Last week I posted “Where’s Your Social Media Crisis Management Plan,” which received some good responses from readers, including Sanofi-Aventis (S-A). Dennis Urbaniak, VP U.S. Diabetes and former VP of Innovation and New Customer Channels at S-A called and I will be interviewing him in my Pharma Marketing Talk Show on April 6 (see “What Has Sanofi-Aventis Learned from Its Facebook Experience?“).

Before you find yourself in a social media crisis, you should have a Social Media Implementation Plan. I’m not certain that many pharmaceutical companies are doing systematic planning. Many may be launching apps without any plan at all!

Several months ago at an industry conference focused on ePharma marketing, I led a small group discussion about what pharmaceutical companies need to do BEFORE they engage in social media promotion or disease awareness or patient support programs. The group came up with the following list, which is a pretty good outline of a social media implementation plan:

  • Unblock corporate access to social media so employees can monitor and use applications such as Facebook while at work
  • Have a sustained vision/goal
  • Become a dialogue company – learn how to listen and respond, not just push messages out
  • Get everyone – including marketing – on board
  • Develop guideposts, internal standard operating procedures
  • Training
  • Develop a moderation strategy
  • Marshall necessary resources – use the best tools available
  • Hire a social media Tsar

The order of items in this list is more or less the order in which the group shouted them out to me as I was compiling the list. It may or may not be the order in which a plan would be implemented in the real world by your typical pharma company.

The first item on the list seems the simplest, but it was only recently that Pfizer, for example, implemented this. Eileen Obrien (@EileenObrien), Director, Search & Innovation at Siren Interactive, tweeted about Pfizer opening the firewall to allow Facebook after hearing it from per Pfizer’s VP of Communications Ray Kerins at a recent CMI eMarketing event.

A little while ago, Len Starnes, Head of Digital Marketing & Sales, General Medicine at Bayer Schering Pharma, polled his LinkedIn colleagues asking “Does your pharmaceutical company permit social media monitoring?” The chart below shows the results.

There are plenty of restrictions to access. Without access how can your employees learn enough about social media to follow your social media plan let alone design one and implement it?

In my “Rate Your Social Media Readiness Self-Assessment Survey” I asked respondents how often they used  social media applications. The pharma respondents answered the question as shown in the following chart:

Less than 40% say they use social media frequently.

Instead of going through the plan items one-by-one, I ask my readers — you — to post a comment about your favorite item on the list or add your own. No doubt, we’ll have more to say about this in my conversation with Dennis Urbaniak.

Also, regarding “guideposts, internal standard operating procedures,” many pharmacos expressed their ideas on this in their official comments to the FDA. I will be reviewing those ideas in the March issue of Pharma Marketing News (see the preview here).

Meanwhile, in today’s #hcsmeu Twitter discussion, Manu Field (@manufield) asked “How can Pharma Snr Mgt best be briefed on SM, and what r the barriers we need to overcome? Who already ‘gets it’?”

Some responses:

@andrewspong I thought about COs inviting SM specialists after “the Nestle situation” in my blog

@manufield Not a Q of ‘when’, but ‘how’. Pharma needs to suppress its organizational immune system. Cf. analogy

@blogaceutics To create a group of digital natives to guide an internal process and recommend to snr mgt to use SM internally to better adapt

@chibbie: q2 how about invite outside experts that don’t have pharma associations #hcsmeu Best digi practice from other industry

@SM_Intern I heard that @pharmaguy asks his fees when working w pharma be donated to favorite charity.