Today there was another #hcsmeu tweetchat on the topic of what has changed over the last 10 years, and what will be different in 10 years time. I was really excited to be able to participate in the chat, especially as #hcsmeu tweetchats are what really got me into Twitter and introduced me to a fantastic group of like minded people, many of whom I have become good friends with.
I think we have seen a great deal of change over the last 10 years. Today most pharma companies are on social media, whereas 10 years ago it was still seen as this big scary monster by many of them. Now as to whether they are doing social well that is another question. I think what we have seen is more join, and more engagement, but I think also that some of the pioneers have stalled, and I would say many are just joining a status quo rather than trying to push and pioneer new ways of engagement to benefit patients and other stakeholders. I should not grumble as 10 years ago I dreamt that so many would be active!
However what I would like to see now is more involvement by and for relevant stakeholders. Social media in pharma is still the stronghold of Corporate PR. I question though that given how mainstream social media has become, but also the value it brings to stakeholder engagement, should we not be seeing more medics and patient advocates (working for pharma companies) involved and active? Surely patients want to hear from other patients, and medics want to engage with other medics?
Also talking of engagement, there are still far too many pharma companies which do not really engage, but just use social as a push or PR channel. Novartis’s Facebook is a case in point – they have not enabled commenting to their wall, presumably because they do not want that two way engagement with stakeholders in this channel. Is that wise though in this day and age? What does that say about a company that still does not want to engage with stakeholders via social media?
The other big change over the last 10 years has also been the change in technology. Today most of us access our social channels via mobile phone – and we really are able to engage from wherever we are at whatever time we want. We are no longer shackled to our laptop or PCs. This is particularly useful around congress, and is why we now see more “participation” at congress happening online that at the actual physical event, whilst at the same that participation is being driven by people at the event on their mobiles. Patients now also have access 24/7 from wherever they are to social media support – this could also potentially be truly life saving for some.
So what will change in 10 years time? Technology of course! I think we will see greater use of AI (thanks @Lenstarnes for flagging this one) for starters. I think we will also see a far greater blending across technology, for example the blend of VR with social media (and not just for gaming). I think we will start to see VR social media patient communities – bringing people together in a new virtual world, whether for support or education.
I think, and hope, the way organisations are structured to deal with social media will change. I would love to see patient advocacy teams grow within pharma and see them being much more involved in driving social media (not just participating) as well as social media engagement becoming part of medical’s daily job.
Finally I hope that in 10 years time we are still having great #hcsmeu tweet chats and that that awesome community of people are still there, engaging and chatting. Perhaps though with some new blood to drive new discussions. Will those chats still be happening on Twitter? Who knows but I look forward to being part of the discussion wherever it is!