Science and technology meet the digital world

Michelle Gallaher co-founded The Social Science in 2014.

The Social Science social media consultancy helps STEMM organisations communicate their work to the world.

Michelle Gallaher, founder of The Social Science marketing consultancy, admits she came to social media “kicking and screaming” 10 years ago. At the time, she was chief executive of the BioMelbourne Network, a peak body for Victoria’s booming biotechnology sector. Gallaher knew that digital networking on Facebook and Twitter should be second nature to someone in the science sphere – but it wasn’t. It was time for her to upskill. 

She “made lots of mistakes starting out” but learned fast. “Twitter has been the most perfect resource for me,” she says. “I’ve never had a better relationship with politicians or journalists or investors. I’ve never read so deeply and so much.”

In 2013, with 25 years in healthcare and biotechnology behind her, Gallaher saw how her social media skills could power another enterprise. An ASX announcement advising listed companies to monitor social media sparked her idea. “It was like a starter’s gun,” she says. She immediately saw that the ASX Health Care Index – her home turf – was full of potential clients who needed a digital strategy to talk to investors on a global stage. 

In 2014 she and IT specialist Michael Avery launched The Social Science, a social media consultancy that works exclusively with groups in the STEMM industries – science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine. 

“My personal mission is to get the internet filled with clinicians and scientists … all creating fantastic content …”

In three years, they have helped more than 70 clients, including Neuroscience Trials Australia, the Melbourne School of Engineering, and Orthocell, a Perth-based company that is developing treatments to regenerate cartilage and tendons, and repair soft-tissue injuries.

The Social Science’s core team of six in Melbourne is a mix of digital natives and science veterans. “Everybody in our business has a STEMM qualification and background,” Gallaher explains. “That’s what makes us unique: we understand the concepts, the language, and the terminology. We also understand the regulatory, ethical and clinical impacts, and technology impacts of what we’re doing for clients.” 

Her clients operate in heavily regulated areas, and require expertise beyond “your average social media content creation agency,” says Gallaher. “You need somebody that really understands the language and the environment in which they operate.”

Creating content – including profiles, analysis, infographics, newsletters, video and podcasts – is a major part of the business. 

“We write carefully researched opinion leadership pieces for organisations, addressing emerging topics such as blockchain in clinical trials or research ethics,” says Gallaher. “Our knowledge of the sector, because it’s so deep and specific, means we’re able to deliver really detailed content.”

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The Social Science also provides social media training, and develops marketing strategies.

When Orthocell announced in November 2017 it had won European regulatory approval for its products, The Social Science ensured the news was picked up by biotech bloggers and social media influencers around the world. 

“Bloggers and influencers are very important these days,” says Gallaher. “They’re often analysts or subject matter experts (scientists, doctors or technology investors) and may have 20,000 followers or more. They are key opinion leaders in every way. Many send out opinion and analysis on companies regularly to their followers. It’s a group many listed companies are watching closely.” 

Gallaher, who was named 2017 Telstra Victorian Business Woman of the Year, sees herself as a brand advocate for experts in the STEMM fields. 

“My personal mission is to get the internet filled with clinicians and scientists and engineers and technologists all creating fantastic content, so when you do go to social media, you can find fabulous material that is reliable and very authentic and credible,” she says.

She points to the Australian Regenerative Medicine Institute, a stem-cell research institute in Melbourne. “Teaching their scientists how to use social media has been one of our biggest wins … I’m really proud of the fact that the director of the institute, who said he was never going to tweet, tweets. Even the chairman of the board tweets,” she says. “That’s what I would consider a 10-out-of-10 success.” 

ONE PIECE OF ADVICE

“Don’t leave it too late. I wish I’d had the confidence to jump in much earlier, because you’ve got less to lose when you’re younger.”

Read next: Are you getting the most from LinkedIn?


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February 2018
February 2018

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