The Pharmaceutical Marketer's Forecast for 2017: Branded Rx Comes out of the Darkness

January 10, 2017
Posted by: Matthew Hammer, VP- Marketing

Pharmaceutical companies are great at communicating, but are they any good at being social?
According to Bowen Craggs & Co., in 2016 four of the top 10 online communicators were pharmaceutical companies.
David Bowen, cofounder of Bowen Craggs & Co., said, “A lot of these companies are using their corporate websites and associated social media channels at an enterprise level to try and get their story across.”

Top Online and Pharmaceutical Social Media Communicators

Top Online and Pharmaceutical Social Media Communicators

That’s great news for the pharmaceutical industry. But, it’s important to dig a bit deeper into the metrics. Were pharmaceutical companies and their brands really being social, using social media as intended? Did they use social for connections and dialogue with patients, health care providers (HCPs) and caregivers in 2016? Or, was this simply a reflection of these companies size? After all, social media is about the transformative power of social dialogue. And sometimes brands and large global companies forget that. To see success from social media, businesses should focus on making connections and learning from customers to serve them better, especially in the pharmaceutical and healthcare spaces.
Social media can be daunting in a regulatory-heavy environment. We understand.
Not only do pharmaceutical brands need to create compelling, interesting and interactive content on their social media properties, they need to have processes and systems in place to monitor and respond to adverse events (AEs). This means that through pervasive monitoring of social media properties being able to identify, escalate, route, report and track every adverse event.
Many pharmaceutical companies are taking part in social media and even creating branded Rx pages. However, due to the intrinsic risks around adverse events described above, many of these brands aren’t actually being social. What they publish tends to be brand focused, broadcasting a brand’s message versus establishing dialogue with patients, HCPs or caregivers. They miss the two-way nature of social media entirely.
2017: Pharmaceutical Social Media Comes To Light
Here’s LiveWorld’s prediction for 2017: We believe that smart pharmaceutical companies are going to rethink their social strategy. Their brand managers and marketing departments are going to challenge themselves to use social media more effectively, being more responsive and interactive with patients, HCP’s and caregivers. You’ll see more brands having authentic social presences, initiating conversations, answering questions, and creating branded Facebook pages with comments turned on. Those conversations will provide paybacks like loyalty, product discovery, or purchases. But yes, those dialogues mean that brands open themselves up to potential adverse events. User-generated content always comes with the risk of inaccuracies, inappropriate language, or AEs, but that’s a risk no matter how social you act.
Being more receptive to patients in social media, in other words being more social, is the best way to lead the conversation and control your coverage of AEs, and through your respected voice be a part of the dialogue. It also means that brands should put the appropriate measures and safeguards in place to manage adverse events, like those solutions offered by LiveWorld.
Over the last year, we’ve seen an increase in branded social media properties in the pharmaceutical space. These brands should be applauded for understanding and working within the guidance provided by the FDA. Despite the concerns of your internal regulatory and pharmacovigilance (PV) teams, there is a light at the end of the tunnel when it comes to branded social properties.
It’s clear that pharmaceutical brands can take part and have conversations with patients, HCPs and caregivers while being compliant with the FDA. Novo Nordisk on Twitter and Gilenya on Facebook are a few excellent examples of pharmaceuticals doing social media well.
On Facebook Gilenya is an effective pharmaceutical social media user

With 490 reactions, 195 shares and more than 30 comments, this interactive post from Gilenya encourages Facebook members to respond. It worked. Patients responded in a number of ways, including, “It’s helped me to live a normal life,” and “I appreciate the break from having to shoot up every other day for over 13+ years with my acquired gift! LOL! Easy to manage and remember 1 pill/ day.”

Some Pharma Social Media Best Practices
A good start is a branded presence with comments turned on, enabling a brand to start building relationships with its audience. Plus, the social site will convey a human, non-corporate voice. This takes some effort and practice, but the outcome can be resounding. These types of social media properties are able to build relationships between people and brands – and provide crucial peer to peer support for patients.
Whether you are looking for a branded or unbranded presence to support your pharmaceutical brand, LiveWorld is an ideal partner for social media success in highly regulated industries. From creation to execution, to monitoring for adverse events, LiveWorld is a Facebook development partner, backed by over 20 years of experience in social media. We’re here to help you blaze a trail in 2017 for successful, compliant and engaging social media experiences.
Take Your Social Media To The Next Level
Learn from our social media experts in our on-demand video “The Pharmaceutical Marketer’s Forecast for 2017.” You’ll:

  • Learn more about LiveWorld’s forecast for pharmaceutical brands and social media in 2017
  • Come away with best practices for managing adverse events
  • Discover how to get started engaging with your consumers in social media
  • And more!

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