Understanding and selling to patients, physicians, and providers online requires skilled analysts, analytic frameworks, and technological power. Today’s healthcare brands – having overwhelmingly increased their social media usage in 2021 alone – are turning to a technology called social listening.
What is Social Listening Technology?
Social listening is the process of monitoring online conversations and collecting publicly available data from different social media networks. Social listening tools allow healthcare brands to uncover a wide range of metrics, from patient sentiment and physician location to broader demographic information, analyze those data points, and further unlock trends – lending to both strong content creation and productization. When used in the context of a strategic social framework, social listening tools can drive meaningful engagement and qualified leads.
6 Ways to Use Social Listening Technology
- Create a social listening framework. Social listening reports can be incorporated into your entire strategy and inspire outcomes across paid, earned, and owned, touching both the community management and content development side of your social media.
- Analyze thousands of conversations a day. Social listening tools deliver sentiment analysis and identify key insights – such as peaks in volume, engagement speed, emotional reactions, clicks, and conversation differences – that can inform a product or treatment’s status, campaign messaging success, and broader content strategy trajectory over time. Brands can set up a process and cadence by which you track sentiment over months, quarters, years, and during campaigns. Furthermore, social listening allows you to readily track adverse events to report and escalate.
- Develop a more engaged, more accurate audience. Determine where your patients, physicians, and providers are by tracking behaviors, location, and broader demographics. Analysts can also unveil unique cultural insights and norms and get hyper-granular into language nuances.
- Identify trends through insight models. Create search queries and insight models to identify trends, hashtags, keywords, and brand or product mentions. Insight models can lend to optimizing user-generated content (UGC) and influencer content. UGC has been available since 2005 but the rise started a few years ago when platforms started lending to reshares and reposts.
- Monitor brand competition. Examine your core and secondary competitors, their activities, and their strengths and weaknesses.
- Implement benchmarking exercises. With social listening tools, you can test and refine marketing strategies across owned, paid, and earned content before full market implementation to ensure optimal growth. You can also test against various trends and contexts to identify where your brand can make the largest impact and where to further iterate.
Do’s and Don’ts of Social Listening Practices for Pharma Brands
Don’t rule out what you’d identify as smaller channels or lower frequency conversation areas. What you’re looking for is the quality of conversation rather than quantity. Channels such as Reddit are home to a wealth of first-person patient experiences, where patients are sharing openly amongst connected communities. More often than not patients have become more comfortable conversing in these connected communities rather than in their own social and family circles.
Don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty. Sometimes a listening tool might not be able to reach the areas you need it to, such as Facebook groups. Be prepared to rule up your sleeves for some manual social listening yourself. Patient communities are thriving, and such patient-centric networks are becoming a trusted source of useful personal insights.
Do be open-minded. Don’t go into the research project thinking you’re looking for like-minded marketing clients or research-oriented individuals. Think like a patient would by embracing the nuances of the language and cultural norms in and amongst their disease area.
Don’t use in-group language. To explore the granularity and heart of the culture you’re researching focus on the language and cultural nuances used by the patients in a disease area rather than those used solely by doctors and HCPs and academics. These areas of patient insight can drive powerful outcomes for a brand researcher.
Optimize Social Listening with a Specialized Team
For global pharmaceutical and healthcare teams, online conversations are often happening 24/7, across various time zones and languages. Need support with your in-house resources? Are you ready to outsource social listening, insights, and reporting for compliance with a qualified team of global experts? Get the most out of your social listening tools with a global team who knows how to select the right social listening tech, integrate a plan, and execute a reporting framework. Connect with ICUC.