Novartis: Elevating Novartis’ social media reputation: A case study in mHealth — Live from Member Meeting 31

Coverage of this session by Laura Berrones of Connect with her by following her on Twitter.

3:50 —'s Lauren Clevenger introduces Novartis' Associate Director of Social Media Strategies, Melissa Mackey.

3:51 — Melissa: I'm here to talk about how we innovated and elevated our social strategy. I'm the only presenter with a Disclaimer slide (due to being a highly regulated pharma company).

3:53 — Melissa explains what they face as a regulated company: the FDA, a global group of shareholders, and the social media platforms themselves. However, obstacles in social media and conservative mindsets are not limited solely to pharma companies, airlines, banks, and insurance companies have issues too.

3:55 — Melissa talks about how they leveraged an innovative offline event to generate social media buzz called a Hackathon,

3:57 — Melissa: First we needed to create ownership over a hashtag: #NovartismHealth. We used an event publication that included social sharing to spread the word. We then created a social sharing policy and made sure that everything was very easy to use and share.

3:58 — Melissa asks, “What if the user is sharing proprietary information? How do we make sure we have full transparency on everything that is happening?”

4:00 — Melissa: We made sure to have a large on-site team to help look at content and listen to the things that were being shared at the event.

4:02 — Melissa shares a hand-drawn infographic by one of the employees on site (can be found on Novartis' Pinterest board). “Every person at the event followed the social policies set in place.”

4:04 — For internal and external promotion, they created a “mHealth Challenge and social buzz” video at

4:05 — Melissa shares some key takeaways:

  • Maximize social potential of offline events to impact overall brand reputation
  • Communicate success in a visual manner both internally and externally
  • Be a good partner
  • Prepare for anything… it's social

Q & A:

Q: With the lawyers checking and approving tweets, were they approving or giving guidance?

A: Melissa: The legal team working on local team and on the global team did not filter or give guidance. We simply asked not to share any proprietary information and how to share publicly.

Q: Can you talk a little bit about the U.S. hashtag?

A: Melissa: Direct to consumer social is not permitted outside of the U.S. All of our tweets need to include U.S.-only hashtags.

Q: I'm fascinated with legal compliance being on-site — do you find them being savvy with social?

A: Melissa: We are very fortunate to have them dedicated to drive innovation. We made sure to educate the lawyers in the beginning so that they were really excited and fascinated to be there to help. It also helped to educate how quickly this all can happen.

Q: Timeliness channel, how do you set up a process that allows you to be nimble and responsive while being able to review as well?.

A: Melissa: It's definitely a work in progress. We can't sit on the sidelines, but if we are going to be in social, we've worked with our teams to constantly refine our rules.

Q: What would you do differently if you did it again?

A: Melissa: Have more pre-event buzz, have a higher volume of chatter, and been more aggressive at the start.

Q: Social command center? Any lessons learned or insights as to how you set it up?

A: Meliss: We set them up for health conferences and made sure to have a large amount of people working around the clock. We had total visibility to triage anything and everything that could potentially happen. We were very strategic about how we did it and was set up the day before.