#Pharma100 degrades the health conversation on the Social Web

I’ve written before about my dislike of #pharma100.

In my opinion, the embarrassing begging and pleading for votes across social platforms, in public and by direct message, heaps shame upon both receivers and givers. As for those individuals who elect to vote for themselves, well, words fail me.

What a ludicrous popularity contest of this sort does for anyone is beyond my reckoning, but if it all seems perfectly reasonable to you and you consider it a great idea worthy of your active support and propagation, I suggest you seek professional help immediately.

Until this morning, I’d decided that simply ignoring this (final?) edition of #pharma100 was going to be the way I’d be least irritated by it.

Then, this happened:

First message to TwitterMedia

Second message to TwitterMedia

Just so you don’t have to click on the embedded link redirecting to the second tweet above, I’ll tell you that the link I’m sharing is to Symplur’s Healthcare Hashtags, which for any readers who may not have encountered it before is the leading means (in my opinion) of freely discovering and reviewing health conversations taking place on Twitter (full disclosure: I am affiliated with Symplur).

So, take a guess at what the first entry in the first column on the Healthcare Hashtags homepage might be at present?

That’s right: #pharma100.

Just imagine the impression that TwitterMedia (or some of its 2.1M followers, perhaps living with or touched in some way by a chronic, life-limiting condition) is going to get of the health conversation on the Social Web if they click on that first rather than, say, #bcsm#btsm or one of the hundreds of other hashtags that provide access to peer and professional support, and potentially life-saving information?

If he clicked on #pharma100 first, I wouldn’t blame Ben Grossman of the Twitter Media Blog one bit for shrugging his shoulders, thinking ‘whatever’, and moving on.

However, what a disservice that would be doing to the exceptional work, support, and healthcare signposting that takes place on Twitter if he missed out on discovering the rich, diverse, and vibrant health conversation on the social web as a consequence.

If you don’t have any self-respect, at least respect the work that patient advocates and healthcare professionals are doing.

Stop degrading the health conversation on the Social Web.

Stop using #pharma100.

32 thoughts on “#Pharma100 degrades the health conversation on the Social Web

  1. Firstly I want to say for me it is really important that we take a look at the phenomenon of nominated influence lists within small niche social media communities such as pharmaceuticals. Many of the people nominating other people and receiving nominations have been, or currently are, in the business of trying to help pharmaceutical companies build social business practices that support real business objectives. Building stronger more trusted relationships with patients and the general public through the correct use of social technologies matters, these lists do not matter and are genuinely counter-productive in my opinion. Instead of concentrating on nominating people for a list of very limited interest to those not on it, could we not (if we all have genuine reach and influence) concentrate on raising awareness of communities who really influence health and pharma such as #mhchat or #lymphoma or #diabetes or any host of genuine conversations. How can we speak about the serious business of social if we demonstrate the self indulgence and navel gazing in our own work. When I see someone asking for nominations I feel really embarrassed on behalf of the twitter health and pharma community.

  2. Hi Alex

    Thanks for expanding on these ideas so lucidly; I concur entirely. The damage that such preening, vapid, narcissistic actions inflict extend far beyond the reputations of their perpetrators.

    Turning to something more positive: I *really* like the idea of informally supporting a ‘healthcare hashtag of the month’ — rather like the Social Web’s version of curated ‘blog carnivals’, right?

    How could this be best promoted across constituencies, do you think?

    One thought would be for an initial cohort of curators (and it goes without saying I’d be delighted to support this) simply beginning to curate relevant, reliable, high-quality content specific to that hashtag’s subject area on the first Monday of the month, and announce that they were doing so, say, once per week.

    Hopefully other curators would be picked up along the way, and then migrate collectively to another hashtag on the first Monday of the next month?

    Methods of selecting the hashtag would need to be discussed, as well as other activities that could be interpolated during the course of the month. Alignment with ‘world [disease] day’ on a rotating basis could be another idea.

  3. Further reflection leads me to consider whether this might be deemed intrusive ‘gatecrashing’ by regular users of the hashtag? It may be a good idea to poll the opinions of some of the champions of leading healthcare hashtags in order to enquire whether such activities would be deemed supportive and productive, or irritating and destructive? I still think there’s a great idea in here, however.

    • Agreed Andrew, I think the greater point is that we should all use this supposed ‘influence’ for some good. Influence is something you demonstrate through what you achieve on a weekly and daily basis. Lists put together by the same people who are on them don’t score high on any credibility measure. I speak to people in pharma everyday about digital and social media, not surprisingly I will eat my trousers if anyone ever mentions the #pharma100 to me…

      • Externalising ‘influence’ by aligning one’s activities to the best of one’s abilities with something productive in the interest of social good rather than internalising it for the purposes of wanton self-promotion… there’s a novel thought.

        As for the trousers threat, well, I’m sure none of us wants *that* to happen. I’d anticipate readers will flock to your suggestion in droves as a consequence.

  4. C’mon guys! Awards and community recognition are common incentives for doing a good job. I have criticized trade publications for handing out awards to their advertisers because that clearly does not reward the best but the wealthiest (i.e., able to purchase ad space). But nominating someone for recognition via a Twitter hash tag is more democratic and can help call attention to interesting people who you may want to follow on Twitter. At least it has helped me in that regard.

  5. HEAR, HEAR!

    These public shouting outs of “vote for me, vote for me, please RT” have absolutely nothing to do with real influence in pharma and everything to do with self aggrandizement, publicity whores, oversized egos and deep insecurity. It all looks rather douchey and definitely degrades the conversation that could be had around more meaningful issues.

    In fact, some people’s behaviour was so dreadfully offensive, my opinion of them sadly declined and I promptly unfollowed them and blocked the hashtag last week.

  6. VERY interesting and insightful POV (as always). To your point, lucky that the Pharma100 only rears its head a couple of times/year. Recognition is nice, but the reality here is this: there is a relatively small, niche community who, on a daily basis, contribute and share real, meaningful content about mHealth, digital health, healthcare, and various disease states/therapeutic arees. The other reality? We already follow one another and acknowledge each other as thought leaders and passionates within these respective areas.

    I agree wholeheartedly with Alex’s comment- that influence is earned and achieved by doing; not by nominating or being nominated. While I am honored to be part of the Pharma100, let’s use Symplur and Twitter for its greater good: providing access to critical content and health information and potentially pathways toward better health outcomes and healthier populations.

    • Hi Eric, the response to this post has shocked me. People from pharma hire people to help them do better in this space. Influencing pharma is not about ego, but placing this to one side and helping behind the scenes to improve outcomes through digital wherever possible. The level of ego and delusion is scary, as is the level of personal insight displayed.

  7. I think that, at its root, lots of people like lists and rankings. I myself find I’m always more likely to click on something that says “Top 10 reasons why…” or “Top 100 people to follow on Twitter.” Maybe that’s an avenue to explore, helping others come up with the lists of folks to follow who can share really helpful health information, which I think everyone here already does!

  8. I agree 100%, Alex and Adam! Lists are good and knowing who to follow for good, credible content is as well! As Sally so points out in the above, influencers are passionate about what it is they, well, influence. I don’t blog, tweet, write, or share for personal gain. I do so because I am passionate about technology and the role it should play in pharma and healthcare- it fundamentally changes how people engage with and access health and healthcare.

  9. Hi Guys, Having been away, I must state that I do not regret such. I agree fully with Andrew’s comments here and do think that this popularity vote and let’s see how many voters I can come up with, has nothing to do with the painstaking but inspiring and challenging job of trying to render good advice to people who search fo such. A good advice is nothing like everybody already knows – one would say there is no added value to it. It is also not a thing that looks interesting but which no one understands because of its complexity. Real knowledge resides in the reflection about new developments and possibilities in such a way that it gets clear in an advice that has reduced the complexity to insightful but clear and simple knowledge. That is “simple” in terms of a insightful result of thought about the subject.
    That is not easy and certainly does not associate with the skill to raise popularity votes. Moreover, creating influence lists just by letting people vote, demonstrates lack of reflection and knowledge on what influencing is, and how it could be rated. That is “simple” in terms of nonsense, in the sense of missing an insight view.
    So, my first reaction to “..OMG again a list to tend a lot of time too, to get some place at it” (because of the non knowing public that because of that seeks advice), I was really glad to see my colleagues took up this daring stance!
    Think about it!
    And then again, thank you for that!
    Rob @rohal

    • Welcome back, Rob. Hope you’ve had an enjoyable break. Thanks for your support, as always. Like you, I think there really are only two ways of looking at this question: you think it’s a debasing, demeaning waste of time that reflects badly on the health conversation on the social web, or you think it’s a great opportunity to promote yourself under the guise of participating in a… well, I’m not really sure how to end that sentence. What is #pharma100, after all?

      In my opinion, there is no ‘third way’. Participation in activities of this sort cannot credibly be justified on the basis of a claim that one is ‘interested in how influence works’, or that ‘it’s rude not to thank people who recommend you’. Any post using the #pharma100 hashtag that does not explicitly condemn it may be interpreted as an endorsement on the poster’s part. Being seen to question #pharma100’s utility whilst at the same part supporting it by taking part, in whatever capacity, looks like what it is: playing both sides, for the purposes of self-advancement.

      No-one is fooled by this.

  10. Thx Andrew, Yes, I’m refreshed, rewind, motivated and inspired to pick up my challenging and rewarding work.
    This posting blog on influence lists on social media, like #pharma100 is all about respect to readers, and the public in general: “No-one is fooled by this”, indeed!

  11. I tweeted that the #HIT100 (which is similar) was great because I found people not to follow based on their nominations. Their actions in something like the #HIT100 is telling for who they are. I don’t care much for the list, but it does say something about how people participate. This is good to know. I think it was bad choice that they cluttered the #HITsm stream as well. Bad form.

  12. Thanks for stopping by, John. My observations were restricted to #pharma100; to be honest, I didn’t follow #HIT100 very closely as it’s only adjacent to my core interests. However, yes, I agree that in the last instance hashtag abusers seem blissfully unaware for the most part of the irreparable damage they wreak upon their reputations.

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