Archive by Author

What “Big Pharma” Can Learn from “Little Startups”

First things first, hello. If you’re a new reader to the blog, you probably don’t remember me, but if you’re a veteran, you just might. It’s me, Jonathan Richman, the original founder and author of Dose of Digital back for a guest posting. After a couple of years out of healthcare (and away from the blog) at a startup focused on the restaurant industry, I’m back in the healthcare business. I recently left the startup…turns out I missed you all and felt like there’s more I can contribute to the healthcare industry. More on what I’m up to at the end of this post…you want the content, not the gossip.

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The Future of Dose of Digital

For those of you who have been paying close attention, you might have noticed that there hasn’t been much activity on the blog for a few months (okay…almost 5, but what does “few” mean anyway?). There’s a reason for this beyond that I couldn’t think of anything to write. Regular readers will know that I’m never at a loss for something to say (or write). The reason is actually quite simple. And in case you haven’t heard, I’ll give you the short story.

On January 13, I left the agency I’d been at for almost five years. While at the agency (first called Bridge Worldwide and now Possible Worldwide), I started this blog and was supported in its ongoing development by the company. Of course, that means that they are really the owners of this blog, so I felt that they should retain control of it once I left. In addition, I’ve moved completely away from the agency business and from healthcare. Because of these couple of factors, I stopped writing. At the same time, I’ve been searching for some options for the blog so that it didn’t simply wither away and die. I’m pleased to announce that I’ve finally got a great solution (more on that in a bit).

First, a little more about where I’m at now and why. Again, this will be the short version of the story, but if you want the whole thing, then I’d invite you to head over to my new blog, which has a really detailed “farewell” post. Here’s the gist for those looking for the short version from that post:

“I’m now headed off to something totally different. I’m moving from a large (medium?) sized company to a small one. And I’m headed to the world of startups. It’s something I’ve been thinking about doing for a while and didn’t know when it might make sense. Well, the right opportunity just made itself apparent and I’m going to follow it. SO, starting Monday, January 16, you can find me at Zipscene.”

That’s where I’m going. What is Zipscene, you ask? The simple explanation is that it’s a digital marketing platform for restaurants. We help turn restaurants digital properties (including desktop, tablet, and mobile versions of their website) into powerful ecommerce platforms, dramatically improve the user experience, and really help improve every aspect from first acquiring customers all the way through them paying their check in the restaurant. We work with some pretty big national chains like Bob Evans and Macaroni Grill (with plenty other big ones coming soon that I can’t quite share yet).

And yes, it’s a startup company, which is something I’ve always wanted to be a part of. We’ve already grown since I started in January, but are probably a lot smaller than what most of you are used to. I’m the VP of Product Marketing, which means that I’m responsible for developing our product offerings and figuring out how to market them. Sound simple enough, right? In the five months that I’ve been here, I’ve loved every challenge and I’m really glad I made this switch.
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Translating the New FDA Social Media Guidance

[Get your copy of the FDA Guidance Translator Flow Chart later in this post]

It’s been a long wait, but the FDA finally delivered. They’ve come through with at least some direction for how pharma companies can properly use social media. It’s not a complete answer to every issue, but it is a good start. I’ve reviewed the full contents of the guidance that the FDA released on December 30, 2011 and found it, not surprisingly, a bit hard to follow at times. The full title of the guidance they released is: “Responding to Unsolicited Requests for Off-Label Information About Prescription Drugs and Medical Devices.” Catchy.

I’d encourage everyone to read the full guidance. You can get a copy of the PDF right here: FDA Unsolicited Requests Guidance (1904 downloads).

As my gift to all of you, I’ve tore apart this document and created a simple to follow flow chart that you can use to figure out if you can respond to something and how to do it. More on that in a moment.

What the FDA released is NOT a comprehensive set of “Social Media Guidelines” that some companies and people seem to believe are the holy grail/final barrier to the promised land of social media usage for pharma. Rest assured, as I’ll say it again, you won’t see this anytime soon. You’ll continue to get bits and pieces of guidance like what we just got that points you in the right direction. The FDA is never going to tell you the right way to use Facebook or Twitter. It wouldn’t make sense for them to do this. By the time they created the guidance, the platforms might be obsolete. They could have created guidelines for MySpace if we had our druthers about five years ago.

So, be happy for what we’ve got. I’ve read a lot of commentary from different people on this new guidance and most seem to think that it’s completely useless. These are likely the people who were expecting to give a massive document explaining precisely what pharma could do with every aspect of social media. They’re likely to be disappointed with everything the FDA puts out since this massive document isn’t coming. I think this set of guidance, while limited to one issue, is actually very valuable.
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Digital Marketing Lessons from 2011′s Top Memes

I love memes. They’re simple. They get one point across. They tend to be amusing.

I also like being “in the know” and there’s typically some backstory to the meme that you need to understand for it to make sense. It’s kind of like an exclusive club for the Internet set of us out there.

What I really like about memes is how you can use them to express a really simple concept.

For those of you who don’t really know what a meme is, here’s the official definition (thanks to Google’s handy “define” feature):

An element of a culture or system of behavior that may be considered to be passed from one individual to another by nongenetic means, esp. imitation

So, the key feature of a meme is really it’s ability to be passed along from one person to another. Sometimes it’s a joke and sometimes it’s a movement and something far more serious. However, when I look at a meme, I do something different than most people. I try to look for a lesson. I look for the one thing that I can learn from it. I also look at memes and figure out how I can use them to explain something else and to try to better understand human nature.

I’m weird like that.

This is what I’m doing today. I’m going to use the top memes of 2011 to review everything I witnessed as far as digital marketing trends in 2011. There will be plenty of lessons mixed in along the way. Chances are that you haven’t seen or heard of all of these memes (maybe none of them). You might not get some of the jokes, but I’ll do my best to explain them and I’ll point you to the good folks at Know Your Meme to give you even more detail if you want it.
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