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Calling Checkmate on Meaningless Social Media

Updated: Dec 2, 2021

Words by Kirstie Turner

The pharmaceutical industry is dabbling in the game of social media, and while it is no secret that they need to have a stronger presence on these platforms, it is critical that campaigns are launched with a clear strategy and measurements for success, leaving nothing to chance. By fully considering success metrics and only investing in campaigns that will truly add value, pharma will take one step closer to being grandmasters of social media.

At eyeforpharma Barcelona virtual 2020, Cyril Mandry, Senior Director Marketing, MSD, reminds us that: “60–80% of our audiences are on social media and 1 in every 3 minutes spent online is spent on social media.” It is a medium that simply cannot be ignored; but while it is critical that companies utilise this platform, it is equally critical that campaigns lead to tangible value. Mandry shares a quote from social expert Erik Qualman: “We don’t have a choice on whether we do social media, the question is how well we do it.”

High levels of engagement can, on the surface, seem like a successful result for a social media campaign; but Manu Field, Social Media Strategy Leader, Global Product Strategy, Roche Pharmaceuticals, is calling checkmate on meaningless campaigns: “A lot of random people visiting our website and liking our social media posts does not demonstrate any meaningful business value.”

Mandry reminds us of the purpose of marketing on these channels: “Social media marketing is about driving towards a specific business goal using social media.” Unless engagement on social media progresses your objectives and is seen by an appropriate audience, it is irrelevant.

In order to measure value, a long-term journey for the social user must be created that goes beyond simply tracking likes and shares. Pharma must not just be thinking about their next move, but start thinking ten moves ahead. Field explains: “Someone sees a paid social from you, which prompts them to do a Google search. There, they see a Google ad from you which points to a video on your YouTube channel. That YouTube video has a link to an article on your corporate website. The article contains a link to a one-page ‘Questions to ask your doctor’ download. The user downloads that document and then takes it to their doctor where there is a conversation about their condition which may or may not lead to a change in treatment.”

This user journey leads to a measurable outcome: “We can measure the people who download the document. That is a useful KPI for a social media campaign. It is as close as we can get to a tangible business outcome. It’s not views, clicks, or likes – these are not relevant,” continues Field.

We don’t have a choice on whether we do social media, the question is how well we do it

Once you create a campaign with a measurable and useful KPI, continual assessment and adjustment is vital. “Have a really robust set of metrics that you can use to assess the performance of any campaign, optimise that campaign while it is running (which you can do now), then feed the learnings back into the next campaign. This way there is an ongoing improvement in performance,” explains Field.

Companies must consider what they want to achieve and ensure that their social media campaigns are in line with those goals, as Field says: “The objectives and KPIs of any social media campaign need to be aligned with a tangible business objective – and one that is better than driving traffic to a corporate website.” The tactics for a winning social media strategy are simple: create a campaign that can add value to your business, measure the success of it, then adjust your next project accordingly.

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