Digital PharmaWest Key Learnings

tb_san_francisco_usa.jpgI wrote this post when I was in route home after three days at the Digital Pharma West Conference in San Francisco. Though the weather was beautiful and the food fantastic, I can’t help but reflect on the people I met, the things I learned and the ideas that I hope to one day execute (that will come at a later date).

The social media community is a unique one – it’s friendly, personal and uninhibited. Maybe this comes from the realization that social media allows us to get rid of the awkward introductions. You somewhat know the person, where they’re from, what they like, and if your views somewhat align. It makes conferences like these easier. Enough with my lovefest for social media folk – here are some key takeaways from the conference, that I think could be applicable to any industry (highly regulated or not).

Social Media Strategy is Needed, No Matter What People Say:

I know that people are tired of hearing that SM Strategy, but the fact is – it’s essential for companies who are in the crawling and even walking stages of social media implementation. Even for companies that are running marathons, a strategy helps to ensure that measureable goals and tactics, not the tools, direct align with that strategy. Plus, when review time comes – don’t you want to say, “Look what we’ve achieved?”

Transparency Authenticity are Key:

At the conference, there was a lot of discussion around transparency, but I’m going to go ahead and add authenticity in there because I feel like they go hand in hand. When we think about blogger outreach we need, we continue to stress the importance of FTC guidelines and disclosure. However, I think brands need to be transparent in their practices and participation in social. For example, if you’re moderating comments – state that. Never assume that something is common practice. Instead, state your purpose of your social media participation.

Authenticity is important for all companies in social media. What I’ve seen in pharma and other regulated industries, like financial, is that there is fear of a two-way dialogue. Social media is all about the conversation. If you don’t want to be a part of that, then maybe we need to think of other tools that align with your needs.

Know Your Audience, Don’t Assume:

While at the conference, I met Doctor Anonymous, who shared that many case studies were focused on orphan disease conditions, leading to high success rates because of a pure monopoly of the disease space. Some great studies were shared at the conference, but one that received great praise was Genentech’s online community for Cystic Fibrosis. This case study was one of them. Let’s set the results aside for now and focus on the research. Genentech provided us with an in-depth look at  their audience research – looking at not only demographics, but also attitudinal segmentation, recognizing how patients identified with their disease.

I think this is something each brand should do – and we never do enough of – look at who your audience is, what motivates them, where are they on their journey or life path, what are their burdens. Only then can we truly provide our audiences with what they truly want. After all, assuming only leads us down a dead-end road.

Define Your Business Objectives and Measure Against Them:

We’re in the middle of planning for 2011, and I had a great mentor who always asked me – “What are their business goals and how do they define success?” She said that if we couldn’t answer these questions, then we weren’t doing the best work for our clients’. After you define your goals, always remember to stay true to them. Especially with social media, we’ll need to make adjustments – but only if they directly align with our goals.

Collaborate, Collaborate, Collaborate:

I know it sounds silly, but collaboration across all lines and all levels only leads to success. I think that initially, it will be difficult to get everyone signed on, but the day of living in silos is over. PR needs to work with marketing and sales and yes, even your agencies need to talk. Yes, one person can make a difference – but that one person can’t do everything. Effective teamwork and collaboration across departments will lead to success for everyone. At the end of the day, that’s the moment that we’re all looking for.

And my final note – please do NOT hire a newly graduated college student to manage your brand’s social media practices. Yes, it’s great experience for them – but would you leave your brand’s reputation in the hands of someone who has no experience in the workforce, your brand voice, customer service or crisis management? I wouldn’t.

Overall, the conference provided me with opportunities for great discussions and the chance to meet smart people who are passionate about social media. Regardless of what field you’re in, I firmly believe that employees are truly seeking to help – help to connect people to products or services that will ultimately help the consumer.

The photo above was taken by Alistair Watters.

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Posted on July 5, 2010, in Events, Marketing, social media and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. Hey admin, very informative blog post! Pleasee continue this awesome work..

  2. Thank you for the advice. I’ve found your first point to be most effective.

  3. I am so grateful for your blog article.Thanks Again. Keep writing.

  4. Fantastic article post.Really thank you! Keep writing.

  5. Took me awhile to read all the comments, but I really love the article. It proved to be very helpful to me and I am sure to all the commenters here! It’s always nice when you can not only be informed, but also entertained! I’m sure you had joy writing this article.

  6. I liked reading your blog ~ thanks for posting such useful content.

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