Ideally, they should be communicating with these patients and transparently sharing their efforts.
The other day a Pharma BNET article described patients upset with sanofi-aventis (SA) who had gone to the company’s Facebook page. I followed the Facebook link to what appeared to be a legit, corporate page. It wasn’t until John Mack at Pharma Marketing Blog probed a little closer that we learned that it was fake.
This fake SA Facebook page has 3,783 fans and seems to have been live since December 2008. I’m assuming that SA has contacted Facebook and asked them to remove it. In the short term, it’s surprising that an authorized PR rep hasn’t commented on the fact that the page is fake (although one of the patients has recently noted this). Unfortunately, in the meantime, damage is being done to SA’s reputation. An unhappy patient has posted comments to the page and noted that they were banned and previous comments removed. At cursory glance, people would be given the impression that this has been done by SA.
The Real Deal?
SA also has what appears to be a legitimate Facebook page: with only 366 fans. This page supports SA VOICES efforts to: “Empower employees, retirees, friends, families and communities to educate, engage, and mobilize with our grassroots network as we focus on healthcare industry priorities.”
SA has opened this page up to comments and these unhappy patients have also taken their issue to this public forum. And SA has not responded to them in this space. I’m hoping that SA PR/Legal are working on a plan to handle this situation. Ideally, they should be communicating with these patients and transparently sharing their efforts. Social media strategies should always include an approach to handle this type of negative feedback.
A brand reputation takes years to establish and can be very quickly damaged online. No one knows that better than Dominos Pizza which dealt with a PR nightmare when two rogue employees posted a video to YouTube doing unmentionable things to their food. This is an extreme case, but an excellent reminder that companies should be closely monitoring the online space, especially what’s going on in social media channels.
This post was contributed by Eileen O’Brien, Director of Search & Innovation for Siren Interactive. You can connect with her on Twitter at @eileenobrien.
(Image courtesy of pinksherbert on Flickr)