A beginner’s guide to digital pharma: part 8 – emerging channels

Faisal Ahmed and Paul Tunnah


Continued from “A beginner’s guide to digital pharma: part 7 – YouTube

Over the last few months we’ve covered off the leading social networking sites that can be used both at home and at work. However, new ideas are always springing up in the digital space and before we move on we just wanted to give you a quick round up of our favourite emerging sites out there that are both popular and useful.


Let’s start off with Quora, which is growing in reputation and has been featured heavily in the news recently. It’s basically a crowdsourcing website and a great place for asking questions within the business community. However, Quora is much more than just YAHOO! Answers on steroids, due to some nifty social sharing features and the fact that it’s managed to get some pretty cool people answering questions (such as Mark Zuckerberg – the founder of Facebook for those who live on Mars).


“…Quora is much more than just YAHOO! Answers on steroids…”


Simply log into http://www.quora.com/ using your Twitter or Facebook details and start inviting your friends or ask questions straight away by using the box at the top of the screen. You can also find and answer questions, simply by typing in a subject in the box at the top of the page and all questions are categorised so you can quickly find your areas of interest.

In addition, you can vote up or down other people’s answers or even comment on other answers. It’s great for starting a discussion and getting peoples opinion and Quora already has lots of healthcare related questions being answered, so Quora is a must for the pharma industry.


Ning.com has been around for a few years now and was set up by the American entrepreneur Marc Andreessen, the man widely credited with creating the web browser as he was co-designer of Mosaic. Ning is the world’s largest platform for creating social websites and is used by marketeers, enthusiasts, authors, artists and actors to name but a few groups. It’s basically like creating your own Facebook.

You can edit the site to create your own branding, invite friends and colleagues to share content with them, upload videos, photos and other media types. In addition, you can create groups, events and blogs. For example, here’s a network we found on healthcare:


In business terms, Smart cars has a very cool Ning social network:


Faisal has been building brand Ning networks for many years now, so if you have any specific questions around how it’s done just get in touch through Twitter @sickonthenet.


“Ning is the world’s largest platform for creating social websites and is used by marketeers, enthusiasts, authors, artists and actors to name but a few…”



Another great site is www.meetup.com/. Meetup is the world’s largest network of local social and business groups and a great starting point for anyone looking to organise a new place for local people with like-minded interests to get together. But if you don’t fancy starting your own group, then just join one of the thousands that have already been set up, many of which hold regular face-to-face meetings.

You can login via your Facebook details (spot the trend here for effective social sites!) and then simply type in your topic of interest in the search box to find other people with the same interest, or click on ‘Start a Meetup Group’ to create our own new group.

When you come back to log in to Meetup once registered it will automatically display events near where you live as a default, so you’ve got no excuse for sitting behind that computer all day – get out and be social!


Another popular site at the moment is www.hashable.com/beta. Hashable allows you to make introductions and capture your connections into a public social profile. This service makes introductions easier and facilitates a simple way of tracking your connections and interactions. You can quickly make introductions via email or twitter and keep an eye on who in your network is connecting with others, so it’s a great business tool.

When you visit the site you can log in using you Twitter or Facebook details (spot that trend again) and start creating your network. Also, make sure you download the Hashable app to your phone so you can keep connected on the move.


“…there are so many new sites and amazing tools coming out that can help us communicate in business that this article could easily be ten times longer!”


So there you go – a very brief snapshot of a few emerging sites of interest. To be honest, there are so many new sites and amazing tools coming out that can help us communicate in business that this article could easily be ten times longer! However, we hope you find the above sites useful in helping make new connections, market your brand or simply keep in touch with friends or colleagues.

But tell us what you find useful and what other sites you think people should know about by adding your comments below. And, as always, if you have any questions just drop us a tweet @pharmaphorum.

Read part 9 – “Apps!” here

About the authors:

Faisal Ahmed is one of a handful of people in the UK that has been involved with digital for over 14 years, providing digital thought leadership to some of the biggest brands globally, also contributing to some of the best-selling books on digital, having been part of the start-up team at Amazon, defining how we shop online. Faisal has launched digital strategies for 90 football Clubs, the ECB and WRC. He also launched Playboy’s mobile and social media platforms in 2006 and one of the first online social networks. Over the last 2 years Faisal has been working in Healthcare winning over 15 awards and bringing to life both one of the first mobile apps and augmented reality in healthcare. Faisal is currently working at Life-Healthcare and can be found Tweeting here @sickonthenet and contacted on Linkedin here http://www.linkedin.com/in/ahmedfaisal.

Paul Tunnah is Founder and Managing Director of www.pharmaphorum.com, the dynamic online information and discussion portal for the pharmaceutical industry featuring news, articles, events / company listings and online discussion. For queries he can be reached through the site contact form or on Twitter @pharmaphorum.

What emerging channels do you find useful?