Pharma reaction to facebook changes foregrounds three tiers of Social Media

After a monsoon of industry punditry which came close to overwhelming even the most dedicated of curators, 15 August 2011 has finally arrived.

Pharma facebook page comments are on.

To be honest, some companies never really arrived on facebook. They created pages, but failed to decide what to do with them.

Existing in that liminal space between resolution and action, it was as though they drew breath to speak, but then developed a phobia about using their vocal chords.

Now Rufus the Dog and 8,291 other facebook connections appear to be saying goodbye to an inappropriately cheery thumb, resplendent in its isolation on the Novartis page.

The page now resembles a scene from Endgame.

There are no more posts to show


There’ll be no more speech

One tier up we find those Pharma companies who have primed the pumps and are ready to put out the fires that the experiences of others lead us to suggest will never flare into life.

Good for Pfizer for donning both belt and braces as they kitted up to proffer plenteous explanations as to why comments as yet unadded may be taken down:

Finally, for those top tier Pharma facebook pages that already have comments turned on and have been for some time, today is merely ‘Monday‘:

Look out for further updates from Jonathan Richman‘s excitingly entitled Pharma and Healthcare facebook page Deathwatch.

13 thoughts on “Pharma reaction to facebook changes foregrounds three tiers of Social Media

  1. Pingback: Pharma leaving Facebook, the bigger issue | World of DTC

    • Hi Mark

      Yes, thanks for that heads-up. I see Jonathan Richman has added a nice how-to video on Dose of Digital explaining this feature. It’s being at the bottom of the wall rather than the top isn’t great, is it? Below the fold, no-one sees anything much.

  2. Pingback: Pharma and facebook: the cost of disengagement | whydot pharma

  3. Pingback: 5 Pharma To-Dos with Examples for Managing Facebook “Comments On” | Good Promotional Practices

    • Hi Miguel

      I see Novartis have linked to YouTube content (also with comments off) on their facebook page now pending the forthcoming changes they mention in the ‘About’ box.

      That’s fine, but we *did* all have notice of these changes coming months and months ago… right? 😉

  4. Nice discussion Andrew. I applaud Facebook’s policy as I believe the Search Engine Marketing business actually has hurt healthcare over the last few years.
    It’s nice to see that the tech community has become powerful enough to ignore the marketing dollars Pharma is always eager to spend.

    Pharma marketers and sales reps grew up in a world of catchy phrases, flashy bar charts and pie graphs, and of course “verbatims” delivered by the army of sales people (with support from obnoxious banner ads).

    Social media peeps are much more engaged than a disengaged doctor runing between appointments and attempting to multitask. Pharma has preyed on this lack of focus by the medical community. Therefore their agencies prided themselves on huge campaigns grounded in simple imagery and niche marketing.

    Pharma does not want engagement because they ” can’t hang”. Bloggers, and the online healthcare community will not be swayed by simple messaging and flashy bar charts. Until the medical community realIzes that they are letting us down through their ignorance of social media, Pharma is content to play their same playbook from the mid 90’s— Simple Messaging, Army of drones repeating verbatims, and pummeling online destinations with banner ads and search engine marketing.

    Ultimately, Pharma doesn’t want engagement — they will be embarrassed. The online community is smarter, better read, and more eloquent than any individual marketer, PR professional, or even a group full of attorneys (clueless about the science)

    Thank you Mark Zuckerberg for standing up America and not selling out to the almighty dollar. Will WebMD and multiple online medical publications follow suit. Or will the medical community continue their arrogance and assure us that these online annoyances and the din of sales rep verbatims have no impact on their professional education.

    On another note, Rufus can like whatever page he wants to – this is America, the land of the free.

    • Hi Brian

      Well, not all pharma companies are deporting themselves in the same way on the social web, of course. The swingeing criticism you meet out above is certainly deserved by the no-showers and those companies that seem resolute in their lack of desire to begin the necessary reforms that they will have to conduct in order to participate effectively as social businesses in the postmarketing economy.

      However, there are others that have already not only set out upon this journey, but have already made some considerable progress. Even those that are enduring some heavy weather as a consequence of the facebook changes – GSK, for example – are going to come out of the other side a much stronger organization, socially.

      The ‘no show’ Pharma companies do not yet appear to be ready to move beyond denial towards acknowledgement, acceptance, and finally action. Not yet. But they’ll have to at some point.

      In fact, the lesson here is: you can defer pain, but you can’t avoid it. It may sting a little, but it won’t kill you. Post 15th August, GSK have discovered the positive benefits of negative comments in terms of the stripes you earn in dealing with them and for taking some hits without caving.

  5. Pingback: Facebook comments, Pharma and the hard days « ScienceRoll

  6. Pingback: PharmaBookSocialMediaDeathwatchCommentsSOUP |

  7. Pingback: Innovation: the name of the game for Boehringer « STweM

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