Often our clients will ask us to take a look outside the industry to see how other companies are successfully employing their social media strategies. Although most organizations don’t have to deal with the unique challenges pharma faces, we can still learn and take inspiration from their experiences. Here’s a list of best practices that we think pharma should have no problem integrating with their own tactics.
1. Give Your Brand Personality
When interacting on social media, you don’t want to convey that you have the personality of a doorknob. Brands shouldn’t be afraid to have a sense of humor or to reach out and communicate to their followers in a more human way. Whatever voice you chose for your brand, make sure it’s consistent. Dominos has embraced this tactic with franchise owner Ramon de Leon. Before the social media mainstream hit the stage, Ramon became a well-known personality to Dominos fans in the Chicago area by using micro-blogging websites. Now Ramon can be seen delivering pizzas to customers via Twitter. Boehringer Ingelheim maintains a personable attitude on their Twitter account, which is managed by two employees, John Pugh and Faith Busch (their pictures reside on the background of the page). Their casual language and attitude makes this corporate page feel more approachable to followers.
2. Capitalize on Existing Opportunities
To be good at social media doesn’t mean you have to invent the greatest new trend; all you have to do is know when and where to get in on the fun. The example here comes from Virgin America’s “Awkward Family Vacation Contest” in which prize money was awarded to the contestant with the most embarrassing or awkward family photo. Instead of creating their own website, Virgin sponsored the contest on an existing awkward family photo site. Users were able to submit their photos either through the site or on Virgin’s Facebook page. The campaign was a hit with existing customers and also created an opportunity for Virgin to engage a new audience through the sponsored website. With partnerships, healthcare companies can align themselves with successful campaigns and seize the opportunity to gain awareness.
3. Take a Customer Service Approach
Chances are, your customers use at least one social media platform in which they have discussions around topics that matter to them. This is their space and they decide what content they want to interact with. A great opportunity for businesses lies in customer service. For example, when the Assistant VP of Social Media Engagement from SunTrust Bank typed SunTrust into Twitter, she was amazed by the amount of conversations going on about the brand while the company was completely in the dark. That led the company to activate their Twitter account. Now whenever someone mentions the banking giant, @AskSunTrust will promptly respond, most likely to direct the conversation offline in order to properly and safely address any issues. With that same idea in mind, social media should be a starting place to engage in conversations that are going on about brands. When necessary, guide the conversation offline to protect patient privacy.
4. Content Marketing
Content marketing requires marketers to think like publishers and provides a great opportunity for brands to reach their targets in more interactive and engaging ways. Big Brothers Big Sister of America deployed a social media strategy for the Start Something Web Series where they shared to viewers real life stories on the impact the “bigs” have on their “littles.” The videos were uploaded to the organization’s YouTube channel and shared throughout websites like Facebook. As more and more people are turning to the Internet for health information, there comes a greater demand for accurate and reliable data. Jack Cox, Senior Director of Media Relations for Sanofi said it best; our participation in these communities is “as subject matter experts, not as salespeople.” Healthcare companies should focus on utilizing the wealth of information and knowledge they have in meaningful ways for their patients and HCPs.