Is it possible to get thousands of social media fans in healthcare?

Lourdes thumbnailConsumer Product and Service Communication has taken a Copernican turn since social media appeared. Content generated by users has led to a level of dynamization almost unthinkable a few years ago. Social networks have revitalized many withered sectors such as fashion and music which had been facing the new era with a certain amount of fright.

An inevitable question comes to mind: Are there any chances of creating the same revolution in the promotion of pharmaceutical products?

As a first thought, social networks are not a tool you can expect results from in every scenario. Just as TV campaigns or street boards aren’t applicable to every single target or product, social networks may not be efficient in the promotion of every pharmaceutical product.

Before answering the question posed in this post’s headline, it is best to ask ourselves three questions:

1.    Is the drug intended to treat severe illness?

In general terms, there’s a direct relation between the seriousness of the illness that the drug is for and the suitability of the social media campaign. Health sectors such as allergy, fertility, and smoking cessation, for example, are easily accessible through social networks, whilst campaigns in cancer, nosocomial infections, or stroke are not suitable to be lead through this channel.

2.    Are we managing an acute process or a chronic illness?

Social networks work better in communication environments where the disease is a chronic illness. The patient, his family, and caregivers are much more participatory when they know that they have to live with the illness for a long period of time.

3.    What is our target group—doctors or patients?

It’s always easier to drive health communication through social media to patients than to doctors. Doctors’ virtual communities are usually reluctant about direct or suggested presence of pharma companies or their brands.

In conclusion, if your client has sent to you a social network strategy brief regarding a drug treating a serious illness, with acute episodes, focusing the campaign to doctors, you have a hot potato in your hands. Surely it would be better to convince them to focus their effort on other channels. If, on the contrary, you have been briefed on a product indicated in a common chronic process and you have to reach patients, congratulations—social networks might possibly be the best solution.

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