Pharma-hosted tweet chats at professional congresses: Boehringer’s #COPDchat at #ERS2013

Boehringer's #COPDchat during #ERS2013

Following on from the #ChatAFib Boehringer organised at this year’s ESC, the company has today announced that it will hold #COPDchat at ERS 2013.

It’s great that Boehringer are committing to running social events at the professional conferences they attend.

A properly prepared, efficiently moderated, fully compliant tweet chat poses negligible risk, and can deliver benefits to everyone involved.

Some further observations regarding pharma-hosted tweet chats at professional congresses in general:

1. Early adopters will benefit quickly; late entrants will struggle to find a space to occupy

Whilst no-one owns a hashtag, its originators and early adopters are those who are most likely to be associated with it in the future.

Those pharma companies that are brave enough to elect to hold tweet chats and wise enough to choose the best hashtags are going to reap long-term benefits.

Is #COPDchat the obvious hashtag to use at ERS (and indeed, afterwards). Yes.

Will Boehringer run another #COPDchat at #ERS2014? Probably.

Would those pharma companies that manage to get themselves organised for next year like to have been associated with it themselves? Of course.

Whilst we always remember who is first through the door, it can be difficult to discern a face in the crowd when the room fills up.

Being first has its risks, but they are more than outweighed by the benefits being first can confer

2. There is a long game to be played

Whilst I in no way wish to diminish Boehringer’s achievement in hosting chats on social platforms at professional congresses, there is a sense in which holding such events could be construed as giving before taking, which may be a cause for concern.

For me, hosting a tweet chat is a phase 2 activity, inviting further interaction with a community developed day-by-day during ongoing phase 1 activities managed by a suite of dedicated accounts focusing on a particular disease area through which the company in question can manifest its subject expertise, demonstrate its commitment, and above all else be visible, steadfast, and trustworthy.

Patients managing a chronic disease have to deal with their condition every day. For a pharma company’s claim to want to support patients to be credible, they have to be there every day, too.

Simply hosting events at conferences and on international disease days is not sufficient.

Resource needs to be deployed, and year-round activities need to be designed, implemented, and maintained.

3. The model does not scale

Following on from the above, whilst the hosting of a tweet chat through a corporate Twitter account is viable in the short term, as more brand teams within the company decide that they too want to host events at international, domestic, and perhaps even regional meetings, managing everything through the main account is clearly not going to remain possible for long.

A social architecture needs to be drafted by each company that takes into account the external needs of different communities of interest it wishes to support, and the internal needs of its affiliates.

4. It’s not too late to start, but it soon will be

The rate of development is not constant, and social interactions at professional conferences vary significantly by disease area, with some near or at maturity, and others still emerging.

I commented from EULAR earlier this year that 2013 was the first time that social didn’t feel like a fringe activity, that we should anticipate a spike in social activities at conferences in 2014, and that they would be mainstream by 2015.

This isn’t an invitation to comfortable reflection, gentle debate, and further prevarication.

This is sounding the claxon.

Don’t say you didn’t hear it.

5. There’s no need to reinvent the wheel

Case studies such as these offer practical examples to study and insights to learn from for those companies looking to begin develop their social presences before, during, and after professional conferences.

Review them. Discuss them. Then implement them.


STweM has significant experience around every aspect of the development of social presences, including the management of accounts and events at congresses. Get in touch for a chat to discuss your needs.

One thought on “Pharma-hosted tweet chats at professional congresses: Boehringer’s #COPDchat at #ERS2013

  1. Pingback: Boehringer’s tweetchat footshot | STweM

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