24 Mar The Do’s and Don’ts For Pharma Brands on Social Media
In our previous article, we discussed the benefits of why pharmaceutical companies should establish a strategic social media presence. Even though these brands are situated in a highly regulated industry, social media can help pharmaceutical companies reach their business objectives, such as increasing brand awareness or driving website traffic.
One of the next biggest steps for pharma companies is to consider types of content and practices suitable for social media. Below, read six do’s and don’ts that pharmaceutical marketers should keep in mind.
DO: Post Content That Checks Off the Three E’s
For pharma brands, establishing a strategic social media presence is about more than just promoting a product — it’s about engaging with the audience of existing and potential customers in a way that checks off the “Three E’s” of social media:
- Is your content entertaining?
- Is your content engaging?
- Is your content educational?
If your content is entertaining, chances are social media users will want to engage with it, and at the end, they’ll walk away feeling like they’ve learned something.
Here’s another tip: be thought-provoking, not controversial. While it’s perfectly fine for some brands to touch on potentially controversial topics if it makes sense for them to do so — such as Roe v. Wade, birth control access, and gender equality in healthcare — there’s a major difference between addressing a topic with respect versus trying to be shocking in order to get more “likes.” Social media audiences can quickly tell the difference.
DO: Post a Mix of Content Topics
For pharma brands that have relied on traditional marketing methods and may be entering the digital world of marketing for the first time, one of the biggest pitfalls is treating their social media presence like any other regular sales channel. In fact, this is the quickest and easiest way to alienate your online audience!
Instead, develop a strategic content mix that includes a variety of different content topics. Here are a few examples.
Promotional: These are social media posts that directly relate to your brand or product in some way. For example, an infographic sharing the different vitamins and minerals in your supplement product with a CTA (call to action) asking social media users to visit your website link in the bio.
Wellness: General health-related content can provide an educational aspect to your pharma’s social media feed. Consider the specific area of the industry you’re in and the audience you want to engage. For example, if your pharma brand has a high-end image and primarily appeals to women who are health conscious, it may make sense to share posts about women’s health and wellness, like yoga tips.
Humor: Consider humorous content if it makes sense for your audience. Social media users like to save and share memes, which can help boost your social media post’s engagement and visibility to a larger audience. However, be sure that the content you’re posting actually is funny and relatable to your target audience, rather than trying to jump on every single viral trend.
It’s important to remember that these are examples only and may not make sense for all pharmaceutical companies. Here’s a tip: if you haven’t already, conduct research into your audience and build different personas. What are their interests? What sort of other brands do they engage with online or buy from? Knowing more about your audience can help you create and serve more authentic and engaging social media content.
DO: Post Content on the Right Social Media Platform
Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, LinkedIn, the list goes on! What platforms is your audience using? If you’re marketing a B2C pharmaceutical product, it doesn’t make that much sense to start with LinkedIn, a primarily B2B platform.
If your product is catered to a much older audience, starting with TikTok doesn’t make sense. Demographics play a large role. Social media platforms like TikTok and Instagram tend to have a younger audience, while Facebook and LinkedIn have slightly older audiences on average.
It’s not just about where your audience is but also the features that the platform offers. Is a video-only platform like TikTok the right one for you to use? Do you and your marketing team have the capability and capacity to create and edit videos on a consistent basis? Or would a platform like Instagram or Facebook be a better fit?
Marketers in the pharmaceutical space who have only engaged in traditional marketing methods may not know which platform is the right one to use. In this case, it’s important to speak with digital marketing specialists who can help point the way.
Now that we have that out of the way, let’s consider three things pharmaceutical marketers should not do on social media.
DON’T: Share Sensitive or Incorrect Information
Before you file this one under “duh,” there’s more to explore in this category. We’re not just talking about confidential data and other PII (personal identifiable information). That’s a no-brainer!
However, even something more innocent like a testimonial with a patient’s name could come under fire if it’s not properly vetted before being shared on social media.
Along the same lines, misinformation can slip through the cracks, whether it’s posting information without factually checking it among peer-reviewed sources or getting the ingredients of a pharma product wrong.
Always be sure to triple-check health-related content going out on social media!
DON’T: Take a “One Size Fits All” Approach
Every social media platform is different and each of them has different audiences who have different expectations of what they want to see. While reposting the same content across different social media platforms can help save time, pharma marketers may find that their content performs well on one platform, but not the other.
Consider a platform like LinkedIn. They recently introduced their own version of Instagram Stories, a popular short-form video format. However, it was quickly discontinued. Why? One reason was that users wanted videos to last longer on LinkedIn, rather than disappearing after 24 hours like Stories on other social media apps. For the LinkedIn audience, their home feed is very important, so navigating to the Stories section was a hassle. So, if marketers spent a lot of time prioritizing Story content over their in-feed content, they wouldn’t have gained as much traction on LinkedIn.
Messaging and the language used in a social media post can vary across platforms. Instagram and TikTok tend to be more casual, LinkedIn is more buttoned-up, and Facebook is somewhere in the middle.
If pharma marketers take a “one size fits all” approach to their social media content rather than customizing it to the platform they’re posting on, their posts may resonate poorly with audiences.
DON’T: Forget Influencer Marketing
Marketers at pharmaceutical companies will most likely have heard about the Kim Kardashian scandal where she promoted an anti-nausea drug on social media, and the ensuing FDA media storm that followed. However, while it’s clear that the social media post was a misstep, influencer marketing in the pharma industry is far from done. In fact, it’s absolutely thriving.
Influencers allow pharma brands to tap into a new audience that may not know about the company. This type of marketing and the content that comes out of a partnership with an influencer tends to feel more authentic — even if the audience knows the influencer is being paid to promote a product. For example, to promote a unique birth control pill, our team partnered with several reputable OB-GYNs and doctors on social media. Users who follow these individuals on social media are doing so because they trust the influencer’s opinions on health-related topics.
Bonus tip: don’t forget about micro-influencers! Influencers with millions of followers tend to command a much higher price tag, which might not align with your marketing budget. On the other hand, a micro-influencer with a smaller audience in the 3,000 to 10,000 range can still net marketers the benefits of reaching a highly targeted audience.
Is Your Pharmaceutical Brand on Social Media?
Establishing a strategic social media presence for your pharmaceutical brand can be tough, but the benefits far outweigh the risks, which can be mitigated. Pharmaceutical brands have previously marketed through more traditional channels, whether it’s TV, radio, or in-person sales teams – but that’s all changing. Social media can support pharma marketing efforts in a number of ways, and if you’re interested in learning more, click the button below!