Social Media Tips For Pharma Companies

Recently I read an interview with Gillian Tachibana, head of eMedia and social media at Merck Serono. She pointed out some basic issues that pharmaceutical companies should consider when using social media in their business.

As I mentioned it in our last post, some of the pharma companies are embracing social media and realize the value that patient engagement and social communication hold for them. They also pay attention to the special regulatory requirements that the industry demands. But there is always room for growth, there are always opportunities for improvements.

Gillian Tachibana raises an interesting point when she says: “Social media is being treated as a separate beast in itself … it’s not.” Just because social media is considered a new approach and a new channel to reach customers – although it can’t longer be called the hottest thing in digital marketing –, it doesn’t mean it has to be handled as something separate from the company’s marketing strategy. It should be an integral part of all marketing activities.

She also argues that listening is key in social media, especially before deciding where to set up an account, what platform to choose for a marketing campaign. I do agree that to reach a target audience it is important to find out where they are, but I also think that pharma companies are not destined to follow their audience, they can be – and should be – the ones setting an example, they can be early adapters to be followed. It’s also crucial to emphasize that listening and monitoring doesn’t stop with choosing the right platform and setting up an account. First of all, a pharma company should be always alert and aware of all activities happening on its social media accounts. Secondly, one social media tool could be the right choice at one point, but in the digital environment changes come fast, new solutions appear day after day, and a digitally savvy company cannot afford to be left behind or not up-to-date with the latest technologies.

Another important lesson from the above mentioned post is that you can’t base an entire social media strategy on the idea that using social platforms is important because everybody else is doing it. Copying doesn’t work with digital campaigns, it gets obvious very quickly. Not to mention that social media efforts that are built on only competition and not for the benefit of the audience, are very likely to disappear, and disappear fast. That’s why it is better to take time to plan ahead, to consider every aspect of how social media might effect a company’s marketing activity. There is no need to “jump headfirst into a lake”, it looks like social channels are here to stay, so there is plenty of time to prepare and make improvements.


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