Pharma marketing may be slowly moving into a more digitalized space, but there’s still room for improvement – especially when it comes to social media. It’s still somewhat of an untapped territory for pharma marketers.
According to a study by Pew Research, a third of the adult US population turns to the internet to learn about a medical condition. What’s more, the same study shows 90% of people aged 18-24 trust medical information or engage with health activities on social media.
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Unfortunately, the majority of pharmaceutical companies are yet to answer these consumer habits with a strong digital presence.
If you’re a pharma marketing specialist, don’t be a part of the negative statistics. Join me as we explore the list of 7 key social media hacks you can utilize today to maximize your pharma marketing efforts.
#1 Invest in employee advocacy
For most companies that want to better connect with their target audience, social media is the logical choice. But, for many pharmaceutical firms, merely establishing a social media presence on all relevant platforms poses a challenge.
Considering all the benefits social media provides business-wise, amongst which building brand awareness is the essential one, it should be the go-to means of B2C communication.
Interestingly, consumers love to see who are the people behind the brand.
Marketing charts data shows 7 in 10 consumers feel more connected with a brand whose CEO is active on social media or whose employees share information on social media.
This is something Novartis does great. If you scroll through their Twitter profile, you’ll notice their employees are constantly featured in their content. Be it promoting their success or activities in various campaigns and initiatives.
There’s one example that particularly caught my eye which really emphasizes the effectiveness of this type of content, and it’s the video in which Novartis’ Chief Digital Officer Bertrand Bodson shares his personal experience with malaria.
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Coming from a real person, the message grants itself to be more effective. Although I don’t have any experience with malaria, I believe someone who does would connect with Bodson’s story far more than a generic ad, for instance. But that’s the power of storytelling in pharma marketing. You’re not just selling a product, you’re telling a story your customers can relate to.
People tend to trust other people more than advertisements or corporate brand communication, so showcasing your employees and giving them a voice is likely to resonate positively with your audience.
What’s more, this is all further proved by 2021 Edelman’s Trust Barometer study. The study has shown that a company technical expert and the CEO were second and fourth, respectively, on a list of the most credible sources of information (academic experts and peers rounding up the top four list).
Thus, social media is a great platform not only to provide information and educate consumers about your products or services but also to communicate your brand values and company culture.
These aspects will give potential consumers even more reasons to connect with your brand, as well as build a brand image of a company that cherishes its employees.
Another great example of this is Pfizer. They’ve gone a step further and even created a company hashtag that their employees and the general public can use when talking about them or matters related to them: #sciencewillwin.
Their employees and sponsorship partners, among others, have used it:
#2 Use pharma influencer marketing on a smaller scale
Over the past few years, influencer marketing has become a force to be reckoned with. It’s proven to be highly lucrative for almost any industry.
The Influencer Marketing Hub reports businesses are making $5.20 for every $1 spent on influencer marketing, while the top 13% make 20$ or more.
Regardless, influencer marketing isn’t necessarily smooth sailing in the world of pharma. Due to numerous regulations and restrictions, advertising pharmaceutical products tends to be more challenging (just ask Kim Kardashian).
However, that doesn’t mean it’s not effective when done right.
Other than collaborating with celebrities, small and micro-influencers can be a great choice. In fact, they provide an even greater ROI. Their audiences might be smaller but are very loyal and engaged. In the case of pharma influencer marketing, the ideal ambassadors are people who are personally involved in the issue.
Following suit, Merck is an example of a brand that partnered with celebrity influencer Mandy Moore, as well as influencers with smaller followings, such as dentist and photographer Tiffany Nguyen and rock climber Emily Harrington on their Her Life. Her Adventures. campaign.
Notice how in the post description, Harrington explains her personal connection to the initiative. That is exactly what people seek for someone:
- whose experience mirrors their own
- who is authentic and transparent in their approach
- who people can relate to on a personal level, as their lifestyles might have been affected or changed in a similar manner due to a medical concern.
People are more trusting towards influencers who they feel have a valid reason to sponsor a certain product and can easily empathize with. It’s all about storytelling and creating an emotional connection with the audience.
That’s why you should look for people that are actually relevant to an advertised subject and respected in their areas. Doctors, nutritionists, fitness experts, even patient associations and support groups. Connect with those who have braved various diseases and medical issues and give them a voice.
If you’re unsure where to start, check out our guide on how to find the ideal micro-influencer for your brand.
#3 Implement video in your pharma marketing efforts
Video marketing should be a no-brainer on this list. Experienced marketers report video has the highest ROI of all content formats. It would be a misconception to think video can’t also be used in pharma marketing.
Viewers retain 95% of the message when watching a video. In comparison, text has a retention rate of merely 10%.
Patients want to take in as much relevant information as possible in a short time. If that content is also entertaining, it will surely lock in their eyes on the message.
That is exactly where video content excels. Short video forms quickly capture the viewer’s attention and deliver easily digestible information.
Explainer videos are a popular way of accomplishing this.
They are short and concise, meant to simplify a complex subject. In fact, for 97% of businesses, explainer videos help their customers understand their products better.
For instance, Hims thrives on this. Their audience is men, which is a market segment often reluctant to engage when it comes to sensitive health issues. Combine that with conditions like erectile dysfunction and receding hairlines – and sensitivity becomes more pronounced.
Just recently, they’ve published a video in which they explain the benefits of their hair loss treatment in a very simple way – with and without Hims. Check it out below.
It really highlights the ease of using their product, as opposed to traditional means of treating hair loss. You really wouldn’t convey the same message this effectively if you tried to tell the same story through text.
Video content is great as it can be easily used and reused, as well as tailored and targeted to the right audience.
Furthermore, your audience is not always only patients and potential customers.
Physicians themselves spend around three hours a week watching videos, and they prefer watching videos as opposed to reading medical publications or listening to rehashed data from a sales rep. Additionally, 49% of physicians who watch online videos state that it influences their clinical decision.
#4 Take advantage of various content formats
Content repurposing is not just a buzzword. It’s certainly not merely recycling your existing content – more so reformatting it. And there’s a variety of options for that in pharmaceutical marketing.
The main factor in repurposing content it’s that it’s evergreen. There’s not much sense in updating an old drug guideline. But, what pharma marketers can do is base on something actual and create various formats to best suit various social media platforms.
If you get creative, there is an abundance of ways content can be tailored to the right channel. Hint: if you’re lacking inspiration with your marketing efforts, check out these 10 campaigns that reinvent pharma marketing.
You should also consider using webinar software to hold a podcast or a webinar. Then, you could upload it to YouTube, for instance. Here’s such an example of a webinar by Pfizer’s VP of External Research Solutions dr. Richard Connel. It’s available on YouTube to be discovered by audiences that might prefer this platform over others.
That same webinar can then be shortened and further edited to a teaser or an explainer video that highlights the most important facts and be shared across social media.
Facebook, for instance, has numerous options that perform well. Videos are, as already mentioned, a great option in itself, but Facebook takes them to another level.
The advantage is that videos that appear on users’ timelines start automatically. If you manage to capture their attention in a very few seconds, they are likely to stick around even if they had no intention of watching such a video in the first place.
And that’s just one option.
You can repurpose a blog to create videos and make infographics based on it. Gather a number of blog posts on a certain topic and make a guide. Reuse your slideshows and create visuals. The possibilities depend solely on your creativity.
#5 Automate answering social media inquiries
As mentioned earlier, having a digital presence is a must in the eyes of today’s consumers. Being available 24/7 would be ideal, but in reality, it can be hard to manage. The answer? Messaging apps and chatbots.
A lot of the most frequent questions in the pharmaceutical industry are the very simple ones regarding dosages, interactions, and other issues. Those are easily resolved by implementing messaging apps and chatbots.
Being based on the NLP and AI, the chatbots of today are more human-like than ever. Some chatbots like Google’s Duplex AI go as far as incorporating stammers, pauses, and all, thus sounding like a real person not only for text but also for an actual voice conversation.
Just take a look at the demo for the Duplex solution.
In the context of pharmaceutical customer service and marketing, it’s easy to see the benefits of a human-like helper that’s ready to assist with customer queries 24/7.
You can use a chatbot to:
- Automate repetitive tasks,
- Enable employees to focus on higher-value tasks,
- Spark user engagement and facilitate positive experiences,
- Gather a myriad of valuable information and consumer insight.
Connecting such a tool to the Facebook Messenger app, for example, might also feel very intuitive and natural to your customers. They may be more inclined to conveniently send a brand an inquiry via Facebook while they’re chatting to their friends, rather than taking the time out to call or send an email to the Customer Service.
Teva is an example of a brand that developed a chatbot named Maxbot. It actually won two Pharmaceutical Marketing Society awards in 2018. Furthermore, being integrated with the Facebook Messenger app, it saved Teva thousands of dollars by working with existing software, rather than developing the code from scratch.
Maxbot serves as a digital brand ambassador for Teva’s inhaler through which patients can discuss its usage and benefits.
It uses animated GIFs and witty comebacks, which is something one wouldn’t automatically associate with the pharmaceutical industry. For that reason, it has been described online as “quirky, creative and fun”, as well as a great way to “bring some humor and humanity to the pharma world”.
Considering the implementation of a chatbot is the first step into the future that is chatbots and AI.
#6 Use social listening to elevate your pharma marketing game
If you’re still manually browsing through social media in hope of finding consumer feedback, you’re wasting your time. Automating social listening will not only enable you to focus on more important tasks but also ensure you don’t miss out on a goldmine of information.
Social listening is a process of collecting consumer insights and thus providing actionable steps that are personalized to your target audience, both of which are extremely important in the pharmaceutical industry.
And in the pharmaceutical industry, being on top of the information regarding your brand is extremely important. Pharmaceutical fake news spread like wildfire on social media, often leading up to crises that could have been easily predicted with the help of tools like Determ.
In the case of products or services upon which the well-being of people relies, the severity of misinformation is a crucial issue.
Not to mention, the pharma industry in general has a bad rep. A 2019 report from Worldcom Public Relations Group analyzed 38,000 posts about pharma and found that the most used hashtags were #corruption and #bribery. What’s more, only 2% of those posts had positive sentiment (majority was neutral, followed by negative).
For this reason, more and more pharmaceutical companies implement social listening to:
- Monitor and manage their online brand reputation,
- Battle fake news and misinformation,
- Track consumer feedback across all online sources,
- Tailor their social media strategy based on consumer insights,
- Lead generation on social media.
Social media is the ideal platform for tracking consumer opinions, discussions, and reviews. We already mentioned the value of online conversations. Not only do they connect people with brands, but they also build credibility and aid in brand awareness.
Now, tracking those conversations provides more than just an insight into what people are saying. You can learn which channels people prefer using when talking about a topic of your interest, when do they talk about it, in which context do they mention it, what information might they be lacking…
Armed with this information, you could completely adjust both your content and tactics to suit the needs and preferences of your target audience.
Some pharmaceutical companies have also discovered creative ways of using social listening to aid in their pharmacovigilance efforts.
A strategy that is great for lead generation is tracking the most common symptoms of a certain disease on a condition you might have a solution for. Some of them might not be ones that are medically serious, but still, have a significant impact on the quality of life.
The likes of insomnia, stress, and depressed mood can be a struggle. People have become more open talking about them, but the majority is still not asking for relevant help.
Now, picture this scenario. Using a social listening tool, you’ve identified people mentioning the keyword ‘insomnia’. There might be thousands, if not millions of people experiencing troubles with falling asleep. You, on the other hand, have a way of alleviating their hardships and can engage directly to provide them just that.
You help people, they spread the word. 71 % of consumers who have had a good social media service experience with a brand are likely to recommend it to others. It’s a game of numbers from here.
#7 Gate your content to generate social media leads
Another great aspect of using social media is lead generation. It’s one of the easiest ways to reach new audiences and potential customers. If you constantly produce great content and have established a loyal audience, others will also likely follow suit.
But, a large following doesn’t necessarily mean all of them are your customers. So, how to take them further through the funnel? Give gated content a try.
Gated content provides prospects with valuable information in exchange for their data such as name, email address, industry, title, and other contact information.
Marketers use gated content to generate leads by providing them added value they wouldn’t obtain otherwise. That is an important factor since people are usually hesitant to share their personal information.
If you’re not familiar with the concept, gated content usually comes in various forms. Some of them are:
- Product demos,
- White paper,
- Case studies,
On the other hand, ungated content is what you’re reading right now – a blog. Other usual types of ungated content are infographics, short videos, and other similar free and widely-accessible content marketing assets.
Ungated content is great for building brand awareness in the early awareness stage. But, once the prospect is familiar with your brand and perceives you credible, it’s time to move them down the marketing funnel.
To do so, you need that extra incentive or a call to action to turn them into a lead. Depending on the area of focus or expertise your brand is known for, the type of gated content might vary.
Either way, whitepapers and ebooks regarding Pharma and Medtech topics are a sure choice.
Once you’ve created such content, use your social media outlets to further promote the gated content. Using Pay Per Click campaigns will ensure that content is targeted to the right audience that might not yet follow your brand online.
Make sure to also utilize social media to share the content beyond your own profile/page. LinkedIn and Facebook groups can be a great source of both traffic and potential leads.
To Sum Up
There you have it. Seven social media tips you can start incorporating in your pharma marketing strategy immediately. It’s time to embrace the change in customer expectations and needs, starting with your move to digital and social. Making the best out of today’s technology, using storytelling, and creating content that your audience can relate to is the way to go.