Posts Tagged ‘digital marketing’

A recent discussion on LinkedIn asked theImage question: “Who in your office is responsible for maintaining your social media accounts?” The responses were all over the lot, with the top five being:

  1. The business owner/principal
  2. An administrator
  3. An outsourced firm
  4. Receptionist/interns
  5. On-site staff dedicated to social media

Rather than discuss the pros and cons of each, I was prompted to analyze the basic requirements of the function and the attributes needed to perform it well. Here are my six criteria.

1. Social media affinity and skills

Of paramount importance is social aptitude. Someone who uses and enjoys social media socially understands what’s likeable, what’s shareable and what activates an audience. Someone who doesn’t “get” the rules of engagement from a user perspective can’t possibly relate. This doesn’t mean that your teenage daughter with x thousand Facebook friends is the best choice for your community manager, either.

A good fit requires everything from soft skills to the highly technical. Being able to tell a good story in a sincere, authentic way is vital. So, too, are at least basic skills in every storytelling medium, from photography and graphics to video.

You also need a firm grasp of the technical aspects of social media maintenance, from dashboards to analytical tools, plus an early adopters zeal in keeping abreast of this ever-changing landscape.

2. Analytical mindset

Speaking of analytical tools, it doesn’t hurt to have the statistical aptitude to be able to turn that data into actionable insights. By the way, that’s a skill that even most seasoned marketers lack, according to a recent CEB study of nearly 800 marketers at Fortune 1000 companies.

3. Business sense to execute your social media strategy

It goes without saying (or it SHOULD, anyway) that if social media is to be an effective part of your overall marketing and communications program, there should be a clear strategy and objective in place. The best goals are S.M.A.R.T. (Specific. Measurable. Attainable. Realistic. Timely.) Assuming that all that is in place, whoever maintains the accounts needs to be totally in sync, measuring results against goal and adjusting tactics and content to maximize returns.

4. Deep customer insights

Whether from market research, personal experience, “listening” through social media channels or all of the above, an intimate understanding of—and empathy for—customer likes, wants, needs, pain points and aspirations is key to audience engagement.

5. Knowledge of your business

Familiarity with the internal workings of the organization is a huge help in identifying content opportunities and sources to keep your social media channels fresh and pertinent. It’s also important to have a thorough understanding of the business’s social media policies, as well as any rules & guidelines governing customer service and your industry. Last, but not least, you have to know when consult a higher authority.

6. Time—and not just during normal office hours, either

Social media is 24/7, crosses time zones and continents, and requires timely responses in order to engage the community and keep the conversation going. Evidence suggests that many demographics and social media channels are most active evenings and weekends.

And then, you never know when you’re going to get that brand-breaking customer complaint. When Frank Eliason pioneered @ComcastCares to provide customer support via Twitter, he was tethered to his smart phone day and night. Granted, there are software tools and vendor services for scheduling and monitoring social media activity when you can’t. But somebody has to be on the receiving end for those critical alerts.

Bottom line: you’re either real time or you’re irrelevant.

Photo courtesy of caribb

Sound like a 6-headed monster?

If your receptionist or intern possesses all of these qualities, they’re either a real gem and should be promoted or they’re the mythical 6-headed monster Scylla. (Not sure I’d want to mess with her.) But in the non-mythical world, this confluence of talents rarely, if ever, rears its head(s).

Truth is, social media marketing is a team sport and your campaign could benefit from the input of everyone on the above list. The business insights and strategy of the business owner/principal; Administrator-approved social media policies and guidelines; The social marketing savvy, technical know-how and toolset of an interactive shop; Even the real world social media user’s perspective of your receptionist and interns.

But ultimate responsibility for day-to-day maintenance and management of your social media efforts should rest with a dedicated on-site staff.

Take a page out of Facebook

While by no means the only social media channel, Facebook nevertheless provides a good template for a social media management team right in its brand page admin set-up. It allows for the creation of five different roles with different areas of responsibility:

  1. Manager
  2. Content Creator
  3. Moderator
  4. Advertiser
  5. Insights Analyst

These roles don’t have to be mutually exclusive, if your social media campaign is in its infancy. For instance, the manager could also be the moderator and the Insights Analyst could work in your IT department. But more than likely, you will have many people throughout the company creating content. For instance, Zappos has 10 employees pinning on its Pinterest boards alone. But it takes integrated efforts of a properly trained in-house team, who know the business, its culture and its customers, to turn social media into an integral part of your marketing program. And that will reward you with the best and most consistent results in the long run.


Granted, no one expects pharmaceutical web sites to exude the fun and games of say, The 21st Century Beetle – Rock ‘n’ Scroll, one of this year’s Webby Award winners. But even in their own category at the 2012 Webbys, pharmaceutical brand web sites were conspicuous by their absence. Of the five nominees, the lone branded drug site was FluMist’s Pick Your Nose—a clever take on Medimmune’s nasal alternative to the flu shot that made the cut for the second year in a row.

The real innovation in the category came from entries that were decidedly un-pharma. So much so, this looked more like the anti-pharma web awards. Which is a shame, really. Because the concept that seemed to resonate most with the Webby judges is one that also resonates with today’s empowered, engaged e-patients: helping healthcare consumers make informed choices. There’s nothing inherently un-pharma about that, is there?

So take note pharma. Here are ideas you can use.

Idea #1: GoodRx. My personal favorite and also the People’s Choice Webby winner, GoodRx aims to make prescription drugs more affordable for everyone, with or without health insurance.

GoodRx finds the lowest prices on 6,000 Rx drugs.

Co-founded by two ex-Facebook guys, Doug Hirsch and Scott Marlette, the site gives consumers the same kind of tools they use to find the cheapest TV or airline tickets. Just type in a drug name and zip code to compare prices from major US chain stores, mail order pharmacies and even some local stores. Plus there are store coupons, info on pharmacy discount plans and links to drug companies’ own discount programs.

What’s stopping any pharma brand web site from helping consumers search for the best prices for their product? Nothing. Except maybe fear of instilling sticker shock? But consider the alternative: at GoodRx, patients can also search brand vs. generic pricing. Talk about sticker shock then! Or they can use the GoodRx iPhone app right in the doctor’s office to get their doctor to write a prescription for the brand that best fits their budget. Maybe it’s better to head them off at the pass with your own product price search. Or, at the very least,with an easy tool that lets me check my health plan’s coverage or co-pay.

Idea #2: Ask a Patient  This year’s Webby winner for Best Web Site: Pharmaceuticals is all about patient empowerment. was created by Consumer Health Resource Group, LLC to help individuals research drugs and health care topics. home page

This year’s Webby winner for Best Web Site: Pharmaceuticals is all about patient empowerment.

If GoodRx is the Expedia of pharmaceuticals, then AskaPatient is the TripAdvisor. Instead of commenting on hotel accommodations, consumers review their medications, sharing side effects and success stories, and rate their experiences on a scale of 1 to 5. According to the site’s FAQ’s the average rating for all drugs in the AskaPatient database is about 3, which equals “average” or “somewhat satisfied.” After perusing a fair number of patient postings, I found as many high fives as low ratings. But like many other consumer product reviews, they are only one piece of the puzzle. (One person’s dream vacation can be another’s nightmare, after all.) However, AskaPatient certainly brings those dry adverse event profiles on the (mostly) unread PI’s to life.

What’s the big idea here for drug makers? I hardly expect them to open their web sites (or even their Facebook pages, for that matter) to consumer side effect complaints. On the other hand, it’s getting harder and harder to ignore the elephant in the room. An honest discussion of side effects as part of real patient stories can go a long way toward managing expectations and improving adherence. My dream web site: one that compares side effect profiles of all drugs in a  category, in much the same way that auto makers openly compare the stats of their cars with the competition. Maybe next year?

Idea #3: Help I need help. The branding of this OTC line of single symptom remedies is childishly simple. And simply brilliant. From product names (Help I Have a Headache)…

Help Remedies delivers on a simple brand promise: less.

to plain Jane biodegradable packaging… to contents (uncoated, uncolored, single active ingredients), Help Remedies has cornered the market on less—less drug, less dye, less confusion. The HelpIneedhelp web site is an exercise in simplicity itself and a beautiful showcase for the brand.  There isn’t a single happy patient cliche in site.  (The only people on the site are in the simply produced, tongue-in-cheek videos.) The playfully restrained design invites interaction and makes it simple (that word again!) to learn more, find a store or buy online.

The message for pharma? Simply, help me.

Help me understand my condition and your treatment. Help me find a way to afford it. Help me manage side effects. Help me any way you can. With simple and personal language. With  easy-to-use tools. With relevant support. With whatever YOU would want if you were in MY shoes. Help me.

Then maybe we’ll see more pharma innovation at next year’s Webby Awards.