2 health social media campaigns worth a look

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Whilst on the topic of the health impact of the ‘digital age’, it is worthwhile exploring the power its most current and relevant offspring, social media, has in disseminating health messages and empowering the public.

While it is impossible to talk about all successful campaigns at once (and this is something Cube will be keeping an eye out for), below are two campaigns which have caught our attention:

1. Twitter Autism Day

In this simple and effective example, Twitter was used to create a channel for sufferers of autism and their careAutism Awarenessrs to share their knowledge and experiences of life with autism. Communication and misunderstanding are some of the obstacles faced by people with autism. Twitter was an appropriate medium for this particular disease area, helping sufferers address these obstacles. It also allowed the community an opportunity to show their support by following and re-tweeting. A hashtag was created to help. Twitter Autism Day became a trending topic and this speaks volumes for the success of the campaign in raising awareness and public understanding of the condition (via Engaging Social Media).    

2. Digital Men’s Health Campaign

With last week marking YouTube’s 5th birthday – it is impossible not to give the popular video sharing site a hat-tip. Particularly, as sharing video content online is becoming increasingly important (41% of Australians streamline or download videos).

Click here to view is a reel which encapsulates an interesting digital campaign, developed internationally by the industry, in the area of men’s health (via http://pharmadigital.wordpress.com/). Below is a snapshot of some of the digital content generated.

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Cracking the Code: A communications insight into Edition 16

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2010 marks 50 years since Medicines Australia first introduced the Code of Conduct. In five decades the Code has evolved dramatically. From a small booklet in the 1960s that could practically fit in a back pocket and scrutinised use of telegrams as a communications channel – to Edition 16 now two A4 manuscripts holding almost 300 pages with Facebook, Twitter and YouTube under the microscope!

Edition 16 now provides the pharmaceutical industry with even tighter and more specific standards for the marketing and promotion of prescription products and engagement with healthcare professionals, patients and the general public.

When it comes to communicating with the general public what was once quite ‘grey’ and open to interpretation, has become far more lucid.

New Code now in play

New Code now in play

For the first time there is clarity on previously debated areas. When a company can issue a product-specific media release and what can and can’t be included is now qualified. How a company can respond to journalists requesting internationally released data on unregistered or ‘off-label’ products is also specified.

Edition 16 also features a sub-section on social media, recognising that while industry is still a little cautious with this new sphere of communication, it cannot be ignored.

At first glance Edition 16 may come across as more restrictive when it comes to industry’s relationship with the general public and media. And no doubt, it has prompted many a communications professional to consider how to convey a balanced, Code-compliant message that also piques the interest of one of its primary conduits of communication – the media.

However, on closer assessment, clarification of ‘grey’ areas and the setting of very clear parameters to work within can only be seen as a positive step. Greater alignment and consistency among each company’s approach to marketing and communications is important – and may assist in minimising the public scrutiny the industry has been forced to face in recent years.

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Twitter and healthcare – could 2010 be the year they come together?

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Hands up who’s been on Twitter for more than 12 months? Be honest!

If, like most people, you can’t put up your hand then don’t worry, because it was only in 2009 that Twitter really hit the mainstream. Created back in 2006, the site provided a unique microblogging service that enabled users to send messages (tweets) of up to 140 characters to their network of followers across the globe. However, by 2008 there were still only a few hundred thousand users.

It wasn’t until the beginning of last year when big-name celebrities began using the service to connect with their fan base, and Governments and big corporations used the site to extend the reach of their campaigns, that Twitter hit the headlines and experienced serious exponential growth.

The exact number of users is hard to quantify, but by September last year the number of live Twitter accounts is said to have passed an incredible 50 million. One in five internet users employ Twitter or another service to send updates about themselves or to see other people’s updates.

Twitter and healthcare – could 2010 be the year they come together?

Twitter and healthcare – could 2010 be the year they come together?

The early adopters of Twitter in the healthcare arena have been clinical groups, hospitals and healthcare organisations who are beginning to use Twitter to communicate timely information within the medical community, to patients and the public. Real-time tweets provide a fast and easy way to reach multiple people in a short space of time. This has advantages for sharing time-critical information such as drug safety warnings, tracking disease outbreaks and disseminating healthcare information.

Twitter applications are now available to help patients find out about clinical trials or to link brief news alerts from organisations like the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to reliable websites that provide more detailed information. International congresses are now using tweet streams to update followers on the latest news and data announcements.

Twitter has become an integral part of communication in today’s society. In fact, for the first time, the updated Medicines Australia Code of Conduct includes reference to social media (section 12.9 for consumers, 2.4.2 for healthcare professionals) – removing the current ambiguity and providing definitive acceptance of this medium as a valid communication channel within the healthcare arena.

With major health issues like swine flu topping the charts as the second most tweeted about topic in 2009, it’s clear that health will continue to be discussed via social media. It’s time the Pharma industry began dipping its toe into the water and using this channel to openly interact with its target audiences.

If Pharma is not part of the conversation to begin with, how can we expect our voice to be heard?

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