According to a study by Hootsuite, 55.1% of the global population uses at least one social media platform—that is 4.33 billion people. On average, users spend 2 hours 22 minutes on social media each day. That is a lot of people spending a lot of time watching quite a lot happen across their social feeds in the past year. We saw Twitter fact check Donald Trump while he was still the President of the United States and then eventually even banned him from the platform. We watched as misinformation about vaccines spread like wildfire. We also watched as people celebrated getting the vaccine. We watched the video of George Floyd’s murder as it was shared across social media. Then we saw both individuals and corporations post their support of #BlackLivesMatter.
Has any of this changed how people use social media or what they want from companies who choose to engage them on there? In a Twitter survey taken in the beginning of the pandemic, 77% of users said they feel more positively about brands making an effort to support society at the moment; 89% said brands should provide reliable, accurate information; and 70% said brands should provide prompt customer service. To dig deeper into how these changes and more should impact life sciences marketers, PM360 asked 10 experts:
- What, if anything, should marketers be doing differently now via social media? What are the keys to a successful social media strategy in 2021?
- Are there any new or just newer social platforms that marketers should consider using if they aren’t already?
- How should life sciences companies deal with reputation issues regarding their company or individual brands on social media or other crisis management issues that may arise? What are the best methods to respond to social media attacks or the spread of misinformation?
- What responsibility do life sciences companies have to respond to social issues through their social media channels? How can companies do more to support the causes most important to them through social media?
Jo Halliday CEO, Talking Medicines
The COVID-19 pandemic restricted the use of channels commonly used by pharma to connect with both clinicians and patients. This shift created a significant challenge in how and where marketing and brand teams are able to collect information about drug performance. Businesses have been compelled to adapt quickly and a big part of that process has involved the acceleration of digital transformation plans and the adoption of new technologies including AI.
Social media has proved a very valuable tool, not only to reach new audiences and build brands, but also for the pharma sector to listen to and really understand the needs and experiences of patients.
Regulatory and compliance barriers have meant that for a long time there has not been a direct relationship between pharma professionals and patients. However, data-driven social media tools are now opening up access to patient experience and brand performance in a way that is fully compliant. All of this means businesses don’t need to rely on indirect feedback from clinicians, patient advocacy, or ad hoc focus groups.
Combining the Power of AI and Social Media
For the first time, digital advancements in AI are allowing businesses to collect reliable data directly from patients about drug performance, track changes, and provide key insights that will help drive business decisions.
Machine learning and natural language processing technologies can filter text at scale, isolate the voice of the patient and, by blending data from a variety of sources, provide vital social intelligence for drugs brands.
Going forward, it is crucial that marketers understand the value of social media, not just as a necessary marketing tool, but as means of listening to patients and understanding the real patient voice—what they are saying and more importantly, how they are feeling.