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Welcome to the next post in a series celebrating leaders in social media strategy. These professionals are pioneers, laying the groundwork for future marketers. I’ve spoken with leaders in many industries but this is my first in pharmaceuticals! I am happy to introduce Sarah Nilson, Corporate Web Strategy Specialist at QuintilesIMS, a biopharma and healthcare data and privacy company. With a background in communications and public relations, Sarah has been at QuintilesIMS for almost three years now in several roles touching social media.

Journey to the healthcare industry

Welcome Sarah! Can you please share what brought you to where you are now, a social media leader in the healthcare industry?

If you asked me five years ago where I saw myself, I certainly would not have said leading social media in the healthcare industry. Before joining QuintileIMS (at the time known as Quintiles) in 2014 I spent most of my time in the nonprofit and start-up sector. My communications degree has a public relations concentration, but during my time in college I quickly picked up on the growing importance of social media in the world of communication and began to shift my focus to that area of communication. I also have a minor in nonprofit studies and have always been passionate about volunteering, which is why my resume is filled with names like Habitat for Humanity and children’s museums—but a few chance interactions made through networking pushed me into the world of start-ups and I ended up being the sole communications person for a sanitation/environmental engineering start-up company. I fell in love with “translating” complex scientific and health-related ideas into easily digestible content, which ultimately led me to the healthcare/biopharmaceuticals industry—a place with complex topics and an often lacking social media presence because of how heavily regulated the industry is.

Global center of excellence

Can you please describe your role/your team’s role within your organization?

I sit on the Enterprise Digital Team at QuintilesIMS, which is responsible for all company-wide digital properties. This includes our company public websites, intranet, SEO, social media, and more. While we work really closely as a team, my specific role is to monitor our brand reputation online through social listening and to manage all the global social media channels (Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Google+, Instagram, etc.). Since the merger in October 2016 my role has expanded to include training and creating a collaborative team with all digital marketers who manage regional social media channels for the company. The merger really expanded our social presence. Our team functions as a global center of excellence and I share the social media responsibilities with another colleague. I hold weekly office hours, monthly meetings, and more to communicate standard operating procedures and best practices. We want to make sure everyone feels connected even though we’re working from many distant locations. We are working to build a team-like experience for this larger group of people leading social media work around the world for QuintilesIMS.

Communication to executives

How do you communicate your work to executives at QuintilesIMS?

I’m fortunate that my direct supervisor, as the Senior Digital Strategy Director, has lots of opportunities for direct communication with executives, but we also compile quarterly reports as part of our overall media (traditional and social) reporting. In addition, we provide insights for multiple weekly newsletters, all-hands meetings, and more. The data that is shared with executives includes—follower growth, impressions and engagements, and conversions coming from social media. We also provide some details on response times for inbound comments and messages. Shares are very important to us and we share this data with executives as well. We are focusing on shares—trying to make our content valuable enough so our followers share it with their networks. Finally, we share our work at events—how social media is bringing in booth traffic and attendance at our sessions.

Merger campaign

Could you please share some details of a campaign you are proud of?

There are many events and disease awareness day campaigns that I’m proud to have been a part of, but most recently I’m very proud of the #MeetQuintilesIMS campaign that launched in parallel with the merger of our two legacy companies (Quintiles and IMS Health). Rebranding was a large exercise after our merger in October. We wanted our social followers to have a positive experience. The hashtag was something for employees and followers to watch and participate with as the companies came together. We are still integrating about 50 thousand employees in over 100 countries. This hashtag provides a story to be formed while the changes are taking place.

Thank you, Sarah, for sharing your experience as a leader in social media strategy! Please follow Sarah on Twitter and check out the QuintilesIMS social media channels too: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn.


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Hester Tinti-Kane

About Hester Tinti-Kane

Hester Tinti-Kane is Head of Social Media for Pearson North America. She is a frequent speaker, educator and consultant on social media and digital marketing. With speaker and author Mike Moran and Jeff Seaman, co-director of the Babson Survey Research Group, Hester has published several research papers on Social Media in Higher Education, examining how college faculty use social media in their personal and professional lives and in their teaching. Hester has also published research on teams and team leadership with a focus on communication. A proud Massachusetts native, she's a mom, a wife, a gardener and a volunteer for fantastic organizations like the Girl Scouts and Rosie's Place.

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