Big pharma continues to dabble, tentatively, with social media. The latest example is GlaxoSmithKline, which this week launched its very own corporate blog, called More Than Medicine. The effort, which is edited by a corporate communications person identified only as Michael M, will purportedly devote more space to health issues but largely avoid discussion of Glaxo products, citing “unique regulatory parameters governing our communications” as a drug maker.
The inaugural blog post, which follows several weeks of internal testing that produced a few posts now on full view, contains some mixed feelings. On one hand, Michael M writes that “it is still unclear how, and in some cases, if pharma can appropriately utilize blogs, wikis, and applications like YouTube and Facebook to provide information about our products.”
“Yet,” he adds, “there is no question that patients, physicians, media, investors, payers, policymakers and others are increasingly turning online to social media resources for information about healthcare issues and products. So we feel obliged to these stakeholders, as well as our shareholders, to productively and appropriately engage in this new space.”
In other words, some trepidation remains, although perhaps not quite as much fear as existed several months ago (look here). Johnson & Johnson launched a corporate blog two years ago, although a blog run by its Centocor unit was recently lost to a corporate reorganization, and Glaxo runs a blog devoted to the Alli diet pill – sort of. There haven’t been any posts since September. However, Novartis, Boehringer-Ingelheim and AstraZeneca all use Twitter to deliver news about their activities; and Sanofi-Aventis and AstraZeneca launched branded YouTube channels.
Nonetheless, in a recent story, Marissa Miley and Rich Thomaselli of Ad Age wrote that big pharma is lumbering toward the digital age. Glaxo, for its part, may disagree. But if the drug maker truly wants to create dialogue around issues at the core of its corporate mission, Michael M should be identified properly. Glaxo is more likely to connect with the public if the public feels a real person is at the helm, not an semi-anonymous mouthpiece.