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How long does it take to go from ‘like’ to ‘hate’?

By Duncan Arbour

Duncan

For Facebook, the journey took ten years – from the launch of the ‘like’ button in February 2009 to Mark Zuckerberg’s letter to the Washington Post this March in which he acknowledged that social platforms are overdue for a regulatory reckoning.

On the way, we’ve moved from social media as ‘a place for friends’ (as Myspace once put it) to a place where elections are seemingly bought and sold, and where massacres can be livestreamed to a global audience who don’t just watch – they reupload and share.

As a result there’s also something of a reckoning happening for those businesses who’ve historically invested heavily in social media, with marketing chiefs of FMCG leaders like Unilever publicly announcing policies to reduce spending on platforms riddled with toxic content, fake profiles and hate speech.

From a pharma perspective this has a particular resonance. Even a couple of years ago, these same consumer brand leaders were being held up by teams – and agency teams in particular – as aspirational for our industry: ‘If only we could overcome our regulatory and legal challenges...’

It’s as if pharma spent the first utopian days of the social media revolution watching enviously from the sidelines as a premier league of FMCG brands took full advantage of shiny new platforms and possibilities. And even when pharma made it onto the pitch, the goalposts just kept on moving, with new platforms and features to master.

However well we played we still looked like an amateur five-a-side team in comparison.

But now it seems that pharma’s ‘move slowly and take care’ approach to social media’s last decade of ‘move fast and break things’ may not have been such a bad thing after all. Say what you like about friendly five-a-side teams, but they like to play by the rules.

And specifically because of this experience in successfully working within these rules – right now – the best of pharma’s social teams are better equipped for a more regulated, responsible social media future than anyone else, regardless of where the goalposts might be moved to next.

Duncan Arbour, SVP Innovation, Syneos Health Communications Europe

In association with

Syneos

8th June 2019

From: Marketing

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