10 years of promoting licensed medicines, medical services and medical devices via social media has presented us many a challenge to say the least. Often held back by the acres of red tape and concerns over dealing with consumer misuse, product abuse and the dreaded pharmacovigilance protocols, historically many brand managers often feel overwhelmed and simply decide that their efforts are often better focussed elsewhere.
However, there’s no denying that social media is here to stay and is the preferred medium as to how consumers today like to communicate, and more importantly gain insight and identify advocacy around making purchasing decisions, especially when it comes to their health and in particular, treating minor ailments.
Whilst the majority of brand managers need no convincing of the power of social media when it comes to bolstering their marketing strategy, experience tells us that it is often avoided based on the items discussed above. But it doesn’t need to be this way… find the right social media marketing agency and life can be so much easier, safer and rewarding.
As a pharmaceutical or healthcare marketer we hope that you’ll find this article helpful in relation to what to look for when you are on a quest to find a suitable digital or social media marketing agency.
Brand (product and parent company) reputation is everything and it is essential that any external partner puts this first. There are three key things to look for:
Pharmacovigilance – Does the agency have a proven track record and comprehensive understanding of pharmacovigilance, which is defined as:
“the practice of monitoring the effects of medical drugs after they have been licensed for use, especially in order to identify and evaluate previously unreported adverse reactions.”
You’re looking for experience in helping to prepare, or alignment with pharmacovigilance protocol for social media and some examples of when it has been used.
PAGB membership – The Proprietary Association of Great Britain (PAGB) is the UK’s trade association that represents OTC medicines, self care medical devices as well as food supplements. They are also an invaluable first line of defence against unregulated marketing for a brand.
You’re looking for an agency that has an association (typically paid for) with the PAGB and who will submit all marketing material and content for approval before releasing it to the public domain.
Rapid response time – If the agency you’re looking at manages a selection of channels for their clients it would be well worth reviewing their response time to enquiries. A score above 90% would be deemed acceptable, however over 95% and you’ve found a team passionate about keeping their client’s customers happy.
PROVEN SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETING STRATEGIES
Experience matters – whilst you may not struggle to find a marketing agency willing to help you set up, manage and promote across social media, without a proven track record you simply won’t be maximising your chances of success. Whilst the principles of social media marketing remain the same in theory, when it comes to marketing licensed medicines, strategies are indeed rather different based on the nature of the product as well as the consumer demand. Your product is unlikely to be something we aspire to own, but instead is more of a desperation purchase, bought to solve an immediate problem.
Your challenge is how to reach these people when they need it, driving awareness, which leads to the highest plane of social media marketing, positive advocacy, which drives the sale.
You’re looking for an agency with extensive experience and success within the consumer healthcare arena. Ask to understand the level of investment against return and exactly how that was measured before you commit to a working relationship.
The digital marketing space is possibly one of the most challenging to keep pace with. However, it’s easy to spot an agency who is looking to the future and keen to introduce innovation to the mix for the benefit of elevating your brand above the oceans of noise created on a daily basis across social media.
Virtual reality / augmented reality and mixed reality – The opportunity for healthcare brands that choose to invest in VR/AR are infinite. Whilst we are still in the early days of these exciting ‘virtual’ realities (this article being written early 2017), the price of hardware is coming down and making it affordable for the mass market to enjoy. A forward thinking agency is one getting involved in these exciting realities, and with an eye firmly on healthcare!
Artificial Intelligence – A.I. and healthcare are a match made in heaven, especially when integrated with social media (think Facebook Chat Bots for example). The challenge for the pharmaceutical and healthcare business is how to enhance the patient experience and get the best possible result for them utilising a medium that they can understand and easily follow. The rise of the mobile device has largely driven this and A.I. is already taking its place at the head of the table as the most important healthcare innovation over the next few years.
Social gamification – We’ve proven that by developing incentivised social games (for OTC brands) with a strong educational aspect to them, not only increases awareness but does indeed drive hard sales. These make for incredibly innovative strategies that often outperform TV and at a fraction of the cost. These games essentially subconsciously educate your target market about your product’s values and usages.
Social media sourced Real World Evidence – Research budgets are often extensive for OTC brands, and can take years to conclude. Social media is now lending itself to innovations around data collection for the benefit of better appreciating consumer usage habits, but more interestingly to allow the brand to make further marketing claims that were previously costly to achieve. We were the world’s first social marketing agency to develop and define this process and to date we’ve saved our clients tens of millions of pounds in costs to achieve a similar outcome.
If you’re looking for a social media marketing agency to support your OTC or healthcare brand then we’d like you to benefit from our experience, proven strategies and innovative approach to getting you noticed. Contact us.