Pharmaceutical companies have traditionally been reticent of publicizing their work. This is probably because they are generally wary of negative publicity, criticism, unforeseen consequences, and regulatory requirements.
Some of them resort to direct-to-consumer (DTC) marketing, while others sometimes respond to questions from patients. However, some pharmaceutical firms are cautiously using social media platforms to reach and interact with healthcare professionals, customers, and potential recruits.
The factor that influences any company’s popularity on social media platforms the most is its connection with the audience. You have to identify, find and target your audience, and customize your messages to suit them.
UCB, the Belgium-based pharma company, set up a Facebook-based community dedicated to patients with Parkinson’s disease (PD), Parkinson’s More Than Motion, in 2012. The page, which had over 45,000 fans, featured videos and patient experiences about the realities of living with PD. It also helped increase awareness about its drug approved to treat Parkinson’s symptoms, Neupro. In 2017, UCB launched a website for the More than Motion community.
Similarly, AstraZeneca uses its social media accounts to increase awareness of diseases, medical conferences, company events, and new content on its website.
On the other hand, Merck’s social media content, especially on Twitter, is not related to its pharma products and services. It posts content that interests a wider audience and uses formats, such as GIFS and videos.
Bayer is quite prolific on social media, with multiple Facebook pages; Twitter handles; YouTube channels; and accounts on Pinterest, Instagram, Flickr, Google+, and Slideshare. The company is good at interacting with its audience. It responds well to comments and also posts many questions, inviting people to share their opinions.
Novartis has multiple social media accounts. It produces many different types of social media content, including patient views, interviews, partner stories, and stunning photos and videos. It usually posts scientists’ views, patients’ experiences, and financial results.
Boehringer Ingelheim has a light-hearted approach to social media, in that its Twitter and Facebook pages use lively illustrations. Although it imparts disease awareness and corporate communications, its posts are quite engaging.
Pfizer posts a wide range of content, including black-and-white photos, interactive media, events, polls, and educational videos. The content is related to patient concerns, media announcements, and investor communications.
As a life science company that specializes in diabetes treatment, Novo Nordisk focuses on spreading awareness about the illness and connecting with patients. It publishes varied content about diabetes and even shares content from others’ accounts, which is rare among big pharma companies.
GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) has a successful social media strategy and well-enunciated social media codes of conduct. It posts interesting content about its achievements and uses social media platforms to initiate two-way dialogues with its target audience. GSK focuses on pharma and vaccines, and is known for its public health campaigns worldwide.
Johnson & Johnson (J&J) has operated under that name since 1886, and many of its products are well-known. So, it’s no wonder that its social media accounts are popular. Both its Twitter accounts, JNJNews and JNJCares, have over 100,000 followers, which indicates that J&J is successful in connecting with its audience.
Being present on many platforms does not assure success at social media strategy. Whichever company focuses on its audience and invests fully in trying to solve their pain points succeeds, both in social media and otherwise. The following are examples of companies who have managed to do so.
Your success may not lie in developing a large following and publishing lots of content. Instead, it may depend on the relevance of your content to your audience, its format, size, duration, and timing. If you find the right balance between these factors, you can also be successful at social media marketing.