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The FDA’s most recent guidance has sparked lots of questions and conversations about how Pharmaceutical companies can effectively use social media. Given the regulatory challenges in social media, here are 5 best practices for pharmaceutical companies interested in using social media:

  1. Identify clear and specific objectives that lend themselves to social media outlets:
    • Activities such as education, customer service, and disease-state support valuable conversation (promotion, on the other hand, may not necessarily spur the most effective types of conversations).
  2. Match the social media platform to the brand’s specific objectives:
    • Determine how social media can enhance or augment traditional media objectives.
    • Leverage the different characteristics of specific platforms – text versus image versus video.
  3. Develop guidelines and workflows for interactions and engagement opportunities:
    • Structure is crucial in ensuring consistent, responsive, and high-quality communications with consumers, caregivers, and healthcare professionals.
  4. Ensure that qualified staff is on board for all of your social media activities:
    • Have social media specialists who can identify customer service opportunities and follow guidelines on the frontline of interactions, as well as workflows that ensure smooth collaboration among all parties.
    • To avoid missing Adverse Events and Product Quality Complaints, well-trained staff needs to be involved in the social media process flow.
  5. Work with vendors who understand customer care and know how to handle all aspects of social media including adverse event identification, correction of misinformation and patient engagement within the unique parameters of each social media platform.

The FDA’s recent affirmation that it is okay for the industry to correct misinformation opens a door for regulatory-compliant interactions to take place with consumers, loved ones, and healthcare providers. Any conversations that enter regulatory waters can then be carried out via private channels. Overall this is a gift, not a curse.

As many leading pharmaceutical leaders see these changes as opportunities for social media participation, several are simply unsure of the best or safest approach to take their social strategy to the next level. A more detailed summary of recommendations for navigating regulation, developing goals-based strategies and practical social engagement can be found here.

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