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Don’t use the 'SM' words!

'Social media' should be avoided - unless you want seasoned industry types to start heading for the hills

pharma social mediaQ: How do you send a room full of seasoned pharmaceutical industry types diving under their desks and voluntarily autodefenestrating? (For those of you without pointlessly obscure vocabularies, that is the process of throwing oneself out of a window.)

A: Mention social media (SM).

This may be perhaps a slightly unfair albeit entertaining portrait – as today there are many companies and individuals doing positive and beneficial things with social media in the healthcare industry.

So, in case you have been living under a rock, social media is big:

  • For every minute of the day, there are 2.46 million shares on Facebook, 277,000 tweets on Twitter, 216,000 posts on Instagram and 72 hours of new video uploaded to YouTube
  • Of the 7-something billion people currently shoulder-to-shoulder on the planet, more than 2.078 billion of us have active social media accounts.

Obviously within this wealth of content not that much is going to be relevant to healthcare, but with a starting sample of this size, even if a measly 0.000001% does make the cut, that is still going to be big news for your therapy area.

So how do you get the most out of social media this year? We have listed a few ideas below for you.

Social listening
Social listening is the process of identifying and analysing what is being mentioned about a product, brand, disease or anything else you are interested in. With it you can gauge sentiment, monitor discussion, follow trends and identify influencers.

So how does it work? Start by making a list of the things you want to monitor and plug this into a piece of social listening software. Free tools like Social Mention, Mention and Topsy can give you an initial look into the conversation. When you're ready to take the plunge into deeper data, most of these free options have paid versions that provide more insight. Some of our favourites are Sysomos, Brandwatch and Radian<sup>6</sup>.

Sounds simple? Conceptually it is, but there are a few barriers to navigate. The most significant of these is adverse event reporting. It has now been made clear that any companies 'listening' to patient conversations about their products will be responsible for following up adverse events. This does create extra burden but we would argue that if intelligently managed, that burden is far outweighed by the insights gathered.

KSOLs
Heard of a KOL? Of course you have, so what is a KSOL? Easy; a 'key social opinion leader'. These are people who have influence over and within a particular conversation topic. It might surprise you to hear that there are specific KSOLs in almost every significant therapy area in modern medicine. This means that a small group of people can be driving an entire conversation that periodically involves thousands of people.

There are specific KSOLs in almost every significant therapy area in modern medicine

How do we find KSOLs? There is software available to help you do this in a quick and dirty way, but for a more intelligent and in-depth search you need human interpretation. In a recent project, emotive identified a group of 12 European KSOLs within a specific therapy area who collectively had more than one million social media followers – significant power and clearly a group of people worth supporting.

It is impossible to write an article about social media in healthcare communications without talking about compliance – so here it is; 'compliance'. Done.

Only joking. Yes compliance is important, yes there are definitely things you cannot do, but there are also things you can. The best tip we can give you in a short piece of this nature is stop thinking about social media as 'content' and think of it as 'platform'. You have never been able to make off-label claims or give patients advice about their treatment, but you have always been able to talk to patients about disease awareness, and so it is with social media – content is king and the rules about content have not changed. We are not saying that social media comes without risks, that would be disingenuous, but with the right people supporting your efforts (and the right project justifying the tactic!) you can safely navigate the risks with the potential bounty of a viral campaign (a slightly unfortunate term for healthcare communications).

So it is with great regret that we announce that the age of SM autodefenestration has come to an end.

However, unwilling as we are to lose the amusement value of this process we are keen to keep everyone afraid, so, wearable health technologies anybody?

AJ Barroso, Digital Marketing Manager, Sarah Lemarchand, Digital Marketing Executive, emotive

17th April 2015

From: Marketing

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