How Pharma Brands Are Navigating Social Media Strategy

How Pharma Brands Are Navigating Social Media Strategy

The Current State of Pharma Marketing

Today, pharmaceutical companies face considerable challenges including regulatory constraints, lengthy product development timelines, competitive pressures from generics, and political forces, to name just a few. As a result, marketing, to enhance pharmaceutical brands as well as to support sales, is a critical driver of success.

Innovative marketing vehicles, such as new and evolving social media platforms, need to be embraced to complement traditional sales strategies (e.g., television, radio, and print advertising), but appropriately and with a great degree of caution. Patients today demand direct, value-based engagement with drug companies, and that demand includes transparency, education, and responsiveness. These applications can be used to complement sales efforts by offering health and disease information. Linking the company to objective government and not-for-profit sites demonstrates a patient-orientation (i.e., customer experience) that transfers to brand equity.

Social Media and Pharma Compliance

Under current FDA directives, pharma companies can’t easily join conversations to provide accurate, impartial information. Regulations mandate that, within a single social post, brands must provide precise details on the benefits and risks associated with conditions and products. As a result, most pharma companies stay out of the conversation entirely, meaning that when patients take to social media, the information they find may not necessarily be from reputable, accredited sources. It may be marginally inaccurate at best, significantly harmful at worst.

Navigating the World of Social Media Marketing

Social media is now a reference for patients that want answers and need supplemental information. Studies show that active patients on digital channels promoted by healthcare organizations (such as websites, apps, social media communities) are more likely to complete their treatments, without needing to be readmitted into hospital facilities, simplifying patient self-monitoring and helping them get the support they need in between physician consultations.

However, although their communications are highly regulated, many pharmaceutical brands are beginning to engage with social media to reach and interact with consumers, prospective employees, and healthcare professionals. The online presence of pharma companies has increased tremendously over the last few years, not only on a corporate level but compared to other industries, pharma companies are still lagging behind. So how are marketers navigating these waters compliantly?

According to media analytics firm, Unmetric, pharma has organized itself into four areas to boost its social media marketing:

  • Corporate social profiles that typically talk about the company history, overview, and staff
  • Careers in pharma
  • Over-the-counter branded pages explaining products
  • Community pages discussing diseases without mentioning drugs (unlike the branded pages)

The goal is to bridge the informational gaps that lie between pharmaceutical companies and consumers. Most companies in other industries also use social media marketing to sell their products, but pharma brands can’t do that. Instead, they can use social media to promote new research, upcoming products, employees, and more. It may not generate sales from your Twitter account — but it can help people feel comfortable with your products.

When you post on social media, be concise and utilize multimedia. Photos are especially good additions to networks like Twitter and Facebook, and videos are valuable as well. It’s also important to understand that no matter what you do on social media, you may experience kickback.

Patients need more information and support, and increasingly they are turning to the Internet and social media to fill the gaps when the information they get through medical consultations is not enough and as their first source of information. It seems like this is precisely the right moment for pharmaceutical companies to jump on the social media bandwagon and become more active in the digital space by providing meaningful information and actively engaging with patients

Marketing Firm with Pharma Experience Is Key

Strategic planning is critical and working with a marketing agency, with pharmaceutical experience, will ensure your marketing is compliant and focused on results.  If you’d like to read our case study on helping a pharmaceutical company rebrand and launch a product into the marketplace, explore the hyperlinks above.

From Our Alpharetta Marketing Firm

Atlanta is quickly becoming an important city for the pharmaceutical industry and our marketing firm in Alpharetta gets questions about this topic all the time.  We appreciate you taking your time to read this post.  We are here to help!  If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us.