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Patient engagement and DTC marketing

KEY TAKEAWAY: 30% of social media users prefer social care to phoning customer service and this is happening across age groups and income brackets: 17% of people older than 55 prefer social media over the telephone for service, and nearly half of people earning more than $200k per year prefer social media over live interactions for customer service.

So how can pharma companies increase their ROI thru social media when the FDA has punted on social media marketing guidelines?

First, let’s remember that the most successful social media interactions are personal, genuine, and relevant. This means that pharma needs dedicated social media people who understand what they can and can’t do.  It also means that taking some risk at the expense of engaging people who are tired of being seen as just another nameless patient.

According to Harvard Business Review the key steps to engaging people on social media are;

Gather and track the right information. Social media is in effect a massive focus group that can provide intelligence about brand perception, services, competitors, and potentially disruptive trends. It’s easy to be overwhelmed by it all, so companies should prioritize gathering social data that indicate trigger events. These signal the moment when patients are more open to, asking for or filling an Rx for your product.

Put in place processes to act on the insights. Some 72% of people who comment on a brand on Twitter expect an answer within an hour. Pharma has to develop guidelines for how to act when a particular event occurs. For example, someone asking about side effects for a particular drug could be directed to your safety page on your website while others questions can be answered within current FDA guidelines.

Measure your engagement.  You can easily use web metrics to measure traffic from your social media interactions using specific URL’s or even coupons with special redemption codes.

Pharma DTC marketers cannot continue to talk TO patients they have to be willing to take some risk to engage them and help them choose treatments.  Yes, there is a risk, but that risk can be managed by using people who understand social media and pharma guidelines.