5 Features, Benefits And Ways To Use Social Media Marketing By Pharma Companies
Social media has become commonplace in our lives & for many daily activities. It is the strongest medium of generating information, raising awareness and building networks in all areas of life. The social media platforms have gained traction among the common population today, but their use for commercial purpose has only been limited to advertise products. Specifically, pharma sector needs to interact through social media but how to do that is still quite unclear for the sector.
What is Social Media?
Social media generally refers to internet-based tools that allow individuals and communities to gather and share information, idea, personal messages, images and other content. It also facilitates real-time collaboration with other users. Here is an indicative (not exhaustive list) of media grouped by purpose and functions.
- Social networking (Facebook, Google Plus, Twitter and others)
- Professional networking (LinkedIn)
- Physician Social Networks (Docplexus)
- Media sharing (YouTube, Flickr)
- Content production (Blogger, WordPress, Medium)
- Knowledge/Information aggregation (Wikipedia)
Should Pharma Use Social Media?
The answer is “of course”. However, the usage of social media comes with its own rules, regulations, barriers & opportunities. In most of the countries, pharma companies are restricted from direct-to-consumer advertisements of their products. Thus, pharma sector turned its head away from social media, as they thought “it is just another advertising platform”.
In reality, social media has much broader applications on which pharma companies need to focus. Day by day pharma is waking up to new opportunities through social media, but it is important “to get the basics right”.
5 ways Pharma may use Social Media
Social media is an ideal channel for pharmaceutical and medical device companies to educate, market, listen to, and connect with customers. They just need to choose specific social media platforms for specific purpose. Let’s look at the 6 ways Pharma may use social media.
- Education: Pharmaceutical companies may offer disease-specific, unbiased educational information on broad topics to consumers. This is to help patients understand their disease state better so that they can engage with their HCPs better for improved outcomes.
- Marketing: Pharma can use social media as another channel to share press release on new products, clinical trial results, clinical evidence for supremacy of their brand, and their major commitment to developing new and better treatments.
- Connecting with Physicians: This is an effective method to connect with target HCPs. It is also less expensive than sales force costs. They can engage with a large number of physicians at one time on a physician-only platform like Docplexus at their convenience and time. This gives them an excellent opportunity to have dialogue with them rather than just have only focus on product “detailing” from a Medical Representative.
- Listening & New Product Evaluation: This is something that Pharma brands always lack on – invaluable insights on current market trends, prescription behavior, need of product with respect to indication of patient, doctors’ needs and HCP perception about the category and molecule as a whole and brand in specific. This could be done on a trusted and credible doctor community platform where HCPs feel free to share their unbiased evaluation of the product and the market. Social listening on such platforms can help them develop their communication strategy as well.
- Connecting with Patients: Pharma can use social media to create patient support groups and communities. These groups allow patients with common interests and needs to connect and learn from each other about their condition, treatment and experiences.
5 features of Social Media that can benefit Pharma companies
So, Pharma should definitely use social media for all the above-mentioned purposes but they also need to understand that social media and web portals for online presence significantly differ in their basic architecture. Due to their inherent characteristics, social media are considered as a dynamic portal whereas websites are considered as static portals. So, here comes how social media really functions and how pharma companies can benefit from them.
- Social Media Platforms are Closed Platforms: Social media platforms are closed platform where one needs to fulfill the criteria for participating in any activity. Compare that to a web portal, where there is absolutely no control who can access or share the information. Social media provides that unique edge and grants control. For pharma companies, this quality is most crucial as strict rules and regulation prohibit pharma companies from circulating any information targeting the general public. At Docplexus, we have integrated this knowledge to make sure that only clinicians who qualify for the criteria can access the medical content, making it very easy for pharma companies to publish the message they intent to deliver without any hesitation.
- Social Media makes it Easy to Understand insights about their Target Audience: Social media gathers a variety of groups of target audiences. The tools of social media platform enable Pharma companies to target specific audience class for their marketing. For example, on Docplexus, though all the participants are doctors, when needed, they can be separately addressed by their area of interest and expertise, for effective communication and feedback. This feature allows pharma companies to specifically develop a content or strategy to address their target audience which is more effective than “Carpet Marketing”.
- Social Media Delivers Instant Feedback: Whatever is the message, social media platforms immediately and effectively provide pharma companies with the feedback. This is the biggest advantage of social media over traditional web-feedback forms. The analyses from these feedbacks are the key to build sustainable long-term marketing strategy which will not fail. The only requirement from pharma companies is that they need to be proactive in receiving and delivering the feedback and consistently keep their side of the bargain.
- Social Media Helps in Tracking Activity of the Audience: The architecture of social media allows one to track how the participants view, react and respond to any content. It also helps to understand the geographical location of the participants to some extent. Especially for pharma companies, this data is vital as they traditionally need to put efforts in targeted marketing. Docplexus makes that easy by reaching out to over 3,80,000 + doctors. Data of social media interactions help in understanding the inclinations, preferences and desires of the audience which is very critical for targeted marketing.
- Social Media Makes or Breaks brands: Responsive, responsible and resolute presence on social media platforms makes or breaks the brand. It is the need of an hour that pharma companies resonate their passion about playing a valuable role in elevating healthcare. Pharma companies need to maintain the etiquettes of ethical marketing.
Today, in the era of pharmaceutical marketing practices being guided by UCPMP code, social media marketing can become their ethical and transparent marketing methodology to build a sustainable way of enduring relationships with all stakeholders of the healthcare industry. This is what a company’s vision is all about – seeing the future before it arrives. Companies with foresight are the ones who take to social media and physician-only platforms before others do.