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Top 5 pharma marketing trends in 2014

Top 5 pharma marketing trends in 2014 | Social Media and Pharma |

Approaching end of the year experts have two options to choose. The first and a safer one is to summarize past twelve months. The second, more dangerous but also more exciting is to predict what will happen next year. At K-message we find the latter option much more useful and interesting. Please enjoy our prediction of the Top 5 pharma marketing trends of 2014 below.

Top 5 pharma marketing trends for 2014

1. Integration of digital tactics within multi-channel marketing. Leveraging Closed Loop Marketing and Big Data advantages by more mature organizations.

CLM – Closed Loop Marketing

For years digital marketing was treated as a fifth wheel in pharma business. Whatever we say, the truth is that those organizations are made of sales force. And digital marketing for sales force was just another marketing gimmick that does not add value but a workload and cost.

However, during past few years this traditional sales force thinking was challenged. Payers pressure forced companies to reduce ranks of sales representatives. Regulatory decisions have limited possibility of sales reps to meet HCPs. The result is that sales rep cannot meet his Client often enough to detail the product and maintain relationship in the same time.

Digital came to help with e-detailing and web-based self-detail solutions.CRM software supports reps with data that allow reps to have a meaningful conversation with HCPs they barely know. Combining detailing during visits with digital tactics and good old direct marketing is our new buzz word: a Multi Channel Marketing (MCM).

This Multi Channel Marketing approach allows even better results with something Pharma marketers call Closed Loop Marketing (CLM). What does it mean? It is a feedback loop that feeds every next action with the information gathered in previous touch points.


For example: If doctor X has logged in to the website of the product or disease area and searched for particular information (be it safety data or Mode of Action), his activity is logged in the system. Sales who will prepare for the meeting will get his eDetailing story focused on the topics that were of interest of doctor X during his journey on the website. eDetailing application also logs data about activity of the doctor X. It will note which parts were opened longer, which multimedia were presented, what answers doctor X gave to the quizzes embedded in the story.


Those data combined may be used to shape the content of personalized newsletter send to the doctor X as the follow-up for the visit. When doctor X clicks on the link and goes to the self-detailing website his activities will feed any next action that company can offer (be it web conference or CME online course assignment proposal).

The concept is easy to describe, but very hard to achieve. Big Pharma usually has many different tools for each activity used by different business units at the same time. The data gathered across different channels are not only not standardized, but often they are not gathered at all.

Our prediction is that 2014 will be the year of integration of digital with other channels. Multi Channel Marketing campaigns, made better or worse will become a standard approach. Digital channels will become a core of those campaigns as they offer the most advanced and effortless data collection capabilities. When integration is done, more mature organization will start to play with Big Data, looking for the behavioral patterns, segmentation and optimized content.

2. Virtual conferences

Medical conferences are vital for pharma business. Unfortunately the cost of attending is too high for participants, and regulations are limiting possibilities of the industry to sponsor the attendance. The emerging trend is to compliment (if not replace) physical meetings with a digital, virtual presence.

Virtual conferences have many advantages that may not be obvious. They are cheap to organize, free to attend, accessible worldwide, and they do not have to be limited in time. Additionally virtual conference attendee can go to all the sessions one after another, pause and replay. While in real time of the event, there is possibility to network and perform Q and A sessions. If the event is replayed there is also possibility to maintain asynchronous communication via discussion boards or e-mail lists. Virtual event can be live for months and create a community around.


Webcasting Virtual Conference – Source: ON24

There are still some regulatory compliance objections (ie. no discussion on off-label, still researched use can be broadcasted and replayed outside of the physical event timeframe). There is still a group of attendees that strongly prefer physical meetings due to networking opportunities and informal chats. Technical solutions are not perfect and most of 3D meeting environments look like a joke in comparison with what consumer market offers for massive multiplayer online games.

Still, virtual conferences will become a common digital marketing tactic for pharma marketing in 2013. We recommend an exhaustive presentation on virtual conferences by Len Starnes below.


The medical conference is dead, long live the medical conferencefrom Len Starnes

3. Embracing Social Media

It has to come some day: Pharma in Social Media. To be honest this trend is on the list since 2010 at least. Anyway, the time has come we believe. There are many factors that make 2014 a year when pharma should finally embrace social media.

20111230 NodeXL-Twitter-pfizer network graph (Photo credit: Marc_Smith)

The major one is coming from the unexpected corner. Industry was long hesitant to enter social media space due to the drug safety consideration. If you participate in Social Media it means you need to actively monitor it against any adverse events reports. The standard practice was however, to assume that if pharma is not listening it cannot be obliged to report. On the other hand such assumption may be wrong, so as soon as there is a tweet that meets all four conditions, pharma company will be probably considered obliged to find it and report. Thus, we believe that drug safety teams should push their organizations towards monitoring of social media.

Reminder: information needed for valid Adverse Event

An identifiable patient

An identifiable reporter

A suspect drug or biological product

An adverse experience or fatal outcome suspected to be due to the suspect drug or biological product.

Another change that may increase Social Media priority on digital pharma marketing tactics list is Google’s algorithm. Social signals are more important than backlinks and Google+ or YouTube presence is a shortcut to the first page on Google Search results. If pharma wants to have their web presence visible, especially on the US market where DTC marketing is allowed, Social Media is a must have.

Third factor to consider is, well, social. The generational change in attitude towards social media affects HCPs too. They are active in Social Media, and they will talk about industry in this space regardless of pharma marketing presence there. At K-message we believe that big platforms, and especially Google+ will continue to grow in 2014 at the cost of closed niche communities like Sermo or To be efficient Pharma marketing should listen to the conversation, and engage whenever appropriate. Influencers of 2014 are in the social web, not in the conference room.

4. Mobile apps decline, raise of the mobile web.

This trend is not limited to pharma marketing. Mobile applications are really dead end for marketers in 2014. Due to the war of ecosystems and difference in mobile usage habits between regions and countries it is just not viable to create mobile applications. To reach your target audience you need to prepare few versions customized per OS, data usage etc. Very often such costly effort is done only to find out that the content not compliant week after launch and cannot be updated.

QRcode –


Still, mobile is on the rise, and you will definitely see John Doerr’s abbreviation “SoLoMo” (Social, Local, Mobile) on some slides in 2014. The answer is not the app but the mobile web. The content pharma marketing has to create should work on the small screen from the beginning. Every new website should be designed starting from mobile and tablet experience or at least have a mobile version available. And “mobile” does not mean that it fits the small screen. It is about making the content fit for mobile experience.

5. More visual content marketing


Pretty Pinterest (Photo credit: mkhmarketing)

This fifth (although probably not the last trend you will see in pharma marketing 2014) trend is directly connected to Social and Mobile trends we discussed above. Content is the king for marketers in pharma for years, but in the age of social and mobile it cannot be text-only content.

On small screens and in social space image is worth more than thousands words. We will see videos, interactive infographics, images and animations. YouTube, Slideshare, Instagram, Pinterest. This is the content that is accessible on mobile, but also shared on social platforms. Of course pharma marketing cannot skip the text, but even for scientific, medical information there is a way to visualise it.

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Andrea Angioloni's insight:

perfect! with the assumption the top managent trust 100% on this and is ready to implement it immediately.....

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[Study] How Twitter can be used to address specific health issues

[Study] How Twitter can be used to address specific health issues | Social Media and Pharma |

A new study examined the use of the hashtag #childhoodobesity in tweets to track Twitter conversations about the issue of overweight kids. The study noted that conversations involving childhood obesity on Twitter don't often include comments from representatives of government and public health organizations that likely have evidence relating to how best to approach this issue. The authors think maybe they should.

Via Marc Phippen
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Healthcare Marketing Made Easy: How to leverage social media while staying true to yourself

Healthcare Marketing Made Easy: How to leverage social media while staying true to yourself | Social Media and Pharma |

Like it or not, social media is an integral part of any healthcare marketing campaign. Whether its LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus or any other network, social media engagement is one of the most predominant ways in which people of all stripes connect with one another.

The media research collective, Pew Research, recently performed a survey and found that approximately 75% of online adults use social networking sites. [Here's a link to the study:]

But there’s nothing new here. For the past several years we’ve all heard about “the importance of social media,” yet for many healthcare practitioners the impact of this “all-important social media revolution” has not yet made its way into their bottom-line. Why is that?

There are two main schools of thought as to the reasons why social media’s influence is muted in healthcare:

1. Social media is overrated.

2. Healthcare practitioners have not learned how to effectively use social media.

Now, I’m not going to get bogged down in this debate. Regardless of one’s position on the matter, the fact remains: If you are a healthcare practitioner and you have a strong social media presence, it will have a favorable impact on your bottom line.

So let’s consider one simple practice you could implement that would actually bring the promise of social media into a reality.

Know Thyself

Why are you even engaging in social media? Too often it’s simply because marketing types (ahem…present company excluded) simply tell you that you need to be using social media. Now that’s just hype. There needs to be something more…something measurable for you to obtain in order to justify the effort necessary for an effective social media campaign.

Which leads to the next point: Who are you and why on earth would someone follow you? Hint: People are not going to follow you simply because you show up. You have to give them a reason to follow you. You have to be engaging and helpful and interesting. Oh yeah, and funny too. (But thankfully, not all at the same time!)

Then, and only then, can you get what you want out of social media: More influence, better branding, and ultimately more business.

Spend some time today looking for a social media model. Do not choose not someone famous, as their success on social media is already baked-in based on the fact they are so well-known. Rather, look for other small businesses that demonstrate media and marketing savvy. It might be another physician, or a business in a different field all together. It doesn’t matter, because the effective ones are all doing the same thing: They are providing value; they are not simply tweeting their office hours.

If you’re not sure how to get started, consider this simple formula as a way forward and write about the following:

Disease prevention, focusing on your specialtyConsequences of disease complications, focusing on your specialtyHealth in generalHow to have an effective visit with a doctorLocal issues and events (You can write about other things besides your professional specialty. In fact, discussing local issues is encouraged because it establishes your local presence in the minds of your followers.)

For every 10 posts of interest to your followers, put in a post that specifically touts who you are and what you can do for your followers and their friends.

Last, but not least: Keep at it. Give social media some time and a little practice and you may just find that you not only have a knack for it, but that you enjoy it!


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FDA Draft Guidance Takes the "Social" Out Of Social Media

FDA Draft Guidance Takes the "Social" Out Of Social Media | Social Media and Pharma |

The FDA’s long awaited social media guidance published in draft form early this year is long on reach and short on specifics; the largely negative reaction from the biopharmaceutical industry reflects this.

If you just read the headlines of the various government enforcement actions that have been brought and settled in the past few years, you are invariably led to conclude that biomedical drug and device firms are renegades who willfully ignore government oversight in pursuit of profits.  Of course they are in pursuit of profits, like all businesses, and therefore some regulation is important to ensure that truthful information is conveyed to patients, physicians and payers. But this very same regulation ought not preclude or inhibit manufacturers from providing the most current, accurate information available – who else but the manufacturer is more likely to have such information in the first place? I have written about this in the context of the off label promotion issue broadly, and I believe the same principle should apply to all forms of company communication.

Instagram and other Social Media Apps (Photo credit: Jason A. Howie)

With this in mind, a news flash that may not be evident to our public servants toiling away in the government bureaucracy: social media is a popular and increasingly important means of communicating information.  Shockingly, even doctors and patients use it.  A recent survey of physicians found that over 50% of practices responding used Facebook as a platform, and 87% those physicians under the age of 55 used some form of social media. With the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) requiring increased use of digitalized data under the Meaningful Use guidelines, one might say that the government is actively encouraging certain actors in the healthcare system to increase their use of technology to enhance patient engagement.

But drug companies, not so much.  A study announced earlier this year by IMS Health found that only 23 of the top 50 global pharmaceutical companies made regular use of social media. A more recent survey by the Tufts University Center for the Study of Drug Development found that the use of social media in clinical research is minimal – so much so that most companies have yet to develop policies and practices in this area.  The survey found that only one in five firms that employ social media have used it to engage with patients, leaving it to third parties like patient advocacy groups or limiting their forays to banner advertisements.

The FDA’s recalcitrance in issuing guidance has been part of the problem. Back in 2008, when I held a visiting academic post at Oxford, I spoke with Jeremy Mean, the UK official who works with the British Medicines & Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency and is responsible for regulating these very same promotional and marketing practices by these very same companies.  In September 2007, now nearly seven years ago, he already had addressed formally an industry gathering to discuss the challenge of regulating social media communications.  He noted that while we know how to regulate labeling and promotional material, we are less certain as to how to evaluate “everything in between.” Still, even with this admitted uncertainty, Mean went on to discuss his preliminary views on web communications with industry representatives.  The FDA’s culture and history suggests that it is simply not willing to engage with industry in a collaborative effort to wrestle with the ambiguities presented by technological advance.  We are all the poorer for it.

Logo of the United States Department of Health and Human Services. The symbol represents the American People sheltered in the wing of the American Eagle, suggesting the Department’s concern and responsibility for the welfare of the people. The logo is the department’s main visual identifier; the seal is now used for mainly legal purposes. The color can be either black or reflex blue. More information here and here. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

With its draft guidance, the FDA seems determined to put the genie back in the bottle, as it would make every utterance by a drug or device company subject to scrutiny to determine if it is outside the agency approved indication(s). Physicians have the prerogative to prescribe medications for unapproved uses, and often ask for guidance in prescribing and seeking reimbursement coverage for their patients, but companies are unable to freely advise on such issues other than in the context of a Medical Affairs representative responding to a specific inquiry from a practicing physician. Social media offers an opportunity for companies to provide background on medical practice and clinical developments, but the FDA’s draft guidance seems to go beyond the regulation of “labeling” or “advertising” as these terms are defined under the Food, Drug & Cosmetic Act (FDCA) to reach other types of communication.

Moreover, the guidelines raise the specter of the FDA expanding the scope of its purview to deem loosely or unaffiliated speakers as coming under the “influence or control” of the company – and therefore subjecting the company to liability for social media postings by a much broader range of actors than simply those who are authorized representatives of the pharmaceutical company’s Medical or Public Affairs groups.

This is touchy issue for many reasons, but just for fun, let’s wrestle with a philosophical question.  Should a company be held legally responsible for any actions taken or statements made by any and all employees and advisors that may relate directly or even tangentially to the company’s business?

Admittedly, corporations struggle with this question on their own. Most executives recognize that they cannot control their employees, particularly outside of the work environment. Yet they often hew toward a fairly restrictive position based upon heightened concerns of liability and government regulatory oversight. Some appear to cling to the belief, however outmoded, that management indeed can control the company’s message and reputation by controlling on line communications.

Here is a example of how some companies have approached the issue:

Although Public Affairs is solely responsible for developing and executing corporate communications on behalf of the Company, employees may post or engage in other social media activity on their own behalf outside normal working hours.  That said, it is important to acknowledge that employees who choose to do so may be seen as representing the Company, especially if the subject matter in any way relates to the Company, its business, its reputation, the science underlying our products and compounds, or public policy issues of concern to the Company or the biopharmaceutical industry generally.  As such, employees should avoid posting or engaging on social media outlets on a topic, or in a manner, that may reflect negatively on the Company.

In other words, we all know that we really can’t stop you from posting but . . . please please please don’t talk about the company. This has prevailed in many corners of the biopharmaceutical industry, where the rants of disgruntled sales representatives appear daily in living color on CafePharma, while the complexity of the safety and efficacy profile of approved drugs together with the limited space offered in some social media formats (e.g., Twitter) have handicapped efforts to communicate effectively with patients.

This is understandable, particularly as it concerns employees or agents who really don’t know what they are talking about.  But to the extent that corporate instincts are reinforced by an overly restrictive FDA, this is not necessarily a good thing.

Do we want to foster a dynamic marketplace of ideas where fulsome communication is supported?  Do we really believe that a government agency can – or should – control the information that is available to physicians and patients?  And if, in the company’s opinion, the posted information is wrong headed, do we want companies to act in good faith to correct the error?


 will watch with interest to see if the industry comments affect the final guidance. But the draft suggests that the agency is holding tight to a twentieth century command and control mindset, and is resisting mightily the sometimes uncomfortable reality of twenty-first century technology and its implications for healthcare communications.



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rob halkes's curator insight, May 22, 2014 1:02 PM

It isn't easy, I guess, for an authority like FDA to make leaps towards a new business model, when this model is not yet followed by the majority of those they overview..
Maybe we could co-create an intermediate set of rules/guidance, where those who want more "free" space to act, will work in co-creative approach with the FDA?

What it is in care, co-creation? See here:

Joel Finkle's curator insight, May 27, 2014 3:16 PM

Given the 'permanence' of social media, I can see FDA oversight as rational: it's really not different from advertising.  Discuss?

Carmen Ganzaráin Pina's curator insight, October 30, 2014 10:39 AM

Un breve artículo sobre la FDA, comité regulador de alimentos y medicamentos en EEUU.

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Pharma’s need for stronger HCP engagement

Pharma’s need for stronger HCP engagement | Social Media and Pharma |
To survive it is essential for pharma to build stronger, customer-focused relationships based on trust that can withstand the glare of the spotlight.

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Infographic: Your Digital Marketing Roadmap

Infographic: Your Digital Marketing Roadmap | Social Media and Pharma |
Infographic: Your Digital Marketing Roadmap

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How digital and social media is impacting pharmaceutical marketing

How digital and social media is impacting pharmaceutical marketing | Social Media and Pharma |

The world as we know it is changing. Our stakeholder’s way of thinking, and behaving, is changing due to 24/7 access to global information. So how does this impact our industry and what are the opportunities for pharma marketers?

Patients are engaging online around their health, and they expect to be able to engage online with other people and companies in this space. They do not understand why big pharma companies does not engage and this exacerbates the industry’s poor reputation. From a corporate marketing point of view this is an easy win. By accepting social media, rather than avoiding it, companies can start to have a positive impact on their reputation, and build corporate brand value.


Read more:

Via Parag Vora, COUCH Medcomms
Andrea Angioloni's insight:

I like this "Social media enables pharma marketers to get a better understanding of stakeholder’s emotions and behaviours, and at the end of the day it is emotions and behaviours that impact pharma sales"

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Lilly Diabetes and Disney: Best Practice in Community Engagement

Lilly Diabetes and Disney: Best Practice in Community Engagement | Social Media and Pharma |
          Since 2011, Lilly Diabetes in partnership with Disney Publishing Worldwide has created a series of children’s books for families and kids with type 1 diabetes. In...

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The gates to social media are opening for the pharmaceutical industry, but with access comes responsibility

The gates to social media are opening for the pharmaceutical industry, but with access comes responsibility | Social Media and Pharma |

Since social media was widely adopted more than five years ago, the pharmaceutical industry has tiptoed around the edges of the platform, concerned that diving in would obligate companies and brands to keep tabs on and manage all consumer-generated content. If the content is incorrect, patient outcomes and adherence could suffer; but in the absence of FDA guidance, and with limited resources, what can our industry do? Until recently, there has been little feedback from the FDA regarding our perceived responsibility as an industry. However, the draft guidance published in January 2014 titled "Fulfilling Regulatory Requirements for Postmarketing Submissions of Interactive Promotional Media for Prescription Human and Animal Drugs and Biologics" appears to address pharma's expanding role in engaging its audiences with promotional online activities, including what it can do with content after it's been approved and published.

The FDA on real-time communications and interactions

The FDA makes an important, time-saving distinction in the draft guidance related to "real-time communications and interactions (e.g., blogs, microblogs, social networking sites, online communities, and live podcasts)." Due to the long lead time of internal promotional review, it realizes it's impossible for pharmas to submit every new piece of content for review before publication. With the volume of material generated, the submission process would impede conversation and create a backlog for the reviewers.

"The FDA makes an important, time-saving distinction in the draft guidance..."

The FDA on promotional language

The FDA's draft guidance recognizes product language as promotional even it is not physically connected to a product (e.g., a label on a bottle or package) and that the contextual relationship between a product and its labeling is the key. In the digital world, this means associations are made even if an item and its descriptor do not appear next to each other. Inference has always been an important focus for the FDA in reviewing promotional items – there have been many cases where the FDA discouraged a color scheme that links branded and non-branded material.

What you're really responsible for

Next we get to the meat of the guidance: in short, if you own it, control it, create it, influence it (more about this in a minute), or operate it, then you are responsible for it. Clear, simple, specific. In prior discussions with the FDA, its representatives have been resolute on this point. If the FDA can ultimately prove that you knew about content you should be responsible for, it will insist you take responsibility for it.

"If the FDA can ultimately prove that you knew about content you should be responsible for, it will insist you take responsibility for it."

The FDA on third-party site promotion

"Under certain circumstances, a firm is responsible for promotion on third-party sites." The FDA clarifies this to be content focused: if you read and / or revise content for a digital venue, such as an advocacy resource like an organization's Facebook page before publication, then you are responsible for the content and must follow the FDA's standard procedures. Financial responsibility (such as providing a grant that enables the content to be developed) does not equate to content responsibility. This distinction is important because it means there is a growing opportunity for pharmaceutical companies to use existing healthcare communications – such as mobile health apps, health activist blogs and foundation sites – instead of building the digital venues themselves. This could be a real benefit to consumers and pharma by reaching the audience where they are already engaged and saving promotional dollars.

The FDA adds that although content submitted to these venues must be approved, how the third party uses the materials is not the pharmaceutical company's responsibility. A great example (non-digital) is one from years ago when a TV news program that was integrating approved product messaging decided to shorten the program and deleted some critical compliance information. The pharmaceutical company was not held responsible, and the current guidance reiterates the FDA's commitment to evaluate these types of circumstances independently.

The current draft guidance does state that employees or agents (vendors, agency partners) are responsible for publicly communicated product promotions. Therefore, pharmaceutical companies should clarify their internal employee social media guidelines. And, they need to take care when providing materials to health activists if there is any financial remuneration since the FDA will hold pharma companies accountable for the relationship. The FDA wants relationships clearly identified but is appearing lenient if there is no direct financially beneficial relationship with the company.

Overall, the recent draft guidance goes a long way to opening the door for pharma to participate in digital channels with user-generated content, provided there is transparency with the FDA all along the way. The draft guidance reduces many barriers to engaging in social media as a promotional vehicle, while highlighting the importance of being responsible for content you place, manage, or maintain, as well as the need for fully transparent relationships. It also puts a spotlight on the significant resources required to support the management of social media content; to many, it simply may not be worth the investment. That said, we hope to see the industry take advantage of the opportunity to develop deeper connections and support better health outcomes through these communication channels.


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Social Media Life Cycle

Social Media Life Cycle | Social Media and Pharma |
The Social Media Life Cycle describes the processes and stimuli involved in transforming attention into affection, creating social commerce in full motion.

Via MarketingLab, Laura Chiocciora
Jenn Alevy's curator insight, March 7, 2014 2:06 AM

Interesting, even for non-business types.

Nevermore Sithole's curator insight, March 10, 2014 12:46 PM
Social Media Life Cycle
Anne-Marie Grandtner's curator insight, October 11, 2014 5:30 PM

From attention to affection ... Waht was the intention again ?

Rescooped by Andrea Angioloni from Pharma Marketing!

Why trusted online doctor networks boost pharma sales

Why trusted online doctor networks boost pharma sales | Social Media and Pharma |
The digital nature of communications in the pharma industry has resulted in online doctor networks. Find out why these are in demand.

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How to Use Twitter for Healthcare Effectively (4 Tips)

How to Use Twitter for Healthcare Effectively (4 Tips) | Social Media and Pharma |

With Twitter going public this year, it has over 100 million daily active users and 231.7 million monthly active users worldwide to date. There are lots of opportunities for conversation on the platform about almost every topic known to man, but where does healthcare fit in on Twitter as an industry?


The very nature of healthcare requires many regulations, which is often a barrier for medical professionals looking to utilize the platform, but it certainly doesn’t merit not using the social media channel to communicate with others. As of today, 31% of health care professionals use social media for professional networking which is only going to grow as one of the many effective uses of Twitter for medical practitioners.

Using Twitter and other social channels is also important to patients, since 41% of people say social media would affect their choice of a specific doctor, hospital or medical facility and 30% of adults say they are likely to share information about their health on social media sites with other patients.

Continuing ongoing communication with your audience on Twitter can have long-term benefits for you as a professional and for your healthcare organization, as well as a tangible impact on your patients. This positive impact can occur when the platform is used correctly to develop relationships and spread worthwhile information to your audience of colleagues, experts, patients and industry leaders.

Here’s how you and your organization should be using Twitter for healthcare effectively:


Spread Quality Health Related Information: Both Curated & Original

Twitter allows its users to become a source of knowledge and expertise about certain topics and in this case, you should be tweeting about your healthcare related information. The goals of a medical professional on Twitter are to build a following of other people and organizations that care about your messaging and associate your expertise with your account.

It isn’t the overall number of followers that matter, but the number of your followers who actually care about what you’re tweeting. If you’re a dentist, then tweet content about how to maintain your smile in between visits or if you’re a nutritionist, tweet tips about shopping for and cooking healthy meals. Tweet the expertise that you know well, to give your audience of like-minded individuals the information they’ve come to expect from your account.

54% patients experience 1 or more errors in medication reconciliation at the hospital via @medpagetoday

— Dave Walker (@drwalker_rph) December 13, 2013

The content you’re sharing on Twitter should be both original, as well as the curated content from others. Share your own quick tips, links to your blog posts, news about your industry and more original content that you’ve created based on your expertise. The other content you’re sharing on Twitter should be the relevant content from others in your industry, friends, partners and followers.

Tweeting a healthy balance of your content and the content of others is the best approach to Twitter because no one wants to hear you talk only about yourself in real life and the same goes for your conduct on Twitter. The content you’re sharing from others should always be relevant to the topics you’re typically covering in healthcare professionally on Twitter and occasionally your personal interests as well.

Share the articles of others, retweet the tweets of others in the healthcare industry that you find valuable, comment on the tweets and article links of others in your network and aim to share the quality content you discover on Twitter. This approach helps vary the content you’re sharing with your audience, as well as build a rapport with others in your industry on Twitter.


Use the Right Hashtags for Healthcare

Hashtags on Twitter are often misunderstood by many, resulting in a common misuse of this helpful tool for content discovery. Twitter hashtags for healthcare can be used to help categorize your content on a consistent basis, extend the reach of your tweets with others looking for the type of content you’re tweeting and help expand your audience with like-minded individuals all with the use of # symbol for a word or phrase.

A3 I effusively thank friends who host parties w/ lots of fruits & veggies on the menu. I do the same so people have choices. #HealthTalk

— Lisa Oldson MD (@LisaOldson) December 9, 2013

As a Twitter user, it’s important to use no more than three hashtags per tweet to avoid overusing this helpful technique. The hashtags you’re using should be a combination of hashtags used in your industry by others, as well as a few hashtags created by you specifically to categorize your content.

Some widely used healthcare related hashtags are:


These hashtags should be added to relevant tweets about that subject area, so they appear with other tweets using the hashtags pulled together under one consistent topic. For example, if you wrote a blog post about how you think the healthcare industry can look to improve a patient’s experience in 2014; tweet a link to that blog post using the hashtag #patientexperience to best categorize the post.

When creating original hashtags of your own, keep them very simple and easy to understand. Avoid stringing too many words together, while focusing on the creation oF hashtags that you’ll look to use again in the future as opposed to one-offs that you won’t have use for again.

Negative Consequences of work hour rules? via @nytimes Are Today’s New Surgeons Unprepared? #meded #ptsafety

— Carol DeFilippis (@CarolADeF) December 13, 2013

When it comes to Twitter hashtags in general, stick to using the same 10-15 hashtags overtime to create a consistent flow and organization to all your healthcare content shared on Twitter. After consistently tweeting using certain hashtags, your audience will begin to expect their use from your account and be on the lookout for certain series of content you regularly tweet.

Hashtags used by others can help you find engaging content from others on the topics you’re most interested about, which makes the process of content curation on Twitter much more effective.

For information on the proper usage of Twitter hashtags, view this infographic for more insights on the subject.


Communicate with Others Frequently

By sharing the content of others in your industry on a regular basis you’re communicating with them and building a long lasting rapport. Sharing the content of others on Twitter is one of the most valuable things you can do when interacting on the network, but it doesn’t have to stop there.

When other voices in the healthcare industry are tweeting, it’s important to interact with their tweets by leaving a comment, thanking them for sharing the resources, asking a question, refuting their position constructively and more to drive a more in-depth one on one conversation. It is easier for another medical professional to ignore the fact you’re tweeting their content or retweeting their tweets, but more difficult to ignore a direct mention which is a call for one-to-one conversation.

@SamServ10 Thanks for watching. Agree that change is hard. That’s why we must start now, with patients help @TEDx

— Leana S. Wen MD (@DrLeanaWen) December 12, 2013

Interact with their tweets and ask questions to build an ongoing dialogue with other members of your industry within healthcare. Most importantly, try to take some of these relationships you’re building on Twitter offline into the real world. Invite some of the medical professionals you’re tweeting with the most to meet with you for coffee, have lunch, grab a drink at a bar or even attend a networking event together.

Meeting one of your connections face-to-face helps establish a long-term relationship that may not of been as strong without the in-person meeting. You can continue to maintain your professional relationship overtime with new and existing contacts through Twitter.

Unfortunately, it isn’t possible to meet with all of your followers on Twitter since it’s likely you don’t live in the same physical location. Using Twitter chats is another alternative way to connect with healthcare professionals interested in discussing the industry and other important professional developments.

FDA pays $182,814 for social media monitoring #hcsm #socpharm

— Glen Gilmore #SocBiz (@GlenGilmore) September 30, 2013

A Twitter chat is a live discussion that occurs for a half-hour to an hour at the same time every week, moderated by a host on Twitter and centered on a particular topic in the form of a hashtag allowing anyone that is interested in participating to follow. Twitter chats are wonderful networking opportunities for your specific medical focus since each chat is centered on a specific subject area.

Therefore, when you’re participating in the chat, you’re more likely to be seen by and interact with individuals that share an interest with you as a medical professional. These connections will hopefully lead to more opportunities to connect with others, build thought leadership and build greater visibility for your practice.

Of the thousands of Twitter chats happening on Twitter everyday, here are some healthcare chats to consider checking out:

1) #MDChat — Tuesday 9 p.m. ET

Moderator: Phil Baumann via @MD_Chat

2) #meddevice — Wednesday, 4 p.m. ET

Moderator: Joe Hage via @MedicalMarcom

3) #HITsm — Friday, noon ET

Health Information Technology Social Media

Moderator: Chad Johnson via @HealthStandards

4) #SocPharm — first Wednesday of each month, 8 p.m. ET

Biopharmaceutical Marketing and Social Media

Moderator: Eileen O’Brien via @eileenobrien

Read more:


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KOL vs DOL, Part II: what Digital Opinion Leaders mean to Pharmaceutical Marketing

KOL vs DOL, Part II: what Digital Opinion Leaders mean to Pharmaceutical Marketing | Social Media and Pharma |
The emergence of DOLs in Healthcare can have a disruptive and positive impact on Pharmaceutical marketing, but the phenomenon has...

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Google Helpouts: An Opportunity for Healthcare Marketers | BRG Living

Google Helpouts: An Opportunity for Healthcare Marketers | BRG Living | Social Media and Pharma |

Healthcare marketers often shy away from social networks. Google's Helpouts could be a safe place for brands and medical providers to engage with patients.

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Infographic: Digital marketing budgets continue to rise in 2014 (by approx. 10%)

Infographic: Digital marketing budgets continue to rise in 2014 (by approx. 10%) | Social Media and Pharma |
Infographic: Digital Marketing Budgets Continue to Rise in 2014

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Social media continues to challenge medical professionalism

Social media continues to challenge medical professionalism | Social Media and Pharma |

As Canadian medical educators start to incorporate social media into their set of teaching tools, medical students and residents continue to wrestle with fundamental issues of how to use social media while maintaining professionalism.

At the recent Canadian Conference on Medical Education in Ottawa, use of social media was not the primary topic but use of social media platforms such as Twitter were pervasive and three research posters were presented specifically on the topic of professionalism and social media.

In addition, a pre-conference course featured experts from Canada, the UK and the US discussing how use of social media and especially Twitter can bring additional value to the learning environment. While sentiments such as that expressed by course panelist Nathalie Lafferty from Dundee University that “Twitter has become my personal learning network,” were heard repeatedly during the session, others acknowledged that use of Twitter by medical students was very low.

Data presented at the course courtesy of Catherine Peirce from the Association of Faculties of Medicine of Canada showed half of Canadian medical schools have published policies dealing with social media and that “all are enthusiastic and encourage use of social media.”

The research posters presented a far more cautious view of social media as expressed by medical students and residents.

A literature review of 23 studies by medical student Brittany Harrison and Dr. Ali Jalali from the University of Ottawa concluded that while social media networks are becoming “a ubiquitous source of information sharing in medicine,” medical students need to be aware that their conduct on social media platforms can impact future employment. Harrison and Jalali concluded it was “clear” too few medical schools have policies on social media conduct and that instruction in professionalism needs to begin at medical school matriculation.

This issue was specifically addressed in another poster by medical student James Yan and Dr. Robert Sibbald, professor of ethics, from the Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry, Western University who discussed a pilot project with first year medical students.

The small study based on online survey feedback showed medical students were aware content they posted on social media could be viewed as unprofessional. Following completion of learning module in bioethics on this topic, the majority of students said they would modify or hide their social media use to avoid potential future conflicts with their professional career.

The third poster presentation showed some Canadian medical residents are continuing to put themselves at risk by having publicly accessible Facebook profiles that contained potentially inappropriate or unprofessional content.

The survey of first and second-year residents at the University of Ottawa by Drs. Jolanata Karpinski and Susan Bragg showed 28.7% of residents had public profiles on Facebook and of these 41.9% had potentially unprofessional conduct usually involving alcohol consumption or “rude” humour.

Karpinski and Bragg concluded: “educators and regulators have a role to play in increasing residents’ awareness of their vulnerability online and in promoting guidelines around e-professionalism.”

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Why Audience-Centric Content Is Not an Option

Why Audience-Centric Content Is Not an Option | Social Media and Pharma |
Your content strategy must be inimitable to your brand, to your customers’ needs, to your company’s objectives, to your business culture and to how you differentiate yourself from your competitor… (Why Audience-Centric Content Is Not an Option

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5 Ways to Drive Brand Preference Through Social Media

5 Ways to Drive Brand Preference Through Social Media | Social Media and Pharma |
Word-of-mouth remains the most powerful form of marketing. No marketer can argue with the fact that a passionate, authentic brand advocate is of great value and can often sell the brand with loyalty
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Engagement: The Most Important Social Media Metric?

Engagement: The Most Important Social Media Metric? | Social Media and Pharma |

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Why Healthcare Providers Should Embrace Criticism on Social Media – and How to Handle It

Why Healthcare Providers Should Embrace Criticism on Social Media – and How to Handle It | Social Media and Pharma |

Social media has revolutionized how we communicate, interact and make decisions – and it is an essential part of any business’ marketing strategy. Yet despite the many benefits that social media marketing can provide, healthcare organizations have typically been slow to join the online conversation.

In the past couple of years, however, this trend has slowly started to change. Physician practices, hospitals and healthcare systems have started putting their differences with social networks aside in order to build interactive online communities and strengthen relationships with patients.

Having an online presence allows healthcare organizations to:

Find out what patients are sayingManage customer relationsIdentify areas for improvementIncrease patient engagementGrow their brand

Depending on your organization's patient base and resources, you may choose to set up social media profiles on just one network or several. Facebook tends to be the most popular – and it is fairly simple, even for novices, to create a free page.

67% of Internet-using adults are Facebook users, making Facebook the most-used social network.CLICK TO TWEET

The next most-used social network is Twitter. It is used by many hospitals and urgent care facilities to post updates on wait times and upcoming events and to provide patients with useful information about health-related topics.

Of course, establishing social media profiles can also have its drawbacks. Social networks serve as effective patient communication tools, but they can also be venues for patients to post criticisms and complaints. For hospitals and practices, knowing how to manage these types of comments can mean the difference between a marketing success and a social media flop.

Here are two steps for handling negative social media comments with care and using patient complaints to your advantage:1. Identify the problem.

Not every negative comment posted on your Facebook wall or mentioned in a tweet on Twitter will be true. Patients often post things out of anger and sometimes due to a lack of knowledge. However, your job is to take every piece of criticism seriously and try to get to the root of the problem.

For example, imagine your social media team is monitoring Twitter and sees the following post from a patient: “I’ve been waiting in the ER at @thishospital for 2hrs. Longest waiting times ever!” What would you do? One course of action would be to find out who the patient is, how long they have been waiting and why, as there could be several reasons for the patient’s extended wait.

Perhaps they forgot to check in.Maybe the patient's name was called when they stepped outside to make a phone call.The front desk could have misplaced their registration forms.Or maybe your hospital really does have long wait times.

Whatever the problem is, it is important to identify it. This will allow you to address it.

2. Fix it.

After you have identified the problem, take the necessary steps to fix it. This can include acknowledging that a mistake was made (i.e. misplaced paperwork) and apologizing for the oversight, or thanking patients for helping you to identify an area that needs improvement. Other patients will see that you take comments and criticism seriously, and they will feel a greater sense of satisfaction with your organization.


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Lilly Diabetes and Disney: Best Practice in Community Engagement

Lilly Diabetes and Disney: Best Practice in Community Engagement | Social Media and Pharma |
          Since 2011, Lilly Diabetes in partnership with Disney Publishing Worldwide has created a series of children’s books for families and kids with type 1 diabetes. In...

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Curating Content via Social Media: A New Role for Physicians

Curating Content via Social Media: A New Role for Physicians | Social Media and Pharma |

Social media in health care is all the rage. Set up a Twitter account, get a Facebook page—heck, even start a Pinterest account for your office or group. Mix it together with a little video content, SEO, and a flashy URL, and you may be able to find some ROI from your social media efforts. It’s modern. It sounds complicated and advanced. And many social media experts who are dabbling in health care are pushing the merit and success of this marketing strategy.

But should this be the role social media plays in a physician practice? Should hospitals use Twitter as a digital billboard with viral potential? Marketing is important, but is it appropriate for physicians who are entering the social media space?

I believe that serving as content curators is more aligned with the oath we took. Social media provides a contemporary platform for physicians to acquire, screen, compile, and manage information we want our patients to have.

The 21st-century patient has access to information like never before. You’ve seen the numbers: 85 percent of US adults use the Internet. 72 percent of those use the Internet to look for health information. (How many of your patients have asked you about the controversial breast cancer screening trial recently published in BMJ?) But that information comes from all types of sources—some legitimate, some less so.

Sure, there are big-brand resources for health information: Mayo Clinic, WebMD, and so forth. These are excellent compilations. There are innovative projects currently underway to crowd-source web content through a variety of “human touch” resources in an effort to curate and compile medical information for patients and physicians; Webicina comes to mind. These large-scale information warehouses are game-changers for health care in this era that embraces transparency and communication.

But might patients want your opinion rather than a PR-approved message from a big brand name? Yes, they do—and we owe it to them. We can provide our views along with supportive, authoritative information via social media.

What do you think about annual mammography for women? What about CT scans in children? Are HPV vaccines safe? How about prostate cancer screening – does it work? Is CT colonography going to become mainstream?

Just think of the information you can provide for your patients. Public health, specialty-specific content, medication information: The possibilities are endless.

We talk about the doctor–patient relationship all the time. We cite its centrality to our profession without a second thought; just uttering the phrase conjures images of Norman Rockwell paintings. But what is the doctor–patient relationship in 2014? Today, patients seek your opinion on information they’ve already gathered. They move around a lot. They choose physicians based on peer recommendations.

I don’t mean to imply that personal relationships, developed over time, are less important now. But many 21st-century patients—e-patients—already have formed an opinion about us before we meet. If we want to be masters of the contemporary doctor–patient relationship, we must be reliable, timely suppliers of information and interpretation that patients want. Otherwise, they will go to WebMD and then just see us for prescriptions.

“But I am just one person,” you say. “I can’t put the entire Harrison’s text on my blog.” And you’re right. I certainly don’t mean to suggest that every physician should provide encyclopedic medical knowledge in cryptic 140-character, hashtag-ridden messages or curate medicine’s entire knowledge base. But perhaps your group could produce a series of blog posts about topics most important to your specialty, sharing the writing responsibilities. Or if you are personally passionate about a public health topic, consistently provide your opinions and pre-screened information for your patients via Twitter. Some national organizations have begun to broadcast specialty-specific content in a more savvy, social-media–friendly way, which you can translate for patients. There are a variety of ways to approach our role as curators.

If we embrace this crucial role—as curators of meaningful and trustworthy medical information—we can take the first step towards establishing a doctor–patient relationship before patients Google us or visit our Twitter profiles. This is one way all physicians can make a difference with social media.


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Infographic: Content, Social, Mobile - Digital Marketing Trends For 2014

Infographic: Content, Social, Mobile - Digital Marketing Trends For 2014 | Social Media and Pharma |
Content, Social, Mobile - Digital Marketing Trends For 2014 [INFOGRAPHIC]

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A draft FDA Guidance for Social Media in Medical Marketing

A draft FDA Guidance for Social Media in Medical Marketing | Social Media and Pharma |

The FDA has finally released its draft “Guidance for Industry Fulfilling Regulatory Requirements for Postmarketing Submissions of Interactive Promotional Media for Prescription Human and Animal Drugs and Biologics.”

It describes the FDA’s current thinking about how manufacturers, packers, and distributors should act – for their FDA-approved products – with regards to the use of modern social media tools and technologies that often allow for real-time communications and interactions (e.g., blogs, microblogs, social networking sites, online communities, and live podcasts).

It only covers drugs and biologics at this stage; medical devices firms need to stay attentive to the pulse of the industry, implementing whatever is appropriate.

To date, pharmaceutical companies were hesitant to engage in social media because of the undefined boundaries of responsibility and accountability. The good news is that this guidance only holds them responsible for the content that they create or influence. This is however not limited to the material prepared and promoted by the pharma company on its own, but extends to companies operating on its behalf. Accountability is determined according to the level of influence or control over the promotional activity or communication.

All materials used for promoting a product on sites that the medical company owns or influences are to be submitted to the FDA, even in instances in which the influence is limited in scope, such as in cases where it collaborates with publishers on editorials, previews, …

If a company only provides financial support and has no influence on the site, then it has no obligation to submit the contents of the site. Additionally, if it is merely providing promotional materials to a third-party site but does not direct the placement of the promotion within the site and has no other control or influence, the firm is responsible only for the content it places there and, thus, for submitting only the latter to the FDA.

A company is responsible for the content generated or provided by its employees or any agent acting on its behalf. This includes a medical science liaison or paid speaker (e.g. a key opinion leader), as well as their comments on a third-party site about the firm’s product, and for the content on a blogger’s site if the blogger is acting on behalf of the firm.

This guidance extends offline regulations to the interactive healthcare social media environment. While in the past, it was the marketing communications department that had the monopoly over the company’s marketing materials, now, each employee – or individual even partially sponsored by the company – is potentially a creator and distributor of promotional content. This is obviously more difficult for the medical firm to control.


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The ingredients of successful multichannel marketing in pharma

The ingredients of successful multichannel marketing in pharma | Social Media and Pharma |
In the age of reduced face-to-face contact with HCPs, the pharma industry is under pressure to get their multichannel marketing right.
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Social Media Is a Conversation, Not a Press Release — Technology and Society — Medium

Social Media Is a Conversation, Not a Press Release — Technology and Society — Medium | Social Media and Pharma |
Last week was a curious one. First, Guardian writer Emma G.
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