When corporate executives become digital leaders, they create opportunities to become industry influencers.
That's just what happened to LEO Pharma's Canadian executive team. Over the course of five months, InTune Communications was engaged by LEO Pharma, assisting in the hiring of a social media community manager, establishing their Canadian social media presence, and most importantly, working directly with the CEO and six Vice Presidents, helping them to create new opportunities that come from leading conversations on social media networks in LEO Pharma's key therapeutic areas of dermatology and thrombosis.
Success would be measured by our collective ability to transfer LEO Pharma's patient-centric culture onto digital networks. We wanted to demonstrate to the world what #BeingLEO really means: committing each and every day to improving the quality of life for patients. It means sharing the belief that when you put patients first, the business will follow.
Earlier this year, I spoke to eyeforpharma contributor Adam Hill about our positive experience working with LEO Pharma, and why Digital Leadership is important for all #pharma leaders. I'm pleased to share the column below, which was originally published on the eyeforpharma website."Social media guru Hilary Carter on what it takes to stand out online.
By Adam Hill
Making yourself stand out online, particularly in pharma, is a challenge. Regulatory strictures, ethical concerns, plus the very human worry of getting it wrong and appearing stupid – all of these create barriers.
This is true for individuals, and so it goes for companies. It is a common complaint that pharma is not present in, or engaged with, patient conversations online: pharma firms are understandably cautious about engagement which could land them in hot water.
Hilary Carter admits to some frustration with this – but she is also full of understanding for people’s worries. A social media expert, she was put in touch with LEO Pharma Canada’s Vice President of Human Resources and Communications, Kim Stoddart, who had been charged with hiring a social media community manager for the Canadian organization. Stoddart wanted to make sure she had a thorough understanding of the digital landscape’s requirements, in order to find the best talent.
Carter immersed herself in LEO Pharma’s culture and carried out a competitive analysis of social media activity in its key areas of thrombosis and dermatology. From this, she established who was active in what channels, identified what presence they had online, and made recommendations to LEO Pharma about where it should be positioning itself.
“Part of this was helping the executive team understand why this area was so vital for their business,” she explains. “Social media communications are much more effective when senior managers lead the conversation, for example, the CEO. When everyone leads the conversation at the executive level there is a trickle down in advocacy: you get the reps, medical and scientific affairs people, and other team members excited – it’s very, very powerful.”
Carter believes that a phrase coined by McKinsey, Digital Quotient (DQ), is the key here. DQ is the measure of how mature an organization is in digital terms and looks at its ability to be competitive in an age of disruptive change. There is a second element: DQ also refers to how digitally-adept senior managers are, and whether they can use these skills to transform their organizations.
She told LEO Pharma’s executives that it would make sense to become more active on Twitter, familiarizing themselves with what was possible. “When you’re a leader, you have responsibilities such as team building, sharing your core values, leadership style, and humanity,” she continues. “That conveys a message that’s accessible and gets people lining up to work with you, and excited to go to work every day. It means that you create pipelines of talent and retain the talent that you have – it’s a cost saver over time.”
Carter was delighted to find that the leadership team embraced her ideas. “Everyone got on board and was ready to support it,” she explains. LEO Pharma globally already had a presence on Twitter but Carter set up social media accounts for Canada with consistent branding, including getting the executive team onto Twitter and improving their LinkedIn profiles. The idea, she says, was to “transfer LEO Pharma’s culture, mission, and vision and run that through their profiles: they have a wonderful story to tell and I encouraged them to share that culture on LinkedIn”.
Getting execs set up is one thing – actually seeing them use social media in a telling manner is something else. “You have to create behavior change and that comes from ignition and inspiration,” Carter says.
In July 2015, Lee Ferreira, Vice President of the Thrombosis business unit at LEO Pharma in Canada, had no Twitter presence. “But she took the initiative to lead the conversation about DVT [deep vein thrombosis] and VTE [venous thromboembolism],” she goes on. “I have been totally humbled by her leadership on the network.”
Within a few months of joining Twitter, Ferreira received recognition for creating awareness of thrombosis risks and prevention strategies in conjunction with World Thrombosis Day in October last year. She ranked second on the list of individual influencers. Meanwhile, Kathy Foris, Vice President Scientific Affairs, was already a “fluent” Twitter user, but “she ran with it”, Carter recalls. Foris was ranked fourth.
“They dominated the conversation, and went above and beyond what the company could do on its own,” she suggests. Within the last few months, Ferreira has been very engaged on Twitter and connected with a thrombosis patient. Through their interactions, she connected him with Thrombosis Canada and now he is partnering with them as their patient ambassador!
That was in thrombosis but Carter is convinced that any therapy area is open to being enhanced in this way. “Without question,” she says. “Some will choose to lead and some will not but you can share the same message across a number of pharma companies: if you have the right culture, if employees are treated and supported, then the culture trickles down.”
Carter does not deny there is an inherent risk in letting anyone loose on social media but said it was crucial that Stoddart trusted her team. “Everyone had the freedom to try,” she recalls. “You make mistakes for a week or two but you figure it out. She supported them all the way.”
There are innocent errors such as typos, and it takes a while to learn how content looks when it is in harsh relief on social media. “But everybody had the savvy not to post anything inappropriate,” she adds. “Don’t leave it in the hands of one person – then the message amplifies. No wonder LEO Pharma are running with it. They have a good handle on what the trends are and what is good for patients. There are always stories and the team has been consistently storytelling.”
Carter concludes with a warning. “It’s shocking how few C-suite teams understand the importance of DQ to their personal and corporate brand – that’s not a professionally-appropriate response anymore.”
Thanks for sharing our story, Adam. And to everyone at LEO Pharma, thanks for sharing your patient-centric mission & vision on social media networks.
Yours in digital,