Over the years I have often been asked what good looks like when it comes to digital in pharma. I have been asked for benchmarks and examples from other pharma. Who does digital best is another popular question. My answer to this is there is no single answer. There is no single pharma company that stands out across the board in digital. There are some that have done great apps but have terrible websites, or have done great apps but failed on social media.
So when I am asked what good looks like I tend to reply – what do you think? As a pharma company whether you are targeting HCPs or patients it is important to remember that these stakeholders are people – just like you and me. Sometimes the way I see pharma talking about HCPs it is as if they are a separate species, a species that does not use Amazon or Tripadvisor, or any other online services. Our stakeholders are however people like you are me, and like you and me they use online services for everything from shopping to banking.
That is why when I am asked what good looks like I ask my clients to think about their own use of digital. What is that they like about Amazon? What do they hate? What are their own online behaviours? Whilst where we shop and go for news online varies country to country basic behaviours and expectations are very similar. No one likes pop up ads or pages that take forever to load. No one enjoys clicking multiple times trying to find basic information. In this day and age we all have certain expectations when it comes to digital, and we expect to be able to access information quickly and easily. Why should we not expect the same basics from pharma? Why should we are users have to battle to get to the information we are looking for? Will we keep trying or just go somewhere else?
I don’t know about you but I know if a website, or other digital tool, does not give me what I want, and quickly, I will go elsewhere. I am fairly certain the same rings true for pharma customers too. Therefore when someone asks what good looks like – the answer is already there in our own day to day behaviours and expectations. Don’t you think?
The time is rapidly approaching when tickets for SXSW 2017 go on sale. This means the time is rapidly approaching that I need to make the decision – do I go again next year, for my third time, or not.
I went to SXSW for the first time in 2015 (you can read my posts about this trip here) and it was one of the most amazing experiences. In fact it had such a great impact on me that I quit my job to go back to focusing on digital and social media strategy. It was therefore natural that the minute tickets for SXSW 2016 went on sale I bought one and booked my hotel. I had to go back for more!
As is often the case though that first, amazing, experience was not replicated the second time round. I think this was in part as it did not have that first-time “wow” – this time I knew what to expect and that first year I saw some truly inspirational things. That is not to say I did not enjoy SXSW this year but I am not sure it was worth what I ended up paying for it (I left buying flights until the last minute which was a costly mistake and I opted to stay in a very nice expensive hotel). Then again I did come back with my Galaxy Gear VR headset which is totally cool!
So let’s see. I still have a few days to ponder on this.
I had a rather unpleasant surprise today when I found out that one of my “friends” had shared some of my personal Facebook posts with my current boss. Given the privacy settings of my posts I presume this was done by the said person physically showing their screen. I was absolutely mortified to discover this infringement on my privacy but was also very angry and upset by this blatant abuse of my trust.
I am very picky around who I friend on my personal Facebook account (including never accepting friend requests from work colleagues) and that is precisely so that I do not have to feel like I have to censor what I write. My friends know that I share very personal information, whether it be around my health or my love life, and to find that one of them thought it would be appropriate to share this insight into my private life with my employer is disgusting. In fact I actually even have a “disclaimer” on my Facebook page to flag the personal and private nature of my posts. Needless to say said “friend” is no longer a friend in my book … if I ever find out who it was.
Now there is plenty of debate around privacy, and expectations for privacy, in social media, and some would question whether it was stupid of me to post personal things to my Facebook page if I am concerned about other people reading these posts. I push back on this though as I believe the right to privacy exists just as much online as it does offline. Platforms like Facebook provide the option of restricting who I share my posts with and I trust my friends to respect that. The fact that a friend has abused that trust says more about that person than social media.
Despite my beliefs on the right to privacy I would still be cautious about posting anything that could get me into trouble – but this is not my point here. The content that was shared was not in anyway related to work but related to my personal life and related to information that I like to share to with my friends, and which my friends like to hear about. If it were public content or content I was happy to share with a wider audience I would have changed my settings. To me it is a sad day that I feel like I can no longer stay connected with my friends across the world because one person decided that I do not have a right to privacy, despite my clear disclaimer on what I post to my page. The sharing of private content from a private and closed social media account is akin to photo-coping someone’s private letter or recording a private phone call and sharing that around. It can happen but one does not expect a friend to do that.
There is though a broader issue here too. I mentioned that I share very personal health information on my Facebook page. Now I am actually very open about my health so I have less of an issue with someone sharing this – but for many people this is not the case. For many people private social media offers a very valuable resource to connect and talk with people about this very personal topic. I have been involved in supporting people with severe depression whose only outlet was their private Facebook account. For someone like this to find out that a “friend” has shared their highly private and sensitive posts with a member of the “public” could be devastating. For me again this highlights my beliefs that just because a person shares information digitally does not mean they automatically lose the right to privacy. Regardless of which channel or medium a person shares information – if it is in a private setting and clearly highly personal their right to privacy should be respected.
It therefore with heavy heart that I find myself now having to either censor my content, and no longer share my private news, or to start de-friending people. If whoever did this to me is reading this – thank you very much for abusing my trust in you and putting me in this situation. I hope it was worth it for you.
Being passionate about social media and the latest technology I felt obliged last year to have a look at Snapchat and sign up for it. I had a couple of friends who are using it and raved about it and it was “the” latest trend so I just had to join the craze. So I signed up. Or rather my friend helped me sign up and get started. She swore I’d love it – she told me about all the fun she was having with her colleagues in the US and all the jokes and laughs they shared. It sounded pretty fun.
I am a very active Facebooker and have always been. I am also very active on Twitter and Pinterest. In fact I love these three social channels and think I would really struggle not to use them on a daily basis. I have even considered doing a sponsored week off social to raise money for Hope for Romanian Strays … but I genuinely do not know if I could do it! One week without any online social interaction? One week with no browsing and sharing? OMG!
So one of my concerns was Snapchat was that I was potentially adding yet more to my social routine – where would I find the time? If it was a great as my friend made out I would soon be addicted! However part of me also questioned the “why”. As mentioned I was already very active on two high engagement channels (Facebook and Twitter) and for communication with my friends I was also very active on Whatsapp. What role would Snapchat play? How would it enhance what I already had? Or would it not enhance but rather replace something?
I was not sure so I gave it a try to try to answer these questions. I tried it. I really did try. But I just did not get it. I really did not see the “Why”. It offered me nothing that my current social channels were not offering. It did not enhance these either. While Pinterest, for example, does not offer much in terms of “engagement” with my friends or network it did provide me with content to share to my network or content that I could enjoy looking at or using (e.g. recipes). Snapchat just did not add anything to my life that I did not feel I already had covered. I gave up.
A few months later my friend was at me again, this time with support from a second friend. I really should give it another try. They got me active by sending me some stuff. This time round I could start to see some of the “Why” but again it really was not enhancing any of my engagement or relationships. I also began to suspect that this was a channel that you only really got if you were very active and had a big group of active friends too. I had neither – after all I am about 20 years older that the average Snapchatter. So I gave up again.
Then today as I headed off to a business meeting I got a message from one of my Tinder dates who I have been seeing for a while (did I mention I am a huge fan of Tinder?). He happens to be younger than me and fits easily into the top end of the average Snapchatter demographic. He is on Snapchat and yes he asked me to add him on my Snapchat. And so it is I am now giving it another go – maybe third time lucky. Maybe this time I will see a different side to the “why”? I must admit that I have not yet snapchatted with him but I have discovered another venue to bombard my friends with funny photos of my cats. I think I may finally be seeing some value in this channel! Whether my friends will agree with this as they see more and more photos of “King” Don remains to be seen.
Following the post-Christmas trend I too find myself coming down with a nasty cold. Just like my parents and friends I have that horrid sore throat, chesty cough and dratted runny nose. I can also add fatigue and dizziness to the list – yawn …. (you still there?). I sit at home wrapped in a blanket feeling like I really need to do something proactive in my search for new opportunities but at the same time I lack the energy to do much.
Writing a blog is in theory a relatively easy and quick thing to do. However as anyone who regularly blogs might tell you it is not always that straightforward. You need to be inspired to write something. Having a cold stiffles inspiration in my case. So I searched for something to write about and whenever I search for information I always turn to Twitter. Yay to Twitter! In my search today I can across some very interesting posts on 3D printing to a debate on whether health apps can benefit healthy people.
Typical to social media content consumers, and also as a result of my fatigued brain, I only glanced at these and read the bits that seemed interesting. Then it dawned on me just how lazy we have become in this 8 second world (the length of time you have to grab someone’s attention). The 8 second rule is so true! We are bombarded with so much live and new content everyday when we go online (including across multiple devices at the same time) that something really needs to stand out to make us look. This is of course where the impact of visual content really wins ground – afterall “a picture is worth a thousand words”. When it comes to text we really do have to use attention grabbing titles – such as “oi you!”.
Of course it takes more than a pretty picture or an attention grabbing title though to keep hold of that attention. Do you really have something interesting to share or to say? Or are you just producing content to meet your planned editorial calendar? Have you actually looked around at what your content is currently competing with? If you prepared it a while back is it still as relevant or attention grabbing as it could have been? Too often we get lost in doing what we have to do to meet our goals, without taking the time to look around and just check that we are in synch with what our customers or readers are interested in right now. Oh and by the way you aren’t just competing against your competitors for people’s time you are competing against the likes of #watermelonboy and #cutepuppy.
If you have read this far then I salute you and I clearly have written something that grabbed enough of your attention to merit me getting out of bed and trawling the internet for inspiration. Thank you for reading and do come back soon for more 8 second content!
(Ps. I made the smoked salmon nibbly bits myself and this dog above is looking for a forever home – go to http://www.hopeforstrays.com for more information)
Did I mention #cutepuppies?
Another great reminder of why ignoring social media is no longer an option. The conversation is happening with or without you but at least by participating you can participate in the conversation and potentially prevent an issue turning into a crisis.
A few weeks ago, this cartoon strip appeared by @TheBadDr Ian Williams
There’s a certain helplessness in the physician. “There’s nothing much we can do about that.”
Well, actually, there are a few things we CAN do about that. Doctors can actually manage their social media presence effectively through some simple means. Social media is prevalent, inevitable, and is a significant part of mainstream media. Social media is one of the most powerful tools we have in communication and public health engagement.
To illustrate the dangers of NOT being on Social Media, here’s what happened in the last 5 hours in Australia.
The Australian Doctor Tweeted this:
The Royal Australian & New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RANZCOG) Victoria and Tasmania branch organized a regional conference which includes a debate which was provocatively titled. It was probably done for controversial effect but had a negative reception all around. Many…
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This time of year is often a time of reflection. It is a time of thinking about what you really want for Christmas – what items go on that famous Christmas list. What are the things you would really love Santa to bring you – and being Santa you can wish for whatever you want.
This year there were some practical things on my list – including an electric blanket and a pasta making machine (both of which I got – yay!). There were also though some wishes and hopes on the list. I have one wish every year and that is for donations and miracles for the dogs in the Bucov shelter that I support through Hope for Romanian Strays. With now over 1500 stray dogs living in the shelter (with an original capacity for 700 dogs) and of those over 300 puppies, there is never enough funds to help them all. The authorities do not provide enough food for that many dogs so it is up to us, and our supporters, to provide the additional food and care to try to keep the dogs alive. There are constant medical and emergency cases, like newly born puppies or injured dogs dumped at the shelter gates – essentially being left there to die. My wish did partly come true as thanks to some generous supporters and fundraising the dogs did get a Christmas meal. This is of course a drop in the ocean but at least they did not go hungry on that special day.
My other Christmas wish this year relates to work. Having left ZS in March I have gone back to working as a freelance consultant, culminating in an extremely busy December. However with my contract coming to an end in January I am again looking for the next opportunity. Whilst I would love the stability of a permanent job, the reality is there are not that many permanent roles for someone with my level of expertise and seniority. I also have such a huge passion (and depth of experience) for my area of specialisation (healthcare digital and social media strategy) that I have no desire to even consider anything else (except perhaps animal rescue!). I do also love the flexibility that working as a freelance brings and so I am putting feelers out again for some more contract work. As always it is a balancing act between finding new opportunities and meeting the requirements for the current contract – and this is one of the down sides of freelance work. I will have to start looking for the next opportunity whilst working flat out on the current contract – and find time to rescue dogs and take care of my health and personal life. I’m tired already just thinking about it! And so I make my wish and I hope that one of my tweets or posts ends up fortuously in front of the right person at the right time and I end up with a new contract for 2016. Fingers crossed ….
Linked to the above wish is another work related wish – a new laptop in the shape of the new Mircosoft Surface Pro. Sadly this is not a wish that Santa was able to grant this Christmas because Microsoft decided that Europeans are second class citizens compared to the US and that we have to wait 6 months to get our hands on this new shiny gem. My wish will have to continue being a wish only until March when I hear the Surface Pro will finally go on sale in the UK. Annoying.
My final big Christmas wish of course has to be health related. If you follow my posts then you know I have an autoimmune disorder called Hashimoto’s. I think most patients with autoimmune disorders wish for improved (or at least stable) health. When I am happy and love what I am doing (and get plenty of sleep, eat well, etc.) I have no issues whatsoever with my condition. Sadly if I get over-stressed, sleep badly, or slip up on my food (e.g. eat something with Gluten in) I end up feeling pretty pants. Of course I plod on but there will always be a wish for that magic pill to come along and make life easier – or indeed cure my condition. That will stay a wish for a long time though as that is unlikely to happen! My other, more realistic, wish therefore is that more people are educated about the reality of autoimmune diseases, including doctors.
I got to spend my Christmas this year with my family, including my brother who is a GP. I was really saddened to hear that he had no idea the impact gluten (and diet in general) can have on patients with autoimmune diseases. I am not sure if he took my gluten free diet that seriously – I suspect like many doctors he felt that just taking my pills should be remedy enough. This makes me sad as I know the difference lifestyle makes on quality of life, and disease progression, for many patients with autoimmune diseases, but if doctors do not provide information or even support in this area then life just gets that bit harder. There really is nothing more frustrating that having your condition dismissed by your doctor – or indeed your online research either. Yes there is a large amount of incorrect and bad information online, but there is also a huge amount of life changing, accurate information out there. The fact that some of this comes from patients makes it no less valuable or accurate. Afterall how can a healthy doctor really understand what living with an autoimmune condition feels like and who are they to judge how we feel if we make lifestyle changes? And so I wish that more doctors listen to their autoimmune patients and try to understand their needs and conditions better. I wish more autoimmune patients had access to a great doctor like I do here in Switzerland.
If I could have my wish for a healthy 2016 and a new contract or opportunity to come true then I can also help make my first wish come true – I would be able to make a large donation to my charity and thereby rescue the lives of more vulnerable, neglected dogs in Romania. So should you hear of any opportunities (perm or contract) then do let me know … and you can do your bit to help my wishes come true!