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Smart Thinking blog

Insights and expert advice on the key issues facing today’s pharma marketer

Effective networking

A quick, one-stop guide to social media channels – their uses, their implications, and their potential role within your tactics. From mass-reach social media websites to member-only portals…

Great social media marketing starts with great marketing planning. Get the basics right by defining your brand objectives, then putting together a marketing strategy. Social media is just one tactic that may deliver the strategy, alongside traditional media, PR, sales material and digital media. So look at social media as part of the larger plan to figure out if you need it or not. 

Don't forget:

  • By its very definition, this is not a blunt push marketing instrument. It's a way to join and interact with communities to share and gain information and knowledge
  • It's a long-term endeavour. It needs constant refinement to realise its potential fully. Be prepared to invest time, resource and money
  • Etiquette – make sure you follow the rules of the game for each channel you use
  • As with traditional media, make sure you go through regulatory and legal approvals systems so you don't breach any part of the Code. Consider bringing your medical, legal and regulatory team to the first agency briefings to make sure everyone is aligned.
  • Let's look at how and where social media can play a role.


'Non-branded' disease information creates awareness about a disease or condition. It drives diagnosis and treatment in categories with large, undiagnosed populations of disease sufferers. An excellent approach if your brand has got category leadership. Facebook, YouTube and Delicious can deliver community information and material to sufferers and caregivers. Tap into pre-existing groups or create your own. An underpinning search strategy with clear taxonomy and metadata structure means customers will find you on the web. 


Both pharma and healthcare systems will benefit from a successful patient adherence and compliance programme, opening up avenues of collaboration with healthcare providers and doctors. Communicating with existing patients can be done through 'member-only', customer-support websites and portals. They can offer education materials, chat lines, user-generated content and discussion forums. 


Don't just rely on the social media that's already out there – create your own. Often overlooked are 'closed group' tools such as Basecamp. These can be used to set up and manage clinical trials and other projects where  collaboration is key to the outcomes. You can set them up yourself then invite HCPs via your own databases and professional profile sites like LinkedIn. Twitter can also be used to disseminate key sound bites from conferences, research studies and press releases.


Mass-reach social media like Twitter, YouTube, Facebook and LinkedIn can be used for corporate updates, CSR information, PR and recruitment. Regularly update Wikipedia with both corporate and disease/therapy information.


Perhaps more important than what you say is what is being said by others about your corporation, brand or therapy area. These should be actively monitored and entered into where appropriate.

Tools like Semantic Intelligence flag up where conversations are taking place and tell you where there are good or bad comments.





Have you defined brand objectives?

Have you an overall brand marketing strategy?

Is social media appropriate in delivering the strategy?

Do you have the resources to deliver social media?

Are you clear on how you will enter into conversations rather than push marketing?

Have you defined a process for regulatory and legal approvals?

 How will you monitor what's being said about you?



 Have you created a search strategy with clear taxonomy and metadata structure?



Article by
Jack Hackney and Carl Engelmarc

partners at Refreshed Wellbeing. They can be contacted at or or on +44 (0)1737 226248

19th September 2011

From: Marketing



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