effective pharma social media strategies

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Are You Using These 8 Effective Pharma Social Media Strategies?

Is your pharma brand ready and eager to use social media strategies to boost brand awareness, increase engagement, and skyrocket new leads and sales?

Do you know that 35% of adults in the US go online specifically to learn about a medical condition? 

And that same Pew research finds that about 90% of people aged 18-24 trust medical information or engage in health activities on social media.

But there are relatively few studies measuring the effectiveness of social media.

However, a research paper that studied parents of children with rare terrible illnesses, found that social media, in particular, provided an effective support network.

Sadly, many pharmaceutical brands are yet to embrace these consumer habits with a convincing social media presence.  

In this article, you, as a pharma marketing professional, will explore challenges and opportunities for pharma brands on social media.

You will also learn social media goals and pharma social media marketing strategies.

And finally, you will understand 8 key and effective social media strategies you can use today to skyrocket your pharma marketing efforts.

Let's get started.

Challenges And Opportunities For the Pharma Brands On Social Media

It is true that social media gives pharma companies a great opportunity to grow, build their brands, and also communicate with healthcare decision-makers.

However, pharma brands need to consider several regulatory challenges that might limit their communication and promotions before expanding their social media presence. 

The main reason for using social media by pharma brands is that it makes it easy for healthcare professionals (HCPs) to connect with like-minded individuals and exchange ideas outside of their current workspace or medical school.

Social media has made it attractive for HCPs worldwide to connect with other trusted professionals on their platforms.

MetaGroup research found that 54% of physicians use social media professionally. Of those physicians:

  • 40% use it to keep up with healthcare news;
  • 33% use it to engage with peers;
  • 20% use it to market their practice; and
  • 7% use it to provide thought leadership to their patients.

And according to Marketing Week, pharmaceutical brands are using influencers for their direct-to-consumer marketing.

HCPs or consumers seeking advice consider these social media brand influencers as trusted authorities. 

Influencer marketing is a form of social media marketing. It involves product placements and endorsements from online creators.

In the highly-competitive pharma industry, brands are collaborating with influencers more firmly than ever to open the door to large potential audiences.

According to Statista, in 2021, the influencer market was valued at a record 13.8 billion U.S. dollars.

Therefore, you can understand why pharma brands partner with established and popular influencers to drive awareness, brand recognition and reach.

Now that you know the challenges and opportunities of social media for the pharma industry, let's dive deep into the 7 effective pharma social media strategies that will boost your marketing and sales.

But first:

What Are Your Pharma Social Media Goals?

what are your pharma social media goals

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So you want your pharma brand to be on social media - but have you figured out why or what you want to get out of it?

A necessary element of an effective social media strategy is setting targeted goals and developing your social media strategy with a clear direction. 

Setting goals help you stay on track, and it also gives you direction when creating content and posting on your social channels. 

Identifying a clear goal helps you get the most out of social media.

It also helps you achieve measurable growth.

On the other hand, winging it with non-targeted content leads to a waste of time and money.

Here are achievable social media goals you can set for your brand:

  • Increase awareness of your pharmaceutical brand.
  • Increase engagement by educating and interacting with patients and healthcare professionals.
  • Create an online community that promotes awareness around disease management and prevention.
  • Get media attention.
  • Connect with industry professionals and peers.
  • Engage with researchers.
  • Demonstrate the value you can offer potential employees.

Setting your social media goals may be one of the most overlooked parts of your pharma content marketing strategy.

Having a written goal helps you measure your results and makes it much easier to create content.

Having said that:

What Is A Pharma Social Media Marketing Strategy?

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A social media strategy is a detailed blueprint that outlines your social media goals.

It also documents the tactics used to achieve them and the metrics you will track to measure your success.

A good strategy also lists your existing and planned social media accounts.

And also the goals specific to each platform where you’re active.

The pharma social media marketing strategy should align with your overall digital marketing strategy.

Your social media strategy should be in writing and comes much before you start creating.

An effective pharma social media strategy requires a good understanding of your audience and their personas.

That means understanding their pain points, the solutions they are looking for, and how their needs align with your goals. 

And ultimately, how you can attract them with an offer that compels them to buy your products or services.

The answers to the following questions will help you craft a social media strategy that rocks:

  • Who is your audience?
  • How do you want your pharma brand to be perceived?
  • What kind of content will you create and share?
  • What social networks will you use?
  • What results do you want to achieve with your goals?

Note that you can have multiple social media goals.

You can use different social media channels to generate more leads, share product information, increase brand awareness, and expand your network.

In addition, depending on the nature of the network, you could build different strategies for different social media channels.

8 Effective Pharma Social Media Strategies

Here are effective pharma social media strategies that rock!

#1. Invest In Employee Advocacy

One of your most significant potential marketing assets is your employees.

Employee advocacy, the promotion of a company by members of its team, plays a critical role in its social media marketing strategy. 

2017 Edelman Trust Barometer reports that employees are the most trusted resource of a brand.

Marketing charts data shows 7 in 10 consumers feel more connected with a brand whose CEO is active on social media or whose employees share information on social media

Marketing charts data show that having a CEO or employees participate in social media discussions helps consumers feel more connected with the brand.

And that's because they like learning about the people behind the brand.

Now:

That's an effective pharma marketing strategy that Novartis does well. Their Twitter profile shows their employees featured in their content.

Their employees are visible in their success or activities in various campaigns and initiatives on their social media platforms.

Any consumer would appreciate Novartis’ Chief Digital Officer Bertrand Bodson's personal experience with malaria. 

See employee advocacy at work with this tweet from @Novartis:

'Congratulations to Pamela Ting, who was named to @endpts

20 Under 40 list for her work leading an effort to develop a pill for sickle cell disease'.

an example of employee advocacy

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In the U.K. advertisers, are viewed with intense suspicion. Indeed, one recent study found that advertising executives were the nation’s least-trusted profession overall.

However, people tend to trust other people more than advertisements or corporate brand communication.

Therefore, it makes sense to showcase your employees and give them a voice in your campaigns. 

That is more likely to resonate positively with your audience.

A good employee advocacy strategy will enable your employees to:

  • Boost company messages and promotions, which increases brand awareness.
  • Positively share about their experiences and work-life, offering an “inside look”
  • Act as an expert and recommend the company’s products and services to friends and family.

#2. Use Pharma Influencer Marketing On A Smaller Scale

Influencer marketing involves partnering with people who have established a following and a high level of engagement on social media platforms, and influencers.

The biggest challenge of pharma influence marketing is that the campaigns need to comply with the guidelines set up by the regulatory agency in the country.

For instance, social media posts in the U.S, need to comply with FDA and FTC regulations and guidelines.

In Australia, it is the TGA. And the UK has the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).

However, the market is projected to become a whopping $16.4 billion industry despite the regulatory challenges.

Regardless, pharma influencer marketing has had its share of slip-ups with regulatory agencies.

Such hiccups with a regulatory agency are exemplified by Kim Kardashian’s endorsement of the morning sickness pill Diclegis, which violated FDA rules in 2015. 

However, many examples of pharmaceutical brands that implemented effective social media influencer marketing are all over the internet.

Small and micro-influencers can be a great choice because they provide an even greater ROI.

Though their audience count is smaller, but are very loyal and engaged.

The best ambassadors for pharma brands are people who are personally involved in the issue promoted in the campaign.

Meck (known as MSD outside of the US and Canada) launched the Her Life. Her Adventures campaign with singer-songwriter and actress Mandy Moore.

The campaign was designed to encourage women to plan and get educated about family planning, including birth control options, so they can prepare for life's adventures.

Merck also used micro-influencers Tiffany Nguyen and rock climber Emily Harrington in the same campaign.

People are more trusting of influencers who can easily empathize with the product. 

Successful social media campaigns tell a compelling story that has an emotional connection with your audience.

#3. Use Video In Your Pharma Social Media Marketing Strategy

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There are many reasons why videos should be one of your top pharma social media marketing strategies.

88% of video marketers are satisfied with the ROI they get from their video marketing efforts on social media.

And according to HubSpot, 54% of consumers want to see more video content from a brand or business they support.

The 2018 State of Social Video Marketer Trends report showed that 73% of consumers are influenced by the social media presence of a company when making a purchasing decision. 

Videos make it easy for patients to watch as much relevant information as possible in a short time.

And entertaining short videos can attract attention and deliver easily digestible content.

If a pharma brand has a social media strategy that rocks, a unique selling point emerges, and the community of supporters grows. 

For example, Gilead positions itself as an expert on HIV with its video.

Check out its video to see an example of powerful video marketing.

Pharma brands can boost brand awareness, engage with their target audience and generate more sales with videos. 

Explainer videos, image films, and product videos are best for showing the viewer a 360° view of your company. 

You can use videos on your social media channels to showcase your products and know-how.

It can also help you highlight what your brand stands for and its values.

Johnson & Johnson uses image film to explain what the brand stands for.

It also uses different video categories on Facebook and YouTube to present itself in an informative way. 

The variety of theme it covers include health, family, and social responsibility.

Pharmaceutical companies can also increase their conversion rate by 86% when it includes a video on their landing page.

#4. Repurpose Content And Share On Social Media Channels

Repurposing content, also known as “content recycling” is the practice of reusing all or elements of existing content to expand its reach.

Repurposed content gets you more mileage from your evergreen content into a new format. For example, turning a blog post into an infographic.

Why should your pharma brand repurpose its content?

The #1 benefit of repurposing content is that it makes content MUCH easier to scale.

In other words: you don’t need to write every post, shoot every video, and design every infographic from scratch.

Instead, you can use a piece of new content as the basis for posts, videos, social media posts, webinars, and more.

Another benefit of repurposing content is that it allows your content to get in front of a completely new audience.

And it makes it easy to distribute it better on multichannel social media platforms.

Creating new content from scratch is not easy because it often takes time, effort, and financial resources.

And for pharmaceutical companies, the added regulatory considerations pose a further obstacle.

Pharma brands have a wealth of existing content that is readily available. But such content falls flat simply because of the context it is used.

But get this:

Simply copying and pasting a piece of content from your blog to social media isn’t content repurposing.

Instead, the correct way to recycle evergreen content is to reformat and tweak it to meet the expectations of each marketing channel.

There are many options in pharmaceutical marketing strategies for repurposing content.

How to repurpose pharma content

You can tweak and repurpose your blog post into a webinar and upload it to YouTube. 

For instance, here's an example of a Pfizer YouTube video,  

It is about How To Succeed in Drug Discovery: Top 3 Business Challenges.

The video above can be repurposed by shortening, editing, and turning it into a teaser or an explainer video and shared on multiple social media channels.

Repurposing content makes it easy to take a blog post and turn it into a video and make infographics based on it.

You could also create a guide out of many blog posts.

Or reuse your slideshows and create visuals. The possibilities are endless.

#5. Automate The Answering Of Pharma Social Media Inquiries

Pharma social media customer service is not optional.

Nowadays, it’s more important than ever to provide support to your customers in the channels they already frequent and use.

And that's because the easier it is for customers to reach your customer support team, the more likely it is for a bad experience to turn into an opportunity for creating customer delight. 

A chatbot is simply a fun and innovative way to improve your customer experience.

Website and social media account visitors can get answers to their pain points without requiring a human worker to reply.

The chatbot experience makes it easy for your customers to get answers from your company without the added expense of a new customer employee. 

A chatbot app can help you build a responsive set of answers to common questions without any knowledge of code or the expense of hiring a developer. 

In the pharmaceutical customer service and marketing context, it’s easy to see the benefits of a human-like helper. It can assist with customer queries 24/7.

You can use a chatbot to:

  • Automate repetitive tasks,
  • Make it easy for employees to focus on higher-value tasks,
  • Prompt user engagement and facilitate positive experiences,
  • Gather tons of valuable information and consumer insight.

#6. Use Social Listening To Boost Your Pharma Marketing

use social listening to boost pharma marketing

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Social media monitoring for the pharmaceutical industry makes it easy to focus on more important tasks.

It helps you find the target audience, and right brand influencers and raise awareness about your pharma & wellness brand.

It can also help you understand valuable market trends and customer insights.

Such insight is the key to scaling your pharma operations and shining in the online space and beyond.

What are social listening tools?

Social media listening tools allow you to understand exactly how customers and potential customers think about you by analyzing what they say on social channels.

You can also learn what they think about the competition. And you get this incredible market research readily available in real-time - as long as you know how to access it.

NOW:

Being on top of the information regarding your brand is extremely important in the pharmaceutical industry.

The pharma industry is not a stranger to fake news.

And the severity of misinformation is more crucial in the case of products or services upon which the well-being of people relies.

The fact is that the industry has a bad rap. 

That's why savvy pharmaceutical brands implement social listening to:

  • Monitor and manage their online brand reputation,
  • Battle fake news and misinformation,
  • Track consumer feedback across all online sources,
  • Tailor their social media strategy based on consumer insights,
  • Lead generation on social media.

Social media is well-suited for tracking consumer opinions, discussions, and reviews. 

Tracking those conversations helps you learn what people are saying. It makes it easy to understand which channels people prefer to use when talking about a topic of your interest.

It also helps you know when they talk about it, which context they mention it, and what information is wrong.

Once you have this information, you can completely adjust your content and tactics to suit the needs and preferences of your target audience.

#7. Use Gated Content To Generate Pharma Social Media Leads

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Another effective pharma social media strategy is lead generation.

Generating leads is one of the easiest ways to reach new audiences and boost sales.

If you produce high-quality blog content consistently and have established a loyal audience, it is easier to increase readership.

But, getting tons of people to consume your content doesn't mean all of them are your customers. 

So, how do you move them further through the funnel? 

Use gated content.

What Is Gated Content?

Gated content is any content visitors can access in exchange for their contact information, usually an email address. 

Gated content works because it provides an incentive or added value for lead generation.

Creating enticing gated content provides another stream of valuable leads. Pharma marketers can also gate content behind social media actions like follows or likes.

Here are examples of more popular gated content strategies: 

What Are The Benefits Of Gated Content?

  • Generating high-quality leads: For most pharma marketers, generating high-quality leads is the #1 reason for gating content. It makes it easy to attract potential customers to the sales pipeline. It increases the chances of building a database of credible, qualified leads. And this translates into the direct benefit of more efficient and increased sales.
  • Understanding your audience: Gating content can also help you better understand the needs of your audience. It also forces content strategists to produce high-quality content that closely aligns with the target audience. To get information about your users, you have to be sure that you're developing content that resonates with their challenges and pain points. And is also high-quality content that is relevant and valuable. Experimenting with different formats and types of gated content, helps you determine what holds enough interest and value for them. The insight can help you further segment your audience based on their interests, level of engagement, or any personal information you obtain like position, salary, etc.
  • Exclusivity: Gating content is the impression that a piece of content is valuable or is only available for a limited time. It is human psychology that while we all like to get something for free, the exchange of value for value, even if it’s small, carries a lot of weight. Of course, that means that your pharma gated content should actually have value!

#8. Work With A Professional Social Media Marketing Agency 

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A lot of companies don't consider hiring an outsourced pharma social media marketing agency as a necessary strategy.

And the reason is that everyone can open a social media account, post comments, and communicate with customers. 

However, hiring an agency to manage your social media presence could be one of the wisest investments your brand can make.

It’s less stressful, saves you money, and gets you more returns than you could’ve hoped to get on your own.

Here are other reasons why your brand should hire a professional social media marketing agency:

  • They’re experts at what they do: There are regulatory considerations and a learning curve to pharma social media marketing. But when you hire a professional social media agency, this skill-set is assured. They have a lot of practice in running social media channels. They have tested many strategies and found ones that work for the pharma industry. 
  • You’re hiring a team of professionals: A social media marketing agency has a team of skilled subject matter experts that know exactly what you need. They will craft high-quality articles and blog posts optimized for people and search engines. As they work together seamlessly, they produce social media campaigns that bring fantastic ROI for their clients.
  • They have dedicated resources: A pharma social media agency has all the resources needed to produce your campaigns under one roof. With an outsourced agency, you won’t need to subscribe to any new software services or buy any equipment. 
  • You save a lot of time: Crafting a profitable social media strategy and managing your social media accounts takes time if you choose to handle it yourself. With a professional agency, you save time you can use on your core business.

Managing social media networks is a 24/7 business.

Unless you have people who can be present all the time, you will need the expertise of an outsourced copywriting agency that manages social media too.

Consequently, they will help you reach your goals, increase visibility, and generate more leads and sales. 

After Thoughts On Using Effective Pharma Social Media Strategies

Pharma brands have regulatory challenges in using social media strategies. 

However, you can start incorporating these eight social media marketing into your pharma marketing immediately. 

Many pharma brands are still reluctant to embrace social media as part of their overall marketing strategy, but time is not on the side of latecomers. 

Now is the time to embrace the change in customer expectations and needs, starting with your move to digital and social. Make the best out of today’s technology by using storytelling. 

Create high-quality content that solves the pain points of your target audience, and they will relate to it.

Contact us to help you set up and implement effective pharma social media marketing strategies.

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