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June 26, 2012
Influential online Moms are not just about consumer goods. They have a strong and passionate voice when it comes to healthcare as well. So why isn't the Canadian pharmaceutical industry tapping into this powerful network to help raise awareness about various disease states and provide healthy tips? Perhaps some have and I am not aware. If this is the case, please let me know. By now, we all know that the industry is heavily regulated and anything that the bloggers write on behalf of an organization, whether on paper or in a blog, would be subject to the same guidelines that the pharma marketers must abide by. A little training, a set of guidelines and monitoring can greatly minimize this risk. As an example of what could be done, take a look at the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals online fundraising campaign via “Miracle Moms”. Miracle Moms consists of a group of 10 passionate Moms with influential blogs; 7 are Canadian and 3 are American. They have joined forces to raise awareness for Children’s Miracle Network and Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. These Moms are highlighting moments that take place at these children hospitals and are showcasing the needs of various families who are using these hospitals’ services. In addition, each blogger is running a fundraiser via their blog and social media profiles to help a local children’s network hospital in their area. Funds raised will be given to local hospitals for much needed services like Art Therapy, Child Life Rooms, and of course state of the art equipment. I am always impressed with the soft selling skills of online Moms, and have learned a lot from this group over the years. In speaking with Stephanie, the author of the popular Canadian Mom blog "How to survive life in the suburbs", here is the key learning that she took away from her participation in the Miracle Moms campaign:
"If you ask for help spreading the word about a heartfelt cause, you will receive. I continue to be amazed by the power of Moms who Blog and the way they will all jump in to lend a hand and socially amplify each others tweets, Facebook and Blog posts when it is a subject close to their hearts. Awareness of this cause has truly blossomed all thanks to the power of social media. In future programs we may consider using a twitter party at launch to truly get off to a dramatic start."Wouldn't a blogger outreach such as this one be a great way to humanize the pharma industry? Have you ever considered it as a PR tactic? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below. On a side note, congratulations to all the Mom bloggers who were involved as 'Miracle Moms' in this particular fundraising campaign. I personally appreciate all the hard work that you have put in for this very important cause, the health of our kids. Be sure to check out the blogs of these great ladies!
- My Organized Chaos
- How To Survive Life In The Suburbs
- Bored Mommy
- Things I Can't Say
- Tammy's Two Cents
- Nugglemama's Handful
- Loulou's Views
- Listen To Lena
- Busy Mommy
- CMNH Radio
October 13, 2011
According to a new report posted by Statistics Canada ("Individual Internet use and E-Commerce, 2010"), 64% of Canadian internet users search for medical or health-related information vs, 58% who use social networking sites. In fact, only 33% of Canadian internet users play online games, and only 19% are contribute content or participating in discussion groups (e.g., blogging, message boards, posting images)
Unfortunately, the online activities are not broken down by demographics.
The report clearly states that one cannot compare data from previous reports to this most recent one because the methodology and questions for both are somewhat different. However, I cannot resist but post some of the stats from the 2009 report. Compare the 2010 and 2009 data at your own risk:
Health searches on the Internet (from the data collected 2009):
- Searching for health information online reported by 70% of home users
- 74% of women used the Internet to search for information about health or medical conditions, while 66% of men did so
The 2010 online activity for both health information search and social networking is quite high. Moreover, search engines are taking social media more and more into consideration when ranking webpages.
Isn't it time for all healthcare organizations and pharma companies to pay closer attention to their online activities in order to respond to the needs of Canadian consumers? Leave your comments on this topic below.
August 15, 2011
If you were in Novartis` shoes, what would you have done differently?
On August 10th, 2011, Novartis publicly called it quits for its "Maybe Someday" social media campaign. They announced the demise of the campaign on Twitter. Other than the Twitter post, one would probably not have even noticed that the campaign got pulled:
A few stats and pics of the campaign at closure:
Their Twitter stats as of August 14 2011 consisted of 94 tweets, following 392, followed by 125 and listed 5 times. There weren`t many tweets for this account, but I want to give acknowledgement to Novartis for taking the time to thank new followers and those who wrote a `hope` on their main site. In fact, almost all of their tweets mentioned somebody on Twitter.
The Maybe Someday FaceBook page could not be found as of August 14 2011.
The MaybeSomeday.ca site was still up as of August 14th, and it showed a total of 2,811 hopes (despite an objective of 25,000 hopes). When I wrote about the campaign back in April, it had 1,175 hopes.
The Maybe Someday site is still promoted on the main Novartis Canada site, but I`m sure that this will be rectified very quickly.
Reflection on the Maybe Someday campaign:
First of all, the only reason why I even found out that something was up with the Maybe Someday campaign was when I was going through my list of Canadian healthcare FaceBook pages to see if any of them had been shut down as a result of FaceBook no longer supporting pharmaceutical companies` request to disallow comments on their wall. The Maybe Someday page didn`t show up, so I dug further and that`s how I got to their Twitter statement.
Despite the timing with FaceBook`s actions with pharmaceutical pages, I think the closure of the site probably had more to do with the low number of hopes that were generated within the 8-month period of the campaign. This is my gut feel. Nobody from Novartis Canada has confirmed this.
Why so few hopes versus the objective? Was it the lack of advertising? Did Novartis have a `build it and they will come` mentality when it came to social media? The limited `human touch` involved in the campaign, which is typically expected in social media (but of course, is limited when one wants to remain within regulatory guidelines). Was it that people just weren`t excited by the amount to be provided as a charitable donation ($25,000)? Did Novartis Canada just not give the campaign enough time? Social media campaigns are usually expected to run for years. It is probably a combination of all of these.
Whatever the reason, I hope that Novartis Canada has taken some key learnings from this short-lived campaign, and will be willing to apply these in a future tactic involving social media. Eric Shenfield, eMarketing Manager at Novartis Canada, will be speaking at the upcoming eMarketing Canada (Eye for Pharma) in November in Toronto. Hopefully his presentation will allow him to share some of Novartis` key learnings with the rest of us, so that we can all learn.
July 7, 2011
This is a guest post by Timothy Dunn, Legal Advisor to Healthcare Companies Doing Business in Canada. You can find Timothy on Twitter here, and here is his website. If you have any questions, or would like to discuss a particular matter, you can contact Timothy at firstname.lastname@example.org or (450) 951-1335.
How Healthcare Companies Should Conduct Social Media Activities
Healthcare companies should conduct SMA within the scope of legally acceptable risk, which takes into account all of the relevant sources of exposure. I will share some thoughts about my approach to legal review of SMA. While I believe it to be true as of the time of posting, this information should not be taken as legal advice. You should always consult with a lawyer to discuss the implications of specific SMA to your healthcare company.
Regarding the legal review of ‘speaking' SMA, my practice is to perform a categorical analysis of the piece or project to determine which Regulations apply, then perform a qualitative analysis of the piece or project against the relevant Regulations to determine scope of the risk of exposure.
1) The first step in my categorical analysis is assessing whether the SMA is either informational or promotional in nature. A useful instrument in this analysis is Health Canada’s Distinction between Advertising & Other Activities.
2) Where products are involved, how are these categorized (prescription drugs, Class I medical device, natural health product, etc.) and which Regulations become relevant?
3) Next, I determine the intended audience of the SMA: healthcare professionals, patients, or the general public. This analysis will determine which Regulations apply, as each of these audiences is regulated differently. In the former two cases, are the strategy and tactics deployed necessary or sufficient to restrict access to the appropriate populations?
Only after I position the SMA within the above matrix do I begin to analyze its content. What restrictions do Regulations impose on acceptable condition-related or product-related representations? Because SMA is predominantly interactive, control of editorial content is directly correlated with risk management of exposure to non-compliance with Regulations; it is inversely correlated with communitarian and interactive notions which inform and influence SMA strategies and tactics. My practice is to educate brand managers and other marketing professionals about the scope of the risk, suggest strategies and tactics to mitigate or manage it, and leave the ultimate decision to the business people.
Turning now to the ‘listening’ or receiving of SMA messages from stakeholders, healthcare companies should be mindful of privacy law, personal health information law, and pharmacovigilence/adverse event reporting obligations. Again, my practice is to perform a categorical and qualitative analysis based on these five questions:
1) is there informed consent for the collection of all information being collected and all purposes for which it will be used?
2) Where will the information be stored, is this being disclosed to the stakeholder, and what are the regulatory implications for transmitting the information outside of the jurisdiction in which it was collected?
3) What safeguards are there to maintain the confidentiality of the information; are these necessary or sufficient?
5) Which legislative regime will apply to the collected information (privacy law, personal health information law, adverse event reporting law, other?)
Exercise extreme caution when the collected information about a specific product is publicly available.
The way in which healthcare companies engage stakeholders is changing from a didactic paradigm of information dissemination to an interlocutory paradigm which necessarily entails a relinquishing of control over information content. The reality is that healthcare companies need to use SMA in order to remain engaged and relevant to their stakeholders. Because SMA tactics and strategies are evolving faster than the Regulations, legal risk increases. Healthcare companies should consult closely with legal counsel who has expertise in the regulation of advertising and promotion of therapeutic products, at all stages of the development and execution of SMA, in order to effectively manage this necessary risk.
April 12, 2011
Here's an interesting Canadian pharma case study where the social media campaign seems to be very well designed and executed, but reaching the intended audience and getting them to take action is proving to be a rather slow process. The details of the campaign are below. Share your thoughts with us on the Maybe Someday campaign in the comments section. In January 2011, Novartis Canada kicked off a social media campaign, "Maybe Someday", designed to raise up to $25,000 for the Canadian MS Society. This is a purely Canadian initiative. Considering their drug Gilenya® (fingolimod) capsules, the first oral disease-modifying therapy developed for relapsing-remitting MS, was approved by Health Canada on March 9th 2011, the Maybe Someday campaign was most likely a pre- and early launch tactic to raise awareness of Novartis as a player in the MS industry, and to develop a relationship with key MS stakeholders. As such, Novartis and Tank, the agency who developed the site, designed the Maybe Someday campaign so that it would be more than just a fundraiser. Despite following restrictive regulatory guidelines, the campaign manages to provide an emotional and memorable experience to the multiple sclerosis (MS) patients, friends, relatives and caregivers that participate. These stakeholders get to write a hope that they have regarding MS, either for themselves or a loved one. What can be more emotional than somebody's hopes and dreams. Just read some of the hopes that were written on the main site so far, and you will see that many people poured their heart and soul into their 'hope' statement. There is no real motivation for repeat visits to the site, but I don't think that was part of the objective for the campaign in the first place. The main component of the campaign is the MaybeSomeday.ca site, where a 2 minute and 15 second video explains the concept of the site and encourages people to write their hope. The main site clearly states that Novartis is behind this initiative. I am assuming that regulatory issues concerning the restrictive Schedule F Rx-DTC advertising in Canada have been taken into consideration, thus restricting all mentions of drugs:
"Please note that we can't post messages about medications and treatments - only inspirational thoughts and wishes."You can scroll through the hopes that people wrote on the left side of the screen, and the bottom left keeps a tally of the English and French hopes which have been written thus far. As mentioned earlier, some of them are very touching. The user's experience would be enhanced if they could comment on the hope of others. But according to the “Social Media Marketing in Pharma: What Works in Canada” conference, a pharmaceutical company is responsible for all content within their site, regardless of who posted it. If people were to share information with each other about their treatments or disease on the Maybe Someday site, Novartis Canada would hold full liability for this content. Novartis could allow it, but they would have to monitor and edit in order to ensure that the comments stay within the guidelines. They could however add a 'like' button or something similar to allow people to at least show support to the author of the hope. Other case studies of Canadian pharma companies who are involved in social media but do not accept comments can be found here, here, and here. I added my hope on the MaybeSomeday.ca website. You can see it just below this paragraph. After your hope has been submitted, you are encouraged to help spread the word about the site via Twitter, FaceBook and e-mail. An automatic message comes up for Twitter, which includes the hashtags #maybesomeday and #MS. Upon scanning the #maybesomeday hashtag: it is being used by many people who are writing a wish on Twitter, very few of which were regarding the MaybeSomeday.ca site (ie. looking for the right girl or guy, wanting to attend a fun event, etc...). FaceBook page as well as a Twitter account. These are promoted from the main site. There is a YouTube channel as well with the Maybe Someday video, but there is no activity at all there and Novartis is not pointing anybody to its direction either. Interestingly, none of these sites mention the name "Novartis", except that the FaceBook page 'likes' the Novartis FaceBook page. However, they all link back to the MaybeSomeday.ca site, which does mention Novartis twice. The FaceBook, Twitter and YouTube profiles were all set up by Tank. The posts are all kind of similar, in that they are promoting the MaybeSomeday.ca site, and are encouraging community members to write a 'hope'. There is little engagement on the FaceBook page because members are only able to 'like' and share a statement. It is noted on the FaceBook information tab that "This page can't save your comments". I decided to test this out. I was able to write a comment, and it was visible for a short little while, but it was then quickly removed. As for the Twitter account, the messages are also very focused on sharing info and the link to the MaybeSomeday.ca site. However, it seems as though Novartis is taking the time to thank the people who are posting information about their site on Twitter. I got a thank you note very quickly after I promoted their site, and I saw a few others on their post timeline. You may have noticed that there is a very small following on both the FaceBook and Twitter profiles. As of April 8 2011 morning, there were almost 1,200 hopes. Novartis has an objective of 25,000 hopes in order to raise $25,000. Considering the site has been up for about 3 months already, that averages out to about 10 hopes per day. At this rate, it will take another 6 1/2 years for Novartis to achieve their objective, which is probably longer than Novartis plans to keep the campaign alive (this is my personal guess, nobody from Novartis told me this). My immediate thought was that perhaps there was a lack of advertising of the campaign. It seems as though there has been FaceBook advertising. People who visit the site and write a hope are then encouraged to help spread the message via their social networks. Traditional promotion of the FaceBook and Twitter sites has been through the MaybeSomeday.ca main site and on the home page of the Novartis Canada site. Based on this info, I do believe that the MaybeSomeday.ca campaign is getting fewer 'hopes' and minimal community members because there is a lack in advertising of the program. Personally, I find the program was designed and implemented very effectively, but low awareness is an issue.
Could the MS Society of Canada help to spread the word about the campaign? I spoke with Rob Petrollini, Manager Web and New Media at the MS Society head office and asked if the MS Society had posted anything about the MaybeSomeday.ca campaign on their social networks. Their Facebook and Twitter profiles have a large number of community members (FaceBook has over 6,400 members, and Twitter has over 2,500 followers as of April 8th 2011). Surely a quick post about the MaybeSomeday.ca fundraising activity would drive their members to help raise the donation and follow the campaign on either FaceBook or Twitter. But unfortunately the MS Society has a policy that prohibits them from promoting any pharmaceutical company program, so they have not posted anything related to the Maybe Someday campaign:"The MS Society's total revenue from pharmaceutical companiesis less than 2% of the amount of money the organization receives annually. Any pharmaceutical funding received by the MS Society of Canada is subject to the MS Society's strict policies that prevent any control or influence by the donor on our decision-making. This is consistent with the ethical principles of Canada's research-based pharmaceutical companies which require that they assure the independence and integrity of stakeholders, in terms of their operations, policies and activities." This is a shame because the Maybe Someday campaign was developed by following the restrictive regulatory guidelines regarding Canadian Rx-DTC advertising. I find it hard to believe that the MS Society community members would have a more negative perception of the society if they were made aware of the Maybe Someday campaign. If a consumer company would sponsor a similar initiative, would the medical organization promote it? I'm not sure what the answer is to that question, but this might be a good topic for a future post. So what are your thoughts on the Maybe Someday campaign? Please share in the comments section. Disclosure: I have no ties with the Maybe Someday campaign, and Novartis is not a client of mine. I just find their site interesting, and I hope that Novartis reaches its goal so that the MS Society of Canada can get the full $25,000.