ADA Conference

As I sit here in the lounge of the American Diabetes Association's conference in San Diego, I'm amazed at the sheer number of other people's Mac laptops I can "see" from my Mac's Finder.

But that's not why I'm here. I must say I am excited to learn more about diabetes, especially now that three of my friends have Type-2 (due to their eating habits). I hope to get some pointers on how to approach my "dude guy friends" with some sound advice that may save their lives. I'll also be helping out with some social media work for a client in the space.


Facebook Page Commenting Changes

Within the next couple of weeks, Facebook will be announcing changes to how their Facebook Pages work, specifically when it comes to commenting. Currently, Page administrators have the ability to disable comments to Wall posts, photos, and videos. Certain companies have taken advantage of this, since they work in highly regulated industries and would find it difficult to deal with open comments from the Facebook communit

Two industries in particular -- pharmaceutical and financial services -- are regulated by various government entities that mandate the ways in which they must deal with information from the general public. Those "charged" topics can include: financial advice, stock recommendations, adverse (drug) events, off-label use of drugs, etc. In the world of pharma, for example, when these topics are discovered online, it is incumbent upon the drug maker to report that to the FDA (based on certain criteria). On a pharmaceutical company's Facebook Page, they lock down that conversation by disabling commenting on the Page's Wall posts, photos, and videos.

Facebook will be changing their policy when it comes to disabling comments. At some point, possibly as early as mid-June, Facebook will be opening up comments on all pharma Pages with the exceptions of:

  • Pages that promote, talk about, or support prescription drugs or devices
  • Pages that focus on a disease state where there is only one prescribed treatment (even if the Page doesn't mention the treatment)
  • Disease-state/therapeutic area Pages that have the PI/ISI on the Page

This means that corporate Pages, general disease awareness Pages, and unbranded campaign Pages will have their comments re-enabled for their Walls, photos, and videos. Other details of this change are detailed in the below presentation.


Facebook to Open Page Commenting
View more presentations from WCG



Healthcare Social Communications

This morning, I attended another great seminar from the Business Development Institute and founder Steve Etzler. The subject matter was social communications for healthcare companies and organizations. It's a much-debated and feared subject, given the regulatory boundaries in which pharmaceutical companies and healthcare providers operate. Here are some highlights from the speakers.

Marc Monseau, Director, Corporate Communications & Social Media, Johnson & Johnson

  • 61% of HCPs have read a blog, and 79% have watched an online video for personal or professional use
  • J&J has had 80,000 downloads of their mobile Black Bag app geared towards doctors are a real-time health news feed
  • J&J has created some closed communities for connecting professionals (vision care, diabetes)
  • J&J maintains strong relationships with doctors and especially with nurses via BlogWorld, Facebook, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter
  • Marc's basics: listen to the conversation, establish your role, identify key influencers, establish policies, streamline approval process, resource appropriately, empower teams, remain flexible
  • Marc uses Google Reader to track the most influential health bloggers/writers
  • Funny moment: J&J reads a statement any dinners where they host doctors, saying that they won't object if the doctors would prefer to pay for their meal

Brian Mulligan, Assistant VP of PR, North Shore - LIJ Health System

  • Getting your extended corporate message onto social media is like fitting a square peg into a round hole
  • The challenge: YouTube is fun, but HIPPA is serious business
  • North Shore LIJ refuses to put press releases on their Facebook page

Fred Muench, Associate Director of Research, The Partnership at

  • Patients are using social media to extend their health care
  • 30% of patients have e-communications with their HCP, but up to 70% of them WANT to have e-communications with their HCP
  • 78% of patients would like a counselor automatically alerted if they relapse
  • HCPs are concerned that their patients aren't getting reliable information in the social health forums
  • People are having virtual AA meetings in Second Life (seriously ... Second Life)
  • Largest growing population they are starting to cater their materials for is the U.S. Hispanic market

George Tunstall, SVP, Sales & Business Development, Within3

  • Within3 creates online health communities for pharmas, medical associations, HCPs
  • Virtual advisory board meetings can get satisfy the Sunshine Law by not paying for doctors' travel and accommodations
  • Health care communities aren't launched; they're cultivated.

Bradley Jobling, Office of External Affairs, Columbia University Department of Surgery

  • Columbia has patient bloggers reach out to them for advice
  • They run 11 different Facebook pages around various topics
  • NY-based doctors have such a strong offline network among their peers that they don't really use Sermo or Osmosis to information-exchange
  • You can't do everything you want at once. Pick one program to kick off a social media initiative.
  • They participate in



Engagement Span

This week, I'm in Austin, TX, at my company's leadership summit. A collection of great minds have come together to share their experience and ideas on where marketing and online communications is headed.

It's a new year, and this social media rage will continue to grow and to change. That seems to be the only constant -- that things in social media are always in flux. That's what makes this so exciting.

Some great nuggets from the talks:

  • Customers only spend 1% of their time in the actual process of the purchasing action. The other 99% of the time is spent learning, assessing, reading reviews, etc. Companies need to concentrate their efforts more on that 99%.
  • Great applicable quote from Wayne Gretzky: "A good hockey player plays where the puck is. A great hockey player plays where the puck is going to be."
  • Dilbert cartoonist Scott Adams: "You don't have to be a 'person of influence' to be influential. In fact, the most influential people in my life are probably not even aware of the things they've taught me."
  • Imagine if companies used social media research when they developed: New Coke, Crystal Pepsi, Smith & Wesson mountain bikes, McDonald's Arch Deluxe.
  • When you interact, you learn. When you learn, you improve. When you improve, customers appreciate it. When customers appreciate it, they help you learn more.
  • About 92% of Americans get their daily news from multiple sources. (from Pew Research)
  • Message to companies: Don't build a website that people come to; build a website that people come back to.



You're Not Last

Each day, I see companies that think they're still far behind in social media. They each believe that everyone else, including their competitors, is way ahead of them in terms of their social media prowess and expertise. But the thing is, nearly everyone thinks this. Not everyone can be in last place. That would mean everyone's also in first place.

Social media is still in its infancy. And you're not really any father behind than your competitors. Even if you have a competitor who seems like they're way ahead of the pack, that just means they tried out something first. There are no real "standard ways of doing something" -- it's just a way of doing something.

Point being, if you haven't at least dipped your toes in the social media (media, really) pool yet, go for it. But do it in a thoughtful way, just as you would take on any new business venture. Namely ...


  1. Be sure your social media policies and guidelines are in place.
  2. Claim your name. Sure, you have locked up, but do you have "MyCompany" locked up for YouTube? Twitter? Flickr? Or any number of hundreds of social media channels?
  3. Figure out who will be handling this. Reality check ... it's not a job you can just pawn off on the receptionist.
  4. Train and empower your employees to use social media.


Mind you, these are broad strokes, but at least it should get you thinking. And by the way, Merry Christmas!