Pharmaceutical companies have been slow to master effective social media engagement strategies compared to other industry sectors, a new report has found.
Building on Socialising Your Brand: A Brand’s Guide to Sociability research by global public relations firm Weber Shandwick in partnership with Forbes Insights, Weber Shandwick Health partnered with Pharmaceutical Market Europe www.pmlive.com to spotlight the sector to explore how global pharmaceutical companies are using social media today to engage key audiences.
The findings from the new study, Digital Health: Building Social Confidence in Pharma, identify a number of paradigm shifting conclusions.
The most surprising finding is that regulatory restrictions are no longer the primary barrier to social engagement.
While regulations are a critically important and persistent concern, pharma marketing and communications executives report that they are challenged to a greater extent by socialising their strategies internally, instilling social media confidence in their teams and aligning the right resources.
Laura Schoen, President of GlobalHealthcare at Weber Shandwick, said: “Patients are increasinglyharnessing the internet to gain knowledge about health conditions and even self-diagnose, leading to a more empowered health consumer and more informed patient-physician conversations. In this new age of participatory medicine, pharmaceutical companies must start by understanding what health communities want and then use digital technologies to reach them with information that meets the demand and takes into account applicable regulations in their markets.”
The research consisted of 12 in-depth telephone interviews with senior in-house pharmaceutical executives responsible for social media decisions. Interviews took place in Europe, the United States, Asia and Latin America.
“Our research reveals that the social media challenge in the pharmaceutical sector sits with overarching internal barriers that hinder adoption of this new medium even more so thanexternal obstacles,” explains Stephen Morgan, executive vice president and regional director, Healthcare, Weber Shandwick. “The need for better internal alignment and understanding of the medium is stronger than we expected. We need to build social confidence within pharma.”
Digital Health: Building Social Confidence in Pharma offers communicators with a guide to becoming more socially engaged by offering 10rules of engagement for building and maximising social confidence.