What Do Facebook Changes Mean for Pharma?

Well, in most circumstances, not much.  If you consider the fact that most pharmaceutical companies aren't engaged with Facebook on a widespread level at the current time, the fact that Facebook is making an interesting change to its pages doesn't seem particularly relevant. 

But if you consider the things that the pharmaceutical industry shouldbe doing on Faceook, and probably one day will be – listen up.

In case you've been living under a rock, you will have heard that beginning Saturday, Facebook will allow people to set up their own vanity URLs.  Right now, when you sign up for Facebook, your URL is a randomly assigned bunch of numbers and letters, which is a little odd.  However, if you have a Twitter account, you have a URL that is www.twitter.com/YOURNAMEHERE

So what?

Well, one thing that I've picked up on lately in Twitter is that someone has set up Twitter accounts with the name of nearly every major pharmaceutical company – meaning that if a pharmaceutical company wants to set up a Twitter feed in the future, they either have to unseat the squatter or put something additional to their existing name. 

For example, Sanofi and Merck Serono each have Twitterfeeds with followers, but no logo and no updates.  It would appear that people, thinking they were the real thing, signed up to follow them, even though there are no updates.  In other words, it would appear that someone is squatting on the names of companies.  If names can be squatted on Twitter, why not Facebook – and not just companies, but brand names. 

So that is why, it might be a good idea for companies to consider their plans for social media now, rather than later – other than the fact that pharma companies are already so very far behind in utilization of new media. 

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3 Responses to What Do Facebook Changes Mean for Pharma?

  1. Zac Brousseau says:

    You raise a good point. Facebook has made an attempt to discourage such squatters by requiring brand pages to have at least 1,000 fans on May 31, 2009 in order to claim a vanity URL. But this seems like an imperfect (to say the least) solution to me. What if you have a ligit page w/ less than 1,000 fans? What if a “fake” page using your brand does have 1,000 fans? What if you accumulate the required number after the May deadline? I’m not sure FB has addressed any of these questions.

  2. Mark Senak says:

    Zac – Thanks – I did not know that about the fans requirement, but you are right – there are brand sponsored pages that have less fans than that. Plus, how does one build toward that fan base if just starting out?

  3. Zac Brousseau says:

    Update: I read on Mashable that trademarked brands w/ <1,000 fans can still claim their URL. Others will have to wait until June 28.