Faisal AhmedFaisal Ahmed is Head of digital at Life Healthcare Communications and a co-founder of Digitally Sick, a podcast focussed on the use of digital in the pharmaceutical industry. We spoke to him about his hopes for the industry this year, and the potential in pharma for social networking and bookmarking site, Pinterest.

What was your pharmaceutical marketing highlight in 2011? 

We've taken some great steps this year, with integrated campaigns such as Questival for sufferers with haemophilia, however we haven't seen much movement on social media campaigns. Psoriasis 360 was the only stand out campaign, however it has been a great year for empathetic campaigns, with more agencies bringing a consumer focus to their work.

What do you think is going to be the major game-changer in pharmaceutical marketing in 2012? 

In my opinion an update to the ABPI Code of Practice about digital is needed. Hopefully this year they will tour all the Pharmaceutical companies and have a Q&A with medics and brand teams – education in the industry is increasingly needed around digital.

What are you personally most looking forward to in the industry in 2012?  

I'm hoping for an integrated approach, where the customer, patients or HCPs are at the heart of the campaign. It should be something that will add value to their lives.

There's a lot of buzz about the increasing popularity of Pinterest as a social media platform. How do you imagine such a visual tool can fit into pharmaceutical marketing, if at all?  

Faisal Ahmed

Pininterest has grown massively over the last few months and is another great to tool to share our interests. I can see it being used in disease awareness campaigns, showing hard hitting images, or using it to show break out diseases - just imagine if it could be integrated with google healthcare trends! 
There's a standout site every year: 2011 was Pinterest, 2010 was Quora and 2012 will see Tumblr being used more. But the key to great marketing is to never stop thinking like your audience. Understanding the role your brand plays in people's lives and knowing how to make it more relevant is crucial especially in today's environment. An app, website, or iPad detailing aid may not be the best answer for you. But don't just worry about "keeping up with the Joneses" - look at what they're doing and go the other way!