One of the unspoken occupational hazards of social media is the fact that many of our strategies are contingent upon the whims of the platforms and communities we operate within. What happens when one of the social media platforms changes the game?
For a pharmaceutical company engaging in social media, a slight shift could require drastic changes in social media strategy. It’s no secret that Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms have demonstrated a propensity to change policies on a dime. Decisions that Facebook makes on privacy settings or changes Twitter makes to who has access to the firehouse can cause panic amongst the pharmaceutical companies operating within those communities.
People seem to forget that companies such as Facebook and Twitter are businesses too. If a policy change is going to provide more data for advertisers or attract more page views, they are going to do it without blinking an eye. It’s all in the name of profit.
So where does that leave the pharmaceutical industry that has sought to exact some measure of control in social media? Where does it leave a cautious industry that has designed a whole strategy aimed at staying compliant with current regulations? If a social network can change its tune at any moment—how does a tepid industry stay prepared?
At a recent conference I attended I listened to a session on global implementation of a pharmaceutical social media marketing program. The session addressed the challenges of dealing with different regulations across country boundaries. The point of view shared was that you should find the most restrictive regulations and use that as your benchmark—ensuring you are in compliance in less rigid regulatory environments. In the case of the social media platform that can change its guidelines at any moment, the opposite is true. Plan for the current environment, but have a contingency plan for what you will do if the game changes. Don’t be forced into reacting to changes, address them before they even arise. Plan for the moment when social media becomes entirely community and conversation driven with no pre-moderation options.
What is your contingency plan if a conservative approach to social media is no longer an option? There will certainly be naysayers inside the organization that will want to peel back social media engagement as a result of looser restrictions on social media platforms. Be prepared to convince them that pulling out of these communities is the wrong decision. Demonstrate that you have planned for this scenario and have a plan in place to step up your monitoring capabilities, fit an AE-reporting framework into the existing escalation procedures of the company and prove the benefit to continued involvement.
Changes on social media platforms will continue to occur—whether to existing sites or emerging. Don’t be caught off guard.