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Social Media in Regulated Industries: Leaders Wanted

One of my favorite reads in the social marketing blogosphere is John Mack’s Pharma Marketing Blog. While John covers pharmaceutical marketing across all channels, his posts on social media present a nuanced look at the unique challenges pharma and other regulated industries face when trying to make headway in the space. Particularly interesting are the surveys he occasionally does of pharma marketers. Add him to your RSS reader, if you haven’t already; he’s also on Twitter here

John posted a thought-provoking interesting survey a few weeks back, asking pharma marketers what they thought the most important elements of a social media implementation plan were, particularly in the event of a crisis. 

Here are the results (image from the Pharma Marketing Blog). Since the activities are truncated on the graph, a key is below: 


The activities: 

  • Unblock corporate access to social media so employees can monitor and use applications such as Facebook while at work
  • Have a sustained vision/goal
  • Become a dialogue company – learn how to listen and respond, not just push messages out
  • Get everyone – including marketing, regulatory people, corporate communications, C-level execs – on board
  • Develop guideposts, internal and external standard operating procedures
  • Train people who will be interacting directly with consumers
  • Develop a moderation strategy
  • Marshall necessary resources – use the best tools available
  • Create a social media “Tsar” position to oversee all the company’s SM projects to assure compliance with guideline

It’s interesting that these activities all fall into two broad categories – what I’ll call “tools” and “behaviors”. Unblocking access to social media sites, training, moderation strategy, and marshaling resources – those are “tools”. But sustained  goals, becoming a “dialogue company” and breaking down functional silos – those are “behaviors”. It’s clear that the marketers who answered this survey know how to use those tools; they place much less weight on them than they do the behaviors. But not everyone can set organizational priorities and move different functions to act more cooperatively – it’s clear that respondents to John’s survey have the tools, but are looking for leadership

In our 2010 study for B2C marketers, Close the CMO Leadership Deficit in Social Media, we argue that what’s standing between marketing teams and social media success is often a lack of executive leadership. According to our data, CMO involvement in social efforts is a strong predictor of how well companies do in the space: 

For pharma and other risk-averse industries, the message is clear: if you want to mitigate downside risk while using social media to reshape the brand-to-consumer relationship, active CMO leadership is essential. 

MLC members, learn how you can more effectively lead your organization’s social media efforts at one of our upcoming Annual Executive Retreats, or attend our July 14 webinar, Building a Socially Intelligent Enterprise: Closing the CMO Leadership Gap in Social Media.

Comments from the Network (1)

  1. CEC Insider » Banking on Social Media in Financial Services
    on October 20, 2010

    [...] that executive buy-in is critical to the launch and success of social media efforts.  In fact, recent research from our sister organization for CMOs, the Marketing Leadership Council, indicates that 69% of companies who report that they have [...]

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