Let us take a trip down memory lane. Let us go back a decade to the end of the 2000’s in the early days of pharma social media. These were challenging times but also incredibly exciting. Social media was starting to take off and offering huge opportunities to a wide range of stakeholders, including patients. It was also however a time when we faced many more “noes” than “yeses”. It was a time of great battles and also great pioneers. It was during these times that a new tweetchat emerged – #hcsmeu.
HealthCare Social Media Europe (HCSMEU) was founded at the end of the 2000’s by Andrew Spong and Silja Chouquet. Its mission was clear – to help drive the adoption of social media in Europe relating to healthcare. It centred around a tweetchat every Friday lunchtime. People could submit questions for the tweetchat via Google docs, with three questions per week. The questions covered all of the hot topics of the time, many of them still just as relevant today. Who was doing what well? How could patients benefit from social media? How could pharma use social media?
There was a group of regular participants from a range of backgrounds, from pharma through to patients. The discussions were great and there was a real community spirit. At the time I was still relatively new to twitter and participating in the tweetchats was a great learning experience. It also made me feel part of something bigger and exciting. I felt I was part of a group driving change. I looked forward to our Friday chats without fail.
I also fondly remember attending the first HCSMEU camp where I finally met some of the active #hcsmeu participants in person. Despite never have met face to face before I already felt like these were friends. We had a shared interest and the chats built lasting relationships and friendships. The event was an un-conference and, just like the chats, was fantastic. We brainstormed some of the hot topics and came out of the event energised and ready to keep fighting our battles.
But like all good things eventually the chats came to an end. Sadly after a while we had covered all the main topics. Some of the regulars started dropping off and the dynamic changed. The issue we were battling were still there but there were now more people joining our fight. The industry was changing and social media was becoming mainstream.
Now over a decade since its launch there have been murmurs amongst some of the old HCSMEU crew of getting it going again. Times have moved on and there are plenty of new topics to discuss. At the same time many of the old battles are still there, but often being fought by a new generation. Born into social media they struggle to grasp why pharma is still so behind the curve when it comes to this core channel. The experience many of us old HCMSEUers can share is invaluable to the new generation. The mission has not changed but maybe we need to reinvigorate it.
I think it is time we got the #HCSMEU tweetchats going again. I think it is time to get the old gang together again and to welcome new people to our community. Who’s with me?