Already 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 a success. The tool 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 would be very very soon a serious standard to others already in place in top fortune 1000 (Radian6, Synthesio…).
So for the occasion, I am going to Paris at the end of November for joining a round table and talking 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 instructive interview, he explains how Social Media can be a tool to (re)shape your business’ internal organization, what the pharmaceuticals’ specific issues are, and how Social Media monitoring and researches help solving 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 as well as North America. I have a specific focus on the treatment for uterine fibroids Esmya® as digital is a key 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 on a daily basis?
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 on the projects, and ensure that our affiliates globally can benefit from what has been developed at the global level. I have therefore a lot of contacts with different countries on very different subject, 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 is compliant with the European and local codes of conduct. The digital marketing is a lot concentrated on the sale forces effectiveness or the relationship with healthcare professionals. It is important as there are limitations to really measure what we do, and to analyze the risks of each decision we take. The nature of the information is sensitive, and we must keep in mind that the patient benefit is at the center in everything we do or plan.
LF: What are the Gedeon Richter objectives on the social web?
HA: We are fairly 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 area. 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 maximize the value to the patient, the physician and the payers, while we enhance our internal productivity. I believe that the digital channel is forcing also IT and Marketing departments to become more agile, which is a good and a 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 setup 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. When it comes to 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 in order to ensure that once we go there and start a conversation between different groups, we come with an added value to the patient or the physician.
LF: To meet these expectations, how do you monitor the social web? What would be your guidelines?
HA: We have a global digital road-map for the next few years. What we do is to run a qualitative study every year on our key markets for our key treatments. These learnings are key to adjust our digital strategy. One example is the content strategy we plan to use on our patient or doctor websites. Learning on what physician or patient expect from organizations, from services to pure information, is key for us. We can then ensure that what we plan to do is answering 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 diagnostic, you need still to take the daily temperature. We searched a while for a monitoring tool helping us to 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 not only easy to read and qualify, but internally my colleagues loved the fact that we do have one tool, one language. The dashboard is easy enough to share with one screenshot and even managing directors take time to go on it and have a sneak preview of what is going on. 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 was this pandora 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 the 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. What is important is to have an internal process to assess them, ensuring that even you have limited resources to qualify what you collect, you are still able to screen them, whatever the size of the pipeline of conversation is.
This is of course a different story if you plan to launch, manage your own community. You will then need to screen every adverse event and report it fewer than 24h. What is interesting to know, is, that if you do sponsor a patient association by providing a website, but you don’t influence at all the content strategy, and leave it up to them, the community will not be considered as a web property of the company. I believe this is also a more balanced way to help patient groups anyway.
LF: How do Linkfluence help you?
HA: Linkfluence is helping us adjusting our digital plan with online research (Engage), and finally prepare us for our social media strategy. On the other hand, they help us setup Radarly in the different brands and languages, and support the country team when required (training purposes, specific setup…)
LF: What is a significant weak signal in the pharmaceuticals? How do you process them?
HA: You can have different way of looking at weak signal from the web. You might want to search a disease area, for your R&D team in order to understand what is missing. With the quantified-self movement for instance, a lot of pharma companies should screen what is being said online, as patient already use apps as a treatment adherence tool. 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 a good way to see how a drug is interacting on a larger group. This helps pharmaco-vigilance team to get a more precise view on a drug. Here again, regulation bodies are doing a good job lately to help us setup 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 professional website and even the way our sales representatives should present our treatments.
Last but not the least, as a stock-exchange registered company, it is important 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 is spreading among financial analysts. It is interesting to keep an eye on the pharma observers that if you have to manage one day a crisis or to enhance a campaign online, can be a tremendous amplification.
LF: How do you deal with the variety of domestic markets your brands are involved in? How do you coordinate?
HA: We have a clustered approach. This mean we tend to setup 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 a plan that is agile enough to answer their need. Some markets are more mature then others, and they require a stronger autonomy. This is where we need to create an architecture that is so scalable, we can run it at different speed but still go on one direction. The good news is that digital activity is mature enough to bring this scalability. The example of the monitoring task can proves that countries can be at the first stage to receive a weekly report, to actively monitor and update their marketing tactics.
Instead of pushing projects and hoping to get them translated in a country, we are much more challenging ourselves at the HQ to provide a better support, cheaper to launch and maintain. In letting us pilot the technological and tools layers, they can then invest their effort in the content creation, or investing time in listening the web before jumping.
The governance of such projects is fairly easy. Though web conferences and sharing document platforms, you are able to keep this team spirit. Best practices are key for others markets to follow, and most of the time, the first pilot will determine the success of the others. For the monitoring part, we share with brand directors and managing directors the results of our yearly results, while every week we tend to share the top trends of our online activity.