Pharma insight on digital marketing, social media, mobile apps, online video, websites and interactive healthcare tools
by Dominic Tyer
A lack of confidence about social media is preventing pharmaceutical companies from making wider use of social media, according to a new report.
Digital Health: Building Social Confidence in Pharma by PR firm Weber Shandwick also found that regulatory restrictions were no longer seen as the primary barrier to social engagement.
Instead the pharma marketing and communications executives interviewed for the report said they faced a greater challenges internally when trying to 'socialise' their strategies, instill social media confidence in their teams and align resources.
Laura Schoen, president global healthcare at Weber Shandwick, said: “Patients are increasingly harnessing the internet to gain knowledge about health conditions and even self-diagnose, leading to a more empowered health consumer and more informed patient-physician conversations.
“In this new age of participatory medicine, pharmaceutical companies must start by understanding what health communities want and then use digital technologies to reach them with information that meets the demand and takes into account applicable regulations in their markets.”
It would be easy to look at the social media projects undertaken by pharma around the world and assume this breadth can be applied to all companies in all markets, but that is simply not the case.
Looking beyond pharma firms' headline use of social media there remains very real concerns about how to implement social media projects, even among some of those tasked with taking a lead on digital matters.
Weber Shandwick's report outlines 10 strategies for building 'social confidence', ranging from 'start small' to 'ramp up internal education efforts' (read the 10 rules of engagement).
It also comes to four key conclusions about pharma's use of social media:
• Regulatory is no longer the primary barrier to engagement
• ROI in an often unbranded space is uniquely challenging for the pharma industry
• Don't underestimate the value of social confidence
• In today's 'open 24/7' world, it is riskier to not engage than to engage.
Digital Health: Building Social Confidence in Pharma was based on 12 in-depth telephone interviews with senior in-house pharmaceutical executives, based in Europe, the United States, Asia and Latin America, who are responsible for social media decisions.