Pharma Social Media Strategy: The Complete Guide
Direct market product advertisements for consumers are rapidly shifting from TV advertisements to online social media. Last year, TV advertising sales fell 7.8%, the steepest drop in more than 20 years outside of a recession. Furthermore, in the US and UK, up to 20% of physicians now refuse to meet with pharmaceutical sales representatives. Pharmaceutical brands that perform well today have adjusted their strategies to suit their audience’s new way of getting information: social media.
Though the use of social media in regulated industries comes with unique challenges that other industries do not have to face, the right strategies can give pharmaceutical brands better opportunities to engage with doctors, healthcare providers (HCPs), customers, and patients.
Social Media for Pharmaceutical Companies
Pharma companies do not have the same freedom as any other industry on social media. But even so, its benefits outweigh its hurdles.
Social media strategy for pharma companies is more convenient than any other type of marketing. As a closed-loop marketing strategy, it is easier to target and position your brand in the market with precise and accurate analysis. Online platforms are mostly preferred by doctors and patients to source medical information. A pharmaceutical social media presence can help you widen your reach and get real-time contact with your customers.
Goals and metrics
A strong pharma social media strategy will help you build, create and engage in meaningful conversations with your audience. Your goals should guide you on how to reach your audience and in what ways. Helping you measure the results of your marketing efforts is one of the key roles of social media in the pharmaceutical industry that is not possible using traditional methods.
With social media, pharma brands can track their Return on Investment (ROI) in an efficient and effective way that isn’t possible with traditional media. Users engagement metrics, such as impressions, clicks, website hits, leads, and actual purchases, can be tracked with digital media. Social media marketing for pharmaceuticals can help brands see directly, in real-time, the efficiency of their marketing campaigns which lead to better optimizations and future decisions.
Strong goals will also help you compete with your competitors, as you will be prepared to build your brand voice differently from your competitors, and surpass them.
For regulated brands, there is so much more to social media than just content and engagement. The regulatory laws, requirements, and guidelines are substantial. Online moderation on Facebook, TikTok, Tumblr, Snapchat, Instagram, public forums, Yelp, Google Reviews – just to name a few – never stops for pharmaceutical brands.
Each platform offers a suite of engagement tools and access to varying audiences. Some platforms are more healthcare professionals focused (Doximity, DailyRounds, WeMedUp, Figure1, Student Doctors Network, etc.), while others help you reach and help patients. Your platform choices will be influenced by your goals and social media strategy.
You also need to keep in mind that platforms have their own regulations around pharmaceutical and health-related advertisements and content. Carefully consider how you’ll use each platform to avoid any issues and to stay compliant.
In addition to platform regulations, the pharmaceutical sector faces strict industry regulations, with substantial regulatory oversight, disclosure laws, and other regulatory guidelines and requirements. Industry regulations present a unique set of challenges that must be addressed by brands in this field. Those restrictions may vary from one country to another, as some may have their own specific regulations.
Safety and pharmacovigilance matters can appear on social media at any time. Your social media management team needs to be vigilant and cautious to catch any adverse events and crisis moments, as those don’t just affect your brand, but they are a risk to real human health.
Every social media interaction and reaction needs to be calculated and reviewed by legal counsel to make sure your brand stays compliant. For pharma brands hoping to build their online reputation, an expert level of social media monitoring is required to keep up with the ever-changing landscape of this complicated industry.
Social media compliance monitoring should not be overlooked, as if you fail to comply with regulatory requirements, it can result in fines, but also regulatory, civil, or criminal proceedings leading to product recalls. FDA social media guidance tools can help you build your social media strategy as a pharma company.
Additional important considerations
Pharmaceutical media is challenging and requires more planning than other industries. Your social media marketing strategy choices should reflect that. You must wisely pick your social media management team. They should be highly trained with an understanding of your industry’s rules and regulations. Make sure to include and implement regular follow-ups with them. Don’t hesitate to add regular training sessions and update your team on any new leads and regulations. Communication is key for pharma social media, as any mishaps can have consequences on real human health.
Pharma Social Media Best Practices
In the pharmaceutical industry, the product is only part of the story. Pharma social media is an important tool to educate customers about not only the purpose of your product but also about disease prevention and other general human health issues. Pharma companies have many ways to implement their social media strategy and successfully reach their goals.
As a pharma brand, you can produce compelling content that aids in decision support for physicians, provides education to policy-makers, and more. Your brand should drive strategic, relevant awareness with the right audiences on relevant, niche platforms identified through your business analysis while staying within the industry regulations.
Offer your audience educational health-related content, such as lifestyle, exercise, and food tips. Even as a regulated industry, you can still be creative and vary content formats, from articles and videos to quizzes and more. Your brand will glean positive feedback through pharma influencers and lean into employee advocacy.
Pharma social media can be a place to highlight your brand values and support causes, as well as promote your brand career opportunities. It’s also a great opportunity to showcase your marketing strategy and environmental efforts.
Community engagement—across all industries—is an effective way to offer valuable information and insights to your customers, as well as facilitate positive experiences. A skilled community manager will use social media to engage with patients and families who, for example, seek disease area dialogue, or they’ll join relevant channel conversations to bring your brand closer to your patients and HCPs. Further, engagement strategies can position your brand as your audience’s health and wellness improvement partner by identifying pain points in patients’ journeys and offering resources to help them.
It’s no secret engagement can be challenging in regulated industries—pharmaceutical marketers are trying to ensure brand and patient protection while at the same time growing and expanding the business through reach and loyalty. It’s a careful line to walk, and it should be handled with care and trained professionals.
As such, it’s opportune for pharma brands to have 24/7 social media management, either in-house or outsourced, accompanied by automated messaging apps and chatbot features. This way your patients and customers are in good hands, and as a marketer or team lead, you can sleep easy at night knowing patients and the company are moving forward, and escalating issues, appropriately.
See what customers are saying about your brand & products
As a pharma brand, social media is a great tool to understand what people think about your products and brands. Using social media listening on your social media and cross-channel platforms will give you an understanding of your audience’s needs. Patients, physicians, and payer conversations can give you actionable customer insights. That information is key to helping you refine and improve your brand messaging and content.
Going through all the potential content and collecting consumer insights might be challenging. Integrated social media listening tools and social media moderation services can help you stay on track, by identifying critical content moments, sentiment shifts, and engagement peaks.
Analyze performance & reporting
We know data tracking is essential, and social media platforms and third-party integrations give us more power than ever to do so. Each platform, from Instagram to TikTok to LinkedIn provides specific APIs to track conversations about your brand, competitors, and target audiences. And as your social presence grows, you can analyze your performance to see patterns (both when they are positive or negative) that tell you where you need to focus in order to counter the narrative.
This kind of at-hand, real-time, performance analysis will help you generate new leads via meaningful interactions, as you will be able to react quickly and effectively to any changes you find via your analysis.
Social Media Strategy & Compliance with ICUC
With an expert social media and customer care team on your side, social media management for pharmaceutical brands goes from daunting and challenging, to safe, secure, and life-saving. Highly trained in compliance reporting on a global scale, ICUC 24/7 team has the ability to ensure channels are consistently monitored and maintained.
What can you expect from our Social Media Compliance Services?
- 24/7 compliance monitoring and reporting
- Adverse event moderation
- Patient and provider engagement
- Campaign strategy and execution
- AI technology integration
As your expert partner, ICUC is ready to come alongside your brand by analyzing, developing, and executing community management strategies to drive meaningful interactions and conversations where and when patients or HCPs need it the most.
Pharmaceutical social media presence comes with many challenges that brands outside regulated industries don’t have to face. Yet, a strong social media strategy will bring your brand closer to your patients and healthcare providers, while creating a strong brand culture.