When Pharma Does Social Media Right

Pharma giant, Roche should be commended for creating a ‘Social Media Summit for Diabetes’. By embracing the diabetes community and giving them an outlet for information and interaction, they have made a genuine effort to communicate to patients on a one-on-one basis.

Adhering to a social media basic, Roche did this with minimal corporate and product promotion. I suspect their intention was to generate buzz in the diabetes blogging community and from the posts I have read, the reception has been positive.

Some posts depict attendees overjoyed about communicating with other members of their “family.” Although Roche began the Summit with a film updating the community on recent advancements in treatment, a blogger was satisfied that the commercial “used real people with diabetes. No actors! Score!” Another attendee noted that Roche “paid for my travel, lodging and food, but did not ask anyone to blog about the summit, nor pitch any products to us.” Again, the company shows an understanding that with social media marketing – positive word of mouth supersedes any traditional PR and that the soft sell works best.

For additional content, Roche included representatives from the American Diabetes Association and the American Association of Diabetes Educators. Both associations should be congratulated for placing themselves in a format where praise or criticism was heard, unfiltered.

Hopefully, other pharma companies get wise with utilizing social media to reach out to sufferers of chronic illnesses – taking the time to listen, converse and interact. The online communities already exist and the interactions among members will continue whether or not the pharma industry participates.


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