In the last 10+ years, social media was born and it has grown to be one of the most important communication channels to market to businesses and end-users. Within the pharmaceutical industry it is no different, social media plays a unique role and I was recently interviewed for an upcoming article on this topic. Check out how I feel about the current and future state of social media in pharma.
How will any of the scandals regarding social media companies last year (i.e., Facebook and Cambridge Analytica, Twitter bots, etc.) impact pharma marketers use of any of these platforms in 2019 and beyond?
It is difficult to predict how pharma marketers will respond to the recent blows to the credibility of Facebook and other social media, but Facebook in particular that cannot be ignored. The reality is that the political manipulation of social media has little to do with legitimate marketing, except insofar as it diminishes the overall credibility of the medium. To the extent that usage declines, Facebook and other social media will be of less utility to pharma and other direct to consumer marketers. However, Facebook has achieved such a massive market share that smart marketers will continue to exploit it for the foreseeable future.
What elements are crucial for pharma marketers to successfully work with social media influencers to promote their brands?
Influencers must be chosen with great care as to their credibility to ensure that they are bona fide. Proper credentials are essential. Any such content must be carefully prepared to ensure compliance with Medical, Legal and Regulatory (MLR) requirements.
As ephemeral content continues to gain popularity (such as Instagram Stories, Snapchat, and now Facebook Stories), how can marketers best use these platforms to engage with audiences?
Ephemeral content is challenging for, however the popularity of the more visual social media such as Instagram is compelling. Images as marketing tools are again challenging for pharma given MLR requirements, and the medium may not lend itself to traditional pharma creative. Therefore, testing of various approaches is indicated.
What will be the biggest changes or trends for social media marketing in 2019?
The challenges to social media’s credibility may impact on social media engagement. Anecdotally, I have heard people declare the death of Facebook, but to paraphrase Mark Twain I consider such reports to be grossly premature. It is apparent that the video as destiny movement has run its course, so the challenge will continue to be creating and targeting compelling content. Privacy concerns will make targeting more challenging. For example, Apple’s recent moves to limit retargeting may signal a trend to reduce the availability of data points necessary to micro target. This could particularly impact on healthcare professional targeting as most HCPs use iPhones.