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#Pharma #SocialMedia #RiskMitigation #Strategies

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More and more pharmaceutical companies are flocking to social media to reap the benefits of establishing an ongoing and engaging dialogue with their customers. In this post, Klick strategists Rachel Affoo and Susan Sutherland discuss winning strategies to mitigate risk for pharma in social media.

For years pharma tip-toed around the social ocean, dipping a toe in from time-to-time, but largely staying away because of the regulatory uncertainty. But in the last couple of years the tides have turned and there have been some phenomenally successful pharma presences on social media such as Allergan’s #ActuallySheCan and Takeda / Lundbeck’s Lighter Blue.




Many of our clients are ready to take the social plunge, but are worried about the risks of social media. It’s important to remember that some tolerance of risk is required for any social media initiative. But we’ve developed some social media risk mitigation best practices for consideration:


#1 Develop comprehensive corporate community moderation guidelines

Guidelines are key to a successful social media presence. They provide instructions on how to create and manage social communications on behalf of the organization. A good set of guidelines for a pharma company includes the roles and responsibilities of everyone involved in creating or managing the social media asset (whether that be a Youtube channel, Twitter handle, Facebook page, Instagram account, etc.). The guidelines ultimately dictate how the risks will be handled platform-by-platform, by dictating how much control the organization has over the content on the social media channel.

Topics to include in a corporate community moderation guidelines document are:

#2 Have a game plan for problematic content

Internet trolls are an unfortunate reality, but in our experience negative comments typically make up a very small proportion of engagement in pharma social media campaigns. If content from the community is posted to a company-owned social media asset and is deemed inappropriate, rude, vulgar, or abusive in any way, the organization’s community moderator can simply choose to delete that post.

But what about abusive content that is posted to a user’s personal account, but is linked to a company-owned social media asset through tagging or use of a corporate sponsored hashtag? Its important to note that FDA guidance says that what individual social media users post through their personal accounts is not the responsibility of the organization – ownership of the content is on the user. But if an organization wants to take an action against the nefarious post there are 2 lines of defense. First, the community moderator can report that content to the social media channel. Removal of that post would be at the discretion of the channel, but in our experience response time is swift. The second line of defense is the community itself. In our experience when an Internet troll posts something that is offensive or inappropriate, the community polices itself by speaking out against the post, ostracizing the offender, and proactively reporting it to the social media channel.


#3 Build in risk mitigation functionality

Mitigate risk where you can by creating approval processes, not removal processes where possible. For example, if you are creating a hashtag campaign and want to share user’s personal posts using the hashtag through your social media channel, ensure that the community moderators actively need to approve and share a post as opposed to the post automatically being shared through a social channel and the moderator needing to remove offending ones.


#4 Trust in your community

At the end of the day, social media is about engaging in a community and is meant to be informative, fun, and fulfilling for users. Imposing too many restrictions, barriers, and controls takes away from the community experience, and this is the whole point of getting into social media. Organizations need to decide how they want to engage in social and their plan of action to do so before entering the channel.


#5 Partner with the Klick Social Health Team

Do you want to learn more about Klick’s approach to social media? Do you have your own thoughts on the topic? Reach out to Klick’s social strategist Susan!


More About the Author

Rachel Affoo

Rachel brings a human-centered approach to the digital strategy discipline at Klick Health. Her passion lies in helping drive brand growth by harnessing a deep understanding of the needs, mindsets, and behaviors of patients, caregivers, and healthcare professionals. Rachel has developed and leveraged strategic insights for brands across a variety of verticals including healthcare, automotive, and telecommunications.

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