The Pharma Lab Session At Content Marketing World

I had the privilege to host the Pharmaceutical industry lab at this year’s Content Marketing World. The focus of the panel was providing a perspective on getting social media programs started for healthcare and pharmaceutical brands. The panel was a fantastic experience that introduced me to many new friends and allowed me to hear perspectives from people just beginning in healthcare communication to a few industry veterans.

What struck me in hearing from my fellow panelists as well as the audience was the variety of perspectives in the market as to how social media can support brands. I think everyone understands the opportunity and has a very powerful comprehension of what the media can provide. Everyone understands the liability and serious responsibility that comes from having 2-way engagement. The challenge, and widest range of opinions, come from how to provide value back to a community.

For some brands, these “values” stem from a marketing message. For other brands, the value may come from patient support and access programs. For many brands value may be a much more difficult process that is an exercise in trial and error with a community or group.

Before beginning the process of launching any social media brand, the communication and brand team needs to ask itself not only what they want to communicate to their followers and community, but what that community wants to hear from the brand. Unlike any other channel that has preceded it, social is reliant on  both parties having a mutually beneficial exchange.

Why is this concept a challenge for some brands? Because many healthcare communicators don’t seriously consider what value they have to offer patients and healthcare professionals. Equally as true is what value can be gained from listening to the perspectives of that community. This does not mean that brands and manufacturers are not committed to their patients or other audience. It does mean, especially in the context of social media, that few brands are truly considering what patients and customers want from our industry.

This is a huge opportunity for both strategists and content creators. It is our job to understand what kind of communication should be offered to audiences, what the tone of those messages will be, and what type of requests we plan to make to our readers and viewers.

Before planning your next series of tactics for any brand, first step is to look at who your audience might be. What other brands and properties are they engaged with and how can you augment their current experiences with something that is truly of value to them and is true to your product and brand.