When it comes to using social media, highly regulated industries like pharma and medical devices constantly have a balancing act to perform. While you want to connect with your customers in meaningful ways on sites like Twitter, Google +, and Facebook, you don’t want to break any rules or get on the bad side of the FDA.
Here are 6 best practices to leverage FDA social media guidance without raising eyebrows from governing powers.
1. Never buy love on social
Many companies pay to get more likes on Facebook or followers on Twitter. While it’s a gray area for any industry, it’s even more so for one as regulated as yours. You never want to be accused of getting endorsements from the wrong people, nor have the practice of paying for attention on social media brought into the spotlight.
2. Always include your disclaimers and product info
It can be a lot to include on a Facebook page, but it’s just as important to mention that fine print that accompanies your product on social as it is your website or your product itself. Use this tip intuitively; you don’t need to plaster your page with this info, but if you’re saying your product helps people lose weight, include an asterisk with your standard disclaimer. If you’re not sure what needs to be included, ask your friendly FDA agent.
3. Monitor for adverse events
Just as important as what you post on social is paying attention to what others are saying about your brand. If, for example, someone complains on Twitter that your medicine made them break out, you need to jump on this.
The law is murky here, so again, when in doubt, report it to the FDA to make sure your bases are covered. Also respond to the person and apologize and offer to resolve the problem. It could be they had an allergic reaction that you need to make sure is mentioned in your disclaimer info.
4. Use social to connect with customers
If you’re using Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software, connecting with existing customers on social media is a great way to stay connected. The FDA can’t complain about you staying in touch on Twitter, can they?
5. Have a public social media policy in place
It’s easy enough to create a social media policy online like this one for Vertex. This is where you can house all that data and information no one but the FDA wants to read, and it can keep you out of trouble. Your lawyers should be more than happy to draft this document.
6. Engage via useful information
Your efforts on social media will be more successful if they aren’t blatant promotional puff pieces for your products. Across the board, we are seeing content marketing as the top ways for pharmaceutical and medical product companies to connect with potential customers.
That means you should focus your energies on writing useful content that appeals to your audience. If you produce blood pressure medicine, write articles on how to reduce stress, or what foods to eat to lower blood pressure. Take the stance not of a healthcare practitioner (remember those disclaimers!) but rather an informed industry expert. Share your content through your social channels to drive brand recognition and traffic to your site.
Don’t shy away from using social media in your marketing. Just be aware of the implications, and be flexible. The FDA is still trying to work out how to govern this ever-expanding form of media. Stay on top of the latest regulations and ensure that you’re reporting what the FDA needs, and using their guidelines for your content.