Drugs, Booze, Insurance, and Cash. Sound like a lot of fun? It could be, I guess, if you are not a social media practitioner in any of those regulated industries. While we talk about being open, transparent & immediate in our social media marketing, that same approach could wind you up in in a whole lot of trouble if you are marketing a new pharma drug. In regulated industries like pharma and banking, the government regulates how these companies can market their products. In industries like spirits, there are some guidelines, however most of the regulation is self-administered both domestically and internationally. Here are some industries and the guidelines they have to follow.
- Healthcare- Follows most guidelines set forth in the Pharma industry and also has very stringent HIPPAAlaws that protect patient information. Hospitals must also be cautious in providing healthcare recommendations or certainly diagnosing via the web or mobile.
- Pharmaceuticals - led by the Food & Drug Administration covering everything from Drugs, Acts, Rules to Drug Registration & Listing.
- Banking – Led by Federal, State and Local regulations on everything from Truth-in-Lending to Securities to Foreclosures.
- Insurance – Life, Auto, Home and Flood are some of the areas heavily regulated by federal and state regulators. For brokers, they are only allowed to provide recommendations for states where they are licensed which eliminates many general websites.
- Spirits – In the states the self governing body for the alcohol, wine & spirits industry is the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States or DISCUS.
- Public Traded Companies – of course, the Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC) monitors all publicly traded companies in their disclosure of information that might influence modifications in stock prices.
For as much as this industry likes to talk, there is very little information available for understanding guidelines in regulated industries. An excerpt from a post from StartupMarketingDiva clearly depicts the regulators view of web and mobile communications as simply another medium where the message still must be the same:
Dr. Jean-Ah Kang, who is the Special Assistant to DDMAC Director Tom Abrams. Although I recommend that you listen to the podcast, the script is nicely transcribed at MM&M. Basically, right now the FDA has no formal policy on the use of Web 2.0 social media. The key message from Dr. Kang was: “it’s not the medium, it’s the message.” As long as the message is fair and balanced, it doesn’t matter what medium it is conveyed in, whether it be Twitter, YouTube, website, or other traditional medium such as print. But even so, as a company with a drug or other product in a regulated industry, you still need to cover your a%#. How? Dr. Kang says: “follow the law” by submitting two copies of the final promotional materials using the FDA form 2253 under the guidance of 21 CFR 314.81(b)(3)(i) to DDMAC. If you think your marketing materials require advisory comments on the draft proposal, you can certainly solicit the DDMAC for assistance in advance via their CDER page. What this does is covers you from a third party wrongly reprocessing and misrepresenting your product and brand.
This is certainly a big subject so we decided to bring out the big guns for this one. Scott Hepburn runs Media Emergingthat engages with companies of all types. He will lead us through the discussion on Tuesday September 15th at noon EST. The questions will start at noon and have a new one every 20 minutes. We look forward to your POV in heloing us tackle this topic.
Social Media in Regulated Industries
Q1: How can regulated companies prepare themselves to be social? (Policies, training, hiring, planning)
Q2: Should anyone at a regulated company be able to participate in a regulated industry or only a select few? (consider both internal and external)
Q3: Where are areas of opportunity for social media strategists in regulated companies that can add much needed value to those companies?