For all the talk about Twitter, Facebook and Sermo as marketing channels of the future, will social networks ever provide a viable platform for promoting products with reach and ROI like advertising or detailing does?
President and founder,
Of course, social media has achieved scale among almost every target audience a brand would want to reach. However, when was the last time you were in a “real” social setting, say at a restaurant, and one of your friend orders that spicy enchilada for dinner…and someone at the next table tells him he really shouldn't eat it, but if he does, he should think about talking to his physician about a PPI medicine to help him with the heartburn? Pharma's ability to promote in social media doesn't make much sense in the “real world,” and it won't in the online world as well. But then, if that friend of yours has heartburn that night and goes online to a board or blog to find out what may have caused it, and how to treat it…then pharma should be there, to educate our patients so they can make informed healthcare choices.
MCS Healthcare Public Relations
Social media is worth its weight in buzz—provided you're listening to the right people buzzing. Ignore the all-or-nothing crowds on both sides. No channel can do it all, but what social media does best is bring humanity to the conversation. Social media gives you, not a bullhorn, but a focused discussion. You can address individuals, and converse in a relaxed milieu. New ideas for one-click fair balance are making straightforward promotion conceivable, and social media's digital pedigree allows for extensive tracking against ROI metrics. In the same way that advertising, detailing and PR require their own types of measurement, social media will too. It won't replace any of the others—and it shouldn't—but it can't be left out of the mix.
EVP, Marketing and Research,
Communications Media, Inc.
Any medium that can add to the effective dissemination of important information to interested parties is a welcome addition to the healthcare marketing mix, and must be viewed in light of its ability to contribute meaningfully to the overall promotion process.
Even social media must be considered as part of an evidence-based, media-neutral approach to a fully integrated mix of media that will take a patient, caregiver, managed care provider, or HCP through a product consideration and adoption sequence—awareness, interest, evaluation, trial, adoption—that satisfies their respective needs in a manner that will ensure product use compliance and persistence by the end user. The real question is: How, where, and when can social media fit into a media plan that supports this important endpoint?
As my first mother-in-law used to say, "ever" is a very long time. With Facebook at 350 million users worldwide, averaging 10 hours a month online per user, and with some 60% of online US healthcare consumers turning to social media sites for advice, pharma cannot forever remain a silent bystander. The question is not whether, but "when." The "when" depends on the FDA providing guidance. That should be within a year. Once reasonable rules are in place, pharma's involvement will finally take off. And as we‘ve seen with other digital tactics, because they are so well targeted, social media initiatives will deliver very favorable ROI.