When I was asked to write an article about what platform you should use to drive your social media campaign I started thinking that, not long ago, many in this industry were looking at the birth and rise of social media with mixed feelings. I say mixed feelings, but don't be deceived: they were distrust and disbelief.
The idea of channels that could offer a frank and unmitigated discussion between marketers and customers rose more than few eyebrows in an industry that is characterised by strict regulations when it comes to marketing communications. That said, pharma is not the old shaky dinosaur that many depict, drowning in the inexorable flow of evolution.
The incredible opportunity to reach a vast audience with a relatively low cost solution has turned out to be quite an appealing opening for many pharma marketers. In fact some of them, mentioning no names, decided to venture into the social media jungle before some advertising titans (the likes of Coca Cola and Pepsi), attracted no doubt by the enormous advantage offered by the absence of strict regulations in the consumer market.
The regulatory restrictions around pharma and the lack of clear guidelines in terms of social media communications have generated a cautious approach to the new channels; nonetheless 100% of the top 20 global pharma companies have some sort of social media presence today. What these top brands seem to have realised before the others is that social media platforms are offering a new channel to support their campaigns, but in the end it is still marketing. This brings us to the main question: given the sheer number of platforms available, which one should you choose?
How to choose
There are a few factors to consider, but one of the most important is the localisation of your audience. Social media segmentation is a very significant variable, for example a recent study has identified that, among those who engage with social channels, 28.1% of those under the age of 24 use Twitter, but just 10.4% of them are on LinkedIn. The bottom line is, before deciding where to go fishing, find out where the fish are.
Once you have identified your channels, try to understand how to use them. Twitter is great to broadcast statistics or catchy headlines that link to your blog, Facebook is a good platform to promote visual campaigns, YouTube is the best platform to create a featured video channel, LinkedIn is perfect fornarrowcasting, Pinterest seems to be amazing to direct traffic to your website (but beware of the bounce rates).
This list is far from being complete. The number of new channels that appear on the horizon every day, and the speed at which some of them seem to grow and become relevant, represents a challenge for any social media team.
This consideration highlights what should be the focus of our social media campaigns: the message.
Whatever platform you decide to engage, whether you want to increase your brand exposure, consolidate your digital footprint or push your corporate message, remember that your brand is more important than the channels you use to promote it. This is a scenario in constant evolution. Whatever the future may offer, plan ahead, keep on top, be social.
Francesco Raimo, Digital Director at Life Healthcare Communications firstname.lastname@example.org