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A social media toolkit for cancer information with lessons for pharma

Guidelines from International Cancer Information Services Group provide useful social media overview

The web is full of social media guidelines, but pharma-specific examples are few and far between.

Regulators in the US have yet to make any progress after their highly-anticipated 2009 hearing on the area, and have been beaten to the punch by their counterparts in the UK and Sweden.

Meanwhile, the only pharmaceutical company to have published its guidelines – though not, of course, the only firm with guidelines – is Roche, which last August set out what it expected from employees, whether in the workplace or at home.

So a new tool kit for patient groups that looks at communicating cancer information through social media channels could also provide pharma with a useful overview of the channels and the challenges involved in using them.

The International Cancer Information Services Group (ICSIG) brings together groups such as Cancer Research UK, Deutsches Krebsforschungszentrum (German Cancer Research Centre) and France's Ligue nationale contre le cancer.

Its new 'Using Social Media in Cancer Information Services' guide provides a useful primer on social media, with guidelines, a glossary of basic terms and tips for getting started.

Looking at social media marketing, ICSIG suggests these four steps:

  • Do some homework: Think across channels, and how you can create a multi-channel marketing approach.
  • Inform yourself by exploring: Social media is a way in which you can monitor what people are saying about your organisation and area of work. Setting up listening tools such as Google Alerts and searching blogs are two ways to do this.
  • Create your marketing plan: Based on the first two steps, along with your objectives, produce a plan covering all channels that you are going to use. A multi-channel plan will make sure that you will have one theme, one creative design, and one set of key messages.
  • Set up your monitoring schedule: Set aside a time each week when you will check your schedule to make sure you are achieving your plan, to check your metrics to measure your progress, and to make any changes that are needed.

Commenting on the guidelines, Martin Ledwick, head of Cancer Research UK's Cancer Information Nurses, said recent years had seen “huge changes in the digital channels through which people can access information”.

“One thing we've noticed is that different channels work best for different purposes. For example it's challenging to answer a complex medical question about cancer in the 140 characters of a tweet, but tweeting is an excellent way of keeping interested people up to date with the latest news about our research, campaigns and fundraising.

"As all of us move forward and explore new ways of communicating with each other we have to make every effort to choose the right channels to communicate different information. So it's great to see these guidelines have been produced."

View the ICISG's Using Social Media in Cancer Information Services guide, and other examples of social media guidelines drawn from all industries.

21st December 2011

From: Marketing

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