Like many before me, I came to agency life from academia. Needless to say, I have found these worlds to be very different, but one area where I am experiencing considerable déjà vu is how both become entranced by technology’s siren song.

In the closing years of the 20th Century (ok, it was 1992), the scientific world was exploding with work performed with new molecular biology techniques. These were the days when new methods such as polymerase chain reaction (PCR) analysis and site-directed mutagenesis were getting into the hands of everyday researchers. They were so much fun to use! We spent a lot of time impressing one another by doing experiments that showed off the capabilities of the technology.

We in pharma marketing are now experiencing something eerily similar. A technology explosion has delivered us Twitter, Facebook, iPads, tablet PCs, smartphones, and an entire blogosphere. Each of these technologies is ripe for use as a tactical vehicle to achieve our brand objectives. Moreover, we are tripping over one another in a race to plant our flag in the social media space. (As an aside, there is still no guidance from the FDA on how social media can be used. Unfortunately, I am not convinced that we are using it correctly, and I am feeling that the rush to use social media is at the expense of useable content.)

New technologies are great, and they will help us achieve many goals, but they need to be used correctly. Let us resolve to tailor the content to the technology and not the other way around. Remember, the tag line for the New York Times is “All the News that’s Fit to Print” and not “All the News that Prints to Fit.” Here are three ideas for you to consider:

1. Brand messaging should be tailored to the media stream. As we say often, the one-size-fits-all approach does not work. Your grandmother is not likely to be on Twitter, but your 18-year-old niece can certainly communicate in 140 characters or less. If both are diabetics, you need to reach them in ways that mesh with their sensibilities and behaviors. This approach will increase the likelihood that your messages will be seen and understood.

2. When using social media, remember: EVERYONE is watching. In the old days, brand messages were found in medical journals, sales aids, and other vehicles that had restricted access. In the world of new technology, once the “Tweet” button is clicked, it’s out there for the world to see. At this point, anybody, including a competitor or just someone in a bad mood, can cause trouble if they want. The FDA’s Bad Ad program wants the public to report activities and messages that they consider false or misleading. You have been warned.

3. Make your audience want to learn MORE. Let’s be frank for a moment. You can say only so much in 140 characters. Thus, your brand’s presence in social media is only successful if it stimulates your target audience to learn more. It is that simple, and without it, you have missed a great opportunity to create a lasting relationship.

What has been your experience using social media? Are you looking before you leap? Please share your thoughts with us.

Ken is a great deal more than just the president of a medical communications company. He is something of a hybrid. He’s part marketing manager, part creative director, and part copywriter. To the chagrin of his peers—but to the delight of his clients—Ken is a consummate perfectionist. As a former creative director for a high-end consumer agency, he challenged his creative teams to go beyond the mundane to produce work with real creative impact, something he’s just as fervent about today. From producing and directing TV commercials, to launching DTC and Rx-to-OTC switches, Ken brings his clients a world of experience in OTC pharmaceuticals as well as business, lifestyle, and high-end consumer products and services. Whether huddled with clients behind a mirror in a market research center in Houston, facilitating a strategic workshop in Madrid, or developing a global campaign either in the New Jersey or California office, Ken is always fully engaged, bringing “bestness” to all areas of his hectic but full life.