People are social creatures. Young web entrepreneurs, such as Mark Zuckerberg (the creator of Facebook), struck gold when they discovered the means to accommodate the average social bug on the web through online social networks while providing a development platform for diverse social applications and function. What did that equate to? Third-party programmers with advertising agendas and dollars in mind, created interactive applications that heightened the experience users had while using their favorite networking sites. And now-and-again, these sites or applications work. People keep using them while the page’s population keeps growing and growing. While Facebook remains the king of all networking tools, I feel pharmaceutical companies in particular will find using other social platforms beneficial and successful.
So, heard of Ning? Ning is an online platform that allows the average Joe to create his or her own social networks. I have made quite a few networks utilizing Ning myself. One of the key advantages of this tool is that you accept members who are registered with Ning, giving you access to their profiles and email addresses. This means quick newsletters and product information releases through the news feed, sidebars, or through event email invitations after hitting the awesome “send to all” button at the bottom of the page. Meanwhile, members can support each other by posting on the main wall, starting forums, and asking questions. At the same time, all content and the layout of the page is managed by you and anyone else you dub administrator of the site.
Look at joyofdiabetes.ning.com for some inspiration. Bob Hawkinson created this network to promote his book, The Joy of Diabetes, while establishing a network for people suffering from Type 2 diabetes. Now take a look at the right side of the page at the “Ads by Google” box. See how all the ads are relevant to anyone who may be a member of this network. Coincidence? I think not. Ning, like Facebook, uses metatags to link ads with keywords. Not to mention, Ning makes it really easy to utilize Google ads. Sign up with Google Ads and Ning and watch your ads popup on other networks related to your own. Also, as you can tell by looking at the site, it doesn’t take much to manage. Members will start to run the site for you. Everyone has stories and opinions that they want heard; and while Bob Hawkinson remains pretty active, forums and discussions are being created by all members. Online platforms give users the opportunity to create highly active networks and a large audience for advertising.
Another interesting technique being used by some companies is the use of a support page or support site to complement their preexisting websites. Sometimes these sites have little to do with their main website or resemble little of their main page’s interface and design. Yet, these pages generate a lot of activity and create the foundations not only for support and networking, but advertising. Take a look at www.arimidex.com.This is a webpage that advertises a drug called Arimidex, a therapy for postmenopausal women in the early stages of breast cancer developed by AstraZeneca. The site features a “celebration chain” application that allows users to create Window’s Paint quality dolls of themselves or a loved one who has been diagnosed with breast cancer. Then they share their dolls story by selecting words that describe whomever the doll is representing. These profiles are then not simply read but demonstrated in quick 2-dimensional animations. And as much as I enjoyed watching Mickey J., whose creator forgot to put pants on her, go through animations like lifting a car (for strength) or playing fetch with a dog (for dog lover), there was something very sentimental about skimming across the chain and visually experience these people’s stories and see all of the communal support. The website has at least 18,000 users “hugging” and supporting each other just a few scrolls away from a lower section containing 348 words providing information about Arimidex. Not only are they using the page to advertise, they are gaining publicity and promoting activity by stating that every doll made will raise one dollar to be donated toward breast cancer research.
Although I would like to say that I can write about social networking without mentioning Facebook, I’m afraid there is simply no avoiding it-and for good reason. Facebook functions as one of the most accessible development platforms for any programmer. Some pharmaceutical companies have already taking advantage of the world’s largest social network for their e-marketing efforts. Nasonex developed a Facebook application called Don’t Blow It that features a comical nose character by the name of Ronnie Nose-hut hut. It’s a simple flash game that educates the players about allergens as they navigate each level collecting objects while dodging abnormally aggressive pollen and dust mite obstacles. But hey, if you happen to bump into a walking bottle of nasal spray or a friendly ENT doctor, you are granted immunity from the allergenic assailants for about five seconds. The game really utilizes the gimmick of Ronnie, especially in between levels when he tells jokes about having a date with an ear, speaking through his nostril mouth. Ronnie definitely draws an audience, and like the Arimidex celebration chain, Nasonex encourages activity by promising to plant a low-allergenic tree in America for every new player to register. At the end of the game they even have an offer for a $15 coupon for Nasonex products. The rest of the application page is filled with information about Nasonex and allergies. If you can’t wait to poke your nose around the game, go straight to www.dontblowit.com.
Although quirky and sometimes even campy, using applications in conjunction with a social network effectively raises site activity, generates an audience, and gets the point across. Creating a high-traffic social network can be as easy as 1-2-3 by implementing one of the many development platforms readily available on the web. Some other development platforms not previously mentioned include the Google Apps Engine and Amazon Web Services. By adding more to your e-marketing campaign, users will forget that you are trying to sell them behind your efforts of establishing community. Applications that are engaging and interactive will bring you a whole new perspective on successful online advertising.
Originally a web article on PharmPro.