Pharma social media bashing has become quite a popular sport (including by me) – pharma companies have been notoriously slow (and generally bad) at participating in social media. There are plenty of examples of poor use of social media and tons of articles on how badly pharma is doing in this domain. There are plenty of examples of other companies doing great stuff using social media like the Old Spice campaign (http://www.oldspice.co.uk/videos.aspx), the Red Bull Facebook page or, one of my current favourites, the Pimm’s Facebook page.
What makes these non-pharma social media initiatives successful is that they resonate with their target audiences. The Old Spice campaign made great use of humour (and a sexy man) to create a viral campaign. Red bull’s Facebook page provides loads of updated content on the various Red Bull sporting events which form an integral part of Red Bull’s marketing and appeal to its target market.
Pimm’s also has plenty of cool content and their Facebook page clearly mirrors their “summer party” theme – as do their regular, amusing posts. In fact it is the frequent, amusing posts – obviously written by an individual (and not a “company) that I enjoy. It is these posts that also keep Pimm’s top of my mind and I find I am more inclined to have a glass of Pimm’s rather than another alcoholic beverage.
And there are tons more examples of great use of social media – be it using Facebook, You Tube, Twitter, etc – and these get bandied about as positive examples against pharma’s poor track record. However pharma is not the only one not using social media effectively. There are in fact plenty of consumer goods companies doing a very poor job with social media.
One of my other favourite tipples is Drambuie – but no sign of an official Drambuie Facebook page in English (there is a French one which is odd as it is a Scottish liqueur). The Drambuie website is quite slick but again no sign of link to a Facebook page. There was a blog page which is not kept up to date and here I found a tiny “Follow us on Twitter” link (which did not work).
Drambuie has been trying to re-launch the brand to appeal to younger drinkers and they started with a new bottle design (which as a Drambuie fan I hate). In my opinion a new bottle design for a liqueur will not make a huge difference on its own – and in this case they have gone from a unique shape to a rather mundane one. If you want to get more 20-30 year olds to drink your liqueur then surely having a massive social media presence is what you need to do? But no – a new bottle and that’s pretty much it.
There are also plenty of high profile examples of social media gone wrong such as Habitat’s use of #iranelection and Motrin’s You Tube ad (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BmykFKjNpdY). My personal favourite is the Ryanair’s employees response to a customers’ comment on their blog (http://jasonroe.me/blog/free-ryanair-free-flight-bug/) – if pharma doesn’t get social media then these Ryanair employees soooooo don’t get it! That said the Ryanair example certainly provides entertainment : )
So next time you read about how badly pharma is doing in social media have a thought about all the other non-pharma companies, not faced with the same regulatory constraints, who also are not doing social media well.