Drugmakers have claimed their Instagram turf by launching corporate pages first then moving to unbranded and branded ones. Medtronic and Novartis are actively engaging on the platform through their corporate handles, each with more than 14,000 followers. Then there are companies such as Sanofi that have created a handle, but not yet activated it with posts, says Intouch Solutions EVP Wendy Blackburn.
[Read “Pharma on Instagram: How Top Drug Companies Use It Today & May Use It Tomorrow”; http://sco.lt/8lqefp]
UCB global multichannel engagement solutions lead Greg Cohen says “I've noticed pharma companies have grabbed the Instagram names for their products, but there are no posts yet,” he continues. “They're probably getting them set up and holding them in case they decide to move into it.”
What makes Instagram so potentially valuable to pharma and healthcare marketers is its visual story-telling capability. As Salowski notes, it is “incredibly sticky” when it comes to engagement. The average Instagram user spends 21 minutes per day in the app, and users upload more than 95 million photos per day, which garner more than 3.5 billion likes.
Thus, Instagram allows companies to not just break down complicated medical issues, but also “distill them into bite-sized components, which patients can consume more easily,” Cohen explains. “Users can either learn and teach themselves or share them with their networks, because the highly visual nature makes it easy for them to share their stories.”
“Instagram makes more sense for disease categories for younger people,” Blackburn explains. “Diabetes is where I see the biggest opportunity and activity, because it has always been a social disease category. It's not right for Alzheimer's or Parkinson's right now,” she adds.
As with their presence on other social media platforms, drugmakers on Instagram face the challenge of regulatory compliance. This is no small hurdle, given how the FDA continues to fine-tune guidelines about safety information within limited-character formats. Instagram has a character limit of 2,200, which affords more flexibility than Twitter's 140 characters, but still may not be enough.
If nothing else, Duchesnay's experience with Kardashian West reinforced the importance of hewing to the prescribed rules.
Another concern drugmakers may have is how to deal with negative comments and online trolls. While companies can disable comments altogether, they're wary of limiting the back and forth with patients, physicians, and caregivers. That's why Blackburn singles out Pfizer's corporate Instagram page, thought to be one of the most skilled in moderating, deflecting, and otherwise dealing with negative comments.
“Pfizer can delete the comments, but they don't,” she notes. “There are always going to be trolls and haters. Deleting them sends the wrong message, because you're there to engage. At the same time, you can't play into the game of responding to every troll. Ignore the ones that came on to bait you.”