Some months back, Novartis Oncology released a somewhat innovative social media platform (CML Earth) targeting the global leukemia audience (CML stands for Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia). CML Earth is a way to connect with other patients, healthcare professionals, and groups.
I give it high marks for “coolness” – it’s a Flash-based application (eats lots of bandwidth, so it’ll work best in the more developed countries) with a global map that you can zoom in and out of and view in Satellite, Map, or Hybrid mode (if you’ve played with Google Earth, you’ll “get it” immediately).
The main purpose of the site is to connect people – from the patient perspective, to be able to tell your story, and to find others who are similarly afflicted.
Kudos are also given for both clarity and ease of use. The brief (~1 minute) Take a Tour video took an interesting approach – no narration, just well-crafted screen shots showing the flow of how people can communicate with each other. It left the feeling that the site is simple and approachable – just what an Intro should do. And as you register, the User Guidelines are very simple and streamlined. Not overloaded with legalese. Privacy notice and consent have all the required verbiage that only a lawyer could love, but it’s not utterly overwhelming.
Registration is very simple. You put in the basic demographic and contact information, and then you can choose (if you wish) to “Tell your Story.” This is a freeform text box which allows you to express what you’d like about your experience. Stories are to conform to guidelines and are reviewed/approved before posting. Apparently, in the early months of the app, the Tell your Story section had a bunch of drop-down boxes, with the end result that many of the stories currently on the site feel very stilted and non-engaging (although there was still a place for free-form text as well).
When you’ve registered, you can go to the global view, which is populated with a bunch of dots representing others who have registered. Hovering over a dot, you get a basic glance, and then can click on to see more of the profile and read that person’s story. You can also give a virtual Hug, Smile, or High-five to that individual. If enabled in the settings, individuals may also receive e-mail messages.
The section on Patient Groups is pretty bare bones – simple links to a small number of groups (by country) with basic contact info.
The platform does support multiple global languages.
I have mixed feelings about CML Earth. Putting on my Social Media Cheerleader hat, I applaud Novartis Oncology for the innovative and imaginative approach here. CML Earth is a mold-breaker, and it’s a neat use of technology, with very nice interface elements and an easy initial user experience. Every small step any pharma company takes to venture into the world of social networking is, on one level, a genuine victory. On the other hand, this site seems to me to lack depth or stickiness. There’s just not that much to do or find here, and I can’t imagine that it would create high levels of ongoing engagement. Like many of current generation of pharma social media efforts, it’s “a start.”
Let’s hope that we see more efforts like this, and perhaps en even richer CML Earth in the days to come. If you haven’t visited, it’s well worth taking a look.
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