pharma companies will in fact leave Facebook. So as for now, there is no issue to talk about.

The emphasis is usually on the attitude of Facebook while bloggers and pharma representatives express their concerns about the mean leaders of the social media giant – like they are doing something fundamentally wrong by following their original, basic communication model. Facebook is supposed to be a platform for communication, and yes that word includes the idea of not one but more participants.

A recent article pointed out what generated all the fuss about the coming Facebook change:

“… this means that they need someone dedicated to social media marketing and a process to approve or delete comments and right now with people being let go left and right that is some heavy lifting.”

I agree with the statement that it is a heavy lifting, but I don’t think either way (with people being fired or hired) social media should be a walk in the park. I think the main problem is that people still view this channel like an easily automated tool that requires little or no work load. And as soon as they realize that it is not, they start dreading it.

Sadly it is true that more and more people in pharma loose their job. But the answer is not to cut back on social media. Why would you cut out your most cost-effective marketing tool in times of tighter budgets. Doesn’t it make sense to lower the expenses in areas that are not so effective anymore?

For pharma “spending a lot of money on TV, which is providing less and less ROI and is more expensive every year, and a push website is the way to go.”

Clearly, the problems are bigger than the changes of Facebook commenting policies.

(Source: World of DTC Marketing)

There Is Still No Need To Be Concerned About The New Facebook Commenting Policy

In an earlier post I summarized my thoughts about Facebook’s plan to make companies allow comments on their fan pages. Pharma brands soon started shaking in fear of what is going to happen and painted a picture of a future Facebook mayhem. As I stated before the plans for changes are not surprising since the whole idea behind the social platform is to communicate, keep in touch and engage in conversation, it is not designed for one way content publishing.

But even with the changing rules, pharma brands should not worry for a series of reasons:

  • Admins will still be solely responsible for original content.
  • Branded pages for prescription drugs continue to have the option to disable comments.
  • Admins still have the right to delete inappropriate comments if they feel the need for such action.

And now, according to the analysis of LiveWorld, a moderation and community programming agency there is proof to convince pharma brands that there is no need to panic. The study – based on 5 different pharma Facebook pages – shows that only a small fraction of online user activities could be labeled as adverse events. Critical issues were not significant on the pages observed by LiveWorld, only 2 percent of posts or comments included content that could have been a reason for concern.

Bigger brands are usually more worried due to a soon-to-be increased work load when the online actions of thousands  need to be monitored constantly. Well the good news is that according to the findings there is no relationship between the size of an online fan base, number of posts and adverse events. You could have a busy, very active Facebook page and the chances of an adverse event would be the same. The bad news is (assuming that some brands consider this a bad thing) you can’t stop monitoring your page entirely. It is still your responsibility to report that 2 percent of adverse events. But this small rate of comments and posts is manageable to be filtered, deleted or reported. In return you gain a lively, active page that could be a great opportunity for your costumers to give feedback and communicate with you.

(Source: LiveWorld)

Do Comments Help Your Brand On Youtube?

Pharma brands will face less of a challenge on Youtube than they do on Facebook since the video hosting site shows no signs of plans to force pharma companies to allow comments on their channels. But do comments influence the popularity of your Youtube channel? Is that what viewers look for when watching videos online?

Looking at data published in early July about pharma and Youtube it is hard to conclude any kind of trend when it comes to the ability to comment on these different channels. While some brands achieved significant growth compared to results last December in number of subscribers, channel and upload views, some companies’ Youtube presence stayed stagnant. But is it true that user experience is more enjoyable if comments are allowed? Is it true that a channel is more popular if viewers can express their opinions after watching the videos? My hypothesis was that indeed, a Youtube channel is more user-friendly if commenting is supported and welcomed. The numbers proved me wrong.

The percentages of viewer growth presented below show that there is no obvious relationship between the possibility of comments and the popularity of a Youtube channel. The four channels that achieved growing numbers of subscribers, channel views and upload views on the largest scale were Amgen, BayerChannel, Genentech and TibotecHCV, all four of them with more than 100% of growth. Three of these achieved the promising rates without allowing comments, while on the channel of Genentech viewers could comment. There were also channels with considerably lower percentages with and without comments from viewers. After checking the four most rapidly growing channels it turned out that even on Genentech, while people had the opportunity to share their thoughts, no comments appeared after the videos.

This small analysis proves that whether you decide to allow or disable comments on a Youtube channel, whether you monitor it or cancel the commenting feature entirely, there is a different decisive factor that makes your Youtube channel successful: content. Not the content provided by viewers, but content provided by you and your company.

(Source: Eye on FDA)

How Social Is Too Social?

In a recent blog post on Bryan Vartabedian, MD raises an interesting question: “How many places can you live?” These days chances are the biggest part of your online activity happens on social media sites. You check Facebook and click on the Youtube videos shared by your friends (or by random people you accidentally have on Facebook) and after finding the video extremely funny/interesting/inspirational you decide to post it on Twitter.

Let’s just say you also blog and you would like to keep up with the comments of readers of your posts. You also keep reading about Google+ so you decide to join to see what all the fuss is about. Before you know it you spend long hours sitting in front of the computer trying to find your way out of the great mess of information. Then when you finally build up enough courage to tear yourself apart from the computer to leave your house, you turn to your smartphone. And the whole circle starts again.

Is this really the purpose of social media? To create addicted people staring at a screen all day? I don’t think so. Using social sites should be beneficial on a daily basis not result in digital mess around you. The real quality of this era is being selective. To be able to decide what information to pay attention to and what to ignore. This way we could organize the fine chaos we see online every day. Social media and more and more mobile applications are supposed to help us filter information and find out easier what is relevant, new and deserves attention.

With so many social platforms you have to make choices. One doesn’t have to use all the applications and social platforms out there. It is better to use a few effectively than to get lost in the social sphere. Especially if there is a lot at stake. Let’s just say you are a physician actively using social media. For a healthcare professional social media is a lot more than a fun way to spend time in the evening. In this case social media is a great tool with countless possibilities to connect with fellow doctors, get informed and stay relevant in the rapidly changing medical field. But social media is also a potential source of danger – for privacy (yours and patients’) and for reputation.

The possibilities given by social media are too big to pass on them. But that fact doesn’t make the pitfalls go away. That is why everyone has to decide: how social is too social? A social media presence is too much if it can’t be monitored and controlled. You can’t keep your eyes on Facebook, Twitter, blogs and comments, Youtube, Google+ and different online communities all the time. There is only 24 hours in a day. If you want to use social media effectively to connect with people you want to connect with, to access useful information that you want to access and if during the process you would like to monitor and control your online presence, you have to be selective. And decide for yourself how social is too social.