Tag Archives: FDA

Challenging Pharma and Medical Device Companies to Be Better on Social

Written by: Olga Kraineva
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Pharmaceutical and medical device companies and healthcare practitioners alike have been cautious to join social conversations due to fear of their legal and regulatory bodies and FDA regulations. Twitter, in particular, is worrisome due to the cap of 140 characters – how to disclose everything necessary for best use? Even Kim Kardashian was recently hand slapped for not fully disclosing both the positive and negative side effects of a morning sickness pill on Instagram.


An easy place to start for many companies was live-tweeting around events, such as healthcare conferences, and simply echoing their press release information. As a heavy media-oriented, news-like channel, Twitter worked well for this, as that info is already approved by legal and regulatory. It also worked well when joining in on the social conversations that occurred at different conferences, simply by adding on the official conference hashtag at the end of their tweet.

However, just this summer, a group of scientists and HCPs have joined together to form the #MICEProject (Measuring the Influencer of Commercial Entities) in the Twitter backchannels of medical conferences. Their argument is while there are certain precautions taken at live conferences to separate third party entities (pharma and medical device companies) and “learners” (healthcare providers, other attendees) so that a learner, if they so desire, would never have to expose themselves to a third party. Currently, these restrictions do not exist on Twitter. Using PageRank, the study analyzed the influence of HCPs and third party entities at 13 different medical conferences from 2011-2013, suggesting that medical device and pharma companies exert around the same amount of influence as healthcare providers within the social space, something that is protected against happening at live conferences.

Their bottom line is that pharma and medical device companies should stop spreading biased information and instead focus on evidence-based medical knowledge – or curb their use of medical hashtag use overall. While it’s quite provocative to have full restrictions on companies’ hashtag use at medical conferences, the larger issue this brings up is using social strategically and not posting for the sake of posting.


As part of the #MICEProject, Pharma Marketing News created an initial survey on third party medical conference hashtag use.

As an overall struggle many companies face, pharma and medical device companies need to move past one-way communication streams and sending information that is likened to an ad and instead engage in social conversations that add to the dialogue. Using event hashtags can be a great springboard to reach your target audiences, but make it conversations that matter to them – not just what is safe and approved by your L&R. At the present moment, as seen with the #MICEProject, we’re in a place of not applying best practices and angering our audiences – quite the opposite of the intended result.

Headlines & Stuff

Written by: Christy Wise
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Here are some cool things we read about this past week:

LinkedIn Unveils a New App Dedicated to Job Searches
This week, LinkedIn added another app to its collection. The Job Search app (it’s sixth standalone app) is intended to do one thing very well: help users find and apply for new jobs. The app includes job search filters like seniority level, industry and location and both searches and individual jobs can be saved for a second look down the road. The app will also recommend positions to you based on openings you’ve viewed and saved job searches.

Facebook Officially Unveils Slingshot This Week
Facebook announced Slingshot this week, a messaging app to compete with Snapchat. Users can send photos and videos up to 15 seconds long using the app and once those messages are viewed and cleared by the recipient, they disappear from their phone for good. The only catch: Users are required to respond with an image or video in order to “unlock” those they receive.  This is a way for users to force users to share more frequently.  You do not need a Facebook account to use the app. Though the app was one of the top 50 most downloaded this week, it was topped by a new app that just arrived on the scene – called ‘Yo.’ The app simply lets users send the word “Yo” or “YoYo” to their contacts. Nothing else.  Stephen Colbert can explain further here.

Twitter Buys SnappyTV
As a broader effort to help users, brands and publishers connect more closely, Twitter has agreed to buy SnappyTV, which powers a popular platform for the live-clipping, editing and distribution of video across the web. The service is already a go-to for many of Twitter’s brand and media partners via its Amplify ad program. Twitter will invest in SnappyTV as a standalone product, as well as further integrate it into the platform.

Snapchat Launches ‘Our Story,’ Builds Community Perspective
As part of a broader shift away from ephemeral exchanges, Snapchat debuted “Stories” late last year – a feature that lets users share photos for up to 24 hours. Adding a collaborative component to the service, the start-up just unveiled “Our Story” so people at the same events can combined their own “snaps” into a single story.

FDA Finally Suggests Social Guidelines
The FDA has finally suggested some guidelines for how pharma and medical device manufacturers can use social media to market products and correct misinformation. The marketing guidelines acknowledge that third-party social media venues like Facebook and Twitter often have limited space to explain products and make disclaimers. However, the FDA emphasized that drug and device manufacturers must still comply with the original rules governing promotional messages, including the requirement to give information about specific indications, and balanced disclosures about the product’s risks as well as its benefits in each individual communication – meaning a statement about risks has to be in every Tweet, Facebook Post and so on. If it’s not possible to include every risk, the most serious should be prioritized. In all cases the company should also provide a link to more complete discussions of risks associated with the product. If there isn’t enough room to make a reasonable disclosure on the social media venue, the FDA suggests reconsidering using that venue.

Obama Hosted His First Tumblr Q&A
World Leaders are going social.  This week, President Obama participated in a Tumblr question-and-answer session. Obama held a press conference to discuss an expansion relating to the government’s “Pay As You Earn” student loan repayment program. The program limits the monthly payment amount of recent grads to 10% of their discretionary income. It raised many questions for students, so instead of hosting another press conference, the President decided to host a session on Tumblr, entitled #ObamaIRL.

Global Social Media

On Facebook, the World Cup is Bigger Than Olympics and Super Bowl Combined
Through one week of the World Cup, Facebook has already seen more people having more interactions about the tournament on the site than it has for Sochi, Super Bowl and the Academy Awards combined. A total of 141 million people have commented about, “liked,” or shared posts on Facebook about the World Cup. There have been 459 million different interactions. Much of the action is international: 85% of the people talking about the World Cup on Facebook are from outside of the U.S. There are 1.28 billion people on Facebook worldwide, 80% of which are outside of the U.S.

Noteworthy Campaigns

Jamba Juice Launches YouTube Dance-Off To Promote Healthy Smoothies
Jamba Juice, one of the biggest smoothie chains in the country, will soon be offering their own green juices to keep up with the growing green trend. To promote the new products, the company has launched a contest called “Blend In the Good,” which asks people to upload videos of them dancing, to signify the good both inside and outside of the drink. Jamba Juice teamed up with popular YouTube channel DanceOn, and is uploading the choreographed entries both to their YouTube channel and their website. Prizes for the top three entires include a trip to NYC, LA or SF in August along with a Jamba Juice gift card.

Headlines & Stuff

Written by: Christy Wise
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Every week we recap the previous week’s headlines that pertain to social and digital media.  Since Monday is a holiday and because there was so much big news this week, we are publishing these Headlines a few days early.  Here are some cool things we read about this past week:

Facebook Will Now Tell You What’s Most Popular On Facebook
Facebook will now surface trending topics alongside the News Feed, using a product the company is calling simply: “Trending.” Trending will show a personalized list of popular topics for each user, combining their interests with content getting the most attention across the entire platform.  In other Facebook news, the social network recently purchased Branch to help form their Conversations Group – which aims to help people  connect with one another around their interests.

YouTube Debuts Super Bowl XLVIII Ads
YouTube launched the Ad Blitz channel today, giving football fans a sneak peek of this year’s Super Bowl ads. The pre-game gallery features teasers from advertisers and highlights from Fox Sports. YouTube creators will post custom content, promoting Ad Blitz through videos powered by TrueView video ads. The site also provides post-game voting.

Google Buys Nest for $3.2 Billion
Google announced this week that it purchased Nest, the maker of high-tech thermostats and smoke detectors for $3.2 billion in cash.  Founded by former Apple engineers, Nest promises to save homeowners energy by learning their daily habits and adjusting the temperature accordingly.  Nest will retain its brand name within Google.

Twitter Can Now Target Ads Based on Email Addresses and User IDS
Twitter just announced some new capabilities in its recently launched Tailored Audiences program. The additions provide new ways to create Tailored Audiences, either using a CRM database or lists of Twitter usernames of User IDs. Advertisers will be able to exclude certain audiences from their advertising in the same way.

LinkedIn Adds Search for Volunteer Opportunities
LinkedIn added a new Volunteer Marketplace on Wednesday, allowing users to search for volunteer opportunities that require particular skill sets like open board seats and non-profits. The social network launched the marketplace with 500 postings and plans to add more in the coming weeks.

FDA Issues Social Media Guidelines for Pharma
The FDA has finally released guidelines for social media marketing and advertising by pharmaceutical companies. The new guidelines cover all manner of “tools and technologies that often allow for real time communications and interactions,” including social networks, microblogs, online communities and live podcasts.  Firms will be held responsible for all promotional content on any site or account controlled by the firm, including, for example, all marketing messages posted by the company to its Facebook or Twitter account, as well as the company’s own blogs. Marketers will also be responsible for any content posted on third-party sites where their firm has powers of editorial review. They won’t be held responsible for content on sites where they are merely paying to post marketing communications, with no control over the content. They will also be responsible for any content posted by an employee or other paid representative on a third party site.

Global Social Media

Instant Messaging Overtakes Texting in the UK
More messages are now sent via apps like WhatsApp and Snapchat than by SMS according to a study.  The number of text messages sent in the UK fell for the first time in 2013. An estimated 145 billion SMS messages were sent, down from 152 billion in 2012. 160 billion instant messages were sent in 2013, up from 57 million in 2012.

Think Sochi Olympics Are All About Facebook and Twitter? Wrong! Get Ready for VK.com
VK.com (formerly Vkontakte meaning “in touch”  or “in contact” in Russian) is the dominant social network in Russia. Social data provider Gnip has added data from VK.com to their platform to allow brands to better track conversations going on in Sochi.  VK.com led social network visitors in Russia with 49.2mm unique visitors. Facebook attracts 11.9mm visitors (5th place).  As a way to increase their presence in Russia, Facebook has recently partnered with Yandex (Google Rival) in a deal that will see the search engine index publicly posted content on the social network that comes from the countries Yandex covers:  Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Turkey

Noteworthy Campaigns

Chicago Sun Times to Test Bitcoin and Twitter Paywall
The Chicago Sun Times will soon test a new paywall system that accepts bitcoins as well as tweets from readers in return for access to content. Starting February 1, the Sun-Times’s site will prompt readers to either donate to, in the form of bitcoins,  or tweet about the Taproot Foundation. The paywall will be up for 24 hours to test the technology.

Giant Pinboard Façade Lets Fans Become The Face of The Olympics
London-based architect Asif Khan’s “MegaFaces” structure will display the faces of Sochi spectators as rotating 3D portraits. Photo booths within the pavilion and in the MegaFon retail stores across Russia, will capture five images of the visitors face simultaneously from different angles.  The faces will then be displayed on the façade for 20 seconds each as an eight-meter image.