Social Media And Pharma: Thinking Ahead

With 2011 slowly coming to an end there are more and more articles surfacing trying to evaluate the past year and look ahead to predict what’s coming in 2012. Pharma is no different in this aspect either. With digital trends and social media being the center of the attention for a while now, it is no surprise that a lot of posts foresee online pharma engagement for next year. And looking at the progress that has happened the last couple of months I think we could finally be hopeful about social media adaptation in the pharma industry.

There are so many examples to mention from Sanofi’s WhyInsulin? Youtube channel to Pfizer’s Twitter account spreading global anti-counterfeiting messages. In 2011 we also saw the birth of Google+ which starts to draw attention from pharma as well with Roche and Pfizer both setting up accounts. While Facebook stirred up some controversy within the industry by pushing for user comments on fan pages, a lot of companies took the challenge and used this as an opportunity to connect with costumers.

For quite a while the conversation was about the need for pharma to acknowledge the importance of social media and a strong online presence. In 2011 I feel like we finally got over the statistics, we didn’t need numbers anymore to be convinced by how many people turn to the internet and social media for health information. The industry moved on from the question of “IF” to the “HOW”. And that is a significant step ahead.

With new profiles, accounts set up and social initiatives started it is pharma’s job in 2012 to concentrate on the “HOW” and use social media for what it is created for. That means no more one-way messages, but instead engagement. Connection, communication, engagement and community – these should be the key words for a successful 2012.

Embracing The Era Of Mobile

The last couple of days presented several news pieces that prove: we are indeed rapidly approaching the era of mobile. The longest Blackberry outage so far made people religiously using Blackberry Messenger furious. On the other hand, faithful believers of Apple were more than happy to share their numerous versions of “I told you so.” The timing was horrible for Blackberry and never better for Apple: days before the release of the new iPhone 4s.

It is safe to say, that by now mobile technology overtook our day-to-day life. But how much influence does mobile have  when it comes to our habits? And what does that mean for marketers, especially in the field of healthcare? The infographic below helps to understand just how much are mobile devices part of our lifestyle.

Reading these numbers and data it is obvious, that the old model of TV and print focused marketing is outdated, therefore a lot of money spent with minimum reach and success. It is time to consider regrouping marketing expenses and paying close attention to mobile technologies and trends.

(Source: – shared by Gary Monk)

The Social Fight For Pharma

The social fight for pharma companies has begun. As part of the never-ending rivalry between the social media giants, Facebook and Google, one of them is quick to realize what the other one missed out on. And while I stated numerous times that in my opinion Facebook “forcing” pharma to communicate is actually a good thing and doesn’t mean a big change, it gave a reason to a lot of people to start comparing the relationship of Google and Facebook with pharma.

Since Google made it possible for companies to decide what suggested videos appear on their corporate Youtube channels the score is 1-0 in favor of Google according to most pharma marketers. A lot of them only see the actions and not the consequences. They see that Google gives them more freedom on Youtube, while Facebook is introducing new restrictions.

But will full control and no communication stand against monitored conversation and active engagement? I doubt it. Sure, it is nice to oversee what kind of videos are suggested on your channel, but you can do that with Facebook ads as well. And picking the company you are in online is not the same as having the option to turn off the social aspect of a site. One is understandable, one is totally against the basic idea of social media.

So painting Google as the good parent, who gives you freedom, while making Facebook seem like the strict, evil one is nowhere near fair. Even comparing the two actions (allowing selected suggestions and turning on comments) is like comparing apples and oranges. And while people like to keep score and watch the social media moguls compete we should remember that maybe it is not worth to compromise the essence of being social to gain more traffic or an industry’s support.

(Source: ePharma Summit Blog)

The Digital Era Of Healthcare

I have said before that quoting numbers from studies endlessly and keep proving that we live in the era of social networks is pointless. After a while people can say: “Ok, we get it! A lot of us use Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, etc.” Even the role of online content and social engagement in healthcare don’t really need further proof to be taken seriously.

Despite all that I wanted to share this video below. First of all because it includes all of the most important data about social media use and how that effects healthcare and patient information. Secondly because I believe that for whatever reason the same facts presented in a fast pace video can grab people’s attention better than any results in written words.

To make it easier for viewers to follow, here are the key findings included in the video:

  • There are 2.08 billion internet users worldwide
  • That number increased 11% in the last year only
  • There are 476,213,935 internet users in Europe
  • There are over 156 million blogs online
  • Over 200 million people on Twitter sending out 40 billion tweets per year
  • Wikipedia has over 3.65 million articles that would take more than 123 years to read
  • Facebook has over 750 million users – if it were a country, it would be the third largest in the world after China and India
  • Every second someone joins LinkedIn
  • Youtube serves 1 billion videos everyday
  • Google logs 2 billion searches daily
  • Healthcare is the second most search for topic on Google
  • Healthcare is the third largest web activity across all generations
  • 85% of online Europeans turn to the internet and other technology for health and prescription information
  • In a survey of 4,000 physicians 88% said they used internet resources to search for professional information
  • 48% claimed to visit Wikipedia more than once a week compared to only 16% visiting BMJ online
  • 50% of patients discuss what they have found online with their doctors
  • Patients who visit a brand website are more likely to request a drug by name
  • 44% of physicians prescribe a requested drug
  • 49% of physicians will recommend a website to patients – 80% for disease or condition education and awareness, 62% for patient support, 56% for health or lifestyle change, 37% for drug and product specific information, 22% for online communities for patients with the same condition
  • 95% of physicians use handheld devices and smartphones to download applications and access medical information

(Source: Pharma Marketing: The Weekly Dose)

Social Media Marketing – Just How Powerful?

It’s time for another inforgraphic. In this post we look at how effective certain social channels can be when it comes to advertisement campaigns. When you look at numbers separately it is hard to decide if your campaign was a success, or what kind of rates you should be looking for. The charts below compare some of the top ads that received the highest level of responses on different social media platforms.

The numbers are almost mind blowing: for example Evian’s ad featuring roller skating babies got 65.5 million views in 2 years. That seems to be outrageous. Until you see, that the “Will it blend?” iPad video received 12 million in only 4 months, while Coca-Cola’s promoted Twitter trend reached 86.5 million impressions in a single month. While Facebook seems to be popular for small businesses, since 70% of them use the social site for marketing purposes, sharing ads is becoming more and more expensive with prices increasing 70% in just the first half of 2011.

Even if you don’t compare your campaigns to the ones featured in the infographic (to keep at least part of your self-confidence), it is interesting to see just how big of a buzz you can create through creatively using social channels.

(Source: Mashable)

Social Media In The EU

Which country likes social media the most and where is it considered to be dangerous? The European Commission published a study about social media in different countries of the European Union. According to the data presented below internet users in Poland, Latvia, Slovakia and Hungary seem to be the most enthusiastic about social sites. For instance 80% of Hungarian internet users find these applications useful and exciting, while in Germany, France or Italy these percentages are a lot lower.

A research conducted in 2010 suggests that in some countries the declining popularity of social networking sites is in connection with the fear of misuse of personal data. The map below supports this assumption: countries with fewer people using social sites have a higher percentages of social networkers who don’t feel that their personal data is safe online. While in Hungary only 39% of users on social sites are concerned about data safety, in Germany a higher rate of social networkers worry about their personal data (58%).

It would be interesting to see how concern or the lack of fear influences the activity of internet users on social media sites. Would they be more careful with sharing information in Italy than in Poland? And if not, is it possible that the numbers represent bad experiences about security breaches?

(Source: The Economist)

Do Comments Help Your Brand On Youtube?

Pharma brands will face less of a challenge on Youtube than they do on Facebook since the video hosting site shows no signs of plans to force pharma companies to allow comments on their channels. But do comments influence the popularity of your Youtube channel? Is that what viewers look for when watching videos online?

Looking at data published in early July about pharma and Youtube it is hard to conclude any kind of trend when it comes to the ability to comment on these different channels. While some brands achieved significant growth compared to results last December in number of subscribers, channel and upload views, some companies’ Youtube presence stayed stagnant. But is it true that user experience is more enjoyable if comments are allowed? Is it true that a channel is more popular if viewers can express their opinions after watching the videos? My hypothesis was that indeed, a Youtube channel is more user-friendly if commenting is supported and welcomed. The numbers proved me wrong.

The percentages of viewer growth presented below show that there is no obvious relationship between the possibility of comments and the popularity of a Youtube channel. The four channels that achieved growing numbers of subscribers, channel views and upload views on the largest scale were Amgen, BayerChannel, Genentech and TibotecHCV, all four of them with more than 100% of growth. Three of these achieved the promising rates without allowing comments, while on the channel of Genentech viewers could comment. There were also channels with considerably lower percentages with and without comments from viewers. After checking the four most rapidly growing channels it turned out that even on Genentech, while people had the opportunity to share their thoughts, no comments appeared after the videos.

This small analysis proves that whether you decide to allow or disable comments on a Youtube channel, whether you monitor it or cancel the commenting feature entirely, there is a different decisive factor that makes your Youtube channel successful: content. Not the content provided by viewers, but content provided by you and your company.

(Source: Eye on FDA)