We recently held a webinar in conjunction with PharmaVoice entitled, “Boost Your Med Ed Strategy by Engaging Digital Opinion Leaders.” If you haven’t already, please watch the entire webinar here. Featuring Dr. Tauseef Ali, Dr. Roxana Daneshjou, Dr. Gil Morgan, and moderated by our CEO, Arun Divakaruni, PhD, it was a lively discussion on how pharma and the wider medical community can harness the power of social media to increase engagement, further the conversation, and ultimately improve patient care. The following is a lightly edited Q&A session we held at the end of the webinar, where our panelists answered audience questions.
What is new on social media that you are most excited about? What should we be thinking about going into the future, things that we may have not seen in the past?
Dr. Ali: So, what I’m most excited about is the engagement through all these social media platforms, creating a new and innovative way to get our peers as well as patients and public engaged. Whether this is through new social media or through some older, relatively older social media platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, and ResearchGate. There are many social media platforms available, we just need to see what is the best for a certain target audience and then start using them more often. I think speaker programs will probably go away and will be replaced by engagement through social media. I think we just need to be prepared for that. I look forward to seeing how industry will collaborate and create the content on these platforms so that we can have our voice delivered more effectively to public and to the patients.
Dr. Daneshjou, are you planning anytime soon to leverage your following on Twitter onto a different platform?
Dr. Daneshjou: I made a TikTok and I am embarrassed to say that I made a couple of videos and then decided—it’s a lot—social media is a lot of work. I feel like I’ve gotten to the point where I understand Twitter. It’s no longer work for me, I can just do it, and I know what I’m doing. It doesn’t take that much time. As you mentioned, I’m a researcher and a scientist, and just don’t have the hours in the day. I actually didn’t join Twitter to gain this kind of following. I actually joined it because when I was doing my PhD, many of the genetics community was on there and I wanted to be there to read and learn from the community. I now do more machine learning research, but it’s the same thing. I’m mostly on there to learn from the community.
When I first started my derm training there weren’t many dermatologists on there, and now there’s a vibrant dermatology community. We have journal clubs. We recently had a journal club last week reading a bunch of papers on climate change and dermatology. Unfortunately, the derm community on Twitter only really started to take off as the pandemic hit. We didn’t have the opportunity to see the kind of engagement that I’m used to seeing at other types of conferences. So what’s really fun for me is when you’re at an academic conference and get to tweet about the talks that you’ve seen. I would do that by myself with no engagement because there weren’t many people from the dermatology community on Twitter.
But now there’s a very vibrant community and I’m excited for the next American Academy of Dermatology conference because I’ll be able to live tweet talks and tag the speakers in the tweets and get engagement from fellow dermatologists and that sort of thing. I think that kind of creates a fun ecosystem where even if you’re not at the talk, you can get talks happening concurrently. But if you have enough people, you get access to the information that was shared at research talks that you were not even at.
Dr. Morgan, what do you think the role of social is in making sure that you have a strong community of oncologists, not only in terms of sharing information, but as a support network for your colleagues?
Dr. Morgan: The American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) normally hosts 40,000 people, and then you have the European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO), which is around 25-27,000 people in the same congress room. So, these are our two biggest societies and the two biggest meetings. We’re used to these large meetings and this wonderful sense of camaraderie, as are all our other colleagues. Once the pandemic hit, of course that kind of died down. But I think a lot of us were already on Twitter. A lot of the people that are driving the conversation were in Twitter before the pandemic. And that only got us tighter, at least as that group. And as newer people started to come in, it actually allowed them to have a bigger voice, because everybody was very comfortable with each other.
All of a sudden you can talk to these people with a large presence and influence in oncology, these people that were just bigger than life, or at least to me. And then later, by the end of the year, they’re your friends. These are people that you talk to on the daily, not only about oncology, but about personal stuff. So, that sense of community continues to grow.
Now, what I am very excited about is hybrid meetings. The European Society for Medical Oncology had a hybrid meeting where only the presenters were in pairs and it was broadcasted. I’m very interested to see how this is going to develop into a hybrid where only a few people can be there. However, those questions are coming in via social media, because if you incorporate these two things, I think it’s going be a very enjoyable situation. And I think we’ve just become very at ease at asking questions with social media. Because it’s just a lot easier to just put it out there. So, to have that sense of, I can ask anything in a big congress from more people, I think will actually open up the floor. It will lead to better discussion and really a wonderful environment, so I’m really looking forward to that.