Three Ways to Play It Safe on Social Media

Monica Wong thumbnail Rather than forgoing social media, as many pharmaceutical brands choose to do these days, there are some effective and safe alternatives to incorporate it into the pharma marketing mix.

Contrary to what others think, pharmaceutical brands do understand the need for social media. One of the primary reasons why healthcare marketers steer clear of it is the strict FDA regulations around the reporting of adverse events. The seemingly unanimous decision by most brands, or at least so it seems, is to avoid open forums altogether.

This blog provides some encouragement to pharmaceutical marketers, as well as their consultants, that effective alternatives do exist in incorporating elements of social media into their marketing programs. Here are three tools healthcare marketers can implement to safely integrate a little social media into their marketing strategies.

1.     Polls & Quizzes

Polls and quizzes—the ones without open-ended questions—provide marketers with a controlled environment. With the right tagging, each question that is asked and every answer that is presented can provide powerful insights into your audiences. Of course, the key to engagement is incentive and the not-so-secret ingredient is free stuff. For consumers, the call to action can be as simple as: “Take this poll to receive $X off your next prescription.” For HCPs, it’s: “Take this poll to receive free samples of XYZ.”

2.     Social Sharing Buttons

Social sharing buttons allow marketers to identify which social media platforms their visitors are most active on. This can be an indicator of where the brand’s presence should be once the FDA establishes more concrete guidelines and practices for healthcare marketers on social media.

Social sharing buttons can also help provide information on what content visitors are sharing and where they are sharing it from on the site. In addition, social share functions allow marketers to tag unique identifiers to URLS so that referral visitors can be easily tracked backed to the referral source. It can help answer questions such as: Are visitors sharing more on Twitter, but is Facebook driving more traffic?

3.     Pinterest

The absence of an open forum eliminates the threat of visitors potentially expressing negative side effects. One of the few social media platforms that are solely visually focused is Pinterest. Parker White published a great article titled “Medical Marketing on Pinterest: The Safest Place to Start Health Care Social Media” on the perks of being on Pinterest.

Unlike Facebook, users aren’t on Pinterest for the conversation. They’re there to share and “pin” their favorite images. The lack of conversation means that marketers don’t have to consistently monitor and reply to comments. This makes managing Pinterest a lot less time consuming. In addition, since the social network is visually based, marketers already have the assets they need to start pinning.

Implementing one or two of these tools can help ease your brand safely into the social media space, while bringing it to levels of sophistication similar to consumer brands such as Nike and Coke.

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