Author Archive

Extending the h-index to Twitter

May 28, 2009

by startupmarketingdiva

Recently, I became a Tweeter.   Cool stuff.  And being the quintessential scientist that I am – a practitioner of the scientific method and strong inference, I like to collect and analyze data.  So, I began thinking about Twitter metrics and analytics.

Here are the basic key Twitter metrics to consider:  Number of followers, number following, number of updates, number of @replies, and number of @RT (i.e. “ReTweets”).  I found this last one to be the most intriguing especially after reading The Genius Index: One Scientist’s Crusade to Rewrite Reputation Rules in this month’s issue of Wired Magazine.  In a nutshell, this article is about Jorge Hirsch, a physicist who lives in a world defined by the “publish or perish” mantra, who decides to re-write the algorithm that defines a scientist’s reputation.  It’s not just about the journal impact factor (i.e. the caliber of journal that a scientist’s research is published in), but rather how many times a scientist’s work is cited by other researchers.  This is referred to the h-index (aka “the hirsch index” of course).

Similarly, it’s almost meaningless to note how many followers you have on Twitter.  Because, sooner or later, you’re going to get bots and spammers following you as well.  Plus, some Tweeters follow simply so that you can turn around and follow them – a kind of a diplomatic gesture, I suppose, in the Twitter world.  But, when a Tweet is ReTweeted, that’s when the signal to noise ratio increases for that particular Tweet and Tweeter.

There are groups working on a number of other metrics for Twitter – check out TwInfluence, which is a site where you can measure your influence as a Twitterer.  I don’t know the actual algorithm, but it calculates your degree of influence based on the velocity at which you acquire followers, taking into account their degree of influence, and the number of followers you accumulate over time, among many other metrics.  And, just today, I came across a search engine built especially for the social web called TOPSY (in the interest of full disclosure, one of the founders is my cousin).  It seems that TOPSY’s value is that it returns information in real time and more importantly, it filters the signal from the noise by using  reputation as a key metric.  So, for example, on Twitter, it filters the Tweets (and the links in the Tweets) that are most valuable based on the reputation of the author.  So your search returns information in the context of what people are actually talking about.

There’s a lot going on.  The dust storm is just starting and it’ll be a while before it settles.  But, like the early days of the internet, when the ‘hit counter’ ruled, similarly, in these early days of Twitter, ReTweets are a key metric to consider, or so it seems.

I’d like to hear your comments.  Yours truly – startupmarketingdiva.  Follow me on Twitter @startupmktgdiva.


Use of new media in regulated industries

May 28, 2009

by startupmarketingdiva

Since my last post on “the future of Social Media Marketing in Pharma,” I’ve seen quite a few conversations pop up around this topic and started ‘listening’ to them.  Here’s the scoop:

There’s a great blog on pharma and healthcare at Dose of Digital.  Check out some of the archived posts on the sidebar of this blog.  It’s evident that the FDA has not clearly defined the rules of engagement in the social media space for pharma and for that matter medical devices and diagnostics companies.  The same blog discusses ways to go around current FDA regulations using mobile marketing (But, I don’t think the point is to deceive customers or patients, or maybe it is? But that’s not my focus!)

Recently, Johnson & Johnson was slapped on the wrist by the FDA’s DDMAC (Division of Drug Marketing, Advertising, and Communications) for overstating the efficacy of Ultram ER, a drug for chronic pain, and understating its risks in this Ultram warning letter.  In another similar situation, Shire Development Inc was reprimanded for inaccurately featuring Adderall XR Capsules on YouTube.  Essentially, the Adderall warning letter claims that the video overstated efficacy and understated the risks, thereby “misbranding” the drug.  So were both of these cases deserving of the reprimand?

Before answering that, consider the blog eye on fda and a related podcast that very succinctly discusses the need for pharma’s participation in Web 2.o, pharma’s reservation to do so, and the FDA’s point of view.  In brief,  Mark Senak of Fleishman-Hillard spoke with Dr. Jean-Ah Kang, who is the Special Assistant to DDMAC Director Tom Abrams.  Although I recommend that you listen to the podcast, the script is nicely transcribed at MM&M.  Basically, right now the FDA has no formal policy on the use of Web 2.0 social media.  The key message from Dr. Kang was:  “it’s not the medium, it’s the message.”  As long as the message is fair and balanced, it doesn’t matter what medium it is conveyed in, whether it be Twitter, YouTube, website, or other traditional medium such as print.  But even so, as a company with a drug or other product in a regulated industry, you still need to cover your a%#.  How?  Dr. Kang says:  “follow the law” by submitting two copies of the final promotional materials using the FDA form 2253 under the guidance of 21 CFR 314.81(b)(3)(i) to DDMAC.  If you think your marketing materials require advisory comments on the draft proposal, you can certainly solicit the DDMAC for assistance in advance via their CDER page.   What this does is covers you from a third party wrongly reprocessing and misrepresenting your product and brand.

Is it better to have loose guidelines than to have an exhaustive list of rules and regulations spelled out by the DDMAC?  Apparently not.  The brouhaha continues.  Just a few days ago, DDMAC issued draft guidance for industry presenting risk information in prescription drug and medical device promotion.  The guidance hardly touches on the use of social media and the Web 2.0 environment.  There seems to be an even stronger response to the lack of guidance provided in this document, especially since DDMAC reprimanded 14 companies via “Warning Letters and Untitled Letters” for using sponsored links on Google in March of this year.  The letters basically claim:  The sponsored links are misleading because they make representations and/or suggestions about the efficacy of _fill in the blank drug_, but fail to communicate any risk information associated with the use of this product. In addition, the sponsored links inadequately communicate _fill in the blank drug _indication and fail to use the required established name. So, if you want to provide input to the draft guidance document, you have 90 days to do so, or you can join the bandwagon with others already planning to!

The landscape is much more complicated than what meets the eye.  How do you formulate policy around promotional materials in a regulated industry in a medium that can be altered, such as a wiki, or that must be communicated in 140 characters or less, i.e. Twitter?  For example, is it okay to Tweet:  “Joe used Viagra and he’s never looked better.  Ask your doctor how you can too!”  And, even if you can, I wonder what the effectiveness of such new media tools will be for the companies looking to promote their regulated products?  And, even more interestingly, how will and should the combination of various marketing channels change to optimize delivery of the promotional message?

I would love to hear your thoughts.  Yours truly – startupmarketingdiva.
P.S. follow me on Twitter @startupmktgdiva

What’s the future of Social Media Marketing in Pharma?

February 25, 2009

by startupmarketingdiva

There’s clearly been much written and discussed in recent months about SMM.  This new marketing option is making a big splash among marketers of consumer products in the hi-tech, food, and entertainment industries and the like.  For example, see previous blog posts on Jack In The Box by my fellow blogger Joe Young.  This is all very applicable and makes sense.  Now, coming from the pharmaceutical world, I wonder:  What role does SMM play in the pharmaceutical industry?  This industry is tightly regulated by the Food & Drug Administration.  The FDA monitors every action that a pharmaceutical company makes during the drug development process and even more so, after the drug has been launched. For example, pharmaceutical companies are required to monitor adverse effects of drugs once the drug goes on market.   From a marketing point of view, SMM would be a great tool to use in market research as well as in monitoring both positive and negative effects of pharmaceutical drugs in use.  User groups for those using a particular drug can be set up by a pharmaceutical company to bring patients together in a community and exchange information and experiences with a particular drug.  But, is this something a pharmaceutical company willing to implement?  What are the consequences of “too much information”?  What would be the ‘side effects’ of such social groups for the pharma company?  What are the pros and cons of SMM in the pharmaceutical world?  What role does the FDA play with respect to SMM?  I would like to hear your thoughts and experiences on the future of SMM in pharma….yours truly – startupmarketingdiva.

Sales & Marketing…can’t have one without the other. Part I.

July 28, 2008

We all know that Marketing is the center of the business universe. But, sometimes, to be successful in our trade we have to set aside our own egos for a few seconds and stroke someone else’s, like Sales, for example. Sales’ folks would argue that they’re second to none because without them there would be no revenue stream and hence no business. True. And thus, we could argue to eternity which function supersedes the other in importance. Now, let’s pause for a moment and re–think our role as marketers. From personal experience, working at a start–up with very limited resources, I’ve come to realize that it’s a commensal relationship. Sales and Marketing are like, as the song goes “love and marriage…like a horse and carriage…can’t have one without the other…”

In recent months, I’ve spent considerable time working on my product line. Read the rest of this entry »

I’ve got the Product Marketing Manager job, now what?

July 21, 2008

by startupmarketingdiva

Congratulations. You’ve just finished B-school, and have successfully transitioned “from the bench to business” with your new job as Product Marketing Manager / Product Manager. You’re going to be overseeing the development and launch of product or service X at this start-up you’ve joined. It’s your second day at work (because the first day was taken up with HR) and you’re about to go into your first meeting with your new boss. What do you do? What do you need from her to get you off and running in the right direction? Read on.

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Productivity Tools and how they can help you in your [marketing] profession

July 15, 2008

In the recent months, I’ve been on the road for business quite a bit. I’ve discovered, with a little help from a few friends, some great websites and resources to help me survive my busy schedule and the demands of my new profession. I want to share those findings with you now.

While I love technology, I’m not a technorati for the sake of being one. The tools I adopt have to serve a particular need in my life at that moment. .. Read the rest of this entry »

Product Marketing Management

July 9, 2008

Many people would argue that titles don’t really matter. Perhaps. But, if they do matter, what do they mean? Transitioning into my new career as a “Marketing Professional,” I needed to first decode the numerous marketing titles I came across on various job websites to clearly understand the job function, before applying to a particular job. When I began to understand the role of a Product Marketing Manager, I knew I had found my calling for the time being.

Being a PMM in a small company is like being an entrepreneur with funding already secured. It’s akin to the next step in the “Lab-to-Market” course which occurs after you’ve pitched your idea to investors and secured funding — the phase where you get to move your idea from the concept phase into the development phase and then launch it into the marketplace. The only difference is that it’s not your idea that you get to develop and take to market. But, if you’re looking to take your own idea to market one day, experience as a Product Marketing Manager in a start-up company is probably the best preparation for future success.

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Movin’ On Up—From Labs To Offices

May 16, 2008

Welcome to my little corner of the Rady Marketing Blog. There are hundreds if not thousands of blogs out in cyberspace on marketing. So, how will my posts be any different and of interest to you?

Well, prior to becoming what I now call myself — a “marketing professional,” I was a scientist at the bench in a laboratory of a pharmaceutical company. I knew very little about marketing. My perception of marketing was that it was a ‘fluff’ job. After my first course in marketing — Introductory Marketing for MBA’s — I was sold on the topic and decided to focus on marketing as a future career goal. Nearing graduation and in search of a job in a marketing capacity, I searched the web to better understand my options and how my current skill set would best fit in within a particular marketing role, especially at a start-up. I was not able to find any particular blog with such a focus.

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