Facebook is the go-to platform for pharmaceutical marketers. In a new to study, 73% of pharmaceutical marketing teams say they plan to use the platform within the next two years, an increase of 8 percentage points from Cutting Edge Information’s previous survey in 2013.
This is not surprising, given the ubiquity and wide reach of Facebook, as well as Facebook’s increased efforts to reach out to the pharmaceutical industry. What may be surprising, however, is how much other social platforms have won – or lost – in the world of drug marketing. Twitter has fallen sharply below the 50% mark, while LinkedIn has climbed in its place. Pinterest? Faded away. Instagram? Finally arose.
LinkedIn has achieved the biggest projected gain in usage since the last survey. The business-friendly social networking site grew by 29 percentage points. Only 26% of pharmaceutical marketers planned to use it in 2013; this year that figure has risen to 55%.
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140-character Twitter was no longer as prominent, where expected usage among pharmaceutical marketers fell 19 percentage points. Only 45% plan to use it now, up from 64% in 2013.
Among the smaller social media platforms, Tumblr was on the to-do list for 9% of pharmaceutical marketers, while Instagram first showed up in the survey, with 18% saying they will use it over the next two years, said Natalie DeMasi, research team leader at Cutting Edge Information. This year ended Pinterest, which received no reports of intended use, like Vine, Flickr, and Reddit.
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In general, the use of pharmaceutical social media remains patient-focused, with key focus areas in brand education and corporate communications, DeMasi said.
The study also looked at the overall use of digital, including mobile, as a key tool for pharmaceutical marketing. Noteworthy in this year’s study is a shift in mobile marketing: The pharmacy has shifted its focus away from consumers to focusing more on healthcare providers, sales representatives, and medical science liaisons.
“Patient adherence was a pretty big goal for mobile apps, for example, but it dropped dramatically in 2017,” DeMasi said. “Speaking with executives, it seems that the mobile health market is saturated with so many consumer apps – lots of fitness, nutrition, and more apps – that there aren’t that many. ‘opportunities for pharma to create a new app that patients can use. … Pharmacy is moving away from the development of patient-centric mobile applications and instead creating applications for physician training, details for sales representatives or investigator applications for coordination of clinical trials. “
Challenges remain in digital marketing as pharma gets to grips with the technology, but continues to deal with certain audiences – some old-school doctors, for example – who don’t want technological solutions.
“Today’s pharmaceutical marketers have to do a lot of research ahead of time to determine what will speak most to their target audiences. Sometimes the best thing to do might not be to use new technology. But other times, you have to go all the way. Do your research to find out, ”DeMasi said.