It has already been one year since the LinkFluence team launched the tool. As an early adopter of their technology, I was pleased to find back some USPs that made the analytical part of the offer successful. The device is light to use and incredibly sexy to look at. The team is working hard now to capture the web in exotic languages, and I am sure they will be very, very soon a strict standard to others already in place in the top fortune 1000 (Radian6, Synthesio).
I am going to Paris at the end of November to join a round table and talk about the experience with Radarly at Richter.
I also gave an interview to Linkfluence that will be posted on Monday 18th, on their blog:
LF: Haider Alleg is Gedeon Richter Global eMarketing Manager. In this very informative interview, he explains how Social Media can be a tool to (re)shape your business’s internal organisation, what the pharmaceuticals’ specific issues are, and how Social Media monitoring and researches help solve them.
LF: What are your missions at Richter Gedeon ?
HA: I am in charge of the global digital strategy for the group in the Western European region and North America. I specifically focus on treating uterine fibroids Esmya® as digital is a crucial DNA branch of the brand. I also support the headquarters in IT, PR, and communication, where digital play a role.
LF: What do you do daily?
HA: I ensure that our long-term digital strategy is supported globally and locally with the right tactics. I source the solutions, maximise the efficiency of the projects, and ensure that our affiliates globally can benefit from what has been developed at the global level. Therefore, I have many contacts with different countries on other subjects, from supporting an event with 500 doctors in Italy to supporting the launch of new campaigns in Germany or the UK. We have a team of several marketers running digital activities, and as a team, we try to catch the next digital innovation train to differentiate ourselves from the competition.
LF: What is Digital Pharma Marketing? To what extent is it different from other businesses’ digital marketing?
HA: Our industry is heavily regulated, and I spend a lot of time ensuring that what we do globally and locally complies with the European and local codes of conduct. Digital marketing concentrates on the sales forces’ effectiveness or the relationship with healthcare professionals. It is essential as there are limitations to measuring what we do and analysing each decision’s risks. The nature of the information is sensitive, and we must remember that the patient benefit is at the centre of everything we do or plan.
LF: What are the Gedeon Richter objectives on the social web?
HA: We are relatively new to the digital, but at the same time, this field is changing so fast that it is a matter of structuring ourselves internally to adopt this medium. Richter is a group looking to expand in the world and as well in different therapeutic areas. With the recent expansion of the company in western European countries, there are a lot of opportunities to structure the group for digital activities and maximise the value to the patient, the physician and the payers while we enhance our internal productivity. I believe that the digital channel is also forcing IT and Marketing departments to become more agile, which is a good and challenging task at the same time.
Regarding social media, as said, we are evolving in a regulated industry, which means social media plans are very complex to set up globally and locally. Our decision was first to structure ourselves at the HQ and affiliates levels to have the view on how we want to use this, and we are currently writing and approving our social media guidelines. We do have pilots on some brands and countries to test what can be the added value of Pinterest, LinkedIn or private communities. Regarding the patient, I believe that pharma players should play the role of a strategic partner of patient groups, supporting them from a resource point of view but leaving the content strategy or the community management to a group of caregivers or patients associations owners.
Then, our strategy is to carefully listen to what is being said about us, our products and the diseases area to ensure that once we go there and start a conversation between different groups, we come with added value to the patient or the physician.
LF: How do you monitor the social web to meet these expectations? What would be your guidelines?
HA: We have a global digital roadmap for the next few years. We run a qualitative study annually on our critical markets for our necessary treatments. These learnings are crucial to adjusting our digital strategy. One example is the content strategy we plan to use on our patient or doctor websites. Learning what physicians or patients expect from organisations, from services to pure information, is vital. We can then ensure that what we plan to do is answer a real existing need. We also look into the key opinion leaders online that can be different in real life.
It was not enough for us to have this snapshot every year. Like a doctor running a set of diagnostics, you still need to take the daily temperature. So we searched for a monitoring tool helping us collect the mentions, structure ourselves internally and be so simple that anybody can use it and read it. We have chosen Radarly for this.
The tool is brilliant from an ergonomic point of view. This is easy to read and qualify, but my colleagues also loved that we have one device, one language. The dashboard is easy enough to share with one screenshot, and even managing directors take time to review it and have a sneak preview of what is happening. The fact that also global and local marketers can work together on the same platform is crucial.
One key thing in our industry is the monitoring of adverse events. This is crucial as a company, and most often, the web is this pandora’s box you don’t want to open as it might increase the number of cases you need to report: this is a legal duty and an expensive process. In reality, the percentage of adverse events regarding treatments is between 1 to 10%, and as soon as they appear on a platform you are not sponsoring, you are not obliged to report them under 24h. Therefore, it is essential to have an internal process to assess them, ensuring that even if you have limited resources to qualify what you collect, you can still screen them, whatever the size of the conversation pipeline.
It will be, of course, a different story if you plan to launch and manage your community. You will then need to screen every adverse event and report it in fewer than 24h. What is interesting to know is if you sponsor a patient association by providing a website. Still, you don’t influence all the content strategy and leave it up to them; the community will not be considered a web property of the company. This is also a more balanced way to help patient groups anyway.
LF: How does Linkfluence help you?
HA: Linkfluence is helping us adjust our digital plan with online research (Engage) and preparing us for our social media strategy. On the other hand, they allow us to set up Radarly in different brands and languages and support the country team when required (for training purposes, specific setup)
LF: What is a significant weak signal in the pharmaceuticals? How do you process them?
HA: You can have a different way of looking at a weak signal from the web. You might want to search a disease area for your R&D team to understand what is missing. For instance, many pharma companies should screen what is being said online with the quantified-self movement, as patients already use apps as treatment adherence tools. If they know what these patients want, they can start thinking beyond the pill and propose new services or medical devices.
We talked about adverse events, and of course, the web can be an excellent way to see how a drug interacts with a larger group. This helps the pharmaco-vigilance team to get a more detailed view of a drug. Here again, regulation bodies are doing a good job lately to help us set up the right processes internally.
The reputation of the drug among doctors is critical as well. They are decision-makers, and it is good from a marketing point of view to see what key messages are top-in-mind and where we should re-enforce. This will help create new sales scenarios for close-loop-marketing platforms, adapt the professional website and even the way our sales representatives should present our treatments.
Last but not least, as a stock-exchange registered company, it is essential to monitor some scientific publications on our treatments and the impact on the corporate brand, and vice-versa. If we release a financial communication, we can see how it spreads among financial analysts. It is interesting to keep an eye on the pharma observers that if you have to manage a crisis one day or enhance a campaign online, it can be a tremendous amplification.
LF: How do you deal with the variety of domestic markets your brands are involved? How do you coordinate?
HA: We have a clustered approach. It means we tend to set up a global vision involving all the stakeholders and the countries. We can anticipate the variations we need to run in the different countries and come back with an agile plan to answer their need. Some markets are more mature than others and require more robust autonomy. We need to create an architecture that is so scalable we can run it at different speeds but still go in one direction. The good news is that digital activity is mature enough to bring this scalability. The example of the monitoring task can prove that countries can be at the first stage to receive a weekly report and actively monitor and update their marketing tactics.
Instead of pushing projects and hoping to translate them into a country, we are much more challenging ourselves at the HQ to provide better support and cheaper launch and maintenance. In letting us pilot the technology and tools layers, they can then invest their effort in content creation or invest time in listening to the web before jumping.
The governance of such projects is relatively straightforward. You can keep this team spirit through web conferences and sharing document platforms. Best practices are essential for other markets to follow, and most of the time, the first pilot will determine the success of the others. For the monitoring part, we share the yearly results with a brand and managing directors, while we share the top trends of our online activity every week.