Science is Beautiful Blog

E Marketing Congress Tries to Drag Pharma into the Light of Social Media

Posted by John Kouten, CEO

Nov 22, 2013 3:43:00 PM

John Kouten
The 3rd annual Pharma eMarketing Congress recently convened in Barcelona, Spain. This year the conference - which brings together life science and pharma representatives from all around the world - focused primarily on social media.  It was clear that most other industries are far ahead of pharma when it comes to utilizing social media.

A recent study reported that over 50 percent of pharma companies anticipated incorporating an element of social networking to communicate with customers and the general public. The results of a 2005 study of more than 6,000 adults indicated that although the physician was still the most trusted source of information, 48.6% of the subjects went online first and then consulted their physician, whereas only 10.9% talked to their physician first.

Another study found that after receiving a diagnosis, over 50 percent of American adults visited a pharma-sponsored website. Consequently, the movement of companies towards the various forms of social media, such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, seems to be a very logical progression.

Unfortunately there remains much ambiguity and tentativeness around the use of social media among pharmaceutical companies. Literature used at the Pharma eMarketing Congress indicated that only about six (6) percent of traffic to pharmaceutical sites was driven by social media. Furthermore, many representatives and administrators within the industry remain unconvinced social media actually provides an effective resource for their companies. Many others are preoccupied with legal concerns and other regulatory issues.  The role of social media and its usefulness within the pharma industry continues to undergo very polarizing debates.

Despite the uncertainty, there are many cases proving that pharma can successfully and safely use social media. One of the earliest, and most notable campaigns, was that of Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals. In 2010, BI used social media to promote online screenings, and have since had an active presence on both YouTube and Facebook. Over two and a half million people have completed the online screening, and the company recently celebrated its Fifty-thousandth ‘Like’ on Facebook.

Novo Nordisk’s sponsorship of IndyCar driver Charlie Kimball’s Twitter account is another high profile example. Under the Twitter handle ‘@racewithinsulin,’ Kimball addresses the challenges faced by an athlete with Type 1 Diabetes. The front-page of the account contains a direct link to the website for the company's FlexPen, which delivers insulin injections.

Even in the face of an effective social media program, skepticism within the pharma industry will likely remain. This is frustrating since the web and its myriad of moving digital parts is exquisitely measurable.  The use of inbound marketing strategies provides marketers with easy, reproducible and measurable social media processes.  Attracting, converting and closing business is only a matter of building an online platform and consistently filling it with content your publics desire.  

Ultimately, social media is the future of marketing and consumer communication. It has already revolutionized advertising, while giving ordinary individuals the means to publicly express opinions they have about the products and the services they use. Regardless of any uncertainty, the dominance of influence held by social media outlets will persist and expand.

To learn more about inbound marketing and how pharma can safely and effectively use social media check us out here:

Topics: facebook, Social media in pharma marketing, inbound marketing, digital marketing


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