Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Shire Implements First Ever Integrated Phone-Assisted Social Network Marketing Campaign for ADHD!

In what has to be a truly innovative use of Twitter, Shire Pharmaceuticals launched a phone-assisted ADHD Support Twitter account (@adhdsupport). Instead of following other Twitter users and building up a community where followers can "direct message" the account, @adhdsupport suggests that people call the Shire Customer Service Center if they want to provide comments. The reason given: "At this time we aren't able to follow other users" (see screen shot below).

I decided to call the 1-800 number listed and ask why @ADHDSupport is "not able" to follow other Twitter uses "at this time" and when it will be able to do so. LISTEN TO THE PHONE CALL.

Phone-assisted social networking may not work for all pharmaceutical products, but it is well-suited for ADHD products because -- according to this Shire "ADHD: Not Just a Child's Disorder" fact sheet -- ADHD sufferers:
  • "Often take action before they consider the possible consequences."  Consequently, @adhdsupport would enable this behavior if it allowed ADHD sufferers to willy-nilly click the Twitter DM button to ask a question.
  • "In conversation, [ADHD sufferers] interrupt others [and] blurt out inappropriate comments." Again, a good reason to disable conversation with ADHD sufferers on Twitter. It's not likely to lead to any meaningful discussion if @adhdsupport gets "inappropriate comments" such as complaints about ADHD treatment!
  • "[ADHD sufferers] experience difficulty waiting in line or for [their] turn." There's no such thing as "your turn" in a Twitter dialog. You just type something and press a button whenever you want to say something. I should think Twitter is a good environment for ADHD sufferers. So this is really an argument against blocking DMs.
[I rephrased these as statements rather than questions as originally posed in Shire's fact sheet.]

Well, I'll wait for Shire to call me back and then see if I get more information.


  1. Anonymous6:38 PM

    Who exactly from the Wall Street Journal said this was a "must read" blog for insiders? Just curious since the name is absent.

  2. Not a bad start but of the 190 followers more than 70% are in the industry.

  3. It was LAURA LANDRO in the article "What the In-Crowd Knows" published in the November 16, 2005 issue (find the article here: http://bit.ly/7IByPo). Subtitle: "From Hollywood to Wall Street, Our Guide to the Blogs Insiders Read to Stay Current"

    In the intro, Landro says: "No self-respecting industry these days is without a must-read blog." Since PMB is on her list, it is appropriate to use the "must read" quote.

    Here's her complete review of PMB:

    "The site focuses on how drug companies can get accurate and trustworthy information to doctors and consumers. John Mack, publisher of the monthly online newsletter Pharma Marketing News, started his blog in January 2005. He offers commentary on news events and is often critical of the industry's focus on blockbuster drugs and what Mr. Mack views as unethical or misguided marketing. Among his pet peeves is erectile-dysfunction advertising, which he believes focuses too heavily on younger men and libido-enhancing promises while failing to educate consumers about the disease. The site lambastes pharma companies for ads that foster a "magic pill solution preference among Americans," while rarely mentioning changes in lifestyle or diet that will help reduce risks such as cardiovascular disease. But he's quick to praise efforts that address the industry's credibility problem with consumers, such as Johnson & Johnson's new TV and print campaigns that he says put drug risks on more-equal footing with drug benefits."

  4. John, thanks for blogging about this feed, I hadn't seen it previously. But is that sarcasm I hear? I'm pretty sure you know why manufacturers don't feel comfortable following people on Twitter ... point taken but you could make the post stronger by acknowledging this isn't a Shire-specific issue, but an industry one.

    PS to anonymous - John Mack is one of the few must-reads in pharma .. if only because the guy's everywhere (Twitter, blog, email, widgets, BlogTalkRadio, FDA hearings ... !)

    Jeff Greene
    HealthEd Group

  5. Jeff,

    You are quite right about this being a pharma industry issue and not just limited to Shire. I did think it was funny to refer to a 1-800 for submitting comments and I just could resist seeing if the person who answered knew anything at all about this.

    I did get a call back from a Shire corporate communication person and I hope to have him as a guest on my BlogTalkRadio show to give his side of the story.

  6. Couldn't resist, that is ;-)

  7. Anonymous11:35 AM

    Um: "who cares!?"

    Kudos to the agency which talked their client (Shire) into spending a quarter million bucks on this (when you add up time, planning, approval, etc., it can't be far from that). I don't see how this can help anyone except the people who cashed Shire's checks.

  8. Well then...how come every other pharma twitter account follows people back? What's so special about this effort that changes that?

  9. Hi John,
    Ran across this post today and found it interesting! Thanks for sharing the call. Did you ever have the Shire representative on your Blog radio show? I'd love to hear an update on how they're handling DM requests through their call center. Today, the Twitter account has nearly 2,000 followers but they are still not following. Thanks!
    --Nicole Johnson @nicoleljohnson


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