‘Good evidence should come before marketing
’ might seem like an obvious statement, but Margaret McCartney
, a UK GP and FT columnist felt strongly enough to write about it recently.
Unsurprisingly the bad examples and horror stories are remembered over the times when everything was done correctly. As a result marketing disciplines have a bad reputation for spinning results, hiding bad statistics or making claims without the evidence to back their statements up.
Transparency is vital in all healthcare communications, but nowhere more so than when using social media. At present, the lack of guidelines in this market make it difficult for medical and pharmaceutical companies to know the right course of action. This means that many opt for safety and do nothing, rather than doing something, which they might get wrong, and end up missing out on opportunities to engage with target audiences.
The hope is that the relevant regulatory bodies will come together to agree guidelines for social media activity, but this has yet to happen. Global advice is needed as the web does not adhere to geographical boundaries and inconsistent rulings from regulatory bodies will set back any progress in this space.
However for some organisations, guidelines won’t be strong enough. Pfizer was quoted last week
as calling for regulation, not guidance from the FDA on social media. What do you think - are guidelines or regulation the way forward for healthcare social media to advance? Or should the industry police itself?