There is an old adage that necessity is the mother of invention. Recently amidst the endless stream of Tweets I see, I saw a different take on this saying: “Crisis is the mother of invention.”
(I wish I could remember who Tweeted that so I could give proper recognition, but alas, I can’t. So to my stranger-Tweeting friend, thank you!)
It struck me as a particularly relevant comment for the world of pharmaceutical social media. I’ve touched on the fact that pharmaceutical stumbles in social media are a good thing and that it is indeed possible to use social media for pharma crisis communications. My contention has always been that each challenge along the way illuminates the fact that social media is not some fly-by-night marketing technique. There are always stumbles in a marketing program, and there will always be challenges, the belief that social media would somehow circumvent that has always hurts its credibility.
As pharmaceutical companies have encountered struggles in social media it has sharpened all of our thinking on the best approach to engagement. In the early phases of pharma social media—a company was praised simply for showing up. As well they should have been at the time. A pharmaceutical company showing its face online was a novel idea three years ago. During this period, our thinking was never stretched and our approach was never challenged. It was kind of like elementary school—everyone got a gold star just for trying their best.
The recent string of pharmaceutical mishaps has been the crisis that will spur invention. It will force social media pundits to take a closer look at the thought process behind an engagement and reevaluate the best approach. More importantly, it will force pharmaceutical companies to ask the right questions before embarking on a social media journey, pinpoint the right goals and insist on outlining a strategy and crisis communications plan.