Saturday, May 01, 2010

From Twitter 04-30-2010

  • 14:46:33: New Blog Post by @digitalbulldog & @spitzstrategy re: e-Marketing, Pharma & Facebook’s New “Like” Feature" #hcsm #fdasm
  • 15:13:34: RT @PfisterInsights: Take a look at Ignite's POV on Facebook "Like" feature and #ePharma implications
  • 15:44:06: @PhilBaumann i take it you would find Novartis' fpatient "Christopher Chronicles" offensive?: #hcsm #fdasm
  • 16:39:40: Dear @aairwave (Am. Air). Plane ran out of red wine in coach. When 1st class drunk, attndnt poured me their wine. You DO know why I fly :)
  • 17:35:47: @PhilBaumann Not a "hard" vs "easy" thing (2 me). I see it as a creative/strategic approach that COULD b effctive. Not aways. Sometimes. No?

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Friday, April 30, 2010

What Pharma Should Like (and Dislike) About Facebook’s New “Like” Feature

authored by
Ross Fetterolf, SVP Brand Strategy and Channel Innovation
Michael Spitz, Senior Digital Strategist
Ignite Health

In case you haven’t heard, the biggest news in social media this week is “Like.” No, it’s not the return to 80’s valley girl speak that some of us have been looking forward to for decades—according to Facebook, “Like” is their new feature that promises to change the web through a technology called “Open Graph”. At their latest development conference (click here for a webcast of the live event), Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg said that the new “Like” feature pushes us one step closer to the promise of Web 3.0, the semantic Web. For those of you in the Pharma community who don’t know whether or not to like “Like,” the Ignite strategy team wanted to offer up some thoughts that present a compelling story for each side of the argument. Here goes…

Why Pharma Should Like “Like” Ross’s POV

A small snippet of code can now turn even the most traditional of sites into a social experience. Real Pharma social media has never felt so attainable as the day when Facebook “Like” was introduced. Here’s why:

Get By with a Little “Like” from Your Friends

  • The new “Like” feature turns the Web into a shared experience, so I can immediately see which people in my social circle (i.e., Facebook friends) have visited an online property, and what they found interesting or helpful within that site. Imagine going to a website to learn about a new medication and finding out that one of your friends “liked” it. Powered with this information, I am now one step closer to making a treatment decision—and can reach out to my friend to learn more.

I Think You Two Might “Like” Each Other

  • So maybe none of your friends is taking the product you are considering, or reading the same disease information you came across. Well according to “Like”—there are people out there that are. Who are those people? Maybe they are people that should be part of your social circle, people you should be connecting with. Pharma has been experimenting with the creation of product user communities for a long time now—the first example of this was Roche’s Pegassist Buddy program—that connected users of their product to communicate in a setting outside the jurisdiction of the Pharma company through a simple exchange of e-mail addresses. And while Pegassist Buddies have come and gone, new efforts have emerged which are aimed at generating the same kind of peer-to-peer interaction—programs like the Tysabri Mentor Program.

  • Facebook “Like” essentially does the same thing—connecting users of a product or with an interest in a disease state, so they can discuss their own experiences in an “off-brand” setting. This feature alone could give a new sense of relevancy to Pharma brand sites, which could not only serve as the official destination for prospective patients to learn about a product, but also the place where they could go to virtually meet other patients who are using a product and are satisfied/dissatisfied with its results. A connection to shared experiences – all powered by a simple click of the “Like” button – social behavior has never been so simple…

Learning Users Likes and Dislikes

  • Aside from the ability of “Like” to connect the user to others inside or outside their social circle, how about the ability for the Pharma Company to simply learn more about the content preferences of their users? We’ve piloted this basic concept on disease education sites in the form of the ability to rate content, and it has been a great way to really learn what content our users find valuable, and even determine which content isn’t as helpful. “Like” introduces a layer of user feedback on top of your site that should enable future content decisions, shaping the user experience to be most beneficial to your audience – the inherent goal in any eMarketing effort.

Why Pharma Should Dislike "Like" Spitz's POV

Although the new and revolutionary Facebook Open Graph technology will synergize the digital experience for millions of users as Ross describes, this communications model creates immediate and potentially intractable dilemmas for Pharma. Here’s why:

Mr. Zuckerberg Goes to Washington

  • Mark Zuckerberg’s recent announcement of this new model was genuinely exciting—so much so that several senators, led by Charles Schumer of New York, organized themselves to take action regarding potential privacy violations. "We look forward to the FTC examining this issue,” stated the group. “But in the meantime, we believe Facebook can take swift and productive steps to alleviate the concerns of its users."

  • The problem here is two-fold: On the one hand, Open Graph will make participating Facebook users’ personal information available to numerous and unspecified third-party businesses; on the other, the technology automatically pulls this data unless users voluntarily and proactively choose to opt-out—far from an obvious process. The special risk to Pharma websites is obvious, as private information regarding an individual’s treatment preferences is made available to unseen marketers and who knows who else.

Do You Want ISI with That?

  • Pulling information from a consumer website and making it available on Facebook (as demonstrated by the screenshot from Ross’ own Facebook page below) might work well for jeans or other unregulated products, but the social media guidance so important for Pharma marketers has yet to be mandated. Imagine this functionality made available on a typical for a drug—would the same rules of fair balance apply within the “Like” box embedded in the news stream on Facebook as the original content on the itself? To what extent? Who is held accountable?

Adverse Event Commenting

  • And that brings up the third potential problem—what about the comment feature below the Facebook “Like” box? How would your brand manager or eMarketing director feel when visitors to your branded websites are able to post text and graphics featuring your heavily regulated drug on Facebook pages, enabling and encouraging their friends and family to openly and enthusiastically comment on them? Should one of them post an adverse event, then who would be held accountable? How would the Pharma Company be able to monitor potentially thousands, if not millions, of individual Facebook pages?

Conclusion: “Like,” What’s Not to Like?

The new Facebook “Like” feature might sound like an exciting and affordable way to reach millions of additional people with your brand messaging, but the privacy, regulatory, and AE concerns are unexplored and potentially severe—not to mention the inherent threats to your brand’s reputation.

That said, despite the remaining unknowns and inherent risks of Facebook’s new communications model, the opportunities for marketing specialists—including those in Pharma—are so exciting and powerful that Open Graph cannot and should not be ignored. The onus therefore rests on us as digital experts to educate our teams, mitigate the risks, and utilize this exciting technology for the benefit of our clients and the healthcare professionals and patients they serve.

So now you’ve heard our thoughts on “Like”—but we’d like to hear yours. So drop us a line in the comments section (and please, no jokes about Ross’s skinny jean experimentation, that’s not what social media is all about—or is it?)

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From Twitter 04-29-2010

  • 06:29:58: launches new iPhone app to help people with epilepsy manage seizures, symptoms, and treatment #epilepsy
  • 06:36:40: #1 parent-2-parent recommendation re: children w/asthma: Learn all you can. Sepracor helps w/new website #asthma
  • 06:51:31: Absolutely fascinating. "FTC uses game site to ad-ucate kids about advertising" Http://
  • 09:53:22: New blog post from ignite health's Laura Pfister: "Earned media earns more on social platforms" #fdasm #hcsm
  • 11:45:28: Droid certainly DOES. Jst as Jobs is dissing flash, droid launches skyfire
  • 11:48:12: Droid DOES. As Jobs dissed flash, Droid launches SKYFIRE app that plays flash video on android platform mobile browser.

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Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Earned Media Earns More on Social Platforms

by Laura Pfister
VP, Strategic Insight, Ignite Health

The concept of “earned media”, that in which your target audience engages with your brand message and then passes along to their social sphere of friends, family and acquaintances, is far from new; however, new social platforms, such as Facebook, have created a fundamental change in the way earned media is experienced and accepted through this interactive medium.

Social Technologies Facilitate Earned Media

Technological advancements have lead to increased amplification and speed of earned media’s “voice” of the target audience as a single posting possesses the ability to reach hundreds friends in a fraction of a second. Previously brands had little to no control over the earned-media messaging, as an individual passed along a message via traditional word-of-mouth, they now are designed in such a manner to allow for a controlled message to be passed along ensuring message consistency. Additionally, the web-based platforms allow for significantly increased measurability, as well as a further examination of the relationship between a paid impression and the resulting earned media’s impact on brand perception.

Nielsen & Facebook Earned Media Study Overview

Nielsen, in partnership with Facebook, released an April 2010 study entitled “Advertising Effectiveness: Understanding the Value of a Social Media Impression”
. [Accessed April 28, 2010 at] that examines just these relationships. The study, conducted over six months with over 800,000 Facebook user surveys and 125 advertising campaigns utilizing Nielson’s proprietary BrandLift research product, reveals findings that are of importance for those currently engaged with or considering the development of social media programs.

Earned Media Makes Major Measurable Impact on Social Platforms

As seen below, this report focuses on the three types of advertisements utilized to drive reach and brand messaging within Facebook: Standard Homepage Ad, Homepage Ad with Social Context, and Organic Impressions

Within the study, it was found that the social advertisements and organic impressions as the result of brand interaction possessed significantly higher recall, awareness and purchase intent rates.

Brand Impact Longevity Increases with Social

Also of interest was the target audiences possessed a higher willingness to absorb the social earned messages over a longer duration of time than seen with traditional advertising formats. With traditional advertising, audiences tune-out after approximately 4 impressions, however, with social there appears to be growth even after 10+ impressions. This provides the opportunity for increased momentum for campaigns within a social sphere, as audiences stay open to message consumption longer with increased impact potential.

: Social Investment Offset by Significant Earned Media Potential

The social media platform, specifically Facebook, allows for controlled earned media that has proven increased impact across awareness, recall and intent. All of these have the potential to drive value to our campaigns; however, in order for our audiences to engage our messaging within these platforms, it is first necessary for us to possess a meaningful presence within them. Once this has been established, brands need to get the ball-rolling through paid advertising that is interesting and engaging, thus starting the influx of earned media. Following this initial building phase, brands should measure the growth of new members and ad interaction rates to ensure that they do not stagnate, providing boosts of paid media support to maintain momentum through the course of the campaign as necessary, thus maximizing earned social media potential.

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Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Beware the Ides of March—How to Thrive in the Wake of the Social Media Revolution

by Michael Spitz
Senior Digital Strategist , Ignite Health


Analysis suggests social media networks will eventually transform the entire digital ecosystem. But data regarding information consumption and influence reveal healthcare is well behind the curve. What can we learn from the powerful features and functionality of social media, and how can we apply these insights to safe and effective solutions we offer our clients today?

Revelation A: Social Media Supersedes Search as the Next Digital Paradigm Shift

On March 15, Hitwise Director of Research Heather Dougherty shared an astonishing metric: Two days earlier the market share of visits to Facebook overtook that of Google.

Weekly Market Share of Visits to and

Even more astonishing is the social network’s geometric growth: compared to the same week in 2009, market share of visits to Facebook increased by 185%, while visits to Google increased by only 9%. Taken together that week, total visits to Facebook and all Google properties accounted for more than 17% of all Internet traffic—nearly 1 in 5 web visits.

Implication A: Technology Has Finally Caught Up To User Behavior

The web has been continuously evolving since inception, responsive to changes in technology, innovation, and market dynamics. From the birth of email to the earliest websites, from the first portals to the ascendancy of search and multimedia, and from wireless and smart mobile to the skyrocketing popularity of social networks, these trends have all been driving to the same ultimate goal: creation of a user experience that best reflects how human beings naturally communicate.

Primarily visual, instinctively social, always on the move, people now demand their channels be similarly interactive, connected, flexible, and dynamic. According to the Cybercitizen Health 9.0 report from Manhattan Research, more than 39% of consumers make health decisions and actions strongly influenced by the web. As healthcare communications experts it behooves us to acknowledge these revolutionary changes in where and how our audiences choose to find and share health information, and ensure that the tools and resources we provide reflect a comparable level of sophistication.

As even a quick glance at Ignite Chief Innovation Officer
Fabio Gratton’s FDASM mash-up attests, the buzz around social media for health-related communications is vibrant and ongoing, spawning a dedicated community to follow its twists and turns. With assurance from the FDA that some form of official guidance can be expected before the end of 2010, the industry is eager for a mandate through which to better and more safely explore this channel. When that enthusiasm will find full expression remains to be seen; nonetheless, the momentum behind making the inevitable possible is a force few deny.

Revelation B: Despite that Trend, Conventional Healthcare Websites Retain More Traction

As additional Manhattan Research suggests, conventional’s and social media sites currently rank about the same in terms of influence on consumers health actions and decisions:

Percentage of Consumers Whose Health Decisions and Actions Are Strongly Influenced by Various Online Sources

Although overall Internet user behaviors are trending toward the enthusiastic adoption of social media, the data here reveals that the influence of health-related information instead follows a different hierarchy of importance: From specific unbranded disease sources through government-sponsored, advocacy, and insurance company sites, and finally to branded properties and social networks, which score comparably.

Whether the relatively low influence of social media is caused by a lack of health-related social media websites, a lack user engagement, or suspicions about transparency begs the question—unbranded and branded pharma sites get more traction than social media sites. The question then becomes, all things considered: If healthcare/Pharma social media initiatives are more difficult to create, approve, implement, and maintain than conventional work, then why bother?

Implication B: Keep the Momentum Going, and Learn from What Works

As the web continues to “socialize,” and the ePharma industry continues to work together and with the FDA for the creation of social media guidance, our clients meanwhile demand safe, practical, and effective communication solutions. Knowing how effective social media can be, yet mindful of the current roadblocks, it becomes our responsibility to discover what can be done now to optimally reach, engage, and sustain relationships with our diverse audiences.

Disease education and websites might be more influential than social networking websites for the time being, but strategic insights and even tactical recommendations can and should be extracted from social media. Although open fields and true user-generated content are either too risky or subject to rigorous filtering and delay for ePharma, the functional qualities that make social media so powerful are nonetheless at our disposal. The only limit is our creativity and ability to understand and even internalize
our audience points of view.

Specifically, the astonishing popularity of social media is fueled by several high-level strategies and numerous tactics, ones that, when possible, should be integrated into our general communications approach. These imperatives include:

· Create an Immersive Experience
The passive display of information is always less compelling than open, two-way communication because interest is directly proportionate to involvement. Flash animation, dynamic content, and focusing attention on the audience benefits instead of the product features are proven strategies for heightening user engagement.

· Get Users Directly Involved
Techniques such as interactive,
user segmentation-driven navigation, patient profilers, dynamic therapy guides, survey and rating tools, dosing calendars, treatment algorithms, patient and physician video testimonials, and key opinion leader “Ask the Expert” roundtables are all compelling and help create a resonant user experience.

· Connect Online and Offline Worlds
Facilitating and encouraging physician-patient conversations lies at the heart of most healthcare communication initiatives, and can be stimulated with the same elements that make social media so powerful. For example, interactive dramatizations and dynamically generated “Questions to Ask Your Doctor” tools add resonance and meaning.

Remember the
Apple Newton? Compared to today’s iPhone the device was clearly a mobile computer for Neanderthals—the concept itself was spot-on, however, only years ahead of its time. And if Apple hadn’t started there and continued to develop the technology, the iPhone never could have come into existence.

The same can be said of healthcare social media. As the web continues to evolve and social media eventually envelopes all media, people will be digitally conversing as actively and openly about their health as they do now about consumer products, entertainment, and sporting events.

Until that happens, healthcare communications experts can adapt the learnings from social media to create immersive user experiences that achieve optimal results. By evolving to better meet the changing needs of our audience and their unique points of view, we can safely and effectively help fulfill Pharma’s goals of stimulating physician/patient conversations, providing the right information to the right targets at the right time, and demonstrating the level of transparency required to engender trust.
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