Getting Creative While Remaining Compliant in Social Media

July 3, 2023
Posted by: Jena Dengrove, VP- Creative Director

In this post, I’d like to talk about strategies for developing innovative digital and social media campaigns that not only captivate audiences but also adhere to regulatory guidelines. By incorporating engaging storytelling techniques and interactive elements, healthcare organizations can effectively connect with patients and healthcare professionals (HCPs) while standing out from the crowd of the crowd of general content and campaigns. Furthermore, by carefully mapping the patient journey and empathically addressing their needs and challenges, creative content can better reflect their experiences and foster stronger connections.

Streamlining the medical, regulatory, and legal (MRL) review and approval processes is crucial part of campaign implementation, and actively addressing concerns related to data privacy, accuracy, and ethical implications helps build trust and allows for the creation of compelling, attention-grabbing content that positively influences behaviors.

In pharma marketing campaigns, social media continues to grow in importance. In response, pharma needs to continue to drive engagement. I think now more than ever, brands have realized that social media plays a key role in reaching audiences. That applies across the board, but in pharma specifically, paid social is absolutely vital in growing audience awareness and ultimately leading to trackable conversion actions. That’s what makes social so exciting today.

The best social media campaigns reflect the patient journey in their creative. It’s crucial to embrace the patient journey in a way that is really going to make them feel that a particular brand or campaign is talking with them and not at them. The foundation of this is to dive deep into, for example, a condition and the way it impacts the patients, caregivers and even HCPs on an emotional level. To illustrate, one of the brands we work with deals with a rare disease that affects only about 2,500 people in the US. We work on a lot of rare disease awareness campaigns and related brand launches, and for this particular condition, the burden of the standard of care treatment impacted patients’ daily lives in several ways. For example, planning around a monthly injection schedule was incredibly inconvenient. Patients often had to miss work or schedule doctor visits around family events. In addition, the actual injection was painful and had lasting effects of bruising or soreness that made regular activities challenging in the hours, or sometimes days, that followed. For these and many other reasons, having an oral medication approved to treat this condition for the first time was hugely significant, and our creative needed to demonstrate that. From showing a droplet coming out of a needle that then morphed into a pill, to leveraging contemporary memes like “how it started” (showing a needle) beside “how it’s going” (showing a pill), to a wide variety of patient testimonials about their frustration with injections, we were able to reflect the realities and frustrations that this population was experiencing.

But, in addition to patients, we must remember that HCPs also use social media for several purposes, and we need to get creative with that audience, too. In quickly growing numbers, HCPs are using social media to connect with their professional peers and to stay up to date on new developments in their fields. It’s important to note that HCPs are patients and consumers too (and sometimes first). So, when we make any content for social, we want to ensure it will resonate with HCPs and drive conversation, it’s just as important to look at it through the lens of “will this move them?” either emotionally or intellectually. For example, we have found that patient stories drive a substantial amount of social engagement with HCPs. So, when creating campaigns to drive condition awareness, or to illustrate the points of product differentiation in a new drug, using the patient voice really speaks to an HCP target as well.

A key partner for our journey to creating stand out content is our colleagues in the Medical, Legal and Regulatory (MRL) teams. From creative content to enabling comments, a strong partnership with your MRL team can maximize your marketing efforts. To establish this type of working relationship, begin by having meetings early in the process about the content and topics you envision. Before you even get into the details of the project, set guardrails, processes, and expectations as a team along with your brand marketing leads. Another tactic that works well is to share what “good looks like” from others. One of the things we do here at LiveWorld is keep a robust library of screenshots of creative from other brands to use as examples to give a wider industry practice as context to requests we make of our MRL partners. We also study and learn from what has worked in the past and what hasn’t – especially any rulings by the FDA regarding creative. At the end of the day, we are lucky to work with so many brands that really understand the power of social media to reach our audiences. We believe our role is to push our Marketing and MRL partners to think beyond the comfortable and into the possible. We create compliant content that everyone feels good about, but that also moves the needle for brands – whether that’s driving traffic to websites and driving MVA (most valuable action) completions or driving conversations.

You know, for a lot of brands, having comments enabled on social media can be a daunting idea, but it’s also one of the most powerful tools we have. Comments enable peer-to-peer endorsements which is the most trusted type of endorsement you can have as a brand. Creative that really resonates with your audiences will lead people to spread your content by sharing it or if comments are enabled, by @mentioning others think would find the content relevant. Having consumers directly locate others that have their condition is an incredibly valuable lead especially in rare diseases. The other great value to enabling comments is that often as brands, there are things we can’t say ourselves. Things like, “This medication is so great!” But the patients can say it for us. Then others will join those conversation threads and drive it forward. We can also mine those comments and we have approval processes in place so we can leverage that UGC in future content we create.

Anyone who has concerns about having comments enabled should talk to us; we have an incredibly thorough compliance process for monitoring and responding to comments, including any that might qualify as an AE (adverse event). Our team is specially trained for this and any other topics that might need to be escalated in a timely fashion.

Speaking of the MLR review and approval process, I am often asked for tips or techniques to accelerate it. There really is no such thing as “accelerating” the process. But some of what I mentioned above can certainly help decrease the rounds of review and changes that might occur. That makes the timeline from MRL submissions to MRL approvals potentially quicker, which makes everyone happy!

Finally, developing attention-grabbing and behavior-influencing content that catches someone’s attention in social media is the holy grail we seek to create every day. Because today, the average social media user scrolls the height of the Statue of Liberty every day in their feeds. (That is a stat given to us a few years ago by META) we need to, not only, be able to stop someone during that scroll, but we also have to make them want to scroll back to something they almost passed and then consume that content. One of the best examples of this is a brand we work with that is a branded medication for a condition that affects more than 30 million Americans, mostly women. How do you take information about medication interactions or developing a daily routine and make that sexy? Make that really fun, show-stopping creative? We are doing just that with a wide variety of content that is highly engaging from quizzes to patient testimonials, to mantras that inspire, and more.

But as good as any of that creative is, to truly move the needle, it must be rooted in strategy and data. We really pride ourselves on being a full team, and we collaborate to find those great inroads that take shape in the work. THAT is the power of the intersection of bold creative, great social strategy, and strict compliance. It’s what makes us who we are at LiveWorld.

To learn more about how LiveWorld develops thumb-stopping creative in social media for pharma and healthcare clients while remaining compliant, listen to the MM+M Studio Session podcast featuring Peter Friedman, Chairman & CEO, LiveWorld.