RichardM over at World of DTC Marketing posted STOP! Social media is not the answer as argument as to why pharma should stay out of the social game. The argument can be summed up thusly: Pharma can’t be open, social demands openness, ergo pharma won’t work in social.

There is a little more to it than that, and I agree with the characterization of social as open and all about the conversation, but I think the article looks very narrowly at social media and how pharma can play in it. 

The article doesn’t have the wrong answer, it has the wrong question.

Does pharma want to be Oreos in social media (right now Oreas is the most powerful brand on Facebook, hitting a record number of likes before Lil Wayne took the title (ask your kids))? Can they afford to be the class cut-up in a world of snark and LOLs? Can they hire a hot guy to pretend to be a genie and make all your man’s aroma issues a thing of the past? Can pharma make a series of videos in which they see if things will blend? No? Huh. So maybe they can’t play in that part of social media.

But that’s not all of social media.

You know what people want when it comes to pharma? Good info and solid advice. They don’t want fun and laughs and chortles and “I have to send this to all my friends”-ness. This is their health, so there will be little joking (at least, not until you’ve formed a relationship with the audience). And since pharma can’t go off-label, they have to look elsewhere. I will suggest that “elsewhere” doesn’t have to be away from social media, but out of the branded area. 

The question then becomes “Where can pharma play in social media.” It’s a question we (as an industry) don’t seem all that interested in solving just yet.

Comment? Yeah, I’ll respond. Let’s increase our Klout scores by having a discussion about this on twitter for all to see!