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Getting Social at BIO

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palm-tree.jpg So why aren't more healthcare companies engaging with people online? Is it fear of losing control of the message? Legal and regulatory concerns? Worries about having something to say?

I suspect it is a little bit of all of these things.

But some people are trying to figure it out (including me), and last week I joined a few folks from some other healthcare companies -- Bo Piela from Genzyme, Michael Partridge from Vertex Andy Gore from Amgen and Larry Weber -- out at the BIO meeting in San Diego and heard more about some internal and external attempts to embrace social media.

At least one attendee took away that we were all saying "just do it," and there is some truth to that -- after all, by actually getting involved you can learn a few things first hand, such as:

1) The benefits aren't what you'd expect. This about relationships -- and sometimes relationships have unintended consequences. In my case, some of the people I've come in contact with have turned into friends and mentors -- while others have been kind enough to alert me to things I should know about. How do you put an ROI on that?

2) This is labor intensive. Like any relationship, to remain in good standing takes work. That means paying attention and listening as well as engaging. (And taking the garbage out to the curb once in a while.)

3) Your audience selects itself. I've written about this before, but it is important to keep in mind that you no longer get much say on who listens in.

4) You have to take the chaff with the wheat. It ain't all going to be good. Sometimes you are going to have to listen to criticism -- and respond to it. But, after all, being part of any relationship involves learning more about how others see you.

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