Nuts & Bolts - Social Media: AstraZeneca Socializes With Patients
Marketers in the medical community are hearing it just as much as their counterparts in other sectors: Get social.
Sixty-one percent of Americans are searching online for medical information, and 60 percent of the searchers say the information they found there helped guide their treatment decisions, says Gigi Peterkin. Peterkin, associate director of interactive media for AstraZeneca US, the American arm of the London-based biopharmaceutical company, spoke on May 11 during the Social Communications & Healthcare–Case Studies and Roundtables conference in New York.
Given the regulatory environment and internal approval system health care companies need to keep in mind whenever making any public statements, the idea of social networking can seem scary.
So Peterkin reveals some of what AstraZeneca US did to create its social media presence on places like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and its own blog:
• Use current regulatory guidelines as a baseline for interaction and seek guidance from subject matter experts in the organization. AstraZeneca, for instance, involved regulatory, legal, compliance and patient safety departments in the building process, helping the company gets its social networking efforts going within six months—faster than it probably would have happened if such expertise had been included after the initial design phase.
• Be clear about what social media the organization will be responsible for. AstraZeneca doesn't monitor Google Sidewikis—the company notifies sidewiki readers of this in the sidewiki's first post; AstraZeneca doesn't accept or respond to comments on YouTube—because of its international, rather than just national, regulatory environment; and consumers can't post to its Facebook page wall, but can ask questions in the discussion section—because that allows for an approval process.
• Start using social media internally so the preferred behavior can be modeled outside. Help employees understand all social media policies. AstraZeneca does, using Yammer as its internal social media tool.
Peterkin likens social media to being at a cocktail or dinner party—if someone isn't listening and turns his back, the speaker will walk away. "Listen and assess before you engage," she adds. Plus, remember that pictures and videos can be social, too.