How pharma can use social media to leverage value with patients

KEY TAKEAWAY: Pharma can add value to patients and engage them, but they have to think like patients and add value to help people navigate the mess that has become our health care.  

Social media marketing.  That tactic can raise the blood pressure of pharma marketers very quickly and cause M L R teams to run for cover.  Despite all the negativity around social media marketing, there are opportunities for pharma brands to get closer to patients at a time when making healthcare decisions very complicated.

A good example is Pfizers ad on Facebook.  Not many men are going to click on an ad for single dosage pack Viagra as they already know what Viagra is and what it does.  Could Pfizer have done a better job?  Absolutely.  By talking about men’s health issues they could have increased engagement ten fold.  For example an article about “myths of aging and men’s sexual health” or “what your partner is thinking when you avoid intimacy because of ED”.

With all the fake news out there pharma companies should be using social media as a way to help patients get better informed about health problems.  Not too long ago we launched a series of informative posts on facebook targeted at diabetics.  One of the posts, “reversing type 2 diabetes is possible” had an engagement level that went through the roof.  Average time on the page was an astronomical 4:45 which is very high given short attention spans.

Can you imagine a series of targeted facebook posts or tweets on “women’s sexual health issues” or “having an active life with progressive MS, what others are doing”.   The key is to turn from selling to having an empathetic approach to patient marketing.  It means thinking about the quality of content vs quantity of content.

We are currently working with a client on a “content approach” but rather than focus on what we think patients want to read we contacted physicians and asked them about questions they were getting from patients.  Much to our surprise we encountered topics we would have never thought of, such as “drinking wine with therapy” and “what exercises are best to help me lose weight”. We are now in contact with thought leaders to write content addressing these topics.

The key to using social media effectively in a regulated industry is to think like a patient and stop selling.  Will pharma learn?