• Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

    Join 70 other followers

  • Twitter posts:

    Error: Twitter did not respond. Please wait a few minutes and refresh this page.

  • What type of article are you looking for?

  • Advertisements

Canadians, FaceBook and Healthcare

This post has moved here.

If the hyperlink above does not work, you can copy and pate this URL in your browser: http://marketing4health.ca/2011/01/canadians_facebook_healthcare/

Thank you!


A wicked social media initiative by McNeil Consumer Healthcare (Division of Johnson and Johnson)

This post has moved here.

If the hyperlink above does not work, you can copy and pate this URL in your browser: http://marketing4health.ca/2010/12/motrin-wicked-pain-poker/

Thank you!

Telus social media case study: “Like to Give” campaign

Every once in a while, an organization stands out from the rest as a good corporate citizen.  For the past couple of years, I have been watching the good deeds by Telus which are positively influencing healthcare in Canada.  In fact, they are a sponsor of one of my favorite children non-profit organizations, Upopolis.  Here is a statement that is found on the Info tab of their FaceBook page:

We give where we live. TELUS supports local communities and charities across the country.

This week, I saw the following sponsored ad on my personal FaceBook profile:

When you click on the “Telus” link, you are brought to the “Like to give” tab on the Telus FaceBook page.

Update November 26 2010:  Pic with all 12 charities that were included in “Like to Give” Telus campaign


Telus allows comments to be added to their FaceBook posts, but they do not allow wall posts to be initiated by others.  I sent them a note on Twitter asking why this was the case, but 24+ hours later,  I still had  not heard anything from them.  My personal guess is that they do not allow others to initiate posts because they want to avoid negative dicussions being initiated by consumers on their page.  This seems to be an issue on the Telus YouTube channel.  Based on my research, Telus appears to get their fair share of negative comments on social networks by consumers, so if they want to avoid similar issues that Nestle had with their FaceBook page, they probably made the right choice by not allowing others to iniative wall posts.  Keep in mind though that the biggest issue with the Nestle case was the way that they handled the situation. However, Telus is allowing consumers to have a voice as as those who ‘like’ the Telus FaceBook page can add comments to posts initiated by Telus themselves.

Because of the high level of negative comments, I think it is wise that Telus’ Twitter strategy is to have a Twitter profile that is focused on marketing messages (@Telus) and one that focuses on providing consumers with support on Telus services (@TelusSupport).  This allows @Telus to remain focused on their positive marketing messages, whereas the @TelusSupport deals with all the questions and complaints.  However, I do find that the general @Telus account engages too little with the audience.  I did a quick monitoring check and noticed that several people have posted about Telus’ ‘Like to give’ campaign with a mention of @Telus.  This means that Telus does not even have to monitor to be aware of the mention – these public mentions can be found right there in their Twitter profile.  However, I have yet to see a ‘thanks’ sent out to any of those people, including myself.  This is not the end of the world, but it would be a courteous act which would humanize the organization in the eyes of consumers.

I would like to wish Telus and their chosen non-profit organizations the best of luck in reaching their goals with the ‘Like to give’ campaign.  I am not a client of Telus, but their acts of generosity certainly catch my attention.  If ever I am in the market to switch, Telus will at least be top of mind as part of my research.

What else would you like to see Telus do to promote their ‘Like to give’ campaign on social networks?

Stay in touch,

Connect with me on the following networks:
FaceBook, Twitter, LinkedIn

Social Media Used by Pharmacy to Respond to Criticism

Last week, I posted about Shoppers Drug Mart and Pharmaprix’ latest promotion, where consumers who purchased a certain value of goods at the drugstore would receive a free gift certificate for McDonald’s fast food restaurant.  I have no issue with the individual organizations themselves.  However, in my opinion, it is inappropriate for a healthcare-focused organization to be promoting fast food.

Objective of this follow-up post:  I wanted to see if other Canadian consumers had used social media to voice their opinion about the promotion, and if so, how did Shoppers Drug Mart respond to the online chatter.

It turns out that other people also wrote online criticisms about the Shoppers-McDonald’s promotion, but many more people actually spoke about the giveaway in either a neutral or positive tone.  According to socialmention* (a free online tool that monitors and analyzes social media mentions), the sentiment ratio for mentions that include all keywords “shoppers”, “drugmart” and “mcdonald’s” (from October 10 to October 16 2010) was generally more positive than negative.

The largest clump of negative mentions seemed to be on the Shoppers Drug Mart FaceBook page,.  These were posted as comments to Shoppers Drug Mart’s announcement of the giveaway:

Here is what Shoppers Drug Mart did so far to counteract the negative comments:

Shoppers Drug Mart used their FaceBook page to address the negative feedback.  Their statement suggests that this promotion may not be right for everybody, but at no point do they hint at the fact that they made an error in judgement when they agreed to this fast food promotion.

Shoppers Drug Mart is committed to delivering value through our promotional events, so we’ve partnered with Canada’s top businesses to provide you with a range of offers. Your comments help us better understand what you value. The McDonald’s gift card promotion may not be the right fit for you, but we hope you’ll conti…nue to tell us what you want (or don’t want), so we can give you what you need in the future.

As of October 17th mid afternoon, there were 36 ‘likes’ and 37 comments to the above statement, most of which consisted of followers providing promotional ideas for future campaigns:

It appears as though Shoppers Drug Mart was using their FaceBook page as their main platform to respond to the critiques.  They are even redirecting people within other networks onto their FaceBook fan page.  I noticed this when they responded to my Twitter post about my dislike of their current campaign by redirecting me to their FaceBook page.  Since there is no URL for the post itself, but rather for the entire page, I had to scroll down until I found their statement.  As new posts are added to the wall, this statement will disappear under “older posts’.

Here are a few benefits of using FaceBook as the platform to respond to negative mentions:

1) you can quickly respond to the critiques and existing fans will have access to this information quickly,

2) you can easily engage your followers and get them to provide their insights, and

3) the statement will quickly disappear as it scrolls down, thus will rarely be seen unless somebody looks at older posts.

There is a downside though.  If somebody who critiques the campaign was not a member of FaceBook, they would  have difficulty accessing the organization’s response.  But considering there are over 16 million Canadians on FaceBook, I think this is  a reasonable platform to reach a Canadian audience.  I would suggest that Shoppers Drug Mart also post their statement as a comment below the ‘giveaway announcement’ post which contains all the negative mentions.  That way, everybody who wrote a negative mention would be notified that Shoppers had indeed responded to the issue.

My personal opinion is that this was a very bad marketing idea which got lucky because it did not get the public backlash that I expected it would get.  Considering the fact that the online mood was mostly neutral/positive, I don’t blame the PR folks for writing a ‘light’ response to the issue.  I do give them credit though for addressing the issue, and for asking the public for input for future campaigns.  Now hopefully they will listen to the feedback.

Do you believe that Shoppers Drug Mart did a good job in responding to their upset clients?  Tell us if you would have done anything differently:

Cold-FX: A Fun Canadian Healthcare Social Media Campaign

More and more Canadian healthcare companies see the benefit of leveraging social media for their businesses.  Here is a really interesting example that caught my attention because it encompasses what is critical for a successful social media campaign:  lots of interaction and viral effectiveness.  It also appears to follow the Canadian regulatory guidelines.  Learn more about the Cold-FX social media campaign here.


Afexa Life Sciences, a medium-sized Canadian company with a variety of over-the-counter (OTC) products, has launched a fun social media campaign in November 2009 to leverage their sponsorship of the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver, BC (“Cold-FX: Official cold and flu remedy of the 2010 Winter Games”).  Cold-FX is the brand that is sponsoring the Olympics and is the backbone of this fun social media campaign.

There are 3 components to this campaign;

1)      a FaceBook fan page with over 800 fans within 3 months and most importantly a high level of engagement by the fans,

2)      a Twitter account which has grown in popularity since their existence on Twitter as of September 2009, and

3)      a very popular  ‘Athlete of the Year’ video which can be customized with your name, or that of a friend.  The video was launched on November 19th and as of December 4, has already been viewed over 28,000 times (Source:  Data on file, Afexa Life Sciences).

If you look through the FaceBook and Twitter posts by Afexa, you will notice that there is no mention of the brand Cold-FX.  All of the posts by Afexa are related to their Olympics Trivia game.

Moreover, the ‘Athlete of the Year’ video has only a minimal amount of branding as well, as shown in the photo below.

Cold-FX 'Athlete of the Year' viral video

(… and for the record, the only way that I could be recognized for any athletic skills whatsoever would be if running after a 2-year old while talking on the phone with a client and taking notes of our discussion were a sport … thank goodness I have the most understanding and wonderful clients in the world  …)


On Friday December 4th, I had an opportunity to speak with Justin Jones (Director Digital Strategy) and Hardeep Gosal (Online Community Manager) of Afexa Life Sciences to discuss their Cold-FX social media campaign.  Here are a few highlights of our discussion:

  • New to social media:  The Cold-FX campaign is the first social media campaign for the company.
  • Taking small steps at a time:  They started by monitoring to find out where their consumers were online, what they were saying about the brand, the sentiments of their comments and the reach of forwarded messages.
  • Deliberately being conservative: The main objective of the campaign is to build relationships with the consumers, therefore messages are kept neutral and non-branded to give the consumers an opportunity to get to know the company and feel comfortable to communicate with them.

The snapshot below was taken of the Cold-FX Twitter profile at the end of the day on December 7 2009.  It demonstrates the neutral, non-branded messages being posted by the company.  As for the design of the Twitter profile, the only branding consists of the “Cold-FX” name found on the left and the right side of the screens.

Cold-FX Twitter profile

  • Selling the idea to senior management:  1) Showed them the analysis of a full year’s worth of social media monitoring, and 2) presented a variety of real cases.
  • Building up a follower-base is a long process but well worth the time and effort.
  • Company wide initiative:
    • Approximately 16 months prior to the launch of the social media campaign, all employees had an opportunity to discuss their feelings, knowledge and comfort level with social media.  Justin captured the corporation’s learning culture by stating that:  “The more we educate our employees about visual technologies, internet, mobile technology, social media, the more internal support we are likely to gain in the months ahead for our social media campaign.”
    • Training then took place to educate our employees on the use of social media.
    • Firewalls do not block employees from logging onto social media networks at work, although there is a social media policy in place to avoid abuse.
    • As part of their social media policy, Afexa Life Sciences’ employees are encouraged to not talk about product or anything financial.
    • Followers’ engagement with the company via social networks is creating a lot of positive energy and excitement in the organization, and employees are motivated by this.
  • Biggest challenge in managing a social media campaign:  Being new to social media, the organization expects to make mistakes and learn from them.  However, the social networks frequently change the landscape, rules and regulations.  To work through these changes, the organization is partnering with suppliers who maintain a close pulse on upcoming changes within the various social networks in order to help predict and manage upcoming changes.

The FaceBook fan page “wall” snapshot below describes the quick change that the Afexa Life Sciences team needed to implement to stay within FaceBook’s revised contest policy:

Afexa reacted quickly by launching a FaceBook application on December 9 2009, which now allows them to continue their trivia contest on FaceBook while staying within the FaceBook policies.  Just check out the ‘Trivia Contest’ tab on their FaceBook page and you will be brought to the new application.

  • Measuring ROI:  Be clear on your objective for implementing a social media tactic and determine ROI measurements based on that information.  Afexa’s main objective for the Cold-FX social media campaign is not financial.  Instead, the main objective is to build relationships with consumers.  Some of the measurements for this campaign consist of;
    • Number of followers
    • Frequency of engagement
    • Sentiments of consumer communications online
    • Click-through to the Cold-FX website
  • 5 Key Learnings from Afexa Life Sciences:
  1. Leverage monitoring tools to see what people are saying about your brand and the general sentiment of their communications, as well as identify demographics of the consumers who are talking about your brand online and what platforms they are using.
  2. Stay focused on 1 or 2 social media platforms rather than all of them.  Go through the experience with the selected platforms, learn from it, and then scale onto other platforms if your objectives direct you that way.
  3. Leverage partners who are dealing with some of the social networks that your brand is involved with.  Dealing with a company that has an idea of upcoming policies will save you a lot of time and a lot of money.
  4. From an internal organizational perspective, take the time to carefully draft a social media policy and respect everybody’s level of comfort with social media when presenting internally.
  5. Embrace social media.  Social media is here whether we like it or agree with it.  Google Sidewiki is a perfect example; people can comment on your brands or organization whether you give them the platform to do so or not.

Hardeep summed it up nicely with the following comment:

“The conversation is already happening with your product, so why not get involved.  Companies are often afraid of negative feedback, but we have found that brand advocates balance the conversation with positive comments.  Brand advocates -see who they are and develop relationships with them.”

Regulatory considerations for the Cold-FX social media campaign: Cold-FX is approved in Canada as a Natural Health Product, therefore it has more flexibility than a prescription product in terms of regulatory guidelines in its promotions.  I asked Ray Chepesiuk, the PAAB Commissioner, for his regulatory insights with regards to this campaign.  Here was his response;

“The Cold-FX social media campaign is brilliant and appears to be well within the regulatory guidelines.  You can do a lot more with consumers with an NPN product from a regulatory perspective because you can actually advertise with claims.  You can talk about your drug, but the only caution is to make sure that fair balance is included and indications stated correctly in accordance with the product’s license.  It appears that Afexa Life Sciences have respected the linkage policies of Health Canada in this campaign.  If there is promotion, they must follow section 9(1) of the Health Canada’s Food and Drugs Act.”

Kudos to Afexa Life Sciences for taking on this initiative with passion and enthusiasm, and for giving a chance to their consumers to have so much fun with the campaign.

GIVEAWAY: Afexa Life Sciences has kindly offered to give away 5 COLD-FX Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games Hockey 3-Pin Sets to those who write comments about this post.  For those who decide to write a comment, I will be in touch with you to gather your shipping information (so please do not include that information as part of the comment).  If more than 5 people write comments, then we’ll have to make it a draw in which case everybody who writes a comment will be given a number (ie. the 1st to write a post is assigned the number ‘1’, and so on) and then will be randomly selected with the use of the random number generator Random.orgDeadline is Wednesday December 16th, 11:59 pm.  Draw (if required depending on number of comments) will take place on Thursday December 17th (to give us enough time to ship you the pin-sets in time for the holidays if you plan on giving as a gift).

DISCLOSURE: Afexa Life Sciences has not paid me to write this article, is not a client and has not requested a business pitch from me.

Stay in touch,

Connect with me on the following networks:
FaceBook, Twitter, LinkedIn


To ensure that you receive all new updates to this blog, insert your e-mail address in the box in the top-right corner. Your e-mail will remain private and will not be shared with any third parties.

Canada’s Online Health Check – Online Hotspots to Connect with Canadian Pharma Professionals

Last week, I shared with you the results of a recent survey that looked at some high-level trends of where and how Canadian pharmaceutical professionals are using social networks.

Since networking and collaborating with colleagues can have a significant impact on our professional lives, I wanted to follow-up on my previous post with highlights of a few groups within LinkedIn, FaceBook and Twitter that may assist Canadian pharmaceutical professionals to find and network with one another.  Note that some of these groups offer greater networking opportunities than others, but I will leave it to you to check them out and decide which is best for you.

GIVEAWAY: In the spirit of networking and sharing, I have saved 6 Google Wave invitations to share with 6 Canadian pharma colleagues (client or agency, but must be involved in the Canadian pharmaceutical industry).  Google Wave is a collaborative online tool, which at the moment is only available to those who are invited by somebody already on the network.  How to enter this giveaway contest?  Write a comment on this post.  Since I only have 6 invitations left, if more than 6 people write a comment, then we’ll have to make it a draw in which case everybody who writes a comment will be given a number (ie. the 1st to write a post is assigned the number ‘1’, and so on) and then will be randomly selected with the use of the random number generator Random.org.  The monetary value of this giveaway:  a big, fat $0.00 .  So why am I bothering? The intent is to share this tool with others who truly want to collaborate with their colleagues online.  What better way to find out who these people are than to just ask them to ‘raise their hand’ online.  Plus, once you are on Google Wave, then you get a bunch of invitations to send to your friends as well.  What a great way to connect, share and collaborate with one another.  Deadline is Sunday December 13th, 11:59 pm.  Draw (if required depending on number of comments) and invitations will take place on Monday December 14th.


Biotech and Bioscience in Canada

Canadian Health Informatics

eCHE and eMarketing Insider

Market Access for Canadian Pharma

Ontario Pharmaceutical Marketing Association (OPMA)

Pharmaceutical, Biotech & Medical Devices Jobs in Canada



Biotech/Pharma/Medical Device Careers in the United States & Canada


About a month ago, Twitter added a new “list” feature.  As part of these lists, Twitter users (tweeps) can select certain people that they are following as part of their lists and make the lists public.  You can give a name to the list, so tweeps who see your list will have an idea what it is about.  I have put together a ‘Canadian Pharma’ list that you may wish to peruse or follow.

The development of this list is ongoing as I find new people who meet the criteria and also as Canadian pharma folks join Twitter.  If you work in the Canadian pharma industry and are on Twitter but not on my list, please make sure to send me your username and I will add you to it.

Here are a few resources to help you find your Canadian pharma colleagues on Twitter:

1)      To find people based on their bio, you can use TweepSearch.com and insert the keywords that you are looking for.  This system is helpful, but not perfect because the search results will depend on the words used in people’s bio.  So if you are on Twitter and want to be found and recognized for certain keywords (ie. ‘pharma marketing’), make sure that they are part of your bio… and this includes your location too.  If somebody is searching for a ‘pharma marketing’ tweep in Canada, but your location is left blank, you will not show up as part of their search.

2)      To find people based on the content of the posts that they publish (tweets), you can either do a search directly in Twitter or use one of many search engines that track tweets.  I like to use IceRocket.com and WeFollow.com for this purpose, but there are many other sites that provide a similar type of search at no cost.

Although this is not a Canadian-specific resource, you might be interested in following pharma companies on Twitter.  If so, you can start by checking out Ignite Health’s dashboard.  In fact, the cool thing about this dashboard is that even if you are not on Twitter, you can still follow the more recent posts that are written by these pharma companies directly from the dashboard.


This is just a sample of the many groups that may be of interest to a Canadian pharmaceutical professional.  There is also a plethora of social networks with an international focus that might offer excellent networking opportunities with both Canadian and international colleagues (for example, just search “pharma” for LinkedIn groups and the list goes on and on).

If you know of other Canadian groups that were not mentioned in this post, but you think that Canadian pharma professionals would be able to connect and collaborate with each other by joining them, please leave a comment with the name and URL for the group.  And remember that your comment will be considered as an entry in the Google Wave invitation giveaway contest (as described above).

Stay in touch,

Connect with me on the following networks:
FaceBook, Twitter, LinkedIn


To ensure that you receive all new updates to this blog, insert your e-mail address in the box in the top-right corner. Your e-mail will remain private and will not be shared with any third parties.

FaceBook Privacy – Who can gain access to your ‘locked down’ FaceBook profile?

By now, most of you have probably heard about the Nathalie Blanchard (NB) case in which NB claims that Manulife used her vacation photos on Facebook as the source of her losing her medical insurance benefits.  Just do a search on “Nathalie Blanchard” and you will see that everybody seems to be talking about her case; from bloggers, to news reporters, to tweeps, etc…  all over the world.  And readers are fervently commenting on the reports.  At the time of writing this article, almost 700 people had taken the time to comment on NB’s story written in the online publication CBCnews.

If this picture was truly accessed on a locked-down FaceBook profile by somebody who was not a ‘friend’, then one has to wonder who can truly gain access to our private FaceBook profiles.  Out of curiosity about these potential privacy issues, I contacted Anita Fineberg, a Canadian Privacy Lawyer, to discuss NB’s case.  It was such an enlightening discussion that we both agreed to share some highlights of our chat with you.

1) The media headlines may be incorrect or misleading. The headlines focus on the use of NB`s Facebook pics as the evidence that motivated Manulife to terminate  her benefits.  Read through the article and you will see a comment by Manulife that the pics were not the full reason why they cut off NB`s benefits.

“We would not deny or terminate a valid claim solely based on information published on websites such as Facebook.”

At the moment, we do not know the basis on which Manulife terminated NB`s benefits. The question that we need to ask ourselves is whether the Facebook photo was a factor and how much of a factor in the decision to terminate NB`s benefits.

2) Assuming that the Facebook photos were a factor in Manulife’s decision to terminate NB`s benefits, there are several legal ways that Manulife may have gained access to the pics.

a) NB states that her Facebook profile is locked down and that only her friends have access to the information and photos that she shares.

There are many different privacy settings on Facebook for different things.  Were all of her settings in fact private and available only to friends?

b) Manulife could have contacted somebody who was a friend of NB on Facebook to get access to her account.  This poses ethical issues, but not legal issues.

c) The FaceBook privacy policy does indicate that there are instances when they will share a private profile.

Section 5 of the November 19 2009 Facebook policy revision:

To respond to legal requests and prevent harm.

  • We may disclose information pursuant to subpoenas, court orders, or other requests (including criminal and civil matters) if we have a good faith belief that the response is required by law.
  • This may include respecting requests from jurisdictions outside of the United States where we have a good faith belief that the response is required by law under the local laws in that jurisdiction, apply to users from that jurisdiction, and are consistent with generally accepted international standards.
  • We may also share information when we have a good faith belief it is necessary to prevent fraud or other illegal activity, to prevent imminent bodily harm, or to protect ourselves and you from people violating our Statement of Rights and Responsibilities. This may include sharing information with other companies, lawyers, courts or other government entities.

3) What if somebody else had posted the picture of the patient and tagged the patient – would that have changed anything?

If the photo went public, and NB was identified as being in the picture, Manulife could have gotten access to it and would have been able to use it as part of their evidence.

4) How far back can social media data be used as evidence?

If the photo is relevant to the matter at hand, then regardless of the age of the photo, it could be used as evidence.  Medical records are a similar example.  The media is different, but the issue is the same.

5) What are some recommendations to help Canadians use their social networks more carefully?

Operate on the assumption that even if you properly applied your privacy settings, there is a possibility that people who you’ve not indicated as your ‘friends’ may view or read what you’ve got on your profile.

Take the time to read and truly understand the privacy policy for the network in question.  Apply it, and recognize that it is not the last word on the availability of your information.

Conclusion: So privacy on FaceBook, it appears, is just a perception.  However, it is such an excellent networking tool, that I would not want to give the message that people should stop using their FaceBook accounts, or become paranoid about using them.  Instead, the message is just to be cautious about posting certain information (about yourself and others), and to be aware that “non-friends” may eventually gain access to your information, with or without your permission.

Many thanks to Anita for sharing her privacy expertise and insights into this case study.

Stay in touch,

Marketing 4 Health Inc.
Medical Marketing and Social Media Consultant



To ensure that you receive all new updates to this blog, insert your e-mail address in the box in the top-right corner.  Your e-mail will remain private and will not be shared with any third parties.

%d bloggers like this: