Building a Patient-Centric Digital Marketing Strategy: Consider Facebook as a Customer Service Platform
By Sarah Ray,
Senior Research Analyst
When it comes to digital marketing strategies, the life science industry may have been slower than other industries to establish a social media presence. Today, however, many pharmaceutical and device teams are involved with Facebook, YouTube and other social media platforms. According to a Cutting Edge Information study, some surveyed Top 20 teams have had a social media strategy in place for over five years.
With pharma increasingly involved in social media, the issue has transformed from joining the fray to maximizing social media initiatives’ value. The same Cutting Edge Information study found that patients remain the most popular social media audience for pharmaceutical and device teams. Roughly 63% of surveyed brand teams report designing social media initiatives with patients in mind (Figure 1). An even greater percentage of surveyed corporate-level teams—75%—report doing the same (Figure 2).
When developing social media platforms, one of the biggest challenges for life science teams is avoiding off-label conversations with healthcare audiences. The ability to disable user comments on Facebook has helped some pharmaceutical and device teams alleviate this challenge while still maintaining a social media presence. Unlike other industries’ commercial Facebook pages, pharmaceutical and device teams remain able to disable user comments on their branded Facebook pages, following Facebook’s August 2011 update.
However, when it comes to maximizing the return on social media initiatives, not all members of the life science community agree that disabling Facebook comments is the best course of action. According to some industry experts, this extra protection—while reducing companies’ risk of running afoul of off-label restrictions—equates to a missed opportunity. By disabling Facebook comments, brand- and corporate-level teams lose the ability to interface with healthcare audiences online and provide reliable product use information.
A recent article, published in Medical Marketing & Media suggests that social media pages operating as “customer service platforms” represent a significant value-add for pharma and the patients they serve. By enabling companies to interact directly with patients, social media channels help life science teams resolve patient queries and indirectly encourage patient adherence. Admittedly, two-way dialogues between pharma and healthcare audiences may require life science teams to undertake additional preventative measures to assure regulatory compliance. For example, companies may need to develop and approve broad response types to consumer posts. However, this extra work could pay huge dividends, both in terms of facilitating patient engagement and encouraging patients to remain with their current treatment regimens.