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Half of med devices firms use social media

Survey finds social media is an integral part of the medical devices industry

Social media has become an integral part of the medical devices industry and is a powerful market research tool, used both by internal and competitors' employees, according to a new survey.

Frost and Sullivan found half of medical devices companies surveyed now use social media as a communications  channel, but only a minority of organisations are "very well developed".

The consultants suggest working to increase this development could create a competitive advantage "at least in terms of communicating with the market".

Their Global Social Media in the Medical Devices Industry report also found that nearly half of companies have written policies restricting use of the company's computers or network to access social media sites.

Despite this seemingly high number, employees questioned in the survey said they have access to social media/networking sites - regardless of whether their companies have written policies about it.

But, as Frost and Sullivan note, there is “no possible way to censor social media, so there is a need to train marketing/public relations how to react when discussions in social media become out of control and/or how to overcome social media disasters".

“Furthermore, it is likely that blocking social media sites will not be effective, as many people use mobile devices to access them anyway.” they conclude.

The study gauged social media usage within the medical devices industry, surveying online 170 industry executives from the US and Europe.

It found personal use of social media for professional purposes is "quite high" among employees of the medical devices industry, but that they mainly use it get in touch with colleagues.

Unsurprisingly then, LinkedIn was the social media site most often used for professional purposes.

Roughly one-third of medical devices professionals regularly search social media to gather perceptions of their organisations' activities, and use social media to gather information about competitors. Almost half expect that social media will become more important for their organisations over the next twelve months.

The main benefit of social media was seen as its high marketing potential - with some respondents viewing it as "a low investment tool", and they were also keen on the idea of using it to create a forum for online collaboration in the clinical community.

The number-one ranked risk of social media is the possible raising of regulatory issues with regards to the FDA (mainly, but not entirely, by US respondents). The survey also identified a risk of "losing control of the conversation with clinicians".

Overall the consultants said social media was perceived as having an overall positive impact on organisations for promoting growth.

16th May 2012

From: Marketing

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