Pharma social media: forget ROI, focus on patients

UnknownPOST SUMMARY: While the pressure on pharma companies to maintain profit margins is high the industry needs a better focus on patients as consumers of healthcare.  Part of this focus should be using all the digital tools at their disposal to help consumers navigate the confusing world of empowered healthcare and make choices based on good, clear and easy-to-understand health information.

Those of us who have worked in big pharma know about the endless meetings to justify consumer marketing initiatives while trying to convince M L R teams that we can manage the risk of these programs.  While I am a big believer in ensuring that what we do drives brand objectives I believe more and more that a great social media program, such as GE’s Google+ program, can help patients focus on information relevant to their needs.

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Over the last 3 years I have sat in a lot of market research on how consumers are using the Internet for health and the common thread that ties them all together is that they are often overwhelmed with the quantity and quality of health information online followed by the need for “easy to understand” health information.  What I liked so much about GE’s social media initiative is that they used thought leaders to reach out to patients and caregivers.  Pharma could learn a lot from this, but there are patients who are looking for this type of information such as patients/caregivers of people with MS.

What CPG are learning is that social media is more effective when there are dedicated people who act as social media community managers.  Both Sanofi and Biogen Idec have dedicated social media people who focus on patients and caregivers.  They are going to learn from their experiences, but more importantly, they are investing in the future of DTC marketing.  If we focus on patients and good medicine, as Mr Merck said, the profits will follow.

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