Submitted by: Kevin Waddel

No one can deny the power and reach of social media. From consumer marketers to business-to-business companies, it has become an effective marketing tool. A chief growth area has been pharma social media as drug companies have come to embrace it.

As we all know the pharma industry and its marketing are highly regulated by the FDA and, while there are no clear guidelines governing pharmaceutical social media, many companies are finding ways to make use of it. For example, some healthcare companies are finding ways to connect physicians via secure social networks to improve information sharing for example.

Pharma social media should be about more than just product marketing Some companies are making use of pharma social media to focus on stories about employees, wellness information, and corporate content. They are extending their pharma social media efforts to include YouTube and Facebook pages and beyond.

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In absence of definitive social media policy from the FDA, pharmaceutical companies need to work closely with their legal team along with marketing professionals who possess a strong understanding of pharmaceutical social media engagement to ensure that the laws governing marketing and advertising are being followed.

Some things to consider when undertaking a pharma social media program:

– Tell human stories. The importance of health is a universally shared value. Pharma social media should strive to connect people with common experiences. Focus on compelling stories that highlight benefits of your companys product. Success stories should be reviewed and submitted in compliance with all applicable regulations and, once approved, shared through social channels to demonstrate real impact in the lives of consumers and enhance public goodwill toward the company.

– Educate everyone involved on the importance of pharma social media. Begin the process by highlighting the need to have a presence. Remember, you dont need to have every bell and whistle available when launching a pharma social media program. Choose a few vehicles and gradually add others to your pharma social media arsenal.

– Check with legal. Working with your companys legal counsel is essential in any pharma social media marketing effort. Think creatively on how to advance your brand goals and provide your legal team with multiple campaigns. Find ways to problem solve with your counsel.

– Stay on label. While the ways in which information is shared have changed, this doesnt mean that the overriding regulations are different. Disseminate all pertinent product information through your pharma social media efforts to avoid regulatory issues.

– Have a pharma social media policy in place. Create strong internal guidelines for your companys pharma social media campaign. Prior to beginning any pharma social media program, establish controls and expectations of staff that would be involved in public engagement. Create a list of regulatory boundaries and potential scenarios where legal counsel would be notified of consumer concerns. Once approved, schedule frequent reviews of the social media program to identify potential pitfalls around key regulations like patient privacy or adverse events.

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By Colin Mc Cullough

The paper aims to identify the role human factors play in determining the success or failure or knowledge management initiatives.

A growing realisation in both the private and public sector is the worth of human capital as an intangible asset. In a society transcending the boundaries from information to a knowledge society, it is essential to find adequate and successful means of processing and exploiting the knowledge within the heads of its members. Research literature shows a strong link between knowledge management and the creation of a sustainable competitive advantage, because of the tacit nature of an organisation’s knowledge (Gupta & McDaniel, 2002). The growing body of literature on KM has tended to emphasise the technical aspects at the expense of the people management aspects and it is indicative in itself that the vast majority of literature resides within the Information Technology (IT) field (Bank, 1996; Cole-Gomolski, 1997; Finerty, 1997). Scarbrough et al.’s (1999) IPD report provided an extensive overview of existing literature which demonstrated a growing gap in the literature in terms of people issues in favour of a concern with the technological and system aspects. Likewise Johanessen et al. (1999) explore the inadequacy of firms investing in new technology hoping that KM will simply emerge as a result. Instead they suggest it is the employees themselves who will be the impetus behind the transition from functional organisations to knowledge organisations.

Fundamentally frequent KM attempts end in failure. The assumption that knowledge is an object, and can be codified and distributed underpins the linked field of computer science and information systems. As a result of this knowledge management has been closely tied to ICT. Yet even within the computer science fields, it is increasingly recognised that most current software for knowledge management have more to do with new ways of storing and communicating information than with actual ways in which people create, acquire and use knowledge (Milton et al., 1999). Likewise as McDermott points out, using ICT rather than a solution to knowledge management may ‘represent the great trap in knowledge management’ (McDermott, 1999: p. 104).

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An analysis of current academic literature on obstacles to knowledge management reveal three main groups of factors – flaws in the organisational process, misconceptions of the role of technology in the process and lastly, and that which I seek to elucidate as a principle component – a large disregard of the importance of the human factor in achieving a successful knowledge-sharing and knowledge managing culture.

A failure to understand clearly the terms of reference (i.e. what is knowledge management?) fogs entirely the picture of what factors can enhance or reduce the chances of successful knowledge management within an organisation. As Thomas, Kellogg and Erickson (2003) point out the view of knowledge management as a passive, fact-storing procedure which ignores the context in which knowledge is embedded and which relies solely on information technologies is a common misconception of the whole process. Soo, Devinney. Midgley and Deering (2000) likewise stress that the knowledge management process is not something simple which can be bolted on to conventional business models as mere storage models.

The vast majority of academic research into knowledge management, concludes, as do Dominguez, Laverde, Lizzaralde and Arregui (2003) that while there is a general difficulty for companies to explain what they mean when they use the term knowledge management, they are in a position to identify common aspects such as the sharing of knowledge and of transforming individual into organisational knowledge. They admit, however, that a lack of clarity over the concept while generating certain confusion, has led to a greater flexibility in its application in the private sector. It simply means different things in different contexts. De Jarnett (1996) states that knowledge management is knowledge creation, which is followed by knowledge interpretation, knowledge dissemination and use, and knowledge retention and refinement. Brooking (1997), however, in his definition stresses that knowledge management is the activity which is concerned with strategy and tactics to manage human centred assets while Quintas et al (1997) in their definition claim that KM is the process is critically managing knowledge to meet existing needs, to identify and exploit existing and acquired knowledge assets and to develop new opportunities. As Ariely (2003) points out even nowadays there is no full consensus on definitions and perceptions of knowledge management. She concludes, however, that the differing definitions expose the problems industry is having with defining and commonly understanding such a combined term. For this reason she favours the definition by Brooks (2000) of organisational knowledge management through correlating the aim of KM in the organisation with those of the organisation. Ultimately the test is the success achieved in enabling knowledge creation rather than managing it. As von Krogh (2000) points out the dilemma can perhaps be best approached by managing the processes relating to the domain of knowledge management rather than presuming to manage the knowledge itself.

Knowledge management is inextricably linked to the sharing of knowledge between individuals and to the collaborative processes involved. The factors and environments which enhance this all relate to the human factor in the KM process.

About the Author: Colin Mc Cullough works in knowledge management in the public sector. He has consulted for a number of comanies including



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By Julie Francis

The origin of the word niche is from an ecological perspective, how a species finds a place where they can not just survive but thrive. The same goes for you and your niche. Being a whale in a pond isn’t much use but nor is being a stickleback in the ocean. Marketing is all about finding the right customers for the product. When you pick a product and market it to a select group of people, you will have more success than promoting the same product to a generic ‘everyone’.

Here are some Niche Marketing Examples.

What you eventually choose as a niche market should be something you enjoy doing. It’s hard to think of exiting things to say about cheese if you’re constantly on a low fat diet. Alternatively someone who loves cheese can talk for hours about the various types. What country they come from and the techniques that are used to make them, these topics come easily. A niche site does well when it can provide information of true value. With a physical product such as cheese this is quite easy to do.

Selecting Which Information to Display

When you are dealing with an information product however it can be more difficult to create a good content site without giving all your secrets away for free. You need to show people that you know what you’re talking about while holding back enough so they’ll feel the need to pay for it.

Try to pick a niche where there are both types of products and the more products you can fit inside your niche the better off you are for creating good content.This brings a range of interesting information that will allow people to browse for a while.

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Example 1 : Tiling

Let’s suggest tiling for an example. I would imagine this to be a good niche to create an Adsense site around. Advertisers that supply expensive Italian tiles can have their ads placed well. Ceramic glues and grout suppliers will want to advertise there. Makers of tile cutting tools will want to show an ad for their products.

You can easily pad out content by talking about history and geography as it relates to tiles. You can sell home decorating books and do it yourself books while still giving some basic information specific to setting tiles that will be helpful. You could compare different techniques about how to lay tiles on a floor with a cement base versus laying tiles onto a wooden base. You can give tips on how to glue a wall tile on and the use of spacers.

An article page on how to cut a tile showing them how to curve a cut around a pipe may lead to someone realizing they don’t have a grinder and they need one. If you have Adsense on such a page advertising grinders you may get lucky with a click or lead. If there’s a company offering a coupon or bonus for their tools you can display their pictures and an affiliate link.

Example 2 : Budgeting

Wherever there is money there is a niche. I found in the bookshop endless shelves and choices for books about how to handle superannuation but a real dearth on how to budget successfully on a small income. Living within one’s means may not be exiting but its restful to know you can pay the bills.

In such a niche you could look for free calculation software, you could make up excel spreadsheets and shopping lists, you could include viral shopping vouchers and if you’ve ever managed to budget successfully yourself, you could write a book on it. I certainly got asked a lot for books on how to budget but its possible these customers may not be people who can afford the internet so it may not be a profitable niche.

Make sure to research a niche for profitability before you commit much time to building a site around it. Your time is too precious to waste.

Example 3 : The Niche Market

Groups of People with a Similar Problem are a Niche

The last of our niche marketing examples is about people. A niche can just as easily be based around a group of people as it can be around a single topic. Rather than concentrate on the huge topic of childcare, concentrate a site around grandparents left to look after kids, or one just on single fathers dealing with toddler issues.

Issues are Just as Important a Niche as People.

Children trying to cope with the death of a parent and counseling services. The emotions adults feel when they start looking for children they gave away for adoption or those now grown adoptees who are looking for their genetic parents and private detectives. Sudden illness in a family and insurance. Remember your role is to match a product to a market.

To monetize your niche all you need to do is find an expert. You don’t have to be one. Any decent researcher can find enough solid content for a site, so long as they feel strongly enough about its topic. Look at it just as you would a school project. You find information, you find some pictures, you list your resources and you link to products. Link to the expert products or services that you feel will give the best information.

You are the middle man, the matchmaker. Don’t think of it as selling so much as enabling people to find what they are looking for. By promoting products from experts who can help people solve problems you are providing a service to both the reader and the merchant. And you make a living.

About the Author: Julie Francis is a bookseller and the owner of Rich Niche Blogging, a resource site for Niche Marketing and Blogging.


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