Category: Healthcare & Life Sciences

4 Social Media Examples for Pharmaceutical Marketers

Multiple experts have said it in myriad manners: the pharmaceutical industry has some major social anxiety. With a recent report out on social media adoption among the top 50 global drug makers, the verdict is basically this: with the grey territory of FDA, HIPAA, and D2C advertising regulations, pharmaceutical marketers are hesitant to get off the bleachers and ask their patients to dance.

A look at pharma’s sister industries (healthcare and the sciences) reveals that social media adoption and networking can yield massive ROI while staying compliant—outweighing risk with reward. Not only that, challenger brands in these spaces are harnessing their communities to do some pretty amazing things, including expedite clinical trials, dig through masses of data, and even change industry regulation.

Here are some great examples of effective social media strategy, network implementation, and community engagement from the science and healthcare verticals:

Consolidating the community and crowdfunding R&D

When 18 year-old Josh Sommer founded The Chordoma Foundation in 2007, his goal was to find a cure for his one-in-a-million form of malignant bone cancer. To surmount the seemingly impossible funding barriers for research and development, he realized that social media could help him bring together a disperse, global network of researchers specializing in this rare disease.

Through building a Facebook community dedicated to sharing advancements in chordoma R&D, he brought together researchers, with the ancillary benefit of attracting patients and advocates to the first home on the web for chordoma information and support.

This community raised significant funds for early study, and today, the foundation has a thriving research pipeline—and the 7,000 fan-strong Facebook community helped Sommer complete enrollment for a 2014 clinical trial in just two days.

Opening a two-way conversation, and surpassing expert results

Zooniverse is home to the most popular citizen science community in the world. The first Zooniverse project, Galaxy Zoo, was introduced by researchers at the University of Oxford in 2007 to prompt scientists to classify a mass of astronomical photographs.

Unexpectedly, the launch of the Galaxy Zoo website pulled in citizen participants from around the world within hours of going live—and they accurately classified all million photographs that were part of Sloan Digital Sky Survey.

Building off the success of the Galaxy Zoo project, the Zooniverse team expanded their social presence, integrating frequently-updated Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and blog feeds with the site to supply the community with progress updates, assignments, and direct-from-scientist feedback for a growing suite of projects.

Today, Zooniverse has millions of fans active on the Zooniverse channels at any given time, and the advancements in research and discovery from this community continue to be significant—in fact, the Snapshot Serengeti project team just published their first article in the journal Scientific Data<, after thousands of volunteers catalogued millions of images from the Serengeti National Park.

Building your own network, and changing industry policy

Privacy concerns don’t have to be a limitation to social media implementation—especially if you build a proprietary channel, and tier levels of information across commonly used social platforms.

A look at PatientsLikeMe or CrowdMed affirms the power of consolidating communities of patients in pursuit of innovation and support for disease. And by the way, PatientsLikeMe just announced  a research collaboration with the FDA to determine how patient-reported data can help change drug safety regulations.

The moral of the story is this: social media is all about empowering people with relevant information and connection to other members of their tribes, whether patients or professionals. Changing delivery from a one-way directives to two-way conversations is immensely powerful—it can also can be good for business, and affirmational for ethics.

Time to get on the dance floor pharmaceutical marketers
Source: Pinterest

And a note to our friends in pharma: we all want to feel part of something bigger than ourselves—plus, most of us are just waiting to say “yes” when we’re asked onto the dance floor.

To get more information on our work with clients in the healthcare, life sciences, and pharmaceutical verticals, send us an email and lets meet up!

Healthcare marketing based on great content versus interruption: a better way to connect with patients.

While healthcare marketing still primarily employs ads that blare from every possible source of paid media, the tendency of today’s consumers to tune out these ads is only accelerating. When people are “targeted” with ads, they take evasive action. Instead, information seekers want to know how to deal with a disease (their own or a loved ones), find a cure, or simply stay healthy. So of course they do a Google search. Based on Captains of Industry’s experience, here are five ways to look differently at content marketing for healthcare in order to raise your brand’s visibility and build a deeper connection with customers.

Focus on quality first. How quickly and easily a healthcare brand can be found via a search has less to do with SEO, and more to do with the actual quality of the content offered – especially since Google has once again changed their search algorithms to favor real quality and depth of knowledge versus the junk often spewed from content farms.

Put yourself in the patients’ shoes. If you were a patient, what would you really want to know? Avoid the hard sell completely and focus on providing a genuinely useful depth of information on the medical condition that relates specifically to your product or service. The Mayo clinic does a nice job with their prostate cancer information center (part of a range of resources for patients dealing with various conditions). Their site provides a comprehensive resource of helpful information on symptoms, causes, risk factors, complications, preparing for your appointment, tests and diagnosis, treatments and drugs, alternative medicine, coping and support, and prevention. It’s a lot to read through, but wouldn’t you want all that and even more if you were diagnosed with prostate cancer? It’s not a coincidence that the Mayo clinic was the only hospital on page one of my Google search for “prostate cancer.

Tell the right story (and sometimes let it find you).  Marketing firms tend to gush about storytelling as if it had just been invented. Of course you need storytelling, but you first have to find the right story – the one that will resonate with the people who you most want to connect with. This process typically starts with a research project that determines the mindset of customers, and how your product or service can solve their problem. I’ve seen countless reports and spreadsheets that deliver tons of details and data on customers; gathering all this is wise, and it never hurts to know more. But often these processes miss something incredibly valuable that can’t be envisioned through a database: magic. Magic happens when you listen very, very carefully and look for unexpected twists and turns as the story develops. For example, when Doris Kearns Goodwin, the Pulitzer-prize winning historian, set out to write a the definitive biography of Abraham Lincoln, her research led her to a whole new and far more fascinating story about the Team of Rivals who made up Lincoln’s cabinet and helped him win the Civil War. Goodwin’s ability to listen, and let the story find her, helped her create a classic. This approach has many applications in healthcare. For example, when Captains sought to create a campaign focused on a product that made it easy for patients to remember to take their medications, we found the story was far more compelling when told from the perspective of a patient’s granddaughter. The story was about her and how much she cared for her grandpa, versus a story about forcing gramps to take his pills. You’ll know when the right story has found you when you can’t stop thinking about it. If the story is that memorable to you, it will be memorable to your customers.

Create a content publishing calendar that maps to your customers’ journey of understanding. The key is to provide your customers with access to the right pieces of content at the right times, based on where they are in their level of understanding. You have to meet customesr where they are, and gradually over time provide them with knowledge-building tools that will help them reach the conclusion that your product or service is of value to them. For example, let’s say your company makes a drug for pediatric asthma patients. You already have a sales force that’s providing doctors with brochures and other sales tools, but you know that parents are actively searching for better solutions as well. So, first, you have to know what level of knowledge most parents have when they first learn their child suffers from asthma. They’re likely at a very early stage on their journey, and lack the basic knowledge about the various treatment options. For this audience, at this stage of learning, you might create an e-book or video primer for parents that offers basic education on asthma, its causes, and typical treatments. Other parents will already have this base level of knowledge, and they should have their own place on the content roadmap, and unique content tailored to their level of understanding. A good content roadmap will be very comprehensive, and cover the full spectrum of phases each parent will go through as they learn to provide their child with the best care possible. This roadmap should then be put in a calendar – month by month, quarter by quarter – with content launched in a way that’s coordinated and integrated with your other marketing activities.

To sum up, it’s time for healthcare marketing to move past short, catchy headlines and ads that interrupt, and instead rely on great content that today’s information seekers are hungry for.