To many businesses and professionals, social media can seem frivolous–a place to upload photos of your dinner and your cat. But in reality, it is a powerful medium that simplifies the connection of people from all different locations. One industry that benefits greatly from this knowledge transfer is healthcare. All components–patients, doctors, healthcare professionals, pharmaceutical companies, etc.–can interact with one another and receive (hopefully) helpful information about health conditions.
Currently, pharmaceutical marketers implement a few social tactics, mainly with the use of forums. There are three kinds of forums: branded (sponsored and monitored by a specific brand), non-branded (usually support groups, fundraisers or information-based platforms like WebMD), and healthcare professional communities. These forums are perfect for monitoring social conversation since they are all public updates. Large amounts of information can be aggregated about people’s health conditions, viable medications for cures and the demographics of certain ailments.
As for social networks themselves, pharmaceutical companies can be found on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, as well as blogs (sponsored and non-sponsored). These platforms are generally used for dispensing information about their companies, products and developing a positive brand image by promoting various philanthropy projects. In other words, there is a lot of opportunity for more engagement and creating educational communities online that benefit both the user and the company, similar to what the Mayo Clinic did with live tweet chats.
There is no doubt that pharma marketers are diligent about putting information out about their various medications. But just as there is a potential for doctors to utilize social media to expand upon their craft, there is potential for pharmaceutical companies to improve business efficiency while still keeping the consumer in mind. Instead of waiting for the annual conference, doctors are able to access other professionals that are innovating new ways to cure, to operate and vaccinate in real-time. Imagine pharmaceutical companies joining in this transfer of knowledge by assessing what medicines are the most popular (and those on the decline), what symptoms are cropping up in certain areas and what doctors like prescribing most.