Friday, February 11, 2011

New Facebook Page Format has Implications for Pharma

authored by

Ross Fetterolf, SVP Digital Strategy

Jeremy Franz, Digital Strategy Coordinator

As if having a movie about his life nominated for an Oscar wasn’t enough excitement for 2011, Mark Zuckerberg and the Facebook gang have decided to evolve their platform once again, and the updates may leave those of us in the Pharma marketing world having to do some major updates to get our pages in compliance before this forced format change occurs on March 10th, 2011.

To help provide some visual support for these changes, we went ahead and converted the Ignite Health Digital Strategy page to the new format, and dissected these updates below. We’ll describe the changes and talk briefly about the implications for Pharma Facebook efforts from a compliance perspective or potential increased marketing opportunity.

  1. Photo Strip moves above Wall
    1. DESCRIPTION: This means that the most recent photos added by your page will be pulled into a prominent placement above the wall (similar to the recently redesigned user profile)
    2. IMPLICATION: There is now an increased importance of having photos be part of our page efforts, as they will occupy a very central area of the page. Typically Pharma pages have very few photos included outside their profile picture, everyone get your cameras out. One unique opportunity is for companies to use this strip creatively. For examples of what we mean, check out some of these interesting examples posted on mashable.

  1. Tabs Move from top panel to under Profile Picture
    1. DESCRIPTION: Tabs now move from a central navigation area under the page name, to the left area under the profile picture, with the visible number set to six
    2. IMPLICATION: This could impact how the order of safety information appears (a careful consideration for branded pages), and will also likely decrease interactions with tabs other than what appears as the primary tab for the page

  1. Profile Picture Size Reduced
    1. DESCRIPTION: The size of the profile picture used for a group have been cut down by 80 pixels (from 200 X 600 to 180 X 540)
    2. IMPLICATION: Could impact those pages that used a snippet of safety info as part of their picture to suggest that additional balanced information is available on page (a potential strategy to promote some degree of safety if posts are viewed outside of, on a mobile device perhaps)

  1. Pages can Like other Pages
    1. DESCRIPTION: Pages can now officially “like” other pages, not just follow them or include them in their links
    2. IMPLICATION: This presents an opportunity for a page to express specific affiliation with other pages (similar to a call-out on a website). Branded to un-branded linkage debates may soon be coming to Facebook…

  1. Official Page Owners
    1. DESCRIPTION: Previously, no-one knew who was responsible for creating and maintain your page, this new update provides the ability to feature page owners
    2. IMPLICATIONS: We now have the opportunity to assign a human face to brand/company efforts. Who’s your official face of social media?

The following items don’t specifically impact the page layout, but are additional regulations surrounding pages that should be noted.

  1. E-mail Notifications for User Posts/Comments
    1. DESCRIPTION: While the idea that I am notified when someone posts on my wall is common practice on individual pages, this did not occur for group pages until this update
    2. IMPLICATIONS: This update (combined with number 7 below) now opens up the potential for open comments to occur on pages, as page administrators can now be notified immediately when a user posts on the page wall or mentions a page that they like in their status update
  1. Proactively Moderate Content Posted on Page

a. DESCRIPTION: Pages can now create a “moderation blacklist” of keywords to ensure that these terms don’t appear on comments posted on your page

b. IMPLICATIONS: While there is only one current example (Psoriasis360) of open wall conversations taking place on Pharma pages, this update has the ability to make this concept feasible. Your branded page could include a “moderation blacklist” of disease terms and adverse event language to ensure that any user post would be within guidelines. Could this bring us one step closer to Pharma actually engaging in true social media?

  1. Interact Throughout Facebook as your Page
    1. DESCRIPTION: Previously pages could only communicate on their own page (through their wall), but could not communicate as a page throughout Facebook
    2. IMPLICATIONS: Theoretically, this opens up the potential for Pharma pages to communicate directly with other pages, and users interacting on those pages (i.e., adding to user comments). Imagine offering up product advice (as a brand page) to users who are commenting on a disease focused page

  1. No More Non-Official “Wall” Usage
    1. DESCRIPTION: Facebook is taking ownership of the term “wall” when used on their site, and will no longer allow users to have any application/tab that uses this language (Facebook branding policy)
    2. IMPLICATIONS: To deal with the unique implications of doing Pharma marketing on Facebook, some companies have created custom wall applications (see “our wall” on the Latisse Facebook Page) so that they could imbed safety information at the bottom of the page, technically not possible within the confines of Facebook’s official “wall.”

While this is by no means an exhaustive list of the impact that the new Facebook pages updates will have on Pharma social media efforts, it highlights a larger challenge of executing social media in our space. Simply put, we are at the mercy of Facebook and other platforms, which consistently make changes to improve the user experience or functionality, often with little or no notice to marketers who have carefully designed their experiences based on existing guidelines.

If these changes have significant impact on your Pharma Facebook page, and I suspect they might, the countdown clock starts ticking to March 10th. Can we rush to understand and process these guidelines, adjust social media policies/standards, develop solutions, get them approved through med/legal and deploy them in 4 weeks time?

Let us know your thoughts on how these changes are going to affect you, and stay tuned for some more in-depth analysis on what these updates mean for our industry.

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