August 26, 2016 By FTI Consulting
The pricing of pharmaceutical products in the US has seen a number of companies come under fire over the last year or so. The latest is Mylan, the maker of EpiPens, an epinephrine injector used to reverse allergic reactions. Those needing EpiPens have noticed the prices rising in recent years, creating a financial strain for many, including parents as children head back to school. One customer, whose husband uses EpiPens decided to start a petition online, sharing it with her Facebook friends. Soon, the petition had over 80,000 signatories and prompted over 121,000 letters to be sent to Congress protesting at what was seen as unfair pricing for a drug that some people needed to survive. The petition spread to social media groups and forums for parents with allergic children, gaining the visibility of authors and online influencers, who helped the campaign surge forward, eventually resulting in Mylan boosting its coupon and assistance programmes to make its products more affordable. The New York Times has captured the narrative of the campaign, detailing how the news spread on social media and the roles of channels and influencers. It’s worth a look as a textbook case on how social media translates into real activism and places companies under significant pressure.
Even though they are interested in the opportunities of engaging on social media, some companies we talk to are shy about building a presence in the space. One reason is because they think their business isn’t interesting or their brand/audience isn’t modern enough to generate interest online. We don’t buy this. And there’s good reason not to. A handful of brands have entirely turned around their image using social media. GE’s combination of GE Reports (its blog), creative campaigns and emphasis on social media distribution has helped change the image of the company from a lightbulb producer to a complex and dynamic innovation machine. Similarly, National Geographic was all but forgotten until it made a big play to feature on Snapchat’s Discover and started leveraging engaging imagery on Instagram, engaging millennials it otherwise might have missed completely.
But what’s key here is that you don’t need to lower a sensor into a volcano or deploy nature photographers around the world to get some positive engagement on social media and start to guide conversations about your brand. This week we came across a great example from the New York Public Library. Yes, a library. The New York Public Library deployed a Twitter bot on the account @NYPLEmoji. Users are invited to tweet an emoji at the bot. The bot then scrambles through the NYPL’s digital archive of images and sends one in a response. This is really simple but gives the library a unique presence on social media. The account has been live for a few short months and already cranked out around 8,000 replies and has just shy of 3,000 followers. Who’d have guessed?
It’s been a strangely long time since we talked about the US election but with Mr Brexit meeting Mr Brexit this week we figured we’d give it a look in. And lo and behold…more to talk about! This time, it’s off the back of an investigation by the Associated Press into campaign staffers. The AP found that a number of Donald Trump’s paid campaign staff had published posts with racist or discriminatory messaging. While this has been somewhat overshadowed by the myriad headlines about the Trump campaign, it’s the kind of thing that companies should be looking out for, ensuring that they aren’t unknowingly linked to unsavoury views. Strong employee guidelines can help, as well as a thorough vetting of internal stakeholders and external influencers/brand advocates. Did I mention those are things we can help with?
BuzzFeed to separate into news and entertainment units [FT]
Twitter’s new button lets you accept private messages from your website [TechCrunch]
How British brands are using Facebook Live [Digiday]
WhatsApp plans to let businesses onto its service before the end of the year [TechCrunch]
Apple is creating its own Snapchat, says Bloomberg [The Verge]
Snapchat is about to explode in popularity, report says [Mashable]
For anyone who has tried to cancel a service contract, this one’s for you.