All Social Networks Are Not The Same – Where Should You Be?

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by Briana Campbell (@MsMatchGirl)

Just the other day Richard Meyer posted an article entitled, “STOP! Social Media Is Not the Answer in which he makes a strong case against pharma marketers turning to social media for their campaigns. He points out that people dont want to connect with their drugs on social networks. He points out that it doesnt work for drug companies because they have a long history of not responding to consumers feedback.

Great points, but not ones with which we necessarily agree.

Lets take a step back from whether pharma brands should or should not be on social networks. The fact is that they are.

Because an industry has historically ignored their customers needs does not mean that they should stay on that road. What has worked, or been the status quo, in the past, is not going to fly going forward. And even if patients may be hesitant right this second to interact with a drug manufacturer on Twitter or Facebook, that doesnt mean they will feel the same in the future. The very near future. Social media platforms and their usage is growing exponentially and marketers who dont take advantage of them are going to lose out in the long run.

So. Now that weve stated our position, which social network to use? Where to begin?

The big players in the social media space right now Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn all have their high points and their low. And, while they all offer a space to connect, those spaces are very different.

So, where does pharma fit? And is there a right answer? Where should they be?

Facebook: Everyone is on Facebook. And their mother. Its where companies should be to reach the most people. While recent changes in their policies have some companies running scared, there are tools available (like Zemogas patented Semantic Filter for Social Media Moderation) that can help companies jump this hurdle, and reply to consumers in a timely manner. Facebook is where companies should be to spread their message to the most people and where other people can very easily assist in spreading that message. Looking to market to your consumer, then Facebook is where its at.

Twitter: While a lot less people are active on Twitter than are on Facebook, Twitter is a great platform for customer service. With listening tools, a company can see who is talking about them and what they are saying. And, with proper community management (yes, that probably means a dedicated person or group of people), the company can reach out to those people who are talking about them they can address their questions, concerns and even quell a bad situation, all in 140 characters.

Google+: This is the new kid on the block, and where it will go¢‚Ǩ¬¶ Thats really hard to say. But the community is growing. People are sharing more there than they are on Twitter and it has had the fastest growth of all the networks. Google+ is the the unknown “x right now. But if I were a pharma marketer, I think Id hop on those brand/business pages the moment they opened. In a year, it is where their target market is going to be living.

LinkedIn: Not necessarily the place to go to connect with customers, but certainly a great social site for business. There are several groups dedicated to pharma marketing where marketers can not only post and share ideas, position themselves as thought leaders in the space, but drum up a little new business. A smart pharma marketer will be on LinkedIn, answering questions about the space or their product in the many forums that are on the site.

There are no easy answers when it comes to pharma marketing in the social sphere. There is only the fact that social media platforms are the direction in which marketing, overall, is moving. And if pharma doesnt change their mindset and get on board, they are going to be left behind.

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4 Responses to All Social Networks Are Not The Same – Where Should You Be?

  1. I think Pharma is in for a rude awakening re: social media. Whereas they are concerned with chasing patients on public social networks, the real prize is going to be influencing healthcare decision makers on private social networks.

    Social media has so much more potential than we currently recognize–wait until hospitals and health systems start mandating that traditional sales activities migrate to social platforms.

    @Rashaunps

  2. Jason Boies says:

    Excellent breakdown here, Briana.

    Unfortunately, Pharma is an industry that is often looked at very skeptically by the general public. That only increases the importance of cultivating a presence on the major social media sites. As Rashaun mentions, “chasing patients” isn’t the way to go with regards to Pharma’s social efforts.

    A company’s social channels offer them an opportunity to show off their industry knowledge, prove themselves as thought leaders in their field and listen carefully to what people are saying about not just their own brand but about their industry in general.

    Your point about Pharma historically not being there to engage with consumers only reinforces the need to step up and engage.

    Cheers

    Jason Boies
    Radian6 Community Team
    @Radian6

  3. Thanks for another thoughtful comment, Jason.

    Agreed that pharma should “chase” patients, but I do think there is room for engagement. Especially as consumers get used to it from all the other brands/verticals in their lives.

    I love watching the development of social platforms and communication, across a variety of industries. I’m excited to see all the possibilities explored. I feel that so much of what we are talking about now is just the beginning!

  4. You’ve got great points, Rashaun. Thanks so much for commenting both here and on Twitter.