Social Media Guiding Pharma Market Intelligence
With the rise of social media and mobile technology worldwide, it was only a matter of time until industries turned to social intelligence for market insight. Big Pharma is typically a latecomer to the social arena, lagging behind other industries that face less-restrictive requirements. However, the promise of Big Data and the prospect of reality mining and social analytics have more and more companies looking to the web.
It’s no secret that social analytics and patient engagement strategies are great for sales. But without regulations in place, companies are wary about outbound social media programs. Since Pharma is still waiting for the FDA’s social media guidances, which are set to release in July 2014, only a few leading pharmaceutical companies have jumped into the social arena with both feet. Johnson & Johnson, one of the pharmas to pioneer the social spaces, has used social networks for crisis management, apologizing to consumers after the FDA discovered irregularities in one manufacturing plant. Also, Novartis has begun using YouTube and Facebook to bolster sales for several of its OTC drugs. While some companies are wary of outbound efforts, pharmas are leveraging inbound social media software and analytics to improve market intelligence efforts.
While they might not be actively engaging patients (yet), pharmas are able to employ listening techniques to gain a clearer picture of their target markets. Forward listening allows analysts to gather information from social conversations in real-time, keeping the company up-to-date on the latest issues or accolades. Backward listening allows analysts to create a historical baseline of social sentiment toward a brand. These conversations further a company’s understanding of its targeted physicians’ and patients’ feelings about a particular brand and help to identify unmet needs. Going a step further, as companies better understand patient questions, the information gathered from social listening can also help to create brand packaging and patient education materials and to guide physician-sales rep interactions.
Of course, social intelligence doesn’t stop at understanding a single company’s products. Pharmas can also leverage social listening techniques to gain competitive intelligence. With the large amounts of conversations available via social networks and patient and physician communities, pharmas can also understand their consumers’ experiences with – and sentiments toward – competing products. In fact, with enough data, comparative analysis can reveal the decisions that lead patients to switch from one brand to another.
With the rise of Big Data, social listening is just one of many intelligence-gathering methods opening up to the pharma industry. As pharmaceutical companies are able to implement more outbound social initiatives, the amount of available analytics and social intelligence will only grow.