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What Sanofi-Aventis Learned from Its FaceBook Experience
& What the Experts Recommend It Do Now

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A conversation with Dennis Urbaniak, VP U.S. Diabetes at sanofi-aventis, about the recent activity on S-A's VOICES corporate Facebook page. We'll discuss the lessons learned and hear advice from independent experts. Urbaniak is willing to answer questions and consider advice from listeners. (See guest bio.)

Aired LIVE on: Tuesday, April 6, 2010

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Background

"I actually think i did a very good job in closing down the FB page of Europes largest drugs company, something i am very proud of and something i havent finished with yet," said Shirley Ledlie in a comment made to Social Media Intern's "Ask Me a Question" survey.

Ms. Ledlie -- a cancer survivor who had permanent hair loss after taking Taxotere, a drug marketed by sanofi-aventis (S-A) -- was laying siege to S-A's VOICES Facebook page, which is a corporate communications effort to "..[e]mpower employees, retirees, friends, families and communities to educate, engage, and mobilize with our grassroots network as we focus on healthcare industry priorities." It is and was not intended to promote or discuss any products.

S-A's response was to remove all posts to the VOICES Wall and replace them by this statement: "sanofi-aventis VOICES has no recent posts." At first, it appeared that S-A could not stand up to the onslaught waged by Ledlie's solitary "voice" and just decided to call it quits. John Mack, editor of Pharma Marketing News, said at the time "A precedent has been set by this experience, which does not bode well for the future of pharma social media."

S-A, however, appears resolute to set a new precedent and re-opened the VOICE Wall to comments, but this time under a new set of TERMS/disclaimer that it posted to the site. It says, in part, a disclaimer, which says, in part:

"This page is not intended as a forum for discussing sanofi-aventis' or other companies products including the reporting of side effects associated with the use of prescription drugs. As such, Postings that contain product discussions may be removed by sanofi-aventis."

"I have just read your disclaimer... Not intended is not the same as not allowed in my eyes," said Ms. Ledlie in a new post to the Wall.

Ms. Ledlie's friends are also posting comments like "if this site is not meant for discussions why call it "voices" suggests to me you dont like hearing what is written!!!!!!!!!!"

VOICES continues to accept comments from visitors and Ms. Ledlie's comments dominate the "discussion."

It will be interesting to see how this all plays out and who will win this "Pharma Social Media Standoff!"

Questions/Topics Discussed

  • Tell us more about VOICES, what its mission is, how it began, etc.
  • How prepared was S-A for dealing with comments from the public such as those from Ms. Ledlie?
  • What has S-A learned from this experience?
  • What's next?


Guest Bio

Dennis UrbaniakDennis Urbaniak, VP U.S. Diabetes at sanofi-aventis, is a commercial operations executive with demonstrated leadership in driving innovative, customer centric approaches that result in tangible business results.

Previous to his current position, Mr. Urbaniak was Vice President Innovation and New Customer Channels (INNCC). In this position, Mr. Urbaniak was responsible for exploring, testing and developing new business approaches and technologies to more effectively reach and understand our customers and deliver value. He worked cross-functionally with the Business Units, Marketing and a range of other departments to implement commercial innovations that reflect the evolving needs of our customer base.


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