Monday, May 18, 2009

Pharma and Social Media: Not Ready For Prime Time?

by Mike Auerbach, Editor (@PharmProEditor)
Original Post: Pharmaceutical Processing

Social media is all the rage. From familiar websites such as Facebook and MySpace to the newest darling of the social media scene – Twitter – it seems that if you are not "tweeting", well, you are just not on the "bleeding" edge of technology.

While I will never claim to be on the bleeding edge of anything - I have been "tweeting" for the last month or so as PharmProEditor ( and have found it both immensely interesting and incredibly frustrating.

The best feature of Twitter is that you are able to "listen" in on what the hottest topics of discussion are – in the pharma world this can range from the latest industry news to what bloggers are saying about every imaginable healthcare topic.

The problem with Twitter is filtering out all the extraneous "noise". On Twitter you "follow" people and have "followers" and its not considered "polite" to "tune out" those who are following you who may not be in your main area of interest.

The big question on everyone's mind regarding Twitter specifically, and social media in general, is how big pharma and the industry will use this new-fangled marketing tool.

The inherent problem lies in the way Twitter is evolving. At its conception it was viewed simply as a means for people to tell each other what they were doing. Now, it has morphed into a marketing juggernaut, able to reach thousands of people in an instant.

How will the pharma industry harness this new tool? And, perhaps even more importantly, who will regulate what the marketing people say?

Currently, the FDA has very strict rules regarding Direct-To-Consumer (DTC) advertising and marketing. If nothing else, Twitter is probably the fastest DTC outlet there is - the potential to reach new customers is enormous.

Is Twitter ready for prime time? Is the pharma industry?

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