[I'm talking pharma here. But just swap in your industry and the argument will likely apply!]
Here in the highly regulated prairies of pharma-land, there is a fair amount of fear and trembling about drug companies getting involved with social networking.
Many of the discussions start and end with the perceived potential pitfalls (lots of which are actually red herrings). What if a patient talks about an adverse event with our drug? How can we “talk” directly to patients? What if there is off-label discussion? Is it a form of marketing? What’s the ROI? What will the FDA think? How do we know what we can or can’t say?
All the pitfalls come to the surface – which are convenient excuses to do nothing.
But what few realize is that the biggest danger is the pitfall of doing nothing.
Not being involved where the discussions are already occurring is choosing to be irrelevant. And people ARE talking about your drug and your company – and their conditions, and their needs, and their desire to know more. Why shuffle your feet on the sidelines when the game is being played at midfield?
Not learning to communicate using new media is choosing to get and stay behind the eight ball. There are many safe, shallow-end-of-the-pool proven ways to begin to use blogs, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube – and more importantly than any particular tactic or platform – there are straightforward ways to communicate and get involved. You don’t need a rulebook from the FDA to get started. You need to grow a pair.
Not moving forward when your competitors are learning the ropes is choosing to look regressive and out-of-touch. Social networking isn’t some alien passing fancy that will disappear overhead while your head is planted in the sand. It is now a normal and expected part of everyday communications. Some pharma companies are using it. Others…content to perch on the fence.
Doing nothing is not a strategy. It’s a cop-out. When discussing the potential pitfalls of social media, don’t forget the opportunity costs of the biggest one of all. Doing nothing.