Vantage Point: Market research and social media

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The rapid growth of social media is fundamentally changing how pharma brands communicate with their target audiences. Now, brands not only talk to customers, customers talk back to brands. The monologue has transformed into a dialogue—with millions of people potentially listening and participating in the conversation. With social media, pharma marketers have the opportunity to move beyond speaking at customers to engaging with them.

Understanding this new communications world demands a new communications model—one we call Influence 3.0. The new model captures both types of conversations taking place today: Brands talking to customers, attempting to persuade them to take an action; and customers talking with each other—and back to brands.

It is critical to remember that social media doesn't operate in a vacuum. Customers today have a huge number of contacts with a brand—through both traditional and new media. Each either enhances or detracts from a brand's image. To develop an effective communications strategy, marketers must look at a full range of channels and how they interact to understand which are most influential for their brands—and what is the best mix for driving a positive outcome.  

Incorporating social media into communications strategies means a cultural change—a switch to a culture of listening, as well as speaking. With social media, marketers gain firsthand insight into the topics that interest customers—and the language they use. In effect, social media “feeds” traditional media, helping create messages that resonate. Listening closely results in communicating  effectively.

John Tapper is president, marketing insights practice at KantarHealth
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