Thursday, March 22, 2012

Janssen to Shut Down Psoriasis 360 FaceBook Page Due to Lack of Commitment

Janssen Pharmaceuticals has announced it will shut down its Psoriasis 360 Facebook page, which was first launched in October, 2010. At the time, I praised this Facebook page as the "first [pharma FB site] to publish ALL comments BEFORE they are reviewed" (see "Markets as Conversations: Can You Have a Discussion with 'Psoriasis 360' on Facebook?").

Janssen cited its inability to moderate posts made to the Psoriasis 360  wall, one-third of which "mention[ed] a specific drug by name, or talk[ed] about the efficacy of a particular treatment is (or its side effects)." In such cases, Janssen had to ask for the post to be removed or to "pull" it, which I guess was too much work for them to handle after Alex Butler, former Janssen Digital Strategy and Social Media Manager, left the company. Alex was the person responsible for Psoriasis 360. For his efforts, I awarded him (not Janssen) the first ever Pharmaguy Social Media Pioneer award (see "First Pharmaguy Social Media Pioneer Award Given to Janssen's Alex Butler").

In a statement published on the Psoriasis 360 FB wall, the "Psoriasis 360 team" said "we have found ourselves removing a larger and larger proportion of posts, stifling worthwhile discussions." According a PMLiVE article, Janssen said that "within the last three months alone a third of all posts to the page had to be removed, the majority because they mentioned prescription-only medicines, but a 'significant minority' were disallowed because they included offensive language" (see here).

If one-third of the comments had to be removed or blocked, that means that two-thirds of the comments were NOT blocked. The total number of such comments I find on the Psoriasis 360 site is about 379, including 95 comments submitted by the "Psoriasis 360 team" itself. There were also several comments made by associates of Psoriasis 360 such as from "www.psoriasis360.com." That leaves 284 comments, which represents about 2/3 of the total comments Janssen had to review over the course of 18 months. Doing the math, I estimate that Janssen reviewed about 423 comments during that time for an average of 24 comments per month or less than 1 per day!

Holy cow! What a burden to bear!

What really happened was that when the social media pioneer Alex Butler left Janssen late last year, no one was left to manage the site and Janssen obviously did not feel it was worth it to devote 0.125 FTE (ie, one hour per day) to do the job or to outsource the moderation of comments.

It's obvious that Facebook did not offer Janssen a good return on investment however they may have defined that. There is still a psoriasis 360 YouTube site, which is NOT required to allow comments.

What I don't like about this is not the lack of commitment to social media conversation on Janssen's part, but using regulations as an excuse for its lack of commitment. Reviewing one comment a day is NOT a regulatory hurdle difficult to overcome. Even on sites that are not regulated -- such as this blog -- weeding out unsavory, "offensive," or spammy comments is a fact of social media life that has to be dealt with. Love it or leave it. Janssen has chosen to leave it.

10 comments:

  1. Spot on John. Other pharma will use this as an excuse now to black list social media and shirk real responsibilities towards patients!

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    1. Sven,

      Thanks for your comment. I don't think this should be an indication of lack of support for patients rather than a lack of support for using social media to engage with patients directly rather than through intermediaries such as patient organizations, which they can better influence with grants and thereby "engage" patients en masse. Whether it's through Facebook or patient orgs, the goal of pharma is always to PUSH their message out rather than waste time and resources to have a conversation, IMHO.

      To use regulations and use "offensive" comments from patients as an excuse for shutting down the site is just cowardly. Rather than admitting that the experiment was a failure and tells us what they learned from the experience, Janssen blames others for the failure. Nobody ever blames themselves these days!

      Just my opinion.

      John

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    2. John,
      If they are just pushing their message then they are not really engaging.
      Just my opinion ;-)
      Agree with your second paragraph, and Gary's comments too on the "not invented by me" - seen it too many times when I was inside Pharma!

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  2. John,
    My Question - 'Do the patients actually care?' I have seen lots of comments from pharma affiliated folk saying what a shame (myself included) and valid concerns it may prevent pharma from exploring where they can effectively and legitimately use Social Media to interact with patients. Valid points but inwardly thinking. Do the patients give a damn? From the responses on the Facebook page, the disappointment expressed comes not from Psoriasis sufferers. The page seems destined to end like it started with pharma not patient commentary (where it was pharma praise at the start and now dismay)
    Going back in time this page appears to have been valuable and successful with daily comments from patients and the Janssen team. I certainly highlight it to companies as a very positive example of Pharma Social Media. It seems to have recently 'faded away' rather than 'burnt out' with very few (posted)comments in the last 2 months. A good exit strategy or not? At least their appears to be no negative patient impact as a result - just lots of 'us' chatting about it. the only 'negative' PR has been from the industry commentary side and no disrespect to yourself John but I am sure will blow over quickly. (you are already onto your next blog post :-) ) Pharma is at more risk of a backlash if they create something of enduring value to patients and then choose to walk away without a decent exit strategy...
    Gary

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  3. Gary,

    Thanks for your comments.

    Just because no patient was heard complaining doesn't mean that patients are OK with this. They've got busy lives and must move on. Obviously, however, it won't be missed much because the page only had 981 or so likes -- most of them probably from people like us. The fact is, the page was a dismal failure for which Janssen blamed patients (ie, their "offensive" posts).

    You hit the nail on the head in your last sentence. There were other more popular pharma FB pages that had the potential for "enduring value" (eg, ADHD Moms) but they were also shut down. Some might say that pharma's commercial model is not designed to create "enduring value" because product managers come and go (eg, Alex Butler) and their work goes with them. I'm sure you've seen my post today about pharma's business model. I will be sure to mention this idea of whether or not pharma can create enduring value for patients as an after thought.

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  4. John
    Thanks for replying - I clearly can't comment for Janssen or any individual pharmaco but collectively my experience is that 'enduring' can be a challenge in the current culture / model. Things don't have to endure but should be set in the context of a long term plan with exit strategy- I have so often seen new brand managers come in and pull apart / remove marketing campaigns to HCPs due to the 'not invented by me' syndrome rather than taking an objective look at things i.e. what is working and what is not. Nobody notices this externally but when this approach is translated to 'social media' it becomes public and risks negatively impacting patients. So a general point where I agree with you however I am not reflecting on this specific situation. I still maintain P360 was a positive initiative with great potential and credit to Janssen that they had the courage and conviction to initiate it!

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  5. Anonymous1:56 PM

    "If one-third of the comments had to be removed or blocked, that means that two-thirds of the comments were NOT blocked. The total number of such comments I find on the Psoriasis 360 site is about 379, including 95 comments submitted by the "Psoriasis 360 team" itself. There were also several comments made by associates of Psoriasis 360 such as from "www.psoriasis360.com." That leaves 284 comments, which represents about 2/3 of the total comments Janssen had to review over the course of 18 months. Doing the math, I estimate that Janssen reviewed about 423 comments during that time for an average of 24 comments per month or less than 1 per day!

    Holy cow! What a burden to bear!"

    John, thanks for this post. However, I do have to politely disagree that they reviewing of comments on a Pharma Facebook page are as easy as you make it out to be. I spend a good deal of my time reviewing comments (sparse as they may be) on pharma facebook pages in order to notify the right people on potential adverse events/misinformation. This may take up only 15-30 minutes of each day, but you also must realize that it is people like me who check the pages every single day - even on weekends, holidays, and vacation days. All it takes is one person to say that their husband/kid/friend had a negative reaction or side effect to a drug, and that could potentially take up 1-2 hours of my Thanksgiving plans, therefore keeping me from my family or other plans (these kinds of things have happened to me!)

    Just some food for thought, as a lot of planning and management does go into managing the incoming content from patients in order to meet the challenge of being "accessible" and open to Facebook fans without crossing any FDA guidelines.

    Thanks for the great blog posts!

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  6. So sad that they been shut down for less support, I think not all people know about blog in psoriasis. Maybe their a little bit lack of campaign to let know people about their blog.

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  7. Hi John,

    Thanks for the post here. Curious, five months later, what pharma brands do you feel are using Facebook effectively?

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    1. Karan,

      Good question. I'll have to do some research on that. My gut feeling is that pharma has virtually abandoned FB in favor of Twitter, at least for real patient/consumer interaction and support. Having a FB page for pharma may be just like having an ordinary web site -- no interaction.

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