The other day I was talking to someone who described themselves (and their company) as a 'social media expert' and was looking to sell their services to Pharma companies wishing to use this channel for marketing their brands. Except that on asking for more information, their world was mostly confined to blogging, Twitter, Facebook and Google Analytics. Their response to which social bookmarks did they use got an airy, "oh I don't bother with those, too time consuming." What about showing them trend data about their brands? "Twistori is way cool!" I couldn't even find them in LinkedIn. Their Pharma experience was virtually non-existent, judging by the blank look they gave me on being asked how they would address adverse event concerns with review teams.
Well, I don't know about you, but anyone who describes themselves as a 'expert' is enough to put me off for good. My own limited experience spans nearly 20 years in the Pharma environment, including consulting, plus 10 years experimenting with social media and I certainly wouldn't even begin to call myself an expert in either because I'm still learning every day.
The thing with any monitoring, for social media or otherwise, is that cool graphics, pretty pictures and analytics on their own aren't enough. What does the data actually mean in relation to the product or market you are interested in? To answer this, you need to truly understand and have experience in the space you are working in to offer a creditable proposition. The real value vendors can offer is actionable insights, recommendations and a viable strategy to address the issue being investigated. The data is what helps you figure out the gaps, not the be all and end all.
Suggesting a Facebook page or a Twitter account to essentially push out information is hardly a logical starting point or engaging with consumers and patients. Using just Twitter search and Google to monitor 'brand awareness' is amateurish; you need a lot more than that to provide a useful coherent product strategy. Pharma is one of the most regulated industries out there and thus all branded content is first reviewed for fair balance and accuracy by a committee of medical, regulatory and legal experts. Companies take this role seriously, after all, no one wants to get a warning letter from the FDA for promotional abuses, as 14 of them did recently for Google ads such as www.drugname.com.
Social media is much much more than a Twitter account, a Facebook page and a few blog posts.