A couple posts ago, I discussed the dispersal of authority that’s happened because of the changed media landscape. Everyone has the power to make news now, not just reporters. I contended that in order for a company to best engage, it has to disseminate the same messaging from its owned media into the unowned wild west, social media.
In my last post I provided some examples of pharma companies that are using Twitter effectively. Today, I want to take a closer look at Boehringer Ingelheim (BI) as I think it presents an impressive example of a pharma company’s social media engagement.
In short, BI is successfully disseminating their owned media and brand voice to social media. What’s more? Their message is actually being received.
This is just one of many tactics BI successfully wields. We know that there are real people behind the tweets to whom we can address questions and responses. These real people then engage within each 140 character message they post by doing 3 things:
- Direct messaging to other Twitter handles; a simple way to engage and give the company a human voice.
- They optimize BI’s search traffic with hashtags. Note the three included in the example tweet below.
- They drive traffic from one BI social outlet to another. What do I mean? Take a look at the below example where they provide a bitl.ly link to BI’s Facebook page in a tweet.
Speaking of BI’s Facebook page, did you know that it won the Healthcare Engagement Strategy 2012 “Facing Customer’s” Award from Healthcare Engagement Strategy.com (HES) (#hesawards on Twitter if you’re interested!). In the awards announcement, HES’ Daniel Ghinn cites an interview with John Pugh about BI’s Facebook page strategy,
“We have enabled our wall for commenting because we want to hear from you!” reads Boehringer Ingelheim’s Facebook page, inviting its 15,000 fans to post public comments on its wall. “Help us to keep this wall interesting by actively contributing…” it goes on. And according to John Pugh, Head of Online Communications at Boehringer Ingelheim, the page is an attempt to proactively engage people online. “We’re deliberately trying to engage with people… We’re asking questions,” he says.”
Beyond the beautiful presentation and robust interface, BI’s 15,869 “likes” prove that this amount of social engagement draws large audiences because they are part of the discussion. BI’s Facebook page engages more than consumers, however. It also posts all available job openings, new research and studies published, and even information on its CSR (corporate social responsibility) program, “Making more health.”
And now to tell this story pictorially:
BI’s Facebook homepage.
BI’s Facebook wall where all the talking happens.
BI’s Careers page where prospective employees can engage and learn in an interactive interface.
BI’s “Making more health” page.
Given regulation pit falls (sorry to sound like a broken record but this is the hurtle over which we all must jump so it must be repeated!), it can be difficult to convince any kind of healthcare company that the uncontrolled arena of social media is a worthwhile communication strategy to risk. Pugh addresses the process he used to convince BI that this was a worthwhile investment in his interview with HES about BI’s win.
This is a message I think we as communicators can all learn from:
“We’d already overcome the whole discussion about relevance of social media and ROI, because we’d already done so much work on Twitter and YouTube.” Yet despite this, and board-level encouragement to “try new things,” it took a long time to convince the business that Facebook could be used in this way. “I’d been trying to do Facebook for about a year before it came out… The biggest barrier was convincing the business that it wasn’t just a platform where people post personal messages, where friends connect; that it is now a communication channel where you have businesses on there.” (HES winner announcement)
So, dear readers, tell me what YOU think! Do you think what BI has begun is the way of the future or is it just meeting the minimum requirement in today’s media landscape? What works? What doesn’t?