The world of social media can be difficult to navigate successfully for popular consumer brands, yet pharmaceutical companies must also contend with regulations, guidelines and directives that can mean a conservative approach to their social media. We joined a cross section of pharma marketeers and communication professionals at the Pharma Social Media Conference to discuss key topic areas that can help pioneer a progressive and impactful approach for pharma brands on social.
Here are our top learnings from the sessions:
REMEMBER THE REGULATIONS & THEN GO FOR IT
We know we can’t discuss prescription treatments on social so don’t even try. If you’re targeting HCPs, then be sure to use private communications channels and platforms – of which there are plenty. However, for non-branded educational campaigns, there is nothing to stop you being as creative and engaging as you want. Organise a hybrid social media team that includes medical affairs, legal and communications representatives, who can work together to get social media activities off the ground.
One pharma company discussed how they had a Twitter ‘power hour’ in which they had a patient, medical and legal representative, be available to answer questions from other patients on a rare disease. Real time Twitter responses from a pharma company! In all, don’t be afraid to fail and change your approach based on learnings you find.
SEGMENT YOUR APPROACH
Patient and HCP strategies should have a clear distinction, with messaging crafted for each segment, and tailored for each channel. Even with this segmentation, HCP messaging should still be clear and understandable as its likely it will be cascaded on to patients. Remember to ensure that the channel you’re using is relevant for your target audience, and that you have a consistent message across all touchpoints. Always bear in mind who are you trying to reach and what is it you want them to do as a result. Decide how to measure the campaign success and interpret the analytics to demonstrate what the numbers mean for your business objectives.
It can be easy to neglect to showcase stories in an authentic way as you try to tell your corporate stories in a regulated environment. Get out into the real world and meet your audience face to face so you can truly understand them and what they care about. For example, for patients, many are looking to find out how others are living with the disease on a day-to-day basis – they want to hear from real people and discover real experiences. Empower and equip your employees to spread the message – thereby ensuring authenticity and more appeal to your communications. Be aware of the conversations that are ongoing around brands and topics that we can engage with, and use social listening to find these opportunities.
INVEST THE TIME & BUDGET TO DO IT RIGHT
Building an engaged online community is often a slow process, and we should be willing to invest both time and budget to do this. We should recognise that social is a dialogue, where information flows both ways; we need to invest in people who can engage with these conversations and hear what communities are saying, so we can help to identify unmet needs. If your leadership teams are reluctant to support your proposed social media activities – try to ignite their competitive spirit by showing what others are doing. Most importantly – have fun exploring!