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Laura Kolodjeski on how Sanofi US created a patient-centered blog in a highly regulated industry

This is a post from my company,’s blog. Check it out for more profiles and stories about the people running social at really big brands.

This post features a case study by Director of Patient Insights, Laura Kolodjeski at our Member Meeting in Boston where she shared insights from Sanofi US’ content hub created for the diabetes community. Laura’s been a member since 2010.

You don’t need us to tell you that leading social media in a heavily regulated industry is difficult.

You can see it in Laura Kolodjeski’s opening slide in her presentation: A legal disclaimer saying the views of the presenter do not necessarily represent those of Sanofi US.

“I did say I worked in a regulated industry,” Laura laughs.

But despite the restrictions on social in the pharma industry, Sanofi US has a thriving diabetes community online.

In her case study presentation, Laura describes how their content hub, The Diabetes Experience, or “The DX,” has helped write the rules for pharma in social media. She says it all started when Sanofi US decided to make the center of their social strategy their patients — not their products.

We’re publishing content by the people, for the people. It’s not to market our products, but to enhance our overall value to our customers,” Laura says.

What does that look like? A blog full of original and curated content on anything from nutrition and fitness to relationships and lifestyle.

“It had never been done before for pharma, because anything we publish has a very stringent review process and content has to be vetted,” Laura explains. “It took a lot of conversations with our stakeholders to make sure they understood the vision, the purpose, and why we were asking to do something like this.”

Laura says they’re extremely proactive about finding the right content.

“We created The DX to offer a place for the community to engage around life and the aspect of that life with diabetes. We did not want it to be about diabetes, and we certainly did not want it to be about diabetes treatments,” she says.

To curate that content, they take a creative approach to listening. Laura says search data and unmet queries tell them a lot about what information patients are looking for. Laura’s team also keeps in close touch with patient advocates and online communities to understand more about caregivers and healthcare providers.

“And what we don’t hear through social listening, we ask.”

For The DX’s original content, Sanofi US looks to big influencers in the diabetes community like journalists, bloggers, and dieticians. They help create expert content from several areas of diabetes as well as connect Sanofi US to their own social followers.

Laura says, “It’s an amazing way to build relationships with your key influencers. As they’re writing for you, you’re building a very personal connection over time.”

Laura says her team’s favorite question is “Why?”

She explains how they’ve been able to push into new territory in social media and do groundbreaking work because they’re willing to ask questions when they’re told “no.”

“We respect our other stakeholders. They’re there to assess risk and ensure that we’re compliant,” Laura says, “But if you keep asking why, ultimately, you might get to a point where you can compromise or shape the conversation.”

Say hi to Laura on Twitter or check out the video of her full Member Meeting presentation here.

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