Stop, Look and Listen


I was taught as a child to always stop, look and listen before crossing a road.  This simple rule could also be applied to the pharmaceutical industry – with the road being the first step to developing a social media presence.



 The first action needed is to stop being afraid of social media and start to see it for what it is – another communication channel and a way to build relationships with stakeholders – and which can be done within the current regulatory system. 


 It is also time to stop holding off and waiting to see what will happen, waiting for industry guidelines and generally waiting to see how the pharma social media pioneers are doing.  This channel is not going to go away, by the time guidelines come along they will probably be outdated anyway and waiting too long could result in the competition gaining a real competitive advantage thanks to their skilful use social media.



 That does not mean one should just run straight across the road and jump into social media.  First do look at what other pharma companies have done and are currently doing.  Learn from their mistakes (e.g. The Sanofi Voices saga ).  Learn from the success stories (e.g. Psoriasis360 ).


The other benefit of looking at what other pharma companies are currently doing is that it provides ammunition for getting internal approval and buy in.  The contention that a social media project is not possible due to regulatory requirements could be overcome by showing examples where it is being done already.  Providing case studies from the competition can also help strengthen the argument when trying to get buy in internally for social media.


It is also worth looking at where your target audience is online.  It may well be that there is already a well established social media presence and community meaning it could be more beneficial to try to work with this community, for example through sponsorship, rather than set up a new one.  Knowing where the target audience is going online also gives good indications about their behaviour but also where to place advertising.  Just building a social media presence does not mean people will visit it – they will need to be driven and directed there, for example through banner ads on key websites they visit.



Anyone who has been involved in a successful social media initiative can tell you that one of the key actions is listening.  It is really important to listen to what your target audience is discussing.  This leads to a wealth of knowledge – for example highlighting any unmet needs, providing insights into what the audience sees as “value” and trending topics.  This will facilitate pre-populating the initiative with content that is of interest to the target audience – without which it may just end up being yet another empty pharma web presence.  Moving forward listening also ensures that content continues to resonate with the audience.


Listening is a key ongoing activity.  Besides helping to ensure that content is of value to the audience, listening is also crucial in flagging any potential problems.  Monitoring the conversations happening on the social media initiative will ensure that any non-compliance issues, such as discussions around off label use, can be dealt with quickly and effectively.  In fact not listening is one of the core factors behind social media disasters and should never be underestimated – it takes time and resources but is well worth it.


So before crossing the social media road – stop look and listen – and join the social media “revolution” safely.

About Pharmaguapa

I am an highly experienced consultant and reverse mentor specialised in digital media marketing and strategy in the pharmaceutical industry.

Posted on Jun 13, 2011, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 11 Comments.

  1. Your post was a pleasure to read. As I begin to use social media for my medical equipment company, I particularly liked your insight about listening to what my target audience is saying. This will no doubt be useful in providing for their specific needs and avoiding problematic situations.

    I would just add that social media should be also used both by pharma and others, as a way of authentically contributing to the community. This can be done by disseminating useful info (via articles, blogs, etc.) for any given target market, or answering questions about products/services (when asked).

    When we take genuine interest in the people we work with and for, it makes things better for all!

  2. Glad you enjoyed reading the port. I totally agree with your comment – authentically contributing to the community is at the core of social media. At the end of the day if it does not provide value to the target audience you will not build the community and the commuity will never grow and develop. Social media is all about being social and sharing – and just as in offline life if you do not listen to what people are saying and what they want then eventually they will not listen to you either!

  3. Emily Felton

    I know this if off topic but I’m looking into starting my own weblog and was curious what all is needed to get set up? I’m assuming having a blog like yours would cost a pretty penny? I’m not very web savvy so I’m not 100% positive. Any suggestions or advice would be greatly appreciated. Thank youKaty Home Security, 4410 Huntwood Hills Ln., Katy, TX 77494 – (281) 394-0477

    • Hello Katy,

      Actually you can do it all for free! There are a number of blogging options, like WordPress, that are free to set up and use. They offer a wide range of styles and formats to choose from and are very user-friendly. The costs involved are when you want to have your own URL – like or my charity There are also services like Moonfruit if you are looking more to set up a website (but if you are wanting to do a blog then I recommend sticking with the blog services like WordPress). I also sometimes spend money on buying images – I use – but again this is not expensive and the free option is to use your own images. I hope this helps and please do not hesitate to contact me if I can help in anyway – although I am not at all techy so I can’t answer hard core tech questions! Good luck with setting up your blog.

  4. Hi, the whole thing is going nicely here and ofcourse every one is
    sharing information, that’s actually good, keep up writing.

  5. Hello, always i used to check website posts here in the early hours in the break of day, as i
    like to find out more and more.

  6. Hi! Do you know if they make any plugins to protect against hackers?
    I’m kinda paranoid about losing everything I’ve worked hard on. Anyy suggestions?

    • Hello,
      I believe they do but I wouldn’t be able to give you the details. I got a freelancer to set up extra security on my charity page. You could also ask the wordpress support community or wordpress about this

  7. magnificent put up, very informative. I wonder why the other experts of this sector don’t realize this.

    You should continue your writing. I am confident, you have
    a great readers’ base already!

  8. My family always say that I am killing my time here at net, except
    I know I am getting experience everyday by reading thes pleasant articles or reviews.

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