Here’s a question you hear a lot, “Has Big Pharma figured out social media yet?”
That question lacks granularity.
Big Pharma marketers understand (and correctly so) that social media is a long-term play. It doesn’t deliver ROI in the same timeframe as DTC or couponing or any of the more traditional tools of the trade. “Mobile,” as crucial as it is to any successful marketing effort, isn’t social media. It is one platform on which social media exists.
Social media takes time, effort, patience, and investment. Unlike websites, social media isn’t a fire-and-forget proposition. Just because a platform is “digital” doesn’t mean it’s identical. For marketers, whose job it is to sell as much product as possible in the shortest time possible (no, not patent life – stock quarters), the perpetual, largely uncontrolled, multi-contextual aspects of social media are more of a headache than a new frontier. Yes, this is shortsighted – but that’s what the current reward structure assigns as “best practice.”
Have pharma brand marketers “figured out” social media? Yes. They have figured out that it is not ready for prime time in their 20th century "blockbuster" marketing primer. That which gets rewarded gets done.
Corporate communicators feel differently. They see social media as the wave of the present. They understand social media as an indispensible tool not just for crisis communications but for corporate identity, alliance building, and for being at the hub of the healthcare communications ecosystem.
They’ve figured it out – but don’t have the budgets to really make it happen to scale. More’s the pity.
And, of course there are those still “waiting for the FDA.” To those folks, here’s a question to ponder, what about the agency’s Correcting Independent Third-Party Misinformation About Prescription Drugs and Medical Devices draft guidance?
The FDA writes:
If a firm voluntarily corrects misinformation in a truthful and non-misleading manner and as described in this draft guidance, FDA does not intend to object if the corrective information voluntarily provided by the firm does not satisfy otherwise applicable regulatory requirements regarding labeling or advertising, if any.