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Bonus Focus - Social Media in Life Sciences


By Shaliya Khan

Learning and development organizations understand the value in social learning and have started adopting social technologies into learning apps and platforms. Life sciences companies were comparatively slow adopters because of the regulatory constraints and absence of FDA guidelines.


However the industry couldn’t wait longer, as social media became a way of life rapidly. Companies developed their own social media guidelines instead of waiting for the FDA guidelines and started implementing social learning. There have been industry-wide developments and the final guidelines from the FDA are expected anytime soon.


Let’s look at some of the industry trends and best practices.


1.       Social is here to stay

While the rapid adoption of social in various functions can be mistaken as a passing trend, it is irrefutable that social media can be applied to almost any technology that could involve interactions among people. A social component—like a share, like or comment button—can be added to any IT-enabled application suggesting limitless usage.


2.       Social empowers users

Most of the technologies with social features allow content creation, including archiving and retrieving information. Instead of those few that produce content, social media can extend the power sharing equation. Everyone has the access to share information that is relevant to the users.


3.       Social provides insight

Social technologies can capture the usage patterns and structure of interactions among individuals that provide a deeper understanding of personal preferences, circles, connections which can help in unlocking behavior patterns that help hiring, retention and performance related assessments.


Best Practices

To leverage social technologies and unleash collaborative practices among users and enable new relationships and group dynamics, there needs to be some overarching guiding principles. Most organizations that are using social technologies effectively had users who realized the potential of using this technology in dealing with a real business problem. Like the un-conference format to allow radical ideas to organically develop, hashtags and tweets bring forth a pressing topic and the template for Wikipedia article format that was identified, recommended and accepted as standards in social media.


1.       Establishing common rules for sharing information

While sharing of information is known to aid collaboration, irrelevant, false, inflammatory and derogatory content can affect motivation. It would be helpful to have hard definitions for valuable information, as well as consensus about protocol. These guidelines will promote objectivity and relevancy. 


2.       Powering Social Media platforms and tools with data-analytics engines

To glean impactful insights, social systems should be able to map the usage patterns of both learners and networks. This information can be used during performance assessments while doing potential mapping.


3.       Collaborating with learners to make relevant content for training

Social technologies can also help in co-creation of content with learners, understanding applicability against real-life scenarios, both inside and outside of the organization. This will provide the leadership with insight required to create content that is both relevant as efficient.

Shaliya Khan is a marketer and managing partner at White Ideas Media. Email her at

Advancing Global Life Sciences Learning
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