LinkedIn likes and the Code of Practice

Welcome to February. January has been a busy month, and, as you read this I will be working in a city I have never been to before, on a project I am excited about, with a client I admire enormously for their innovative approach to problem solving, general verve and gumption.

Topics for today’s blog are:

– LinkedIn likes, the Code of Practice and social media guidelines.
– Volume, speed, efficiency and successful communication
– Medical Affairs knowledge management best practice
– Customer engagement considerations? Or why do your customers engage with you?

LinkedIn Likes, the Code of Practice and your Social Media Guidelines

At the end of last year I ran a workshop on compliance, codes of practice, and rules and regulations regarding the promotion of prescription-only medicinal products to healthcare professionals. During the workshop we discussed digital materials, social media and LinkedIn.

Since its inception LinkedIn has mutated from a resource focused on sharing professional content and opportunities, to a buffet serving a mix of inspirational quotes, regurgitated content, information on family holidays and children’s scholastic accomplishments. This shift in focus is interesting from a human perspective, possibly accelerated by the pandemic, but it is not problematic per se. Another shift is: More and more pharmaceutical industry professionals are sharing content on activities their companies are undertaking. There is data on patient-focused projects, information on clinical trial results and I recently saw a MOA video that had a disclaimer text running across the bottom “resource intended only for Healthcare Professionals”.

Where content is shared by senior company directors, or links back to the corporate website, it may seem safe to conclude that risk assessment was performed before posting and that as you didn’t post it yourself a simple like may not be an issue. However, this conclusion would be wrong.

In 2022 a UK based senior employee of a pharma company liked a post that had been written by a US-based physician. The HCP wrote that it was an exciting time to be a surgeon, and that the product is ringing in a new era for a patient population he treats. The senior pharma company employee, who was UK based, where the product was not licensed, liked the post. This case was brought to the attention of the PMCPA. The PMCPA Panel concluded that the employees ‘like’ would have led to proactive dissemination of the post to LinkedIn connections in the UK, bringing the matter within the scope of the UK code and ruled that there had been a code breach.

While social media training had been provided to this employee, the PMCPA panel noted that although the social media policy alerted employees to the risk of using social media in a way that could be interpreted as endorsing third party statements on the company’s medicines, neither the company’s social media policy, nor quick reference guide, mentioned the risk of liking posts on LinkedIn, which might subsequently be disseminated to one’s own LinkedIn connections.

This is but one example, there are many breaches of code linked to LinkedIn posts, for this reason, I have chosen to not mention the product/company name.

Key Considerations for LinkedIn Engagement: 1) Think before you like. 2) Check your social media engagement policy for text providing guidance on social media use, including LinkedIn likes.

Volume, Speed, Efficiency and Successful Communication

During the Christmas holiday I took a break from work-related social media. When I came back after my break and saw how many messages I had received during my absence I felt some pressure. However, I did not regret the break and I realised that I hadn’t missed much.

My dad, who never got used to using email told me, that before he retired he liked to have conversations with his co-workers and team. He would pick up the phone and solve issues immediately, call a meeting, or if, documentation was required, he would write a memo. As memos were time consuming to craft, he did this last one infrequently, and only after much consideration.

Writing an email is free, sending a text message and knowing it has been read, takes seconds. But after having had an unashamed love affair with email since I got my first email account many years ago, I am now starting to reconsider. Considering the volume of emails I manage every week; I have started to reassess how I communicate and what modality I use. I used to believe that speed equals efficiency, instead I have a new motto “right message, to the right person, at the right time using the right mode of communication”. The result? The pressure to respond immediately has dissipated. It has been relieved by a feeling of calm. So far the upside. To date, I haven’t seen a downside.

Key takeaway: Less is more, while you cannot not communicate, but you can choose when, how and how often.

Medical Affairs Knowledge Management Best Practice

Excellent Medical Affairs knowledge management will: increase your consistency, reduce reduplication of effort, ensure your content is up to date and benefit teams around the world. Best practice approaches include the following:

  1. A content engine, a team that is dedicated to generating standard response documents for Medical Information, bespoke letters in response to individual enquiries, centralised literature searching capabilities etc. How this looks in your organisation will depend on the product portfolio.
  2. A standardised format for content that you disseminate, this provides customers with a consistent product, and a harmonised look and feel, which is professional.
  3. A content management system, where you keep all content, including updating it, retiring it, putting it through an approval process etc. and maintain an audit trail for your materials.
  4. SOPs outlining, who write content, who can adapt content, and whether there are any special circumstances.
  5. Disclaimers for use with content and updating them regularly.
  6. Training individuals on how to use content.
  7. An approach for translations.

If you implement the above, all your teams will know where to find relevant materials, they will know it is has been reviewed and approved, and they will know it is up to date. You on the other hand will know that your company is disseminating current, reviewed and approved materials, and your customers will receive consistent quality with a consistent look and feel.

Customer Engagement Considerations? Or why do your Customers Engage with you?

I often have interesting conversations with a teenager. He has a thriving online business, he designs his own clothes, markets these online and at his school, and is now facing a stock out, and the problem that his Chinese delivery company cannot deliver fast enough to meet the demand. He has sold his clothes to customers around the world, which amazes me, but he also has a big following at his school.

He sometimes comes to me to tell me about his business development plans. Recently, he shared with me what it is that makes his customers buy his product. He said, “the reason my customers buy my products at school is because I go to their school. They identify with the brand, because they feel, that in some way, they are part of the brand. If the brand is a success, they feel that they have contributed, it’s a feeling of being connected”. He went on to say that he wanted to expand to other schools in the region, and that he had considered recruiting brand ambassadors, who are pupils at these schools, to potentially spark the same feeling of connection, that he has managed to ignite at his own school. After some thought he said, “But I don’t think that will work though, as it won’t be authentic, people will feel that. So, instead I guess, I will need to make friends in these schools and expand that way”.

A recent customer said to me that Medical Information has the power to differentiate a company in the eyes of the customer. I think this is true. I also think that we could do worse than to reflect regularly on why our customers engage with us, and what it is that makes them value our service and keep coming back.

I hope my blog provides you with some useful insights and, as ever, I look forward to hearing your thoughts. And if you have a challenging project or would like to discuss coaching to help you achieve that next level, please reach out for an informal chat.

Isabelle C. Widmer

Photo by George Pagan III on Unsplash