Social media is an increasingly important part of the job description for med comms professionals, as more and more pharma companies look to take advantage of the opportunity to engage and influence large numbers of people at a relatively low cost. While regulation and compliance rules can make social media marketing more challenging, it’s not hard to make an impact when you follow our eight great tips for social success:
It may sound obvious but having a well-thought out, well-researched social media strategy – which addresses how you are going to add value to both the business and its customers – will make it infinitely easier to devise content and deliver results through this marketing channel. To work well, social media activity should be structured, properly resourced and aligned to other communications activity.
The pharma industry attracts a wide spectrum of followers on social media, from patients to healthcare professionals and just about everyone in between. Plan social media content that engages both the audience you have, as well as the audience you want to attract.
Social media is not just a cheap form of advertising, it’s a platform for pharma companies to engage directly with their target audience in a way that traditional med comms can’t. To do this, there needs to be a balance between pushing content and listening to followers to increase engagement (and rack up those all-important retweets, shares and comments).
Research suggests that pharma companies favour link posts on social media– those containing a link to long-form content – but that these often have the lowest rates of engagement. In contrast, videos and images are much more likely to be shared and generate the best rate of engagement. So think not only about what you are saying, but also how you are saying it.
Hot tip: short, concise posts work better than long-winded ones, and original, personal pictures go down a whole lot better than corporate photography. If using images or videos, strive to make them unique and eye catching.
The most common themes for original content on social media platforms are currently disease awareness, closely followed by corporate company news, events, CSR and pharma industry news – although interestingly disease awareness posts tend to get the least traction with followers. 1
A good social media strategy will keep the content plan exciting with a variety of content alongside retweeted or shared posts which will show that the company is interested in what’s going on in the wider industry and joins in with the big conversations happening online.
Look for advocates and online influencers who will speak for you, and share your content to increase your reach in the social media-sphere. Basically, it’s like having the coolest kids in school on your side, which can boost your online credibility as well as help you to make inroads into engaging new audiences.
Everyone loves free, but sometimes boosting your presence on social media will require you to dip into the comms budget. The benefits are that paid-for social can generate better user response rates through content targeting and may be more effective at getting your message out to a specific audience.
Frequent posting on social media doesn’t automatically equate to greater engagement – in fact, often quite the opposite! It’s more important to focus on what you are saying and how you are delivering the message, rather than posting content that people don’t want to read four times a day.
Social media is a part of most people’s everyday life. At the last count, there were 1.65 billion active mobile social media accounts across the world, with a million new ones being added every day2. With such a vast global audience just a click away, it’s no wonder that pharma businesses see the value in developing their social media strategy.
For med comms professionals, social media may not be the number one component of the marketing mix with but when done right – with high quality content at its core – it can be a valuable asset to drive engagement with key audiences and really change hearts and minds.