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Shrinkwrapping, ROI and social etiquette

Why being fashionably late is not a bad option and what pharma digital can learn from consumer
Thought Leaders

On reflection, the past decade has been a revolutionary period for marketing and communications practitioners.

As recently as 10 years ago, we lived in a world of 'brand-controlled' communications, where companies carefully crafted their image and positioning through polished veneers. Fast-forward to 2013; the tables have turned and consumers are informed, scrutinising and firmly in control. If that's not daunting enough, we are also challenged with an ever-changing virtual universe of complex channels, platforms and a whole new digital lexicon.

It is therefore unsurprising that several industries including healthcare are approaching digital carefully. While being fashionably late to this particular party is not necessarily a bad choice, digitalisation is inevitable. So as the pharma industry embarks on its own journey, what are some useful lessons from those who have gone first?

Keep it byte-sized
People are time-poor, particularly in the healthcare industry. Keep videos short and easily digestible (seconds not minutes)! Messages should be tweetable and infographics speak a thousand stats. For added benefit make everything is shrink wrapped for sharing.

Be human and respect your community
First rule of social networks, if you haven't paid for it, then you probably don't own it. On social media everyone is equal including companies, so - even more importantly - you certainly can't control the conversation. The smart consumer brands respect their communities and never underestimate their intelligence. 

Second, try to find a way of being more 'human'. People are more likely to converse with other 'people' rather than a marketing machine, so a human approach and tone of voice is more effective. People can also be surprisingly forgiving when they realise a real person is behind the postings.

Be prepared
Like any good Scout! Have responses ready for any anticipated situations, train your team and have a crisis plan just in case. Don't overreact to every negative comment. Monitor feeds closely, respond to complaints and deal with regulation violations quickly and appropriately. Most importantly act like a responsible (human) member of the community.

Balance experienced practitioners with digital natives
It's impossible for any one individual to stay ahead of the digital curve. If you don't have the luxury of a large team then seek support from experts. The most powerful combination will likely come from partnering experienced practitioners with people that live and breathe digital trends.

On social media everyone is equal including companies, so you certainly can't control the conversation

Building something expensive does not mean they'll come
My view is the pharma industry is still spending too much on digital asset creation. Before building a website or app, ensure you know what purpose it serves and its ROI. Should you decide to build, finding this new needle in the immense digital haystack is unlikely without an integrated marketing plan. Get some expert help to ensure the best possible exposure on search, social and influencer channels (but watch your spend). 

The digital opportunities for the healthcare sector are undeniably exciting. To venture forth pharma will likely need to learn from others and work together to address the challenges.

Article by
Gabrielle Lovering

head of digital, UK & EMEA at Cohn & Wolfe. Email her

2nd October 2013


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