There are a number of practical use cases for pharma companies to monitor social media: evaluating industry trends, conducting competitor analysis, monitoring product feedback, or tracking product safety concerns.
Regardless of the goals of social listening projects, all initiatives have one element in common – adverse events (AEs). Any time a pharmaceutical organization engages in social media monitoring, they have to be prepared to uncover potential AEs.
And that’s where social media plans often get stuck.
When surveyed, pharma leaders’ single most critical concern regarding social monitoring is implementing a process to qualify and report AEs. In essence… many are still struggling to answer the questions: what do I do when these AEs arise? And how do I remain compliant with industry regulation?
Here are some best practices:
- Start Small: Focus on What’s Required
When monitoring social media, start with the requirements – owned properties. Pharmaceutical organizations are required to monitor the social media properties that they own or over which they have control/influence for AEs.
Start here. Test your processes and gain experience. As business objectives expand and comfort level with social media increases, consider branching out beyond owned properties to monitor the broad social media for adverse event detection, trend identification and product quality feedback.
- Define Clear Scope & Operational Definitions
- Establish Clear Objectives: It’s important to set clear expectations around any new social media monitoring activity.
- Expand Vocabulary: The vernacular used in social media has nuance that distinguishes it from traditional channels. When identifying terms and categories that define an adverse event in social channels, consider the lexicon used online. Consumers speak differently than they would on the phone or in an email – definitions for drugs, conditions and side effects need to be expanded to include layman’s terms.
- Combine Technology with Trained Staff
The volume of data gathered from social media can be overwhelming. Gain the most value from this data by utilizing a combination of social media technology and trained staff. Social Media technology can be used to extract relevant conversations, manage volume, prioritize and queue critical posts, and deliver social reporting. Trained Social Media Specialists should be utilized to monitor, apply meaningful analysis and escalate critical issues.
- Implement Seamless Moderation Processes
Leverage your organization’s existing pharmacovigilance (PV) processes to plan and manage AEs identified through social channels. While it may be tempting to separate or wall off social media data and safety information, a best practice is to bring these worlds together.
Once potential AEs are identified through social channels, they should be securely triaged to existing PV processes. This delivers consistency across channels, and allows you to align with regulatory requirements. Take advantage of quality auditing, reconciliation and training processes already in place.
- Responding to Adverse Events on Social Media
- When to Respond: Once a potential AE is identified in social media, some organizations take the additional step to respond to the post to obtain additional information. A public initial response to a consumer’s post is acceptable in many cases. Reply directly to the original post with options to continue the conversation through a private channel to gather additional details and confidentially answer questions.
- Timely Response: Response expectations on social platforms are high, as many consumers expect a response in a matter of hours. It’s important to set response time guidelines to appropriately service communities on social platforms.
- Follow Social Media Best Practices: All social media interactions should follow some standard interaction best practices. For example, begin with a personalized greeting, pre-determine rules of engagement specific to who handles which kinds of posts, # of response attempts, when to avoid response, and how to handle platforms with character limitations.
For the 2 remaining best practices, check out the full graphic – 7 Steps for Managing Adverse Events in Social Media