In preparation for my participation in the panel discussion entitled “Social Media and Professional Marketing…What’s Really Working?” on October 4, 2011, during the PharmaForce conference (see here), I am on the lookout for examples of “what’s really working” in the pharma social media realm.

I did warn program director Kristin Paulick that I usually focus on what’s NOT working. Kristin, however, noted that what’s not working is just as important as what is working!

Still, I feel compelled to start looking at the glass half full and come up with some examples of successful, useful pharma social media endeavors. The “Making More Health” partnership between Boehringer Ingelheim (BI) and Ashoka Changemakers is a good and timely example (see Ashoka and Boehringer Ingelheim Partner to Promote New Ways of “Making More Health”).

“Making More Health brings together two organizations committed to finding innovative people and ideas to help shape the future of the health sector,” said Prof. Dr. Andreas Barner, chairman of the board of managing directors for Boehringer Ingelheim. “Through this partnership we will bring forth meaningful and sustainable solutions that can achieve individual and family well-being in communities around the globe.” 

Ashoka Changemakers “is a global online community that supports everyone’s ability to be a changemaker by inspiring, mentoring, and collaborating with other members of the community at every level of changemaking. Changemakers hosts collaborative online competitions to identify and connect the best social innovators and implementers. Participants compete to surface the most promising solutions, and then collaborate to refine, enrich, and implement them. Changemakers builds on Ashoka’s three-decade history of transforming the citizen sector by building the largest association of leading social entrepreneurs in the world.”

Part of the “Making More Health” social media campaign is a competition whereby anyone can submit ideas to improve health. Eligible entries “may target a wide variety of populations throughout the world and include (but are not limited to) those that:

  • Increase access to quality health services and treatment: Innovations may incorporate strategies such as addressing cultural and financial barriers, lack of transportation, decentralized medical resources, and gaps in education and knowledge.
    Solutions may include initiatives for disease prevention and diagnosis, developing healthy lifestyles, or advocacy and awareness programs relevant to any life stage.
  • Empower individuals, families, and communities to address local health issues:Innovations may engage and inform individuals, families, and communities, and allow them to directly participate in the management of their own health. These span a range of solutions from communal patient care initiatives to programs that nurture a culture of health within communities.
  • Target vulnerable and underserved populations: Entries may include those that address conflict and/or post-crisis environments, poverty and development as related to health, mental health, or rural health.”
So far, 186 entries have been submitted — a record number for Changemakers. It shows how a little pharma support in terms of money AND willingness to participate in social media can make a difference.

In fact, today between 3 and 5 PM Eastern US, BI and Changemakers will host #SocEntChat — “a Twitter-based, real-time discussion about social entrepreneurship that focuses on specific issues, areas, or events. It is designed for current and aspiring social entrepreneurs, funders, media, and supporters to share their ideas, discuss the state of the field, identify the latest innovations, and pinpoint areas requiring more exploration. It is also an open forum for the global public to voice concerns and hopes, and propose ideas of their own!”

I plan to participate.

Of course, many of the innovative ideas submitted to “Making More Health” involve innovations for healthcare delivery in underdeveloped countries. Just yesterday, however, I was reminded that the US healthcare system also needs help. A @Pfizer_News Twitter post noted that “9 million Americans lost their healthcare in the last several years.” What is Pfizer doing to help? They urge you to visit the “Pfizer Healthful Answers” website.

Pfizer, however, is not engaging in social media to discuss helpful ideas; they are just offering a “handout;” ie, free or discounted medicines for people who qualify for one of the programs they support.

IMHO, we need to find a way to PREVENT millions of Americans from “losing their healthcare” in the first place! Now, that would be an innovation!

[This post originally appeared in Pharma Marketing Blog
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