For a social media professional – a breed of marketer stereotyped as young, crazy, uber-creative hipsters – I’m an odd bird. Even at a very young age, I was most comfortable coloring inside the lines. I found comfort in rules and would get upset at those who broke them – although that’s not to say I didn’t enjoy the challenge of bending those rules a little bit to have some fun.
So how does this relate back to social media at Finn Partners? My team has found our little niche in the social media world – regulated industries. With recent clients spanning healthcare, insurance and finance, I was excited to see the Food and Drug Administration release a first draft of social media guidelines for pharmaceutical companies last week.
Although still vague and coming in pieces, I find it encouraging to see this gradual shift for the industry – one dominated by more type-A lawyers, regulators and red-tape procedure loving folks than almost any other industry. With these guidelines, I hope pharmaceutical companies will begin to embrace social media as a way to provide relevant, valuable content to healthcare professionals, consumers and caregivers – all while better understanding what these audiences want to learn and know about the diseases and conditions their products aim to cure, comfort and control.
Ready to jump in?
- First, understand the guidelines. (If you haven’t read them yet, they can be found here.)
- Next, invest in a great listening exercise. Get the right tools and do your homework to find your key audiences online – where are they talking? What are they saying? What information can you provide better than anyone else?
- If the above step sounds intimidating to do internally, find an agency partner who understands how to be both careful and creative. Coloring inside the lines can still be beautiful and impactful!
- Get your ducks in a row – create processes and plans that will prepare you for the unexpected. This is where you create flow charts and utilize best practices in the banking and insurance industries and prove out how to handle PHI, off-label recommendations and community guidelines.
- Educate as you plan. Don’t forget to invite legal and key executives to the table. If you keep all decision-makers looped in along the way, they’ll be more comfortable letting you make the leap.
- Finally, dip that toe in the social media pool and then jump on in. The water’s fine.