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Four Questions to Ask About Your Social Sharing Tool

Guest Blogger

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I enjoyed hearing many new ideas and seeing friends old and new at the ePatient Connections Conferencethis week. Kudos to @KevinKruse for another great event! Unfortunately I came down with a nasty cold the second day and missed many of the presentations. Overall I understand it was a successful event, and I did appreciate hearing different perspectives, including those from patients and also those from others outside the pharma industry.

I was also pleased to present information on our new pharma-friendly social sharing widget, share�send�save. A few useful links:

The announcement of the widget prompted manygood discussions at the conference and back at the office about the risks and rewards of social sharing for pharma. It prompted us to come up with this list:

4 Things You Should Ask About Your Social Sharing Tool

1. How free is "free?"

When it comes to social sharing, there’s still no such thing as a free lunch. Prior to the release of share�send�save, pharma company’s only options for social sharing widgets were the free tools such as ShareThis. (ShareThis was the tool cited in the DDMAC letter) But at Intouch, we realized some time ago these third-party tools couldpose some threats and unknowns for our pharma clients, which is what prompted us to build share�send�saveearlier this year.

What happens when these free widgets run out of VC money and look to add advertising as a business model? (Their terms leave this an open possibility) What happens if, one day, a product manager visits their own brand.com site and clicks the "Share" button only to find an ad for a competitor, an ad for an herbal remedy, an ad for a Canadian pharmacy, or some other ad that would make a regulatory reviewers’ heads explode?

We’ve priced share�send�saveso that it can be implemented for a very nominal fee, depending on the size of the site. We believe it’s a verysmall price to pay for peace of mind ... and for a guarantee of no third-party advertising - ever.

2. What is your vendor’s history with regulated industries?

Friends and family outside the pharma industry often ask me "what’s so different about pharmaceutical marketing that you specialize in it?" (I’ve blogged on that topic in the past) If you’ve been in the industry a while, you understand the answer to that question is complex, complicated,sometimes comical, and often frustrating.

If you’re a product manager, you likely work with partners, people, and agencies that specialize in this industry to avoid a steep learning curve and headaches at review time. It’s important to ask the question of all of your partners, "what is your history of working within a highly regulated industry such as pharmaceuticals?" Working with partners and products that understand this industry will help you stay safe and compliant in the long run.

Intouch Solutions and share�send�save= pharma-friendly

Third-party free tools = no stake in - and little history with - the pharma industry

3. How does your vendor’s tool help your brand control what is shared?

There’s been a lot of talk about the metatags that drive both search engine optimization and content shared through social sharing tools. That’s really just the tip of the iceberg.Largely, third-party tools decide themselves what gets shared and how it looks when its shared. With share�send�save, the site owner is able to decide what content, links, and images are shared and through which channels (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) the user can choose to share. And it helps ensure that the content that is shared is the same in each channel.

Third-party free tools reserve the right to change how the widget looks, works, and behaves on your site. I believe if most brand managers and regulatory review teams truly understood this, there would be a lot fewer free tools featured onpharma sites.

In this case, being able to fully and carefully control the widget and the shared message is a very good thing for pharma and helps keeps sharing activity compliant, responsible, and transparent.

4. How does your vendor intend to use the data collected by their tool?

Ask the question of your social sharing tool vendor - do they intend to publish any of the data from your sites? Do they guarantee they will not sell any data or private information collected via their sharing tool? Will they show how many "shares" your product.com site achieved versus the competitors’ site? Will they guarantee this will never happen?

It’s a question worth asking because typically, free tools own the data and determine what happens to it - you don’t. With share�send�save, it’s the opposite.

I was excited about the response I received from both other agencies and pharma company representatives interested in the potential for share�send�save. Keep an eye out forthe widget,coming soon to a brand.com site near you ...

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