Despite the existence of guidelines, only a few life science companies integrate social media in their marketing mix. Still, others stay away from online and social media completely. The best life science companies know they must catch the digital wave or risk alienating their target audiences and losing ground on their competition. They also know that this wave is large, choppy and complex, so it is wise to wear a life-jacket.
The Way It Was
In 2014, The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) finally provided the life science industry with the following online and social media draft guidelines:
- Postmarking Submissions of Interactive Promotional Media for Prescription Human and Animal Drugs and Biologics
- Internet/Social Media Platforms with Character Space Limitations – Presenting Risk and Benefit Information for Prescription Drugs and Medical Devices
- Internet/Social Media Platforms: Correcting Independent Third-Party Misinformation About Prescription Drugs and Medical Devices
Before these guidelines, life science companies engaged in internet and social media communication at risk. Understandably, life science companies feared a variety of potential risks:
- Adverse event reports on online and social media
- Sponsor responsibility regarding adverse event reports
- Damage to reputation resulting from public “letters of violation”
- Financial hardships and reputation damage from required “corrective advertising”
- Improper use of fair balance for prescription drugs
- Violation of pre-approval promotion regulations
The Way It Is
Today, sophisticated life science marketers understand their audience, recognize social media opportunities, and adhere to regulatory guidelines. These savvy life science marketers stay close to experts who know the exact letter of the FDA social media guidelines. They also partner with experts who know how to exploit social and digital media channels, and how to utilize tailored online channels designed to reach segmented target audiences such as, patients, professionals, payers, and researchers.
We admire those life science companies who saw the wave, caught the wave and continue to ride the social media wave. These leaders are in the tube hanging ten while others half-heartedly wade in the white water, or worse, remain onshore scratching their heads. These leaders benefit from a variety of branded and unbranded online and digital communication tactics, including:
- Website content
- Social media
- Video sharing
- Content sharing
In addition to fundamental awareness building, online and social media tactics take your marketing to the next level by enabling sales-related metrics such as qualified lead identification and sales pull through. These digital channels also enable critical lead nurturing through opt-in email and customer relationship management strategies and tactics.
Follow the Leaders
High performance marketing teams also capitalize on the exquisite measurability of online communication. Marketers can choose from a wide array of software analytics options to monitor, measure and report the ROI of their social media programs. Or it may be more efficient to partner with experienced agencies that help with online strategy, content development, monitoring and reporting vital dashboard analytics. Partners can also help with qualified lead engagement and nurturing. Analytics also provide real-time data which informs and enables ongoing program customization. This really amps-up marketing effectiveness and cost management, as well as ROI.
Be bold! Paddle into the line-up and enjoy life “in the barrel” of effective and compliant online and social media communications. As social media and life science experts, JFK will continue to keep its pulse on this critically important communication evolution.
In the meantime, we enthusiastically invite you to share any feedback with us regarding your experience.